Revolution #348, August 10, 2014 (

Voice of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA

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Revolution #348 August 10, 2014

Abortion Rights Freedom Ride 2014 Launched!
Forecast—Hot August in Texas

August 4, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


On Wednesday night, July 30, about 60 people in Houston’s Encore Theater and people watching on more than 200 computers across the country were taken on an unforgettable journey. A powerful, determined, and deeply moving People’s Hearing took them from the past—the days of illegal abortion, coat hangers, and back-alley abortions—to the present state of emergency for abortion rights, to the future—the “Way Out and Way Forward Toward Abortion on Demand and Without Apology and the Liberation of Women.” The following afternoon, more than 30 protesters gathered at a park in Houston and marched a few blocks to the headquarters of the Harris County Republican Party and presented them with the verdict of the People’s Hearing.

Bold and courageous volunteers, young and old, mainly women but including men, came into Houston on July 30 or in the days just before to get out the word about the Freedom Ride and the People’s Hearing. They were joined by people from Houston, including people brand new to this fight. Together, they are out to make history: as Stop Patriarchy, the organization that initiated the Freedom Ride described it, this is “a fight to turn the tide in the all-out assault on women’s right to abortion and birth control, July 30 thru August and into September.

The entire Encore Theater event crackled and sparkled with the sense that something new and different, something important and meaningful, was coming together that night—from the moments when people were gathering, through the presentations, and afterwards when people lingered to mingle, to talk with friends new and old about what had just happened, what was going to happen next, how to carry this forward, how to reach out to and involve many, many more people in this fight.

The People’s Hearing

Two young women MC’s opened the hearing by saying, “We’re here because across the country courts are holding hearings that are restricting abortion and closing clinics. We feel a great need for a People’s Hearing. While these courts are determining the lives and the futures of women everywhere, there is an urgent need for people to share their stories... and bring to light what’s at stake in this fight for reproductive control.”

A fiery and furious torrent of profoundly moving testimony followed. Women told searing, often deeply personal stories of friends who died after receiving illegal back-alley abortions; women spoke of their own experiences of being raped and looking for abortions; of suffering vicious incestuous assaults and being made to feel that they were somehow responsible for something “shameful.”

Other front-line fighters in the battle for the right to abortion sent in written and recorded messages: Merle Hoffman, the founder and president of Choices Women’s Medical Center in New York, said that over the past 40 years she has been fighting for women’s right to abortion that she “has been involved in many battles, seen women’s rights be assaulted from many different sides. But never, never has the threat been so palpable, been so powerful, as it is now.” Derenda Hancock, the lead escort at the Jackson Women’s Health Organization—the last abortion clinic in Mississippi—sent a statement. She said, “There is no doubt that what happens in Texas affects us all. It is my hope that the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride will help to focus national attention on this dire situation. That by lending our voices with our sisters in Texas, we will hear them in Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi. Then by lending our voices, be heard throughout the South. All of our voices must then spread throughout the nation and be loud and clear. We are sick and tired, and aren’t going to take it anymore. Abortion on Demand and Without Apology!”

An abortion provider in Texas gave testimony, and a statement from Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine described how an illegal abortion had torn his family apart many years ago. Two women who had learned of the People’s Hearing days before came to present some of the most poignant—and uplifting—testimony of the night.

Fierce determination to defy, resist, and defeat the attacks on abortion flowed through every presentation—fueled by an understanding that the lives, the futures, the dreams, and the hopes of millions of women are at stake in this battle.

The searing testimony, the fury and determination not to allow women to be thrown back, was pulled to a higher and deeper level in an intense and enthusiastically received talk delivered with the passionate conviction of Sunsara Taylor. Towards the beginning of her speech, Sunsara emphasized, “I think it’s come together tonight, the stakes that face us ... the doctor said it in the interview, we’re going back. It’s like history took a big U-turn and we’re being slammed back.... We are living in a time of great emergency, a tremendous emergency and we have a tremendous responsibility to turn this around.”

Bloody Coat Hangers at the Republican Office

The Harris County Republican Party is a headquarters for some of the most vengeful, hateful, and relentless woman haters in the country. They have a program that aims at eliminating all abortion and preventing women from getting birth control; their platform calls for recognizing “fetal personhood” in the U.S. Constitution, and putting that above any rights a woman may have. They are dead serious about imposing these extremely repressive measures on society, and some of the key forces behind Texas’s anti-abortion laws are based in these offices.

Many of the protesters gathered at the park were dressed all in white; many carried bloody coat hangers, and there was an eight-foot hanger with the words “When Abortion Is Illegal, Women Die” written across it. Many carried enlarged photos of women across the years who had died from brutal illegal or self-induced abortions.

Two young women entered the Republican-offices building and banged on their door to present them with a bloody coat hanger as a symbol of their crimes against women. But the Republicans hunkered down in their offices and were heard over a speaker phone calling the police. The young women pushed the hanger under their door and joined the protest outside. After an hour of silent protest in the Texas heat, holding up hangers, photos, and banners, and with several of the women draped in symbolic chains, the protesters threw off the chains and chanted “without this basic right, women can’t be free, abortion on demand and without apology.” A short, powerful speak-out was directed at the Republicans’ headquarters before people marched back to the park.

The Texas Abortion Rights Freedom Ride has taken off from Houston. Thousands of people throughout the metro area learned about this Freedom Ride, at concerts by Lady GaGa and Beyoncé, at soccer games, at the sprawling Texas Medical Center, and in some of the projects and streets of Houston. Dozens of people helped make the People’s Hearing and the stay of the Freedom Riders possible, in all sorts of ways and with many contributions. Several people, young and old, stepped forward to participate in making all this happen and in being part of the Freedom Ride.

Next stop—Austin, the state capital. Then on to San Antonio and the Rio Grande Valley, and a Week of Defiance at the end of the month. Weather forecast—hot August in Texas.

The riders are determined to continue to reach out to and involve thousands of people in the battle to defeat and turn around the attacks on abortion rights and to change the way millions of people understand the issue of abortion. It is not about the supposed “rights of the fetus.” Fetuses are not babies, women are not incubators, and abortion is not murder! At issue is whether women will be viewed and treated as breeders, or as full human beings.





Revolution #348 August 10, 2014

"There is a future worth living for and fighting to bring into being."

A Proclamation from the Revolution Club, Chicago

August 4, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


Revolution Club presenting posters of a proclamation which launches an intense undertaking to build the movement for revolution. Photo: Special to Revolution

This is an important proclamation from Chicago. This effort was launched at the anti-July 4th picnic, “What to the Slave Is Your 4th of July? We Oppose Slavery in Any Form.” The proclamation is being widely popularized (including at the upcoming August 9 Bud Billiken Parade—the largest African-American parade in the U.S.). It has been posted on almost every pole and put on every doorstep in Chicago’s Southside neighborhood of Englewood. At the same time as it is being popularized, intense efforts are underway to make real what is called for in the proclamation and BA’s New Year’s Message.



Summer is upon us. This means brutalizing and murdering police run roughshod over us. We are not having this. It is past time to challenge the police’s right to act like the overseers in the old plantation days.

Summer means many more people killing and crippling each other, ending up in jail or paralyzed or dead at an early age. Ask yourself—why should we be doing this, when it is what they want us to do?

We are NOT about “pull up your pants” or “be polite” or cooperating with the police. Do not believe the hurtful lie that “you can make it if you try.” These false solutions put the blame on the people, while leaving the real source of the problem untouched—the capitalist system that causes the suffering of millions here and around the world.

We can’t sugarcoat this. The truth is we DO need to wake up and shake off the ways this system puts on us, including playing us to fight each other. Instead we need to be joining together—men and women together as equals—to go up against this system that has us in this mess in the first place.

What we do today can make a real difference in getting to the point where we finally can, as conditions change and develop, make a real go at overthrowing this system.

It is time everyone knows about this leader Bob Avakian (BA) who has been doing work since the 1960s on the goals and strategy to usher in a world fit for human beings.

We are declaring our intention to build up a REAL movement for revolution in Englewood and in other parts of Chicago as part of doing the same across the U.S. We are going to be active all summer building up the influence, the forces and the capacity of the movement for revolution.

And in October we will take another huge step nationally with a whole month of resistance to STOP mass incarceration. It is a world class crime that this system has put over 2½ million people, mainly Blacks and Latinos, in prison cages... Inner city youth demonized, turned into suspects and then shot down like Trayvon Martin. And hundreds of thousands of immigrants, even very small children, are jailed and deported. We say NO MORE to all of that.

You need to be part of this. It is not going to be easy, but the people who step into it now can make a huge difference—not just in our hoods or city or the U.S.—but for the world. There is a future worth living for and fighting to bring into being.


(312) 804-9121 * * (website of the revolution)





Revolution #348 August 10, 2014

"What is going on is wrong, and we need to do something about it."

August 4, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


This is from an interview with a Black woman in her 30s at the “What to the Slave Is Your 4th of July?” picnic in Chicago. The interview has been edited for publication.


Q: What did you like, learn here today? Compared to what you expected?

A: I really enjoyed the introduction, the Frederick Douglass, and what does the 4th of July mean to the slaves? [Referring to the video clip from Bob Avakian’s 2003 talk Revolution: Why It’s Necessary, Why It’s Possible, and What It’s All About where he quotes Frederick Douglass.] Because every 4th of July I feel the same way. What really astounds me is the number of minorities celebrating the 4th of July, running around with American flag shirts. It really feels like... a nightmare when some of these holidays comes up, from Thanksgiving on down.

I’m always connecting with my roots, my ancestors. Well, I’m a minority... so they say in today’s world, even though I feel like we’re in the majority.

That video, it made me proud, because I was like, wow! I’m not the only person that knows that something is drastically wrong when a bunch of people are getting excited over a day that really means a lot of bloodshed for people of color.

I watch people celebrate the 4th of July in my neighborhood, spending all they money on fireworks, and they don’t even have money where I live. But they have hundreds of dollars on fireworks, they’re so excited—Independence Day, and I don’t think they know what it means. So a lot of people, they take it like family day. That’s what I do with my kids, if I do do fireworks, that’s what I do. That’s what I got out of that video, it made me really proud to be here. And that’s what I got out of the entire event today, there was a lot of truth that was spoken.

It lets you know you’re not insane, it lets you know you’re not alone, it lets you know you’re not crazy... I’m 30+ years old, and if you’ve been a revolutionist all your life, which I think I was about 5 to 9, when I realized nothing was right... and I was wondering why was my family so excited to be celebrating Thanksgiving. I used to tell my grandma, “They murdered all the Indians on this day, (now we say Native Americans, but back then, I said Indians)—they murdered all the Indians, so what are you guys so happy about?” Pretty soon you feel like the world wants you to shut up. Coming to this was a connection, a spiritual and mental connection: I’m not crazy, I’m not alone, there are people that know the truth about this system, and that America is not right... Those were a couple things I connected to.

I was in agreement with the entire thing, from beginning to end, especially when [the speaker from Stop Mass Incarceration Network] got up there and talked about, how if you’re for revolution or you’re not, we all got to come together, if you’re tired of seeing people go to jail.

In my community, all of my best friends are dead or in jail. All of... my male family members are... my little brother is in jail. I’m very familiar with the system, I’m very familiar with police brutality, I’m very familiar with things being normal in Englewood, where I’m from, on the Southside. Where, when I go to the Northside, in the better neighborhoods, they don’t allow it, the people don’t allow it, the police don’t do it.

In my neighborhood, people keep walking, and they look the other way, because police brutality it normal to them, because it has been going on since before birth.

There’s this energy, when we see the police messing with somebody, keep walking, mind your business, so they won’t mess with you. That’s how everybody’s living.

I would get in a lot of trouble, I’d say something like “Why are you messing with him?” But these days, I don’t even say nothing, because the energy, you almost get killed and they’ll shoot you right now. Maybe 10 years ago I would say something, when I was in my early 20s... I’d walk past and yell, “Get his badge number!” or I’d drive past in my car and roll down my window and yell, “Get his badge number.” Now I’m scared to do any of that, I don’t say anything, I just drive right past, like I don’t see it, too. So to come here and hear people saying “Don’t allow (this), don’t ride past,” it fills me with a sense of hope, that maybe change really can occur if we were giving this message to everybody.

Then they got up there, what really made me happy is... the Revolution Club, talking about taking it to Englewood. Because if you live in Chicago, that’s where the police were tormenting people at. That’s where I grew up at. If you live in Chicago that’s where all the crime is. And to hear people say, “These are not [criminals]. These are our youth, these are children, these are human beings, these are...” just a matter-of-fact tone of this event...The matter-of-fact-tone is “what is going on is wrong, and we need to do something about it.”

It’s not no ... Even me talking to other Black people, I don’t want to argue, but people are really brainwashed... you don’t want to argue, but I’d be in an argument with a Black person sometimes, and they’d say, “That nigger shouldn’t have did it.” They don’t realize the system is already set up for them to do it. It’s already preplanned for them to go to jail. They don’t realize that it’s things being done behind closed doors, AND in your face, both ways, so that our youth can kill each other, from the music to the television to the so-called food system—it’s a jail cell. People are brainwashed.

Normally when I talk about it I try to say it fairly, say it without hurting anybody’s feelings. But here, just say it: Fuck that, it’s wrong, it shouldn’t be being done, we tired of them killing our kids and locking people up. That’s what we need to hear, we just need to hear it like that. I think if we put that out in the ’hood, and we’re saying that to our young Black men, Latino people, young white men, anybody who lives in an impoverished community, telling them, “You are a great person, and what’s going on to you is wrong, it’s not your fault, but you have to wake up and do better.” I think that would work more than anything.

Q: [Someone else, listening in on the interview]: Are you signing up with the Revolution Club?

A: [Laughs.] Of course... Look, I’m PRLF [Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund]. When I was up there reading “From A Former Prisoner Who’s Answering the Call to Contribute to ‘1000 Years – $1000 for BA Everywhere,” I’m like “I’m PRLF.” [Laughs.] I mean... everybody needs to be involved in this.

I love when there’s something quick to the point like this. It hits home...

It was boom, boom, boom, boom, boom! This is something I could have brought 20 teenagers to. They would have lasted. They wouldn’t have got bored, they wouldn’t have got up and walked away, they wouldn’t have been asleep. Something like this, this is what Englewood is going to need. They gonna need boom, boom, boom, boom, boom at first....

Q: Now, having heard all this, what ideas do you have for you, for others, contributing?

A: I want to teach adults. In a fun, creative way. It was amazing. Using the book, BAsics, and using the video, especially the artistic video, because that’s what my community needs.

Q: Stepping Into the Future?

A: Yes. They’re going to need to see the poetry... They’re going to need that.

I want to do speeches. I want to public speak. I want to help out at events. I want to do as much as I can, from meetings on down. But I know what my strong suit is—reading, writing and speaking. To me, all of this is reading... writing... and speaking. And then I’m a rap artist, I do music. I need about 20 of those BAsics books. I got the videos already, I can incorporate it [my ongoing project] and I create a whole ’nother class for this. I honestly see myself doing that.

Q: Who would the classes be made up of?

A: It would be made up of youth and their families. Ages 5 to 21, and then adults.

Q: In the communities you’re in? Englewood?

A: Englewood, [a south suburban community], Northside. I’d like to travel with it. I would like to do six to eight week sessions. I would like to be a traveling revolutionary teacher.

... All the way [south suburban poor communities], where they pulling the young rappers from. Or Chief Keef, he’s the biggest rapper right now, he ain’t nothing but a teenager, talking about a hundred guns, a hundred killings, killing niggers, all the youth in [south suburb] are going crazy listening to him. Beating up each other, killing each other, but they’re bumping him because he represents their community. They feel like they got somebody to look up to...

Q: He’s being promoted...

A: Yes. I’m tired of all of that. I would like to wake up people about the music industry and the jails, how the music has driven the majority of my community straight to prison.

Q: That’s very important... Anything else?

A: ...I just think it’s time to “up the cultural stuff.” This is a cultural thing here. And bring it out here. We’re out south right now.

...We need to meet in Englewood. We not the violent ones, we already know peace. They don’t know peace, they don’t know this. They look at each other, and think they’re each other’s enemies. They don’t see a system, because when they get in trouble, people say, “That’s what you get, you shouldn’t have did this.” Or even if they didn’t do it, they don’t get any understanding. Once you get in trouble, people... once people are paying for people in jail, and trying to take care of people in jail, families look the other way now. Because you’re beat down, by the time you get... my little brother right now ask me for all this money in jail. Do I want to send him all this money? No, because I’m tired. I don’t have no money to send him. But at the same time, I know his entire upbringing. And I know it was all around him—violence and tragedy, it was all around him. So really, I saw him and all his friends going straight to prison. Because there was nobody helping him or teaching him anything else, like what we’re doing here, there was no PRLF, there was no Bob Avakian to talk to him. Nobody! The people talking to him was the people who knew what he knew—nothing!

I LOVE “the time is now.” Trust me, every day on Facebook, my friends in Englewood are getting murdered. Every day, I see a friend posted by another friend, who just got shot in the head. It’s an alarming rate. Ain’t no time to be up north. We need to be marching in the ’hood—with that [bull]horn, or something and talk to people. You know, I’m ready...





Revolution #348 August 10, 2014

Kickoff Meetings in NYC and LA for October Month of Resistance

August 4, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


Kickoff meetings for the October Month of Resistance to Mass Incarceration, Police Terror, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation took place in Los Angeles and New York City on August 2. (The Chicago kickoff will take place on August 16.)

More than 75 people participated in NYC. Speakers included: Carl Dix, Revolutionary Communist Party; Rev. Stephen Phelps, former Senior Interim Minister at the Riverside Church; Cecily McMillan, an Occupy Wall Street protester who was convicted and spent several months in Rikers Island prison for assault after a cop sexually assaulted her and, along with other cops, beat her; Juanita Young, Parents Against Police Brutality and October 22nd Coalition; Daniel J. Watts, poet who was part of a Broadway tribute to Eric Garner; and Noche Diaz, NY Revolution Club. Carl Dix said, “There was excitement in the room in response to the plans to mobilize thousands and thousands of people to be part of the Month of Resistance and to march on October 22 right into Times Square. Plans were made to mobilize many more people to be part of this effort, and people left the meeting with responsibility to carry out those plans and palm cards, stickers, and whistles to use in doing that.”

We will have coverage of these meetings soon. Below is an excerpt from the talk Carl Dix—who along with Cornel West issued the call for the Month of Resistance—gave to open the NYC meeting.


Taking on the genocidal program of mass incarceration is a very important part of getting ready and in position to make revolution when the time when that could be done comes about. This is why I’m throwing my all into mobilizing for the October Month of Resistance to Mass Incarceration.

And it’s why I see the need to involve everybody in October. Everybody who’s tired of living their life with a target on their backs because they’re Black or Latino needs to be a part of the Month of Resistance. Everybody who sees the horrors of mass incarceration and all its consequences for what they are needs to be part of the Month of Resistance. And those of us here who see the need for this month need to go out and work to involve everybody whose eyes we can open up to these horrors.

We need to go beyond anger to action. And while it’s good that people have documented some of the murders and the brutality on their cell phones so the pigs can’t say it didn’t happen, we gotta go further. We have to act to stop this shit. The Month of Resistance gives us a vehicle to do just that.

October will be a month that involves tens of thousands of people in mass, determined resistance that impacts and moves millions. There will be defiant demonstrations nationwide on October 22 with tens of thousands of people taking to the streets saying, “This stops now!” Thousands of youth equipped with whistles and oriented to, “If they see something, blow the whistle,” will be acting collectively to stop cops from brutalizing people. There will be major symposiums on college campuses involving prominent voices of conscience, as well as other campus events and cultural expressions. People will engage in nonviolent civil disobedience. There will be ferment in faith institutions. In many different ways people will be saying NO MORE to mass incarceration and all its consequences.

Manifesting this level of resistance will give us a springboard to leap even further ahead, ultimately to building a movement of resistance numbering in the millions. In this way, October can be the beginning of the end for mass incarceration in the U.S.

We need to do this, and we can do this. Look at how much pain and suffering mass incarceration causes for so many people. More than 2.2 million people warehoused in prison, over 60 percent of them Black or Latino. 80,000 people subjected to the torture of long-term solitary confinement. More than five million formerly incarcerated people treated as less than full human beings. When you add in the loved ones of all these people, you see tens of millions of people caught up in the criminal injustice system of this country.

Look at the stirrings of resistance that are already out there—the people who took over Times Square in NYC, a major expressway in LA, and acted in other cities in response to the verdict in the Trayvon case; the people who have taken to the streets in outrage over police murder in Albuquerque, in Santa Rosa, in Salinas, in NYC; the people who went down to the border to tell those flag-waving racists to “leave those children alone.” Look at the hundreds of people who come out when Michelle Alexander or Cornel West speaks. We can tap into the desire to see these horrors stopped that all these people have and bring many more people into acting to join them.




Revolution #348 August 10, 2014

Report from Southern California Kick-Off Meeting for the October Month of Resistance

August 4, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


Los Angeles, August 2—45 people took part in the Southern California launch meeting for the Month of Resistance to Mass Incarceration, Police Terror, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation. This was a crucial meeting, part of the build up to a powerful month of resistance this October 2014. Presentations started the meeting, then breakout committees were formed where people wrestled with the call for October 2014 and made plans to take up projects to build for October out in society and to rally many, many others to get involved in making October happen. Reports from the committees and final send off to hit the ground running culminated the meeting.

Presentations were made by Reverend Frank Wulf of USC [University of Southern California] United University Church; Professor Rafael Angulo of the USC School of Social Work; Marie Martin, whose son has been locked down in California security housing units for many years; Brother B, a high school teacher; Lucha from the Revolution Club; and by Dr. Jesse Diaz and Keith James.

The presentations were moving. Each speaker discussed why they are involved in the October Month of Resistance to mass incarceration, and expressed, in their own way, a growing outrage over time about this mass incarceration and its effects and a real determination to build resistance to stop how this system has used its police, courts, jails, and prisons to incarcerate and destroy the lives of millions of people. Mass incarceration, police terror, and being racially targeted—and those aren’t letting up but intensifying—were themes underscoring why the presenters were fighting for October to happen on a very big scale. The use of the War on Drugs to arrest millions, the school-to-prison pipeline, the horrific abuse of women in the jail system, and the unspeakable brutality aimed at the mentally ill were discussed by presenters.

How millions of people ultimately took the streets in 2006 to fight anti-immigrant attacks by the system was brought into the picture as a lesson for October and beyond, and to sharpen how attacks on the undocumented haven’t stopped but have sharpened, as we have seen with the detention and deportation of Central American children these past months. Two presenters discussed how these are horrors of an illegitimate system—that a revolution that dismantles this entire system is needed to put a stop to these and other outrages of the system. They presented that a big part of the revolutionary strategy of the RCP is “Fight the Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution,” and this is why, in taking on the genocidal program of mass incarceration, they are seeking to involve everybody in October.

A number of the presenters alluded to Michelle Alexander’s book The New Jim Crow—the impact it has had on them in putting together an analysis to explain what they’d been experiencing themselves, or witnessing, these past decades. One presentation included discussion on what has happened these past few months that makes very clear the urgent need for a powerful society-wide resistance movement—and spoke to the actual basis, through struggle these next two months, for manifesting a whole new level of resistance during October as a springboard to ultimately involve millions.

October as a month of resistance was an important theme at the meeting. Committee breakouts included the October 22 National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation as one key anchor of the month. A vision was developed for “no business as usual” in downtown Los Angeles that day. The brutal beating of Marlene Pinnock on the 10 Freeway in LA and the choking death of Eric Garner by New York cops were grappled with from the standpoint of the need to go from anger to action. If You See Something, Blow Your Whistle! was identified as a critical, defiant form through which people can make a difference right now: Thousands need to be wearing and using whistles in LA and around the country, to prevent what the cops are doing to the youth and to the people on a daily basis and as part of building resistance leading into October. Committees planned major outreach to the faith community, on college campuses, among the pro-immigrant community, and website and social media development was planned out.

The Call for the October Month of Resistance, palm cards, stickers and whistles were distributed in big quantities to everyone at the meeting so that people could get out into society right away, without delay, to urgently bring forward the many hundreds of activists needed to mobilize many thousands (with the objective of influencing millions)—which is what it’s going to take to make October 2014 the month of resistance it must and can be.





Revolution #348 August 10, 2014

On Labor Day 2014 at Programs Across the Country

The BA Everywhere Campaign Will Make a BIG Announcement

August 4, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


This Labor Day, at programs in several cities across the country, the BA Everywhere campaign will make its most important announcement since the start of the campaign. If you are concerned about the state of the world, you won't want to miss this.

The BA Everywhere campaign is about nothing less than bringing hope on a scientific foundation to millions of people that a far better world is possible. In this moment—when the horrors of this society are so brutally and vividly present—this matters more than ever.

Bob Avakian, BA, has brought forward a deepened understanding of revolution—a new synthesis of communism—that enables people to scientifically understand the source of the problems we face, and a vision and framework for a new society that can be achieved through revolution to get this monster of a system off the backs of the people of the world. The BA Everywhere campaign is spreading this to all corners of society and raising serious funds to make this possible.

On Labor Day come and join with lots of other people to be a part of this historic announcement. The programs will include diverse voices speaking to this moment and the difference that the BA Everywhere campaign makes. There will be food, socializing, and celebrating. All as part of building the community, the struggle, and the understanding to radically change the world.

Check for news and info about the Labor Day BA Everywhere events.




Revolution #348 August 10, 2014

Be a part of Breaking ALL the Chains — August 9!
Cultural Celebrations... Dinners... Picnics

UPDATED August 6, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


The BA Everywhere Campaign has called for Break ALL the Chains Celebrations to mark the publication of Break ALL the Chains! Bob Avakian on the Emancipation of Women and the Communist Revolution, a collection of groundbreaking works by Avakian on how central and defining the liberation of women is to any real revolution. These afternoon or evening celebrations will include artistic performances and testimonies with a dinner, or picnic, or BBQ. Come one, Come all: Break ALL the Chains!


New York

August 9, Saturday, from 2pm - 6pm
At: Chenchita's Angels Community Garden
Madison Avenue & 112th Street, Manhattan
Tickets: $10-$25-$50 (sliding scale, no one turned away), available at Revolution Books, 146 W. 26th St., NY.
List of performers and readers:
  • Nadia High
  • American Anymen
  • Lise
  • Sophia Loren Coffee
  • Jamel Mims
  • Victoria I.
  • Adrienne from Stop Patriarchy
... and more!
MCs: NOCHE DIAZ from the NYC Revolution Club and SABEL
Call for information: 347-835-8656 or write


August 10, Sunday, 5pm - 8pm
At: Overflow Coffee Bar
1550 South State Street
Suggested donation: $10. Call: 312-860-8167. Email:

Los Angeles

August 9, Saturday, 5pm - 9 pm
At: Revolution Books - Libros Revolución
5726 Hollywood Blvd.
Benefit dinner and program, $10 sliding scale. For more information: 213-304-9864.


August 10, Sunday, 1pm - 5pm
At: Mosswood Park
3612 Webster St., near Broadway in Oakland
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Revolution #348 August 10, 2014

The Material Basis and the Method for Making Revolution

by Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party

August 4, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |



The following is the text of a talk given by Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, earlier this year (2014). In order to make this talk available more broadly, including for translation into a number of different languages, has been authorized to publish the transcript of this talk with any editing that was felt to be necessary in preparing this for publication.


What is the material basis for this revolution, the communist revolution? To begin, let’s start with a paraphrase of Marx which has been cited many times, and for very good reason. To paraphrase: what is important is not what people are thinking, or even what they’re doing, at any given time, but what they will be compelled to confront by the workings of this system.

Which is an introduction into, and understood correctly leads us into, grappling with the question—grappling with the fact that it is the contradictions of this system and what they give rise to that is the fundamental material basis for this communist revolution. It’s not what the thinking of the people is at a given time, or how many people are “with it” at a given time. You know, you go out there and people say, “I’m not with that.” Or people get excited by it and they go out and they talk to people and come back and say, “Nobody’s with that.” Well, that’s obviously a problem. It’s not like that’s okay, and it’s not like it’s something that we can leave as it is. Obviously, that needs to be changed, it needs to be radically transformed, because this revolution has to be made by millions of people, who will have contradictory understanding, even at the time that they make this revolution. But, nevertheless, there has to be a solid core, and it can’t be just a few people. It has to be a growing solid core of people—and, at the point of a revolution, a solid core of thousands and thousands and thousands of people who are consciously, and scientifically, approaching the challenge of making revolution, leading broader masses who are being influenced and being led on the basis of that scientific approach to making revolution.

So this is a fundamental point. It’s—yes, it’s important where the masses are at, at any given time—but that does not set the terms for what we do, in a fundamental sense; and it is not the fundamental determinant, if you will, it does not tell us whether or not this revolution is possible. The understanding of whether or not this revolution is possible, and that in fact it is possible, resides in a scientific analysis of the contradictions of this system and the dynamics they give rise to continually, and the way in which that’s itself, consciously—I mean, continually—undergoing transformation, and on which we have to be consciously acting at all times, while always being open to new developments, and, you know, surprises or accidents. That’s the point of those six first paragraphs in Part 2 of Making Revolution and Emancipating Humanity which I will get into more in another presentation. But for now, let’s go back to this point: What is important is not what people are thinking, or even what they’re doing at any given time, but what they will be compelled to confront by the workings of this system—that it is the contradictions of this system that provide the basis for the revolution that we’re working for, and it’s by working on those contradictions that we work for that revolution.

The Fundamental Contradiction of This System

So let’s dig into this a little more. First of all, there’s the fundamental contradiction of capitalism (that is, the contradiction between socialized production and private/capitalist appropriation of what’s produced) and, as we have identified it, the principal form of motion of that fundamental contradiction, which we characterize as the driving force of anarchy. In other words, we’re dealing with a system here which, overwhelming at this point, is dominant in the world, unfortunately—we don’t like that, we hate it. It’s even more dominant than it was three or four decades ago when there was socialist China—or, going back for a brief period, in the early ‘50s when there was socialist China and the Soviet Union was still socialist, even though riddled with a lot of its own contradictions. Even then the imperialist system was still dominant in the world, but it’s much more—at this point it’s much more dominant. So, you could say, “Oh, well, things are just going back—they’re going away from the revolution we’re working towards, there’s less and less basis for it.” Well, those are two different statements, and we should pull them apart.

One is, things have gone away from the revolution we’re working for over the past several decades—that’s true, the motion in the world has gone away from that, for a number of reasons that have been analyzed elsewhere, and I’m not going to try to dig into all that here, or we’d go all over the place, we wouldn’t be able to focus on the main things we need to focus on. But that’s true, things have gone in a negative direction, and for several decades—material changes, political changes, there are ideological expressions and in terms of how people are seeing the world, and how they’re being motivated, or what their morals are, what they’re being drawn towards, for example religious fundamentalism as opposed to revolutionary communism. You know, all that kind of thing has been negative, but that’s different than saying there’s less and less basis for this revolution.

If you were to conclude from the first of those two things that the second is the case—if you were to conclude that, because things have gone in a negative direction over several decades, there’s less and less basis for revolution—you’d be taking the more surface, not insignificant, but more surface phenomenon. Not—again, not insignificant—these are significant phenomena that we have to deal with, confront scientifically and work to transform. But they’re the expression in the present period of how the contradictions are moving and changing. They are not what is most fundamental and what ultimately sets the terms, namely those contradictions themselves and the motion they give rise to.

So, the fundamental contradiction of capitalism is more and more glaring, more and more acutely posed in the world, not less so. And it takes some rather—perhaps you could say strange, or even you might say perverse, expressions. One of those expressions is the big attraction now of religious fundamentalism—Christian in some places, including places in Africa, not just in the U.S., for example, but also Islamic fundamentalism in many parts of the world, parts of Asia, Africa, and obviously the Middle East, and not just north Africa, other parts of Africa as well. Those are real phenomena. But they, in fact, are an expression of the way the fundamental contradiction of capitalism is actually working itself out at this point—and not in a favorable way, but they are nevertheless a kind of perverse expression of the workings, of the carrying forward, of that fundamental contradiction.

The material conditions that this fundamental contradiction, and, in particular, the driving force of anarchy of capitalism, have brought into being, in dialectical relation, in interaction, with other things happening, which are in the framework of this overall fundamental contradiction—political struggles, cultural developments, ideological phenomena, including religion and the promotion of religion by various forces, including the ruling classes of imperialist states and the U.S. itself—all these things are interacting with the motion of that fundamental contradiction. But it is that fundamental contradiction, and in particular the driving force of anarchy of capitalism, which is continually bringing forth these dynamics, and has brought them to a point where right now they’re very unfavorable actually, but this still provides the basis—all this still provides the basis for this to be radically transformed, not just in any old way; yes, it could be radically transformed in different ways, but there is the basis, and it’s not a sort of secondary, and unsubstantial (or insubstantial) basis, but a very real and very strong basis to actually transform things in the radical direction of communist revolution.

So we have to continually go back to that. Otherwise you are, to use Lenin’s phrase, continually whipped around by the chops—the petty chops and changes of daily life. And this is what we see happening way too often, not only to people among the masses broadly, but also among the communists. People are whipped around by the petty chops and changes of daily life. “Oh, we went out today and people”—it’s like Facebook, they have Facebook ideology, you know, “We went out today and people gave us a thumbs up. Yaaaaay! Maybe we could have a revolution in some millennium in the distant future.” Or, “We went out today and nobody liked what we were doing and a bunch of assholes, nationalists, or opportunist petit bourgeois social democrats, or counter-revolutionary anarchists attacked our literature table, so I guess there’s no basis for revolution.” I mean, I’m being a little bit hyperbolic, but not that much. This is way too common a way of looking at it, rather than looking at the material world—looking at the material world and its actual contradictions. What is the system that is operating in the material world? What is the system, to put it this way, through which humanity is being organized and being driven to interact with the rest of nature? And what are all the different things that’s giving rise to?

What Marx Brought to Light

This goes back to another fundamental point from Marx. I mean, when you say it, it seems so obvious, and yet Marx had to spend years and years digging through all kinds of political economy, and learning from what Darwin was bringing forward in the realm of biology, the theory of evolution—and studying political developments and history and philosophy—to sift through all the outward appearances to get to this inner core of the contradiction, as it’s been identified by him and by Marxism in general, between the forces of production and the relations of production. That this is the fundamental driving contradiction, which in turn gives rise to, and is dialectically interrelated with another contradiction between the mode of production—the economic base—and the superstructure, which arises on the basis of and works to reinforce that economic base.

Now, what do these terms mean? They mean that—if you boil it down to its essence—in order for anything to happen in society, the material requirements of life have to be produced and reproduced, and so do new generations of people. We live in a highly—as I’ve pointed out before, for example in Birds Cannot Give Birth to Crocodiles, but Humanity Can Soar Beyond the Horizon (and I’ll just say “Birds and Crocodiles” from now on so I don’t have to repeat that title)—but, you know, I have pointed out that in a highly parasitic country like this one, you have such a broad swath of people who are not involved directly in the production and reproduction of the material requirements of life—and, in fact, this parasitism of U.S. imperialism, with this heightened globalization, has been to transfer more and more of actual productivity (as they say, “outsource” it) to other countries, particularly Third World countries, but generally other countries around the world. And the actual people engaged in production of the material requirements of life has been shrinking relative to the total population. So, in a society like this, it’s very easy if you’re not part of that small part of the population—a small segment of the population that’s actually engaged in directly producing the material requirements of life—it’s very easy just to think those things somehow appear, or exist. As it’s been put by a number of others besides myself, if you’re at the end of the food chain, the high end of the food chain, and everybody else is doing all the things that lead up to that, it’s very easy not to see all that. Or I like to use this metaphor: You’re in a building that’s rotting underneath, the foundation is rotting, and as you go down—you’re at the top of the building, and as you go down the floors, it’s more and more rotting away, but you’re at the penthouse at the top, and you actually think this is the way the world is, the way it is in the penthouse. And, all of a sudden (as is sometimes done in those old communist drawings or whatever) there’s an eruption from down below and that’s one of the ways you get reminded, “Oh, there’s something else here besides this penthouse I’m residing in.”

Now, I’m not saying everybody in the U.S. lives in a penthouse—this is a metaphor, you know; and metaphors, like analogies, have their limitations. But when you’re living in a highly parasitic society like this, it’s easy not to see—not to perceive, and certainly not to understand in any kind of a sense, or a scientific way—what is the foundation of this society that’s functioning, that you are pursuing your dreams within, and where does even the wealth come from that’s in circulation that enables different people to pursue different things. All this is hidden from you. It’s all the more hidden when you’re in a highly parasitic society like this. But at the base of all this is the production and reproduction of the material requirements of life and of new generations on that basis, because new generations can’t be reproduced on any other basis either—they can be brought into the world, but if people are too sickly, they can’t even bring children into the world. Or, if they do, the infant mortality rate, as we see in much of the Third World, is very high. But you have to have basic material requirements of life in order even to reproduce new generations.

And this is the point that Marx brought out, he focused on this. Now, think of all the ways in which you run into people every day, and how they think about—to the degree they ever do think about—what it is that makes the world go round, what it is that actually makes society function, and all the completely erroneous ideas that people have about this, or just the lack of any thinking about it even, or some combination of a little bit of thinking and a lot of ignorance and misunderstanding about what is it that enables you to get up in the morning and function. Is it your individual determination—or is there something that’s going on that enables that to happen, that’s much bigger than you, and is a whole social phenomenon, involves a whole society and ultimately a whole world of billions—billions and billions of people, right? (We are just getting ready to have the new version of Cosmos, so we have to say billions and billions of people in honor of Carl Sagan and the original Cosmos. But, anyway, billions and billions of people, to get to the point here.) And they are all engaged in these activities which are all being—and here’s Marx’s second point, the point that’s even more crucial, and yet at the same time more hidden: in order for this to happen, people have to enter into certain relations of production, which more or less, without being mechanical about it, correspond to whatever the productive forces are at hand; and, along with this, the fact that the productive forces are continually being developed. People are thinking beings, and in any society they think about new ways to do things, new ways to organize things, and because of the driving force of anarchy—as pointed out in the recent article by Raymond Lotta—capitalism is, in fact, a very dynamic system, which is driven to continually transform the productive forces, and even some of the relations of production within the overall framework of capitalist production relations.

So, these things are not static and unchanging, but continuously changing, and very dynamic, but always at the cost of great suffering for masses of people in the world, for the great mass of humanity, and ultimately to the detriment of humanity as a whole. And we can see this in the environment, we can see this in the conditions of masses of people, we can see it in the condition of women, we can see it in the oppression of whole nations, we can see it in the wars—and on and on, all the things that are all too familiar to anyone who’s paying attention.

Marx and Darwin

This basic understanding—these are the dynamics that Marx brought to light. And I’m always struck—I listen to a lot of these people in different fields, you know, who are basically pursuing the bourgeois outlook, even if they’re from the petite bourgeoisie, and even some of them are progressive. I listen when they have these discussions, or I read articles or books, where they’re grappling with all these questions, including questions about society: What’s wrong with society? Are there ways society could be changed? Does there have to be so much suffering in the world? And so on. Even the people who are trying to take up these questions from a somewhat better position, it’s just really striking how they’re just completely off base. And here Marx brought this to light, and they talk about everything and they engage everything but the basic Marxist understanding.

It’s not just that Marxism is a “better narrative.” It would be like a bunch of biologists got together and tried to debate about what’s happening in the natural world, but they ignored, or dismissed, Darwin. Biology after Darwin is completely, radically different than biology before Darwin, even though people have continued to develop what Darwin brought forward, it’s continually being developed, as is every field of knowledge where people are approaching it scientifically. But, by analogy, the understanding of society—and, yes, of philosophy, and politics, but the understanding of the fundamental question of why society functions the way it does, how it can change, how it does change, how it can undergo radical transformation, what is the fundamental basis for all that—that understanding was synthesized by Marx. And, yes, we’ve gone on, and people—you know, Lenin, Mao, Stalin in some ways, Engels definitely—have contributed to this, and I’ve continued to work on this and bring forward more understanding of it. But Marx made the initial and fundamental breakthrough, and the science of society and the interaction of human beings through society with the rest of nature, and everything that gives rise to, including all the thinking it gives rise to in human beings, that science is as different before Marx as biology before Darwin is compared to after Darwin. And you just listen to people talk, and they talk about everything but. They either ignore or dismiss, or distort and dismiss, this fundamental understanding.

And if you’re going to set out to transform the world in a radical direction, to get humanity to a whole different place where all the things that are the daily horrors, and assumed to be just the natural order of things, in fact are transformed and surpassed, then you’re going to have to base yourself on a scientific approach to this, rooted in an understanding of the actual contradictions and dynamics that are setting the stage continually, and re-setting it, and the changes that are constantly occurring, and what changes this makes possible—not inevitable but possible. And there is the fact that different class forces with more or less conscious understanding are going to be continually operating on that same stage and working on those same contradictions from their own perspective. It’s not something that’s like a laboratory—well, even in laboratories you’re dealing with live animals, for example—there are a lot of other things going on, it’s not like you’re dealing with passive entities, you know, just a bunch of unchanging things, that you move around to make revolution. You’re dealing with dynamics that are constantly changing and on which every other force in society—or at least its conscious representatives—are working to try to change in the direction favorable to how they think the world should be.

Now, to be clear, this doesn’t mean that it’s all a matter of one narrative versus another narrative, or one interest versus another interest in some sort of non-materialist sense. There is only one resolution of all these contradictions that’s in the fundamental interests of the masses of oppressed humanity and ultimately of humanity as a whole. But that doesn’t mean that other class forces...all the representatives of every class think—this is Marx’s point also in The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, that all the representatives of every class think that what they’re striving for on behalf of the class they represent is in the general interest of society and humanity. All of them think that. I mean, yes, there are some cynical, narrow opportunists and corrupt officials, and so on. But the more—however you want to put it—the more farseeing or broad-minded representatives of different classes, if you want to use that term—the ones who are more sincerely striving for these interests—actually think that they are in the general interests of society and humanity. They think this is the best way society could possibly be.

But there’s only one actual program and outlook for which that is actually true in this era of human history, and in terms of how the contradictions are posing themselves and where they need to go in order to emancipate the oppressed—the wretched of the earth, the oppressed of the world—and ultimately humanity as a whole, and move beyond the point where the contradictions characteristic of capitalism and how it organizes human beings to interact with the rest of nature, and the dynamics bound up with that, are surpassed, and we move to a whole different era, both in terms of the material relations and in terms of the thinking of the people. This is what Marx and Engels were emphasizing when they said that the communist revolution involves the most radical rupture with traditional property relations, no wonder then that it involves the most radical rupture with traditional ideas. This has a material basis. It’s not just that these are better ideas, or a more just way that society could be organized in the abstract, or as a set of ideas. Yes, it is more just. But that has a material foundation.

And if we don’t root ourselves continually—you know, there’s the constant pull of spontaneity to be influenced by the outlook of other classes and their representatives and to start seeing the world through that prism, through those lenses. So it’s a constant struggle to go back to, and to grapple collectively, not just as individuals—yes, as individuals, but above all collectively among the ranks of the party, and what must be the growing ranks of the party, the growing ranks of the movement for revolution, the broader masses of people—to be continually struggling to go back to and deepen our grasp and our living application of the scientific understanding, which, again, was first broken through on and brought forward by Marx in a qualitative way (with Engels also, but Marx more than anyone else).

Again, to use that analogy and drive it home, this makes the understanding of the science of society and its interaction with the rest of nature as fundamentally different from how that was approached before Marx, as things are in the realm of biology—as things are fundamentally different after Darwin than before Darwin, even though people have continued to work on what Darwin brought forward, and there were many things that Darwin did not understand, or partially understood, or even understood incorrectly, while his fundamental understanding was qualitatively correct and a tremendous breakthrough. The same is true in the realm of what we’re doing. There were things that Marx didn’t understand. Engels, Lenin, certainly Stalin, even Mao—I say even Mao because he’s more recent, you know—but there are things that we’ve learned that they didn’t understand, or didn’t understand correctly. That’s the nature of being scientific. And yet there is that initial, fundamental qualitative breakthrough with Marx. And this basic understanding—yes, as it’s being continually grappled with and further developed, and it is all of our responsibility to continue to grapple with it and contribute to developing it—but this understanding in that sense is what we have to continually go back to, be regrounding ourselves in, grounding more deeply, and applying and carrying out the correct dialectical relation between grounding ourselves in it and applying it, learning from the experience of applying it as well as much broader experience in the world, in different realms. Deepening our understanding of it, back again with that deeper understanding, and on and on, in a forward moving dialectic, dealing with all the complexity without losing the core, without losing the fundamentals, without losing our grip on the fundamentals, even as we continue to subject the fundamentals to questioning. Because this is a science. This is a matter of being consistently, systematically, thoroughly and comprehensively scientific.

And that’s actually what Marxism, what communism, is. This doesn’t mean it doesn’t make mistakes—it doesn’t mean people who are trying to do this don’t get influenced by the limitations of their own understanding or the outlook of other classes, or their own prejudices and biases as individuals, or whatever. That’s true in any realm of science. But the scientific method is what enables you to learn from that as well, and to sum that up and to deepen and get your understanding to be more correct, in an ongoing process. So this is very important. We have to be scientific, and we have to specifically apply what is, in fact, the most comprehensive, systematic and consistent scientific method and approach, the approach of dialectical materialism and communism— communism which is grounded in dialectical materialism, just to be clear.

The Fundamental Contradiction and Other Major Contradictions

Now, one of the things I want to just touch on—here again, I’m not trying to go into all these points at great depth, but just to touch on them as food for thought—and to emphasize it: food for thought in the active sense. I learned recently that someone made a very good observation about the point in the speech (now a film) REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS!, where toward the end I read out BAsics 4:10 (which I’ll come back to later) and I said, I’m doing this as food for thought, people should grapple with this. And then someone, commenting on the fact that people really haven’t gone back to and grappled with that, even though they were called upon to do so in that speech, including many of our own people in and around the Party, said, “It was said that this was food for thought, but that didn’t mean it was supposed to stay in the refrigerator for a year.” [laughter] Well, you know, there is a question of food for thought, and that’s what I’m trying to do here, but also that means things have to be actively dug into—as well as being ruminated about in an ongoing way, but actively dug into and grappled with, individually and collectively, in the appropriate forms. In line with that, I think one of the questions that also needs to be pinpointed, and that people need to be grappling with—and this gets raised not always in this direct form, in fact most often not in this direct form, but it gets raised indirectly or in partial ways—is the question: What is the relation between these other contradictions—for example, the oppression of women, or the oppression of nations, or oppressed peoples, or the mental/manual contradiction, or the relation with the environment—what is the relation between those contradictions and the fundamental contradiction of capitalism and its driving force of anarchy?

Now there are two ways you could go wrong on this. One would be to be very mechanical, to be mechanical materialists instead of dialectical materialists. In other words, to see things in flat and linear terms, rather than in terms of contradictions, and the motion of different contradictions and the interaction of different contradictions. So you could be mechanical in that way, not seeing those contradictions in their motion and their interaction, and try to reduce everything, in a vulgar way—like everything is equivalent, in a reductionist sense, to the fundamental contradiction of capitalism. Which will lead you to all kinds of reformism and economism. The oppression of women, that’s just—in a linear sense, in a reductionist sense, that’s just reducible to the exploitation of the proletariat, and the anarchy and the competition anarchy gives rise to between different capitalists—the woman question should be reduced to just how it fits narrowly within that. No. This is a contradiction—the contradiction revolving around the oppression of women, and at the root of the oppression of women, existed before capitalism, existed before there were the great feudal societies of Europe, for example, existed at the beginning of the division of society into masters and slaves, exploiters and exploited. And it has been transformed, has taken different forms and obviously has been influenced by the mode of production as that’s changed throughout history. But it’s also retained certain features, and certain basic elements that are not reducible to any particular mode of production. And this is very important to understand.

And yet, does that mean that this has got nothing to do with the fundamental contradiction? See, that would be the other error, on the other side, to be undialectical. And by that I mean you look at everything as in little containers—boxes or containers—each separated from the other, and you approach each of these contradictions as self-contained things. Not as things which have their own identity, relatively, have relative discreteness and identity, and motion and development, as such, but as things that are completely walled off from other contradictions. Now, let’s take, once again, the oppression of women. The oppression of women, as I just emphasized, pre-dates capitalism. It wasn’t brought into being by the capitalist mode of production. It was in many ways transformed, but certainly not eliminated, by the capitalist mode of production becoming predominant in many societies, and then in the world overall. But is it unrelated to the fundamental contradiction of capitalism? No. Because this contradiction, involving the oppression of women, as I just spoke to, is in fact influenced, changed in some significant ways, by the changes that have been brought about in different modes of production, including capitalism, and the changes that have taken place within capitalist societies, primarily owing to the motion of its fundamental contradiction and the driving force of anarchy. And, along with that, the ways in which this contradiction finds expression now (the contradiction around the oppression of women, all the social relations bound up with that, and all the ideas bound up with that) are now taking place—even while they have their own discreteness, relative identity and dynamics, are contradictions in their own right, even while it involves all that—this is now taking place within a larger framework and context which is being fundamentally determined by the motion of the fundamental contradiction of capitalism and its driving force of anarchy.

That’s the way to understand it. These things have particularity, but they also exist within this larger framework. And it’s important to understand both parts of that, and to get the relation between that right. Again, it’s not a static relation—it’s a moving, a changing, relationship—but it’s important to get the relations correctly.

And the same is true of national oppression. The same is true of something like the environment. Capitalism has its own particular ways of dealing with the environment. Everything, all the changes in the environment, are not reducible—in a direct, linear and reductionist sense—to just the dynamics of the capitalist mode of production. But they are, again, within that framework. So, this is the way we have to understand the dynamics. They are significantly influenced—and not only affected in some abstract sense, but transformed in various ways—by those fundamental dynamics of the fundamental contradiction of capitalism and its driving force of anarchy.

That’s the way to understand these things and to approach them. And that enables you to see why we have to go to work on particular contradictions, at the same time that we have to understand how they fit into the overall framework of everything that needs to be transformed, and what are the fundamental dynamics that have to be confronted and transformed in order to actually move beyond this whole era, and actually get to where humanity is soaring beyond the whole narrow—yes, what is a very narrow horizon, both in the material world and in people’s thinking about the way the world is and the way it could be.

So that’s, again, food for thought in an active sense, not to be put in a refrigerator and allowed to spoil in there. Like Mao says, in order to change the world you have to actively engage it, in order to taste the pear you have to bite the pear and change it by biting it. So, these are things you have to dig into. And something like BAsics 4:10 is very important—it’s concentrating a lot of things—but, like every element of scientific theory, it also needs to be grappled with, and needs to be applied and, yes, it needs to be enriched. That’s what all this is about, as opposed to any kind of religiosity, any kind of dogmatism, any kind of narrow reformism—any of the underpinnings of all those things, namely the non-materialist and undialectical way of just proceeding from a set of ideas or narratives and looking at things as all static, unchanging and separated by walls, impenetrable walls, from each other.

The Living Process We Need to Radically Change the World

All of this emphasizes what we do need to be basing ourselves on, what the living process of the Party and the people around us should be all about. It should be—look, it should be full of a lot of fun, including the fun of grappling with theory and line and being scientific, by the way, which is a lot of fun. Also very frustrating. Still, a lot of fun, even with all the frustration. But it should have other elements of fun, too, that are not directly political, or directly programmatic, or whatever. But it should be this continual and ongoing process, a living process, both formally and informally, with the right spirit, through the appropriate means. As someone has pointed out, it’s very important—in fact, not only is it very important, but it’s an essential element of this whole thing—for all of us to be critical thinkers, about everything. But there’s a difference between that and just being petty. You know, people who are constantly trying to pick apart everything—which is wrong not just because it’s petty but because it’s unscientific, and I’ll come back to that more.

What does it mean and why is it important to have epistemological discipline? What does that mean and how does that relate to ranging broadly and grappling, actively, with food for thought, and the kind of percolation, in and around the Party, on every level, up and down and all around, that we need to be constantly having? And again I say, if you’re really grounding yourself in the scientific approach to this and that kind of method, and the spirit, if I can use that term, that is the accompaniment of and flows from that kind of scientific method and approach, then it’s a living process, and it’s fun in that sense, even while it’s often frustrating. But, you know, the point ultimately isn’t to have fun—or to be frustrated—it is to change the world. But, on the other hand, the process itself is consistent with where we’re trying to go, and needs to be consistent with it, both in the spirit of it, if you will, and most fundamentally in the method and approach of it. And this is something that really has to be—there is much more transformation that needs to go on. Not by turning inward and just having a lot of internal grappling among the small—way too small at this point—ranks of the revolution and the Party, but by going out to the world and in that context having that kind of living grappling with people broadly in society, but also right within our own ranks in the process of doing that.

The Mainstream of the Mass Movement Is NOT Always Correct—Combatting the Pull of Spontaneity and the Striving to Come Under the Wing of the Bourgeoisie

All of this is posed objectively—not in terms of, once again, one set of ideas versus another, or one narrative versus another, but objectively and in terms of fundamental method and approach and orientation—it’s posed up against, on the one hand, reification and spontaneity, and, on the other hand, determinism. Now, by reification and spontaneity, what I’m getting at goes back to what I started out with. For example, there was a statement that came forward in the Cultural Revolution in China which some of us, when we were coming forward, were influenced by, and it’s wrong. It was a slogan that was popularized for a while in that Cultural Revolution and it was wrong, and it did some harm, and we’ve got to look back on and think about it and sum it up scientifically to the degree we haven’t already. And that was this statement, which was brought forward in the midst of what was a very positive development, the Cultural Revolution in China, involving tens and ultimately hundreds of millions of people grappling with the same kinds of questions we’re grappling with here, as well as how they apply to all different realms of society and policy and program, and so on. But the slogan I’m talking about was: The mainstream of the mass movement is always correct. [Makes the sound of Bronx cheer, laughs] No! You know, at that time the mainstream of that mass movement was correct. But that just happened to be the convergence of some very good leadership with masses who were going in the direction of that leadership, and thrashing through things with that leadership in a good way. But, as a general principle, that’s completely wrong.

Think about its application. There have been many mass movements—fascist mass movements, social democratic, reformist movements that are totally within the confines of capitalism, reactionary nationalist movements, as opposed to more revolutionary nationalism—plenty of movements which are not correct. It’s not necessarily wrong—I’m not saying every struggle for reform is negative—but reform-ism as a world view and an approach, a program, is very negative. You know, when it’s raised to the level of a principle—that working for reforms within this system is all that we can possibly do and should try to do—that’s very negative, when it’s raised to that level of a line or a principle, if you want to put it that way. But there have been all kinds of mass movements—and you still see this, ideas circulating around, having influence among better people today, people who consider themselves progressive or liberal or even some who consider themselves radical or whatever. Like another slogan that came out (mainly I think this slogan was—at least it was certainly taken up, if it wasn’t initiated it was certainly taken up by a lot of revisionist forces): “The people united will never be defeated.” Well, that’s unscientific. First of all, people have been united and defeated many times, especially when they haven’t had correct leadership, but even sometimes when they have, but the balance of forces was against them in the short term. This doesn’t mean that the leadership—that doesn’t mean you’re incorrect—sometimes you can be correct and lose, and sometimes you lose because you’re incorrect. But, first of all, people have been “united,” and defeated many times, sometimes because they’re united around the wrong thing, and sometimes because the other forces they’re up against are more powerful at the given time.

But, second of all, who’s this “people?” You know, among the people there are different classes. Without being reductionist and narrow mechanical—and being therefore actually economist, workerist—there are, in broad terms, different classes among the people, and there are representatives who, however consciously they perceive this, are actually objectively acting as (as Marx put it) the political and literary representatives of different classes. And they’re all contending. Again, going back to what I said earlier, let’s give people the best—the benefit of the doubt, or the best interpretation, that they are all proceeding from how they, through the prism of the class outlook they’ve taken up, perceive what are the general interests of the people, or society, or humanity. But they’re not all being scientific. And they’re not all scientifically approaching what are the actual interests of the masses of people, and what are the contradictions that have to be struggled through to actually realize the interests of the broad masses of people and ultimately humanity.

So the “pee-ple” contains a lot of different contending forces, and, yes, it’s not wrong in many cases for those “pee-ple” to be broadly united around things. Often that’s very correct and very important. But that doesn’t negate the fact that, within that broad unity, there are different contending forces representing different and contending programs, or to put it simply, trying to take people and society to different places within the context of what already exists, or trying to go to something different. But then the question: what something different are they trying to go to, if it’s radically different. And there are political and literary representatives who emerge who—in broad strokes, and without being mechanical about this, and ridiculous—do actually strive for the interests of these different social or class forces in society. The “people” consist of all that.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, if there’s one class and one force—again not being narrow and mechanical and economist, but speaking broadly—if there’s one class whose political and literary representatives will fold up their tent and not fight for the interests of that class, broadly speaking, within the current situation, it is the proletariat and its political and literary representatives. Because that’s the one class, and its representatives, that not only doesn’t have spontaneity going for it, but has to go up against a tremendous amount of spontaneity of the existing system and all the relations and the ideas and culture and values and institutions, and on and on, that reflect and reinforce that system. So, it’s a constant struggle of the communists against spontaneity—which means also struggling against tailing the masses. Because, again, if you understand this scientifically and not mechanically, it is not the case that each social group or class spontaneously acts in accordance with its own interests. And, once again, in particular, the one class in this situation, under the rule of capital, that doesn’t most of the time act in its own interests is the proletariat.

The petite bourgeoisie—let me put it another way, the petite bourgeoisie and its various segments and strata (because it’s not one uniform thing, but all these different petit bourgeois strata making up, broadly speaking, the middle class, the petite bourgeoisie, if you will)—they more or less spontaneously do act in their interests. Because they don’t have to make any radical ruptures in their thinking, or with the existing society, in order to act in their interests. I mean, yes, it’s true that the interests of the petite bourgeoisie are constantly being undermined and attacked by the dynamics of capitalism and the ruling class of capitalism and its institutions. But, as such, the interests of the petite bourgeoisie—even while, on the one hand, being propped up to a certain degree but on the other hand being undermined and suppressed by the workings of the system—those interests don’t require any radical rupture and can’t lead to it. If somebody acts in the most conscious way, in terms of representing the interests of the petite bourgeoisie, they cannot lead to any radical rupture. So they can have a lot of spontaneity going for them, the spontaneity of the existing system.

And obviously the bourgeoisie—we don’t have to talk about that. They obviously have the system going for them, even though the system causes them all kinds of problems. Why? Because the system is characterized by this fundamental contradiction and its dynamics, and in particular the driving force of anarchy, and it is riddled by all these other contradictions that either arise from or are encompassed now within the dynamics of the fundamental contradiction of capitalism and the driving force of anarchy and all that this gives rise to, to go back to the earlier discussion about understanding the relation between other contradictions and the fundamental contradiction.

But the political and literary representatives of the proletariat have to go up against—overwhelmingly have to go up against the spontaneity of the very class and masses of people, the wretched of the earth, the oppressed of the earth, whose interests they fundamentally represent, because those masses are caught within the web and the dynamics, if you will, the living moving web and the dynamics of the capitalist system and all the influence of those social relations and the superstructure—the culture, the ideology, the political institutions of that system. That’s why Marx brought forward the “4 Alls”—not just as an idea, again, but as a scientific concentration of what you have to get beyond in order to really make those two radical ruptures and get to a whole different world, without exploitation and oppression and antagonistic divisions, and antagonistic relations among people, and all the violent destruction that arises from and is bound up with that. You know, he talked about: you have to get beyond all the economic relations, the production relations, of capitalism; all the social relations that either arise from or are encompassed within those dynamics; the ideas that stem from those social relations; you have to get beyond the class relations that are rooted in those economic relations, as well as the social relations that are bound up with that, and the ideas that go along with and reinforce all that. This is the whole process. And there’s no class in this society, and no section of the people, that’s going to spontaneously come up with that, and consciously go toward, go for, that. In fact, even those people who have the most fundamental interest in this, are going to be constantly pulled by spontaneity—and by that I mean also the workings of the system and how that affects their spontaneous thinking and actions—they are going to be constantly pulled away from this, even though it’s in their own interests, and even though they will also gravitate toward it spontaneously. That’s the contradictory nature of it.

So this is why any kind of reification, any kind of idea that the mainstream of the mass movement is always correct—Oh, you know, somebody’s from an oppressed group, they must know what’s right, at least about their own oppression, or the oppression of their group—No, I’m sorry, this is a matter of science. And it’s a matter of what Lenin identified: The constant striving to come under the wing of the bourgeoisie. Why? Why is there this constant striving? I’ve pointed this out before, and it’s worth stopping on it for a second, going into it again for a little while, even if briefly. Why did he—let’s note Lenin’s wording. He doesn’t just say the constant pull to go under the wing of the bourgeoisie. What word does he use? The constant striving to come under the wing of the bourgeoisie. And you see it over and over again.

You know, Mandela—what is Mandela? Let’s give him his due. Very courageous. Willing to sacrifice tremendously. In his own mind, having the interests of the rest of the South Africans more broadly in mind. But, comes under the wing of the bourgeoisie. And not out of cowardice. But, according to his own—what I’ve heard was his own accounting of this, is that he and others whom he was aligned with made calculations that, if they didn’t go for this arrangement that the imperialists had cooked up and were presenting to them, then there would be this tremendous rupture in society, and this massive amount of violence and people would suffer.

Well, constantly you come up against that kind of thing, whether you’re a conscious representative of some force or other— ultimately representing some social grouping or class or other—or whether you’re just one of the masses of people going along within this movement. You constantly come up against the price you pay, if you don’t come under the wing of the bourgeoisie—as well as the fact that, as Marx and Engels pointed out, the ruling ideas of every age, or every society, are ever the ideas of the ruling class. So you’re constantly influenced by those ideas, that way of thinking, and the implications politically, the programmatic implications that flow from that. And over and over and over again, both out of opportunist but even, yes, out of sincere motivation, we see people exerting influence and gaining influence, and then using that to compromise with the existing system—sometimes out of just the narrowest, most corrupt and venal ambitions of their own, but sometimes, even more painfully, out of a genuine motivation to try to change the world in a way that they think will lessen the suffering of people. But not recognizing—because they’re not being thoroughly scientific, and their orientation isn’t to do that, to approach everything with a scientific method, they don’t really get to the fundamental truth that unless you radically rupture with, overthrow and radically transform—overthrow the existing system and radically transform the society and ultimately the world in a certain way, toward the elimination of those “4 Alls” that Marx identified—production relations, class relations, social relations and ideas, radically transforming those—unless you do that, you’re not going to make the conditions of the masses of humanity better, and in fact they’re going to get worse, even as capitalism will keep on perpetuating itself according to its own dynamics and its dominant position in the world.

So, we see this: history is full of examples of people who led massive struggles—involving heroic self-sacrifice, not only on the part of the rank and file, if you will, but the leaders, too—and yet, not always out of cowardice, not always out of narrow venal corruption, but out of a misplaced motivation, flowing from a wrong understanding based in an unscientific approach, they actually do what in fact amounts to coming back under the wing of the bourgeoisie, moving things back within the existing system. And look at what the condition of the masses of people in South Africa is today, the masses of African people. Yes, apartheid is gone—and it was good, it was just and righteous, to struggle to get rid of apartheid. But if that is made the end point of the struggle, then you see what happens. The masses of people are suffering horribly. And what’s even worse, they are demoralized because they were suffering horribly under apartheid but there was a feeling that they needed to rise—a sense, a sentiment that they needed to rise up against it, and they did rise up against it, and they sacrificed to get rid of it. But now there’s demoralization and confusion because they’ve gotten rid of it, but they’re still suffering terribly under the domination of imperialism and exploiting classes within their own country ultimately subordinate to imperialism.

And you can go through history. This is why at the end of the Cultural Revolution in China they had the campaign around the classical Chinese novel, the Water Margin. Very few people understood what the hell that was about, but it was actually extremely important. Unfortunately, not very many people were paying enough attention or understood it. You know, it was launched with Mao making these comments about how (I think his name was Sung Chiang, but anyway, the hero of the Water Margin was someone who led all these massive peasant uprisings, and then at a certain point was offered inducements and emul... and emoluments, (or however you pronounce that word, how do you pronounce that word, emoluments?) anyway, offered inducements, OK, [laughs] from the existing system—from the emperor—and probably including a package of reforms. And he accepted it and went back in the ranks of the existing system, served the emperor. And the slogan that came forward was: People like this are against corrupt officials only, but not against the emperor. And that was a metaphorical way of saying there are lots of people who strive and lead people and sacrifice, put themselves on the line—Mandela goes to jail for decades—but ultimately they’re just against particularly egregious oppression of the system (particular outrages, or particular ways in which the system makes people suffer) but they don’t ultimately go for abolishing the system as a whole. And so the horror goes on. That was the point of that Water Margin thing—that it was wrong to be against corrupt officials only and not the emperor (it didn’t mean literally the emperor, it meant the whole system, that was the metaphor).

You know, you see this all the time—”Occupy,” whatever: “There’s too much corporate influence.” Well, of course there is, because the corporations are a concentration of capital, and it’s a capitalist system. Of course there’s going to be—but that’s not the essence of the problem. The problem is the very nature of the system in its underlying economic dynamics and in its superstructure to enforce all that, including the state with all of its repressive military, police, courts, prisons, bureaucracies, administrative power, and so on. That’s what has to be confronted. And if you don’t sweep all that aside and replace it with a system that’s operating according to different dynamics—and, yes, is characterized by different contradictions, because there’s no system without contradictions, including communism, but it’s a whole qualitatively different set of contradictions economically, politically, socially, culturally, ideologically—if you don’t get to that, then you’re just going to have, in somewhat transformed form perhaps (I mean often in transformed form) the same horrendous oppression and suffering of the masses of humanity, and maybe even the extinction of humanity through the way, the destructive way, it’s interacting with the environment, and/or wars.

So this is a very fundamental lesson. And you will never get the right thing if you are going by reification and tailing spontaneity. If you think just “the masses in the street” tells you what’s right and wrong—I mean, how many times have we seen this? People don’t make any scientific—don’t make an attempt to make a scientific analysis of what the content is of what’s going on. Whether it’s Ukraine now, or Venezuela. You know, Jared Leto gets up at the Academy Awards and praises the people in the streets. I’m sorry, Jared, but you don’t know fuck-all about what’s going on there, obviously. I believe your heart’s good, you know, but that’s not enough. It’s—let me put it this way—it’s necessary to care. If you don’t care, if you have no passion about the condition of humanity and the fact that it doesn’t have to be this way, get out of here, because you’re never going to do anything good. Or, more to the point, develop that passion by understanding what really is going on in the world and paying attention and caring. But that’s not going to take you where you need to go. It’s a foundation—it’s part of the foundation you need, it’s essential—but it’s not enough. You have to go on and be scientific.

When people are in the street, woo-hoo, what are they doing? Under what banner are they being mobilized? What is the objective content and objective effect of what they’re doing, and what is the subjective consciousness with which they’re doing it? And what is the correct understanding of the synthesis of those things? Sometimes with people, what they’re doing objectively can be very good, and their subjective consciousness is not so good, and you have to determine what’s principal in that contradiction. That’s a contradiction, so what’s principal? What is mainly defining what’s out in the street. The LA rebellion in ‘92—could you find lots of wrong, subjective thinking? Yes. But objectively, was it mainly and overwhelmingly positive? Yes. There are times when the reverse is true. People are out with good intentions, but what they’re objectively doing is bad, leading in a wrong direction, harmful. You have to be a living scientist. And if you’re talking about leading a revolution, forget it if you’re not being consistently—I’m not saying you don’t make mistakes or that you don’t have limitations. We all have limitations. That’s the nature of being human beings, interacting with the rest of the world. I’m not—this is not some humanist thing about, we’re all just flawed human beings. I’m saying human beings have limitations in what they can understand and how they can act at a given time, even when they’re really trying to be scientific. But we’ve got to consistently put ourselves—individually, but above all collectively—to grappling with how to be scientific, what it means in general, and also in its particular application to many contradictions at any given time, and increasingly deepening our grounding in that and in our ability to get better and better at doing it, even while we’re going to always have shortcomings.

So if you’re going by reification and spontaneity, it’s no good. If you’re thinking about—here’s the point where it comes together—if you’re really thinking about the masses of people and you’re being scientific, I don’t give a flying fuck what some fucking opportunist jumps up and says. I mean, I care if it has an effect. But I’m not going to let that influence how I’m going to approach that. This is not some individual proclamation on my part. I’m saying, as a point of orientation: we shouldn’t give a flying fuck in terms of allowing ourselves to be intimidated or influenced by what a bunch of opportunists—I don’t care in what garb they come, and I don’t care how many “credentials” they try to drape themselves in. You have to ask yourself, what these people—in what they’re putting forward, does this better represent the interests of where humanity needs to go than what we’re doing? If so, then let’s take it up, and learn from it. If not, then we’re not going to tail after it and we are not going to be intimidated by it, and we are going to struggle with it. And we’re going to put ourselves on the line to struggle with it. Because it matters, because you have to keep in mind the fundamental questions of two things: for whom and for what (that’s one thing, or two things, but anyway, for whom and for what?) and being scientific about determining what is actually in the interest of whom.

And if we don’t put it that way, we’re just going to be whipped around by all kinds of opportunists and by, again, the chops, the petty chops and changes of daily life, or even big changes in society. Like Lenin pointed out in “The Collapse of the Second International”: Every major turn in the world, like an eruption of a world war in that case, tempers and strengthens some people and breaks others. So you have to be prepared—you can’t be whipped around by the petty chops and changes of daily life. You can’t also be thrown off your bearings by BIG monumental changes that happen, perhaps without much warning, or at least in ways that you didn’t anticipate. And the only way to do that is to continually be grounded in this scientific method and approach, and the most consistent, systematic and comprehensive and thorough scientific approach, communism, based in dialectical materialism.

This also, on the one hand, not only leads you to be able to understand the need and the basis for combatting spontaneity and for not falling into reifying different sections of the people, or different people who come forward sincerely or otherwise as representatives of the different sections of the people. It enables you to actually analyze what these people or movements or trends represent, and what they have to do, positively or negatively, with where things need to go in terms of a radical transformation of the whole world through revolution with the final goal of communism; but it also enables you, on the other side of it, if you will, to not fall into determinism. Because being scientific enables you to understand that the whole world is made up of contradiction, and that society, human society in its interaction with the rest of nature, is characterized by certain fundamental and decisive contradictions, namely that between the forces and relations of production and between the relations of production (or the economic base, or the mode of production) on the one hand, and the superstructure of politics, ideology and culture, on the other hand. And that takes different forms in different systems. Capitalism, again, has its own particular ways in which those basic contradictions are expressed, in the fundamental contradiction of capitalism and its driving force of anarchy, and in all the other contradictions that arise out of that or are encompassed within it, such as (an example of the latter—of being encompassed within it) the oppression of women as one very important example.

So if you’re actually proceeding on that basis, then you’re not just looking at what you’re confronted with. You’re not just looking at necessity, whether you identify it as necessity or not. You’re not just looking at difficulty. You’re not just looking at backwardness among the masses. You’re not just looking at the power that the ruling class and its system still does have, yes. But you’re looking more deeply and in a more living way at all of the dynamics within that, all the contradictory dynamics within that, going right down to the fundamental contradiction and everything, again, that arises from or is encompassed within that, and the pathways that can be hacked out, if you will, can be forged through struggle on the basis of those contradictions. Not ones that are handed to you, but the pathways that are potentially there that you have to then struggle to break open and to lead people on, and then to keep leading people on. Because, again, the spontaneous pull, the spontaneous striving to come under the wing of the bourgeoisie—if you’re not aware of that as you’re going forward, then you forge out a path, and you’re marching ahead, and you look around and everybody’s gone, [laughs] and you’re standing there by yourself, because you haven’t paid attention to the fact that the bourgeoisie and the petite bourgeoisie and their political and literary representatives are also working on these contradictions and working on the forces that you’re trying to lead on the basis of these contradictions and that you need to lead on the basis of these contradictions.

Not Bowing Down...Recognizing Necessity as Contradiction

So, there’s necessity, but necessity is contradiction. Necessity is not just, “oh shit!” Necessity is not just problems. It’s not just difficulty. It’s not just obstacles. Necessity is contradiction. And if you understand it that way, then you don’t fall into determinism; and if you have the right synthesis, then you can see how, on the one hand, reification, spontaneity, tailing the masses—just looking at the motion without the content of it, when people are moving—actually is mutually reinforced with determinism. Those form a kind of perverse synthesis themselves. If communists or others who can change the world don’t have a scientific approach, they will find themselves both falling into tailing spontaneity, and reification, and bowing down to necessity in a determinist way. And it’s the orientation of for whom and for what—see, here’s what I say to these fucking opportunists of various kinds, and to the representatives of the bourgeoisie: I’m sorry, but there’s just one problem. If I bow down to you, the masses of people are going to be fucked again, and fucked on and on and on. And that’s why I cannot bow down to you. Not because I’m badder than you are. Not because I’m smarter than you are. Not because, in some essence of mine, I’m a better person than you are, or whatever. But because of that very fact, which science tells me and keeps deepening my understanding of, that if I bow down to this, then the masses of people are going to remain chained within these horrific conditions and enslaved and oppressed and exploited in horrific ways. Maybe some new ways, but horrific ways always. And that’s why we cannot do it. And that’s why we have to fight against all that for something radically different. And that’s why we have to be scientific in order to actually fight in the way that we need to fight for that.

So that’s the first overarching point I want to speak to within this general subject, if you will, of the material basis and the method for making revolution. To put it another way, all of that is sort of to the point of what’s the material basis for revolution. And I’ve started to talk about method, and I want to turn more directly to the question of a scientific method and approach.

A Scientific Method and Approach—Materialism and Dialectics

So let’s go on then and talk more directly about a scientific method and approach. I’ve touched on some of this already, but I want to go through some of it and at least identify some of the key questions that are involved. I’ve said that communism is the most consistent, systematic, thorough, comprehensive scientific method and approach. Why is that? Is it just—is that just a claim we make? You know, everybody else is bourgeois or petit bourgeois, so they’re not scientific. No. It has to do with the basic grounding and the basic method of materialism and dialectics, and the synthesis of the two. Communism, Marxism as it’s continually being developed as an actual science, is most consistently materialist, in the sense that it has the most consistent understanding of the fact that all of reality is material reality, that material reality is objective, not determined by the ideas of individuals. Or it may be affected by the interaction of people on the broader material reality, but that broader material reality does not—its existence does not depend upon people, their ideas or their interaction with it; it exists in that sense independently of people and their ideas and their interaction with it. And this is what all of reality consists of—of matter—things that actually do move and change, that interact with other forms of matter and that can be, yes, influenced by conscious beings—in the most concentrated and highest way (at least that we know of) by human beings. (At least this is the case on this planet, and leaving aside that minor caveat for our purposes—not getting into the question of possible life on other planets—matter can be influenced in the most concentrated and highest way by human beings).

But, at the same time, in order to really be consistently materialist, you also have to be dialectical: You have to understand that material reality doesn’t just exist, but it exists in terms of contradiction—that contradiction is the mode of existence of material things and of material reality overall, that matter exists and moves in and through contradiction. Contradiction within each thing, contradiction within everything, contradictions between different particular and relatively discrete—relatively discrete particular forms of matter in motion.

So, it is only if you have a synthesis of those two things—an understanding of both aspects, the materialism and the dialectics (dialectics referring to the understanding that everything exists in and proceeds through contradiction)—only if you have both of those aspects, and the correct synthesis of them, can you in fact be thoroughly scientific. Not just in what you subjectively try to do, but in fact be the most consistently, systematically, and comprehensively scientific—which doesn’t mean, by the way, that you’re always entirely consistent, systematic and comprehensive in terms of being scientific. That goes back to the point earlier about human beings and their limitations. But that’s the way in which human beings can be the most consistently, systematically, and comprehensively scientific, including in learning from their mistakes.

So that’s why we say this. This isn’t just a slogan. It isn’t a “nah-nah, nah boo-boo”—”nah-nah, nah boo-boo, we’re more scientific than you are.” It is grounded in material reality and the correct understanding of material reality and its motion and development, and the motive forces, if you will, of that motion and development, and the intertwining of the two aspects of all existence being matter and all matter existing as contradiction, moving on the basis of contradiction, and interacting with other matter which is made up of contradiction. That’s the way matter is. It’s not that we say so, or that God created it that way. That’s the way matter is, that’s the understanding we’ve achieved. And Marxism has achieved it on a higher and more synthesized level.

The New Synthesis

Now, on that foundation I want to talk a little bit about how the new synthesis applies to this. I’m not going to try to go into the whole thing of what is the new synthesis—that’s a topic for a different discussion. But the new synthesis does represent a deeper grounding, a fuller synthesis—a deeper grounding in and a fuller synthesis of the scientific method of dialectical materialism, and therefore, or as an expression of that, a more thoroughly scientific method and approach. It represents recognizing and rupturing with certain aspects of a mechanical materialism, and of reification, and even of metaphysics that have had a secondary but not insignificant influence within the communist movement over its history—approaching things, for example, with the notion of “class truth,” the idea that there is a truth of the oppressed class or classes, and that’s what we base ourselves on, as opposed to the understanding that there is material reality and a scientific approach to that material reality, and we learn from every source we can learn from, while at the same time we synthesize what we’re learning with the consistent application of dialectical materialism—to society, to nature, and to the interrelation, the interaction, between nature and society and among the human beings who make up society.

In other words, I have put a lot of emphasis so far, and very necessarily so, on the radical rupture that is represented by communism. There is the analogy to Darwin: that the understanding of society and the human beings who make up society, and their social relations, and all their relations—economic, social, political, cultural, and so on—and the interaction of all that with nature, is as radically different after Marx as biology is after Darwin. That’s very true and very important, and fundamental for us to ground ourselves in. At the same time, this should not be taken to mean that there is nothing to learn from people who existed in previous eras and who express a viewpoint of different classes ultimately than the proletariat, or that there’s nothing to learn from people in the world today who do so. That’s not the same thing. To say that biology is radically different after Darwin doesn’t mean you couldn’t learn something even from somebody who opposed Darwin. But it means that you’re in a whole different framework, and you have a whole different—to put it somewhat crudely, a different toolset—you have a different method and approach, or a more developed, qualitatively more developed method and approach to go about learning from everything, including the ideas of people who are wrong in the main.

So, if you have this correct understanding (and this is something emphasized by the new synthesis of communism that I’ve brought forward, more than previously—it’s not that this was non-existent, it was there in Mao, it was there in Lenin, it was there in Marx) you can learn from people who oppose you and people who are essentially wrong in general, or wrong in their principal aspect. This is something the new synthesis has given more emphasis to: the correct synthesis of, if you will, the recognition of the radical rupture represented by communism and, at the same time, the method and approach, based on that radical rupture, to actually proceed to learn from everything. Not to tail and adapt (I mean adopt) the ideas, the wrong ideas, of other people, but to have an approach of learning from reality in a scientific way.

What Is Science, What Is the Scientific Method?

What does that mean? What is science? Science means, first of all, basing yourself on reality, on material reality—on an understanding that reality consists of matter, in motion. But it also means interacting with that larger material reality, accumulating evidence on the basis of that interaction—not in a random way, but with certain hypotheses in mind, which you understand are tentative, they’re hypotheses, they’re not fully developed theories, they’re hypotheses, but interacting with the rest of material reality to accumulate evidence in relation to something that you’re investigating. And then, drawing from many different sources, synthesizing and identifying the patterns within that part of reality that you are investigating and exploring, and accumulating evidence in relation to that—synthesizing it to a higher level and then drawing the appropriate conclusions. And then going back to reality to test that, to see if what you have synthesized actually correctly corresponds to reality, if it correctly predicts what will and will not happen in reality—not in a narrow sense, but in the essential sense, and overall sense, correctly predicts what will and will not, what can and cannot happen in reality. And then that’s an ongoing process. It’s not one time, it’s not—to use the parlance of the times, it’s not a “one-off.” (I hate that kind of talk, but I couldn’t resist, I’m sorry.) But anyway, it’s not a one time thing, it’s an ongoing process—which, however, does go through qualitative stages. To synthesize is a qualitative leap. To take it back to reality and test it against reality and to draw the conclusions from that is another qualitative leap. This is essentially what Mao was describing in “On Practice”: the leap from perceptual knowledge to rational knowledge, synthesized knowledge, and then back to practice and more accumulation, and on and on.

So this is what it means to be scientific in any field, any particular human endeavor or sphere of activity and knowledge, and it’s what it means overall to be scientific. And this is what we have to be doing—this is something that the new synthesis is giving synthesized and concentrated expression to, the importance of this. That this is what we base ourselves on. Not fads. Not spontaneous trends. Not what capital people can amass to say that they represent the truth. But the scientific approach.

The point has been made—and I think it’s a very important point—that if you don’t have a scientific method and approach, you are vulnerable to being misled, tricked and whipped around by any kind of phenomenon, and any kind of force, any kind of trend, any kind of opportunist, any kind of charlatan. Because you have no basis to test out whether what people are saying is true or not. You’re just going by whatever seems to have currency—I’ll use that term—or whatever most people think or believe at a given time, or how much authority someone has, or can seem to have, behind a particular set of ideas. You have no way to sort out what’s true and not true, and you’ll just be whipped around and led around by the nose continually, and obviously to bad places. Or even if the people are well intentioned who are influencing you, but they’re not being scientific, they’re not going to take you where you need to go, in terms of what humanity needs and what is possible for humanity at this point in historical development—not some metaphysical god-ordained or universe-directed process of history, but where history actually has come to through the interplay between necessity and accident, and underlying forces and dynamics and the conscious action of people on those things—this is where we’ve arrived at, and this is where it’s possible to go. And you’re not going to go there if you’re not being scientific, and if you’re being led and influenced by people who are not being scientific.

Or if you’re allowing people who are not being scientific to lead and influence people, and you’re not—in a good way, not in a dogmatic or shrill way, but in a very substantive, principled but sharp way, when necessary, and it often is necessary—contesting and actually defeating over time these unscientific approaches. Defeating them in the sense of exposing what’s wrong with them and winning people away from them—not because it’s a contest of egos or different people with different narratives, or different social groupings divorced from the masses of people, but because of what science tells us about what the interests and needs of the broad masses of people in the world, and ultimately humanity, actually are and what is possible at this point.

Consistently Going for the Truth and Carrying Forward the Communist Revolution

So I just want to touch on a few other things that have to do with the new synthesis, and move on to a couple of more particular points. One of the key things about the new synthesis is, on the one hand, the importance and the insistence upon consistently going for the truth—in other words, another way to say that is consistently being scientific. Not going by narratives, not going on the basis of “class truth”—or different truths or narratives of different identity groups—but being scientific in order to understand material reality in the way that I’ve been speaking about that. But it’s not just that. When Mike Ely did his “Nine Letters,” he said (and I’m paraphrasing): Well, if we walked into a university setting and we said, hey, we have a radical new idea, we’re going for the truth, would anybody think that’s impressive? And we had to say, first of all, yes—since it is radically different than what’s operative and what’s holding sway on campus, including among the so-called progressive people. You know, it’s all this relativism and post-modernist nonsense that denies objective reality and objective truth, and identifies truth as just a matter of power relations or narratives or paradigms, or what have you. So, yes, first of all.

But more fundamentally, what’s involved in the new synthesis is, yes, very importantly, going for the truth consistently—in other words, being consistently scientific—but also the synthesis of that, or the application of that, if you will, to actually carrying forward the revolutionary struggle toward the final goal of communism. Yes, we have to be scientific, but what is involved is the application of that to achieve the goal of communism. But also, here’s something very important that I think is not well understood, and that’s an understatement: what’s being pointed to by the new synthesis, and this is an advance beyond the previous understanding in communism (and when you say it’s an advance, it doesn’t mean there was never anything of it, never any elements of it, you mean it’s a further synthesis) and what it is, is an understanding of the actual relationship, the dialectical relationship—which means it’s a contradictory relationship, but also the synthesis that can be forged—between going for the truth and carrying forward the struggle for communism.

It’s why, as I said in the discussion with comrades on epistemology, we have to, in a certain sense, if you will, embrace truths that make us cringe. Because, if we don’t, it means we are not going to be consistently scientific, and we’re not going to be getting deeply enough to reality in order to be able to transform it toward the goal of communism. It’s not that we like truths that make us cringe. It’s that, if they’re there and if they’re true, if they are a correct reflection of reality, we have to “embrace” them, if you will. We have to confront them and make the understanding of them part of the scientific method and approach, and the accumulated body of scientifically arrived at understanding, that enables us to carry forward the struggle to transform the world toward the goal of communism.

So this is a very important point of epistemology. It’s not just, hey, we’re going for the truth. It’s yes, we must be going consistently for the truth—in other words, we must be consistently scientific—but also understanding that only by doing so and getting the deepest and, if you will, richest understanding of reality, in all of its fundamental nature, but also in all of its contradictoriness and motion and development and change and transformation, can we actually get to communism, and lead masses of people in this, and struggle with masses of people to get and stay on the road of going to communism, and not to come under the wing of the bourgeoisie, and not to accept the emoluments (or whatever they’re called) and inducements and come back into the camp of the emperor, to use that metaphor.

Solid Core and Elasticity

Also, another very important point, that’s a key element of the new synthesis epistemologically, is solid core and elasticity as applied to epistemology, as applied to method and approach, as applied to being scientific. This is a point I made in the talk Dictatorship and Democracy, and the Socialist Transition to Communism, that solid core and elasticity applies to method and approach. Just briefly, how so? In other words, I said earlier, in discussing the scientific method: when you go out to investigate the world, to accumulate evidence, experience and evidence, about the world and then to synthesize that, you have to be proceeding according to something. You can’t proceed according to no understanding at all. You have to be proceeding according to certain hypotheses. Now those hypotheses, in turn, have to be not just narratives that you’ve cooked up, or bright ideas. They have to themselves be drawn from, drawn out of, this whole ongoing scientific process, and the best understanding that scientific method and approach has brought in whatever field, or overall, to the accumulation of human knowledge. So that’s your solid core— you’re proceeding on the basis of what’s been scientifically determined up to that point.

But then, at the same time, you recognize, when you go out to do that, that life is—the point Lenin made, that theory is gray, but green is the tree of life. He didn’t mean theory was unimportant. What he meant was theory is always the best—if it’s correct theory, it’s the best approximation you could make of reality—and, as Lenin said, without revolutionary theory there can be no revolutionary movement. So Lenin was not saying, oh, theory schmeory, it’s gray, we will be needing some greenness of life. He was saying that it’s very important but life is always richer, and life is always changing, life is full of what? Contradiction. Material reality exists, and exists as contradiction—moving, changing, interacting contradiction. So that it’s always—there’s always more to learn. But you don’t learn by saying nothing is true, or we can’t know anything. Because that is untrue, that is not scientific. We can and we do accumulate correct understanding. Which doesn’t mean absolutely correct, absolute knowledge, but essentially correct—correct in its principal aspect—essentially correct knowledge about material reality. And we apply that and proceed on that basis to learn more, and in the course of it we may come to challenge part of that basis from which we’re proceeding.

This is what it means to go out into the big ocean, and not stay within a little eddy, a little stagnant pool. You have to be willing to go out into the big world and both understand the dialectical relation between solid core and elasticity as it applies to knowing and changing the world—as it applies to epistemology, and applying that epistemology to changing the world, and as it applies to the relationship between what you understand correctly, in its main aspects at least, to be true about reality and what you learn even about that as you go out to further apply that and change reality more. So this is also very important.

It’s easy to lose your bearings when you discover that something that you thought was true is at least partially not true. It’s easy then to fall into relativism or agnosticism—how can we know?—but that’s unscientific. Science tells us—the method and approach of science, and of dialectical materialism most of all, in the most concentrated way, tells us—we will learn things about what we think to be true that will call some of that into question, maybe all or a particular part of it into question. That’s part of the scientific process, it should not be disorienting. It should not be demoralizing. It’s part of the scientific process through which we learn more deeply in order to transform more fundamentally toward the goal of communism.

Solid Core and Elasticity—Epistemological Discipline and Critical Thinking

And here I want to turn to a more particular aspect of this, a more particular application of this. What about the application of epistemological solid core and elasticity within the Party itself and in the carrying forward of its theory-practice-theory dynamic or dialectic? I referred to the talk, from now I guess almost ten years ago or so, Dictatorship and Democracy, and the Socialist Transition to Communism. There I point out that in all of life, and in everything you do, there is always solid core and elasticity. For example, when you’re having a meeting—this was an example that was cited in that talk, Dictatorship and Democracy, and the Socialist Transition to Communism—when you’re having a meeting, you have to have a certain solid core to the meeting. To put it another way, you have to have an agenda. You have to have some structure and approach, which is based on not just—it should not be based on some arbitrary determination, but it’s based on what? Examining material reality and its contradictions, and identifying which ones are most important to focus on in this particular meeting at this particular time, in the context of everything that needs to be done, if you’re talking about the Party and those it’s leading, in the context of the overall building of the movement for revolution and the Party as its leading core. So there are people responsible for determining an agenda, that’s part of the solid core. And the agenda’s part of the solid core.

Now, as was also gone into in that talk, if there’s no agenda or there’s no structure to the meeting, and everybody’s talking about everything, then two things happen. You don’t accomplish what you need to accomplish. You don’t get a rich understanding of reality in order to be able to act to transform it, and lead people to transform it, in the direction in which that needs to happen in order to emancipate the oppressed and ultimately all of humanity. And the other thing is, somebody ends up prevailing with their ideas anyway. All the anarchy of no solid core, no centrality, if you will, no centralism, no leadership—well, somebody ends up leading anyway, and it’s almost always the wrong one. In fact, that kind of method will sooner or later guarantee that you’ll get the wrong results.

So you have a leading core, and you have an agenda and a structure. In order to lead well you have to—say somebody starts talking about something off the subject, you have to say: “Wait a minute, we’re not talking about that, we’re talking about this and for a good reason; that’s an important question, or maybe it’s not, but if it is, we’ll take it up at another time, either later in this meeting or in another meeting or in another form, but we’ve got things to accomplish here.” The goal is, after all, to understand the world in order to do what? In order to transform it in a revolutionary way toward the goal of communism. That’s what we’re doing, everything we’re doing is about that. I mean everything when we’re acting as a Party or in leading a movement—I don’t mean every time you eat a meal it has to be directly related to building the movement for revolution, and what you eat, whether you eat a carrot or an apple or a steak, or something else, has to be determined in a one-to-one reductionist sense by whether or how it contributes to building the movement for revolution and the Party as its leading core [laughs]. But, I mean in an overall sense what we’re doing is that. And the things that go directly into that, like meetings or other activities—including demonstrations and ideological struggles and programs that are put on—all those kinds of things are contributing to that, or should be contributing to that. All of them need the solid core.

And then it needs elasticity, where within the given subject at hand, let’s say in a meeting, you have to allow people to range broadly. If it’s too constricted, then you won’t get the kind of process—the rich process, if you will—that you need to actually get more deeply to the truth. And, as in all material reality, the boundaries are relative. So somebody can be mainly talking about the subject, but they may go over the boundary into talking a little bit about something else. If you’re leading them, if you’re leading this process, you have to know how to handle those contradictions, and people who are not leading should also do their best to correctly relate to those contradictions. So that you mainly are contributing to the point at hand, and mainly not taking it and veering it off into something else; but, on the other hand, not so narrowly constricting it that you don’t even recognize that, because the boundaries in nature and society, and in all human activity, are relative and conditional and not absolute, it is impossible to talk strictly about something without also, in certain secondary aspects, talking about other things. And you also have to be flexible. You come into a meeting with an agenda, but something comes up that’s not on the agenda—you have to decide as the leadership, and collectively the group has to decide, well, is this thing that’s emerged more important than what was on the agenda or not?

So there’s a need for epistemological discipline. Why? Is this just an organizational question, discipline? No. It’s also an epistemological question. Solid core and elasticity is above all an epistemological question. It goes back to what I was saying about science. You don’t proceed on the basis of no solid core. You don’t proceed on the basis of no understanding. You proceed on the basis of a certain solid core, a certain understanding, and then you go out into the green tree of life, the richness of life, the contradictoriness and motion of life. And that’s true in anything you do, including in a meeting. But if everybody just talks about whatever they want to talk about in a meeting and doesn’t stay to the point, doesn’t try to be disciplined and focused, you will not learn anything good, and in fact you will interfere with the collective process of people learning. And if a party is made up of people who all follow their own ideas, rather than what the party has summed up as its best accumulated scientifically grounded understanding, then your knowledge of things will decrease, not increase. The process of learning and doing to transform the world, and learning more to do better to transform the world, will be undermined. That’s the solid core part.

Now, what about the elasticity part? Does that mean that—for example, a phenomenon comes up, something appears in our Party’s newspaper, what you’re supposed to do is figure out, “Well, I personally don’t really think that’s correct, but I’ll be disciplined, so I’m just gonna find a way to convince myself that it’s correct, because it’s supposed to be.” No. That’s unscientific. Now there are structures, there are channels, there are procedures if you don’t think something’s correct. You don’t go off individualistically, and just say, “Well I don’t like that, so I’m gonna start telling everybody I talk to that it’s wrong.” But you’re supposed to be thinking critically. That’s a crucial part of science. Yes, there was a slogan that was raised at the beginning of the Cultural Revolution in our Party: Have the humility to allow yourself to be led—which is a problem of people not doing that. But what was adjoined with that? Without a hint of slavishness. Have the humility to allow yourself to be led, without a hint of slavishness. Both parts. That relates to solid core and elasticity too. It’s another expression of the same general phenomenon, the same basic phenomenon, that we need people to be thinking creatively. We need percolation. We need people to be thinking critically, even about what the Party says is true at a given time—but in the right way, with the right spirit, with the right epistemology, with a scientific approach, and through the right channels and procedures. And we need people to take initiative to think about and explore and come up with thinking about things the Party has not delved into scientifically, and to make that part—to feed that, in the appropriate way, into the collective process of the Party knowing and understanding reality, knowing reality and transforming reality in a revolutionary direction in an ongoing process.

So you need the solid core, you need that epistemological discipline. If you don’t have that, you will learn less not more, and you will be undermining your ability to know and transform the world, to lead masses of people, growing numbers of people, to become part of the revolutionary movement of understanding and transforming the world in a revolutionary direction through an ongoing process. On the other hand, if you’re slavish, if you take no initiative—if you don’t recognize that the solid core that is concentrated in the line of the Party at a given time is a solid core, but it is not all of what the process of knowing and changing the world involves, and if you don’t take initiative to think about, to investigate, to explore, and, yes, to question in the right way, both things the Party has said and things that it has not even looked into—then also the process is going to be undermined and short-circuited, and our ability to know and transform the world in line with the objective of emancipating the oppressed of the world and ultimately all of humanity is going to be set back and held back. So you need both aspects. This is something we should grapple with.

Against “Populist Epistemology”

Now, a very important point that’s been brought out, both in terms of how it applies within the Party, but also much more broadly, is a lot of struggle that has been waged ideologically, and in polemics that have been written as a concentrated form of struggle, against what’s been identified as “populist epistemology.” This is the idea that what is true—it’s almost like the cynical bourgeois polling stuff. You know, if you want to determine what you should do, you take a poll. It’s not really what the bourgeoisie does. George Bush made that clear during the build-up for the Iraq War: I don’t go by focus groups, I don’t go by polls, I don’t care if a majority of the people oppose what I’m doing, I’m acting in the interests of the imperialist syst...I mean, I’m acting in the interests, the national interests of the United States of America and its great democracy.

So that’s not actually how the bourgeoisie proceeds. But they do take polls, somewhat to tell them a little bit about what people are thinking, because they do have to figure out how to get people in line, and manipulate them, and maneuver them to get in line with or to passively accept what they’re doing. But also to influence how people think—which is one of the main purposes of polls, if not the main purpose. But nobody actually proceeds by polls. But, once again, if anybody falls into that, it will be the communists. For all the reasons that I’ve discussed, it’s not just that this is a bad idea in the abstract—we’re supposed to be a vanguard, not tailing—but for all the reasons I’ve discussed up to this point, in terms of epistemology and the scientific method, and what’s the objective, what’s the fundamental objective, and what’s going to lead to the masses of people actually—the masses of people....Look, I don’t care about your fucking little clique, okay, and whether or not your little clique gets a few more positions and carves out a little part of the neighborhood, as your little capital. I don’t give a fuck about that, because the masses of people, even the ones in that neighborhood, let alone in the world as a whole, are going to get fucked if that’s the way the terms of things get set....I mean I do care, I’ll get to that—but the terms cannot be set, and we cannot base ourselves on what has sway among masses of people, or what might have sway, or who might influence people in a given direction at a given time. We have to base ourselves on what we can scientifically determine is fundamentally necessary and in the fundamental interests of the masses of humanity and ultimately humanity as a whole to have, to carry forward a revolution throughout the world and achieve communism; and without that, humanity will suffer terribly in its great masses, and may even go out of existence. That’s scientifically determined, and we should keep going back to that scientific determination and the method and approach that leads to it. And then we scientifically proceed to analyze and evaluate everything on the basis of whether it contributes to or works against that. Not who holds sway, whose ideas are popular, what most people think, what most people are into, what most people think is hip, what most people think is going to be in their individual interests, blah, blah, blah. We don’t proceed on that.

Again, it goes back to BAsics 4:11. What does it say there? “What people think is part of objective reality, but objective reality is not determined by what people think.” This is extremely important. It’s dealing with the contradictory nature of this, once again. Can we ignore, is it unimportant, what people are thinking at any given time? Obviously not. But overwhelmingly, we have to understand that because it has to be transformed, for all the reasons I’ve talked about, and because of what this spontaneity is going to lead people to think and where it’s going to lead them to go if they’re left without the leadership that a scientifically grounded communist force can only—can only be provided by that scientifically grounded communist force. No one else can do it. It’s not to say no one else can do anything positive, no one else contributes anything to this process, or that we can’t learn anything from other people who don’t have that outlook and approach and method. All that’s wrong. We have to learn from them, they can—other people can contribute positive things, sometimes they can even do things better than we’re doing them at a given time. But that doesn’t mean they can take people and the struggle where it needs to go.

So what people think, including how they’re being influenced—how opportunists are manipulating them at a given time—we have to understand that, but overwhelmingly because we know that we’re going to have to transform it. Because if people’s thinking were already in line with the need for communist revolution, and therefore they really had that deeply understood and they were ready to sacrifice for it, then we’d be in a different place. But it’s also impossible for that to happen spontaneously, for all the reasons of material reality, including very essentially the society that we live within still, that people are enchained and constrained within, and the thinking that dominates in that society, as well as the effects of the fundamental relations of that society and all the social relations and culture and political institutions and structures.

So what most people think—you know, the mainstream of the mass movement is not always correct, the people united can be defeated, and what most people think is not the truth. Now some people say, “Well, it may not be the truth, but it’s the functional equivalent of the truth”—even if they don’t use that formulation, that’s essentially what they’re getting at. In other words, “Okay, objectively most people may think there’s a god, and we know there’s not, but you can’t go tell people that, because if you try to tell them that, they’re just gonna turn against you.” Now, we have to know how to correctly apply unity-struggle-unity. We have to know how to correctly unite with people where we can unite with them in a way that does contribute to the overall movement for revolution, and does involve people standing up against injustice, from many different perspectives, with many different understandings. So that’s very important. But that doesn’t mean that we tail their ideas, or accommodate ourselves to their ideas just because more people agree with them about these various things—including religion, for example—than agree with us at this time. At the time—you want to know something, at the time we make revolution more people, including probably more people in the active ranks of the revolution, will disagree with us about religion than will agree with us. That’s the contradictory nature of what we’re doing. But that doesn’t mean we accommodate to that in the sense of either agreeing with it, obviously, or even just not struggling against it. You need a solid core of people that’s ruptured with that and has actually taken up a liberating understanding of being scientific in approaching all of this.

So we don’t ignore what people think. What people think is part of the objective reality that we need to be working on and transforming. That’s the first part of what’s said in Basics 4:11. But objective reality is not determined by what people think. Including people’s interests at any given time, or overall—that’s not determined by what people think. So this is very important. This Basics 4:11 is something we should be continually going back to, grappling with, both in terms of understanding it—the contradiction that’s being wrestled with there and synthesized there—and in terms of its application to many different things.

The “Mass Line”

In this context I want to just take up a few more points. In this talk I have sort of made a point of criticizing certain formulations of Mao’s [laughs]. Now, let me be very clear, for all kinds of reasons. There’s been this whole attack that the new synthesis is a discarding of all previous communist thought, that it’s a replacement of that, saying that it’s superseded all of it and all of that is no longer relevant or applicable. That’s completely wrong. That’d be like saying that people who have gone into genetics in the field of biology, and applied it to evolution, are saying that Darwin’s no longer applicable. Darwin knew nothing about genetics, there was no field of genetics when Darwin was working and living. But the people in genetics say, this is a further development beyond what Darwin understood, and maybe some particular ideas of Darwin’s are not quite correct in the light of genetics and other things we’ve learned—but the core of what Darwin brought forward is what we’re basing ourselves on, because it is scientifically founded and correct in its core and its essence. The same is true of all of communism up to this time, prior to the new synthesis. It has the same relationship there. But as further synthesis—a new synthesis means a further synthesis, mainly a continuation, but also some ruptures, some significant ruptures.

Now, one of the things that has to do with, is this whole question of populist epistemology—and how Mao characterized the “mass line.” He characterized it different ways, but the core or essential way in which he characterized and analyzed it was that: you take the ideas of the masses, which are scattered and unsystematic, and you concentrate and synthesize them and develop line and policy based on that, and then you return that to the masses in the form of line and policy and then lead the masses to carry it out. Well, is that a fundamentally correct epistemology and a fundamentally correct approach based on that epistemology? No. And in fact, it’s not even what Mao did, at some major turning points in the Chinese revolution.

For example, Mao did not determine that they needed to go to the countryside and launch a people’s war in the countryside, rather than trying to build up the movement in the cities and then launch urban insurrections—he did not determine that primarily, or essentially, by systematizing the scattered ideas of the masses. He did it by making a scientific assessment of the contradictions in society, and the relative strength of various forces, and where the strength of various forces was concentrated—and that’s the way he developed that whole strategic approach of surrounding the cities from the countryside and carrying out a new democratic revolution through protracted people’s war in those circumstances.

Similarly, Mao did not develop the policy of a united front against Japan by this process that I characterized—and I believe correctly—of the mass line. Yes, there were sentiments of the masses that they should fight against Japan, because Japan had invaded and was occupying the country and carrying out brutal, horrendous oppression on the basis of that occupation. So there were sentiments there, but Mao fundamentally and essentially determined this policy shift, which was a major one, by analyzing the contradictions again, in China and in the world, and then proceeding on that basis.

Mao did not develop the policy that led to the Cultural Revolution in China on the basis of this application of the “mass line.” Yes, the sentiments of the masses were part of what he drew from, just as the ideas of people are part of objective reality. But he analyzed the contradictions within socialist society in China and more broadly, how they were taking shape in China at that time, and on that basis developed the understanding—grasped the necessity for a different form of struggle against capitalist restoration than they had previously carried out, and found the form, as he put it, in the Cultural Revolution. Partly by drawing from what the masses were doing, but much more essentially and fundamentally by scientifically analyzing the contradictions.

I raise this because this “mass line” concept is something that we’ve all been influenced by—all of us who are veterans who came forward during that time were all significantly influenced by this “mass line.” And part of what led to questioning this is that we found ourselves, when we tried to incorporate this “mass line” into our party documents—the Party Constitution, or other things—we found we had to strain it, we had to stretch it and twist it so much that it no longer was really the “mass line” that Mao had put forward. We would talk about, “We have to apply the science of communism to the ideas of the masses...”—but you still couldn’t really make it work, because it really isn’t how you determine essential questions of line and policy. It’s part of what you take into account, but it’s not the essential approach and method through which you do that.

The Poisonous Influence of Relativism, and the Epistemology We Need

Now, coming to a conclusion, for this particular presentation, I want to return again to the question of relativism. You know, with this post-modernism on campus, and the whole influence of relativism, this has had a really poisoning effect for several generations now, on particularly the intelligentsia, and within academia, in this country but also more broadly. I mean, a lot of this relativism didn’t come just from in the U.S.—a lot of it came from other places like France, and other places where people were formulating this. But it’s been adopted very broadly within—and has held significant sway and great influence within—academia, particularly among what are supposed to be the more progressive people and forces in, and sections of, the intelligentsia and academia.

In my opinion—and this is something to be further explored— this has a certain resonance, or it has a certain parallel, if you will, but also a certain influence coming from the field of physics. I spoke to this a little bit in the “‘Crises in Physics,’ Crisis in Philosophy and Politics” article that’s in the first issue of Demarcations. But it seems to me—and again this is something we should explore more fully, but I’ll put it out at least tentatively—that what’s gone on in the realm of physics, with the attempts to reconcile what’s revealed by quantum mechanics in terms of really micro reality, very small elements and particles of reality, on the one hand, and then the larger trends that Einstein spoke to in terms of relativity, and so on—to try to reconcile or synthesize those things has been very difficult and, in my opinion, it’s led to where a lot of physics has lapsed over into metaphysics. Where people have essentially fallen into saying—some of the probability points in physics about how the observer enters into the picture, and where a particle is, is partly dependent on the observer—this has led to, or it’s strengthened, the philosophical tendency to say that nothing really exists independently of the observer, or that you can’t really have any knowledge that isn’t observer dependent; in other words, that there isn’t reality that you can come to know that’s independent of the observer. And this starts spilling over, I think, into the philosophical realm, and actually has given rise to, or reinforced, a certain relativism.

And then—without getting too far afield—there’s this whole thing of different universes, which has become almost science fiction, in some ways. I mean, I am not an expert on physics, and so I’m not trying to “pass judgment,” or make uninformed judgments about what to me are still obscure realms of physics, and are things that require a very high level of abstraction in order to be scientific. So, I’m not trying to pass judgment on that. But, some of the ways in which I’ve seen this spoken about in more popular terms gets into being almost like science fiction—all these different universes—and it does reinforce, again, the idea that material reality is not objective, but is observer dependent.

I don’t think this is the main source or cause of the rampant relativism among the intellectuals and in academia and its influence among people who are college educated, especially in the liberal arts, and so on. But I do think it’s contributed to it. And we could examine more deeply, another time, the various sources that I think have been greater—more significant in terms of their influencing and reinforcing relativism, including the political defeats, the reversal of many of the things that were brought forward through the ‘60s, and the fact that, most of all, the movement of the ‘60s in the U.S. didn’t lead to an actual revolution, but also the greater reversals, in terms of socialism being reversed and capitalism restored in China. I think all that has reinforced a lot of agnosticism and relativism, and given a lot more grist to the mill of people promoting relativism and agnosticism, and so on, among the intelligentsia.

And there are real material reasons why people in the middle strata, including the intelligentsia in particular, find a comfortable home in relativism. It is that thicket, the thicket of complexity—yes, life is complex, but I observed at one point that “Life is gray, not black or white” is one of the favorite expressions of the petit bourgeois intelligentsia. And, developing the point, this grayness is the catnip that these petit bourgeois intellectuals love to roll around in. You know, their conception of grayness—of course, there are areas of gray. Lenin said theory is gray, green is the tree of life—and he meant what he did mean and didn’t mean what he didn’t mean, and I spoke to that earlier. But, yes, there’s complexity, and I’ve made this point many times, and it is a very important point: We do need to engage and struggle through, if you will, the complexity of things in order to reach the richest and deepest and most scientifically correct synthesis. But that’s different than wanting to just go hide—as it’s been said by another leading comrade, hide in the thicket of complexity as a way of languishing and of lavishing in paralysis.

So there’s a reason why the petit bourgeois intellectual is very strongly inclined toward and has a certain love for relativism. Because if you can’t really determine what’s true, then you don’t really have to do anything, or you can’t really act with any certainty because you can’t really know. So therefore, lo and behold, as this orientation has been characterized, once again, by another leading comrade: “The very best thing to do, as it turns out—and I’m so glad it turns out—the very best thing to do about changing the world is to do nothing at all.” So there are reasons, material reasons which we can scientifically understand, why this has a pull among the petite bourgeoisie, and particularly the more democratic intellectual as opposed to the shopkeeper variation of the petite bourgeoisie.

But this only poses all the more the importance of struggling against—polemicizing against and struggling relentlessly against— this kind of relativism, because it is poisonous and it does lead to paralysis, and it does lead the people to be accepting all kinds of horrors in the world. And its attendant, identity politics, does the same. “Well, yes, I think the thing with Trayvon Martin is terrible, but that’s something for Black people to be concerned about, and I’m not Black, so there’s nothing for me to do about it.” All that kind of thing is another way of promoting paralysis— as well as promoting commodity relations, and “owning” oppression—the notion that oppression should be “owned” by the different identity groups that are the direct targets or victims of the particular form of oppression. All that leads to what? To the world staying as it is, as we said in the polemic against Alain Badiou: the world stays as it is, with the machinery of imperialism humming in the background, crushing lives and destroying spirits, to paraphrase.

So to end on the point of relativism, and to round out this, this particular presentation, I wanted to go back to this quote, Basics 4:10, that was cited toward the end of REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! and say that we should be taking it out of the refrigerator, and really biting into it. As Mao said, you bite into the pear, you change the pear in order to learn about it. And this is a very concentrated statement that, once again, I’m going to pose mainly here and in general as food for thought—but in an active sense, take it out of the refrigerator and bite into it: “For humanity to advance beyond a state in which `might makes right’—and where things ultimately come down to raw power relations—will require, as a fundamental element in this advance, an approach to understanding things (an epistemology) which recognizes that reality and truth are objective and do not vary in accordance with, nor depend on, different `narratives’ and how much `authority’ an idea (or `narrative’) may have behind it, or how much power and force can be wielded on behalf of any particular idea or `narrative,’ at any given point.”

Now there’s a lot that’s really concentrated in that, and that needs to be dug into and taken apart in its different elements, and then synthesized—that’s the process that needs to go on with it. And, just briefly, to sort of further stimulate the thinking and then to end. Why does it say—I mean, first of all, does it say that all you need to get to communism, and get beyond all this, is this epistemology? No. This epistemology has to be applied. You actually have to apply it to change the material world. You have to achieve the “4 Alls” and you have to defeat and dismantle all the state power and everything else that lies in the way of that and that reinforces the current horrific conditions that are embodied in the current system, the dominant system of oppression and exploitation and plunder that exists in the world now. But you’re not going to do that if you don’t proceed from an epistemology which is a materialist epistemology, and recognizes that material reality and truth about material reality are objective, and do not vary or depend in accordance with the ideas of individuals or groups or their narratives, or whatever. So that’s the first point that really needs to be dug into. Is that true, and why is that true? Is it true that you can’t get beyond all this if you don’t have that kind of materialist epistemology—if you’re not applying dialectical materialism in a consistently scientific way to understanding and changing the world, you can’t get beyond all this, which is embodied in and suggested by might makes right, and everything that this might enforces? If so, why is that true? If it’s not true, why not?

And then the second part of it. If you do have to have that kind of epistemology, a scientific dialectical materialist epistemology, in order to lead the struggle to advance beyond all this and defeat all the forces and obstacles that lie in the way of doing that along the way, then why is it true that an epistemology which is based on relativism—identity politics, truth that’s dependent upon the observer, and so on—why will that ultimately, and sometimes not so ultimately, lead to raw power relations and contention and contestation in which force will be the ultimate arbiter and might will make right?

So I’m going to end with that as a way of, once again, posing—and emphasizing the active posing and the need to actively take up what’s posed as—food for thought.




Revolution #348 August 10, 2014

The Strategic Approach to Revolution and Its Relation to Basic Questions of Epistemology and Method

by Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party

August 4, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


The following is the text of a talk given by Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, earlier this year (2014). In order to make this talk available more broadly, including for translation into a number of different languages, has been authorized to publish the transcript of this talk with any editing that was felt to be necessary in preparing this for publication.


I want to start by looking a little bit into and digging further into some of what’s in the six paragraphs that have been focused on from Part 2 of Making Revolution and Emancipating Humanity.

Now, those six paragraphs begin under the heading, the broad heading of “Enriched What Is To Be Done-ism” but the particular heading which once again encapsulates a very basic principle of our whole approach to making revolution, namely “Hastening while awaiting”—and then is added “not bowing down to necessity.” And this contradiction, or opposition, that’s posed—between the correct orientation of hastening while awaiting and an all too common tendency and a very powerful pull toward bowing down to necessity—is a very important one to examine a bit.

In the second of these six paragraphs, the one that begins, “I spoke earlier about the outlook and approach of revisionist ‘determinist realism,’” toward the middle of that paragraph it says that “this ‘determinist realism’...doesn’t really, or fully, grasp the contradictoriness of all of reality, including the necessity that one is confronted with at any given time.” Now, in another context, and in fact repeatedly, I have stressed, and we have been stressing, that the basis for revolution lies in the very contradictoriness of the system that needs to be overthrown, the capitalist-imperialist system—that it’s the basic contradictions of this system, its fundamental contradiction between socialized production and private/capitalist appropriation, and the driving force of anarchy as the main expression of that, but also other social contradictions that arise out of, or are encompassed within, the dynamics of this capitalist system—contradictions which this system cannot resolve in any way, in any fundamental sense, and certainly not in the interests of the masses of people and ultimately all of humanity. This is the basis for revolution, not what people are thinking or doing at any given time, how many people are with it or against it at any given time, whether people give it thumbs up or thumbs down at any given time—all that is not the basis for revolution, but the basis lies in these contradictions of the system itself.

So that is something that’s being spoken to here where it speaks to how “‘determinist realism’... doesn’t really, or fully, grasp the contradictoriness of all of reality, including the necessity that one is confronted with at any given time.” And elsewhere I’ve also pointed out that necessity is not just necessity in some abstract sense, or not just obstacles and problems or difficulties to be overcome. Necessity itself is contradiction, and should be understood in that way. And that is the basis on which necessity can be transformed into freedom through correctly analyzing and moving to transform necessity on a scientific basis.

Matter and Consciousness, Objective and Subjective Factors—A Living, Dialectical Materialist Understanding

And it goes on to say, in the same paragraph—the second of these six paragraphs that begin Part 2 of “Making and Emancipating”: “So, one of the essential features of ‘determinist realism’ is that it dismisses as `voluntarism’ any dialectical grasp of the relation between the subjective and objective factors, and sees things in very linear, and undifferentiated ways, as essentially uniform and without contradiction, rather than in a living and dynamic and moving and changing way.” Now this, too, is extremely important. Because of the very nature of the contradictions in all of life—including human society and its interaction with the rest of reality, with nature—the fact is that different aspects of a contradiction can be transformed into each other. Mao pointed this out, that consciousness can be transformed into matter—just as a side point here to clarify this, he wasn’t saying that consciousness is something other than matter in motion, but he was speaking about matter broadly, the relationship between the particular form of matter in motion that is human consciousness on the one hand, and broader material reality on the other hand. And he was saying that the one can be and is constantly transformed into the other. This is a very important point that we’re stopping on for just a brief moment.

Let’s take the one transformation—of the objective reality outside of human consciousness into human consciousness. If you think about this, this happens all the time. People interact with objective reality, and this is reflected in their consciousness—they make analyses, they make syntheses—and then what was objective becomes a part of their conscious or, if you will, subjective understanding. Not subjective in the sense that it’s erroneous or based on bias or prejudice or unscientific methods, but subjective in the sense of the subject, people with their consciousness, and the relationship of that to objective reality outside of those people. That objective reality becomes transformed into the subjective in the sense that people become conscious of things and therefore move to change them in certain ways. So that’s one way in which matter outside of conscious human beings becomes transformed into consciousness.

And the other is also true. On the basis of people making analyses and syntheses, in turn based on their interacting with reality, they go out into the world and act, and in that way affect the objective reality and change it. And so the subjective—the consciousness of the subject, subjective in that sense, conscious matter—goes out and changes the larger objective reality, and so becomes in that way part of that larger objective reality; the consciousness acting on that larger objective reality changes then and becomes part of it. When people put up with oppression because they don’t see any way out, for example, that’s one thing. When they, however, see the possibility and the necessity and become conscious of the possibility and necessity to act to change reality, then they actually do change it. You can see that in the history of any country. Look at the movements of the 1960s, for example, and the U.S. is just one example of how much changes were made in the objective situation, even though, unfortunately, that didn’t go all the way to a revolution. Let alone, where in societies, even going back to the bourgeois era like the French Revolution—or the era of communist revolution in the Soviet Union and then China—qualitative major changes have been brought about by people consciously reacting upon objective reality and their conscious actions actually changing and becoming encompassed within the changed objective reality.

So this is a foundation underneath this statement that this “determinist realism” doesn’t grasp the dialectical relation between the subjective and objective factors and sees things in very linear, undifferentiated ways, as essentially uniform and without contradiction, rather than in a living and dynamic and moving and changing way. And in particular doesn’t grasp the possibility of acting on objective reality by grasping its contradictoriness and transforming it, even before a major qualitative transformation can be brought about that is represented by and encompassed in an actual proletarian or communist revolution (in the non-reified but fullest sense).

This is very important, because you find that people, constantly up against difficult objective reality—especially in those circumstances—people fall into “determinist realism,” they see only one part of reality, not the whole picture of reality (and I’ll get to that more). They also see reality only in a linear and undifferentiated way. In other words, not as full of contradiction, not as moving and changing as a result of the dynamics of those contradictions and the interaction of those contradictions as part of those overall dynamics.

So that’s one very important point: If you don’t look scientifically, if you don’t apply materialism, and if you don’t apply dialectical materialism in particular—don’t, in other words, grasp the contradictory nature of reality, of the necessity that you’re up against and the need to transform it, then you bow down to necessity. You see all that can be done as being what is already—you know, as Lenin put it, what is desirable is what is possible, and what is possible is what is already being done—that’s another way that Lenin very sharply posed this same kind of outlook.

And that’s what you fall into if you don’t recognize—if you don’t approach it as a materialist; if you approach this as an idealist, approach it as if (we’ve talked about this many times) this is just one set of precepts or narrative up against another, and it’s not really proceeding on the basis of objective reality, it’s just proceeding on the basis of the subjective, in the other sense, that is, prejudice, bias, inclinations that are not based on objective reality, but based just on wishes or prayers or whatever. If you approach things in that way, you don’t even have a prayer!—you don’t have a chance of actually transforming objective reality, certainly not in any fundamental sense, in terms of radically transforming society, in terms of overthrowing an existing system and bringing into being a radically different system. Because you’re just sort of—you’re just proceeding on the basis of ideas that you or other people have cooked up that are divorced from reality. It’s difficult enough to transform reality if you’re actually proceeding on the basis of actually looking at and digging into objective reality; but, if you aren’t, you cannot end up in a good place ultimately. But, at the same time, if you just look at objective reality as it is, and see it in this kind of linear way and not as moving and changing and, in particular, not in terms of its being full of and driven by contradiction, then you also can’t really recognize the possibility and basis for change, certainly not any fundamental change.

So this is how the point about where the basis for revolution lies, and what is the method and approach and epistemology for even being able to recognize that and correctly analyze it, meets up with the question of whether or not you can actually transform society and have an orientation toward transforming it, or whether you don’t see that possibility, or start out with that kind of orientation but as soon as you run into real obstacles you retreat from it and bow down before necessity. Or you flip into voluntarism and try by mere acts of will to change objective reality on a subjective basis without proceeding scientifically, in a way that it cannot be changed, and certainly not for the better, that is, not in a radically, emancipatory way toward the goal of communism.

All that is concentrated in these first two paragraphs, and in particular we’ve been looking at the second paragraph of (Part 2 of) “Making and Emancipating.” To use the parlance of the times, there’s a lot that’s packed into these six paragraphs. And this second paragraph is definitely one case where there’s a great deal concentrated in there. Terms are used which are on a high level of abstraction, terms and concepts are used which are on a high level of abstraction, because they are concentrating a tremendous amount. And the point is not to look at them and go: “Oh, I don’t understand that, so I guess I’ll look at something else.” Or, “Oh, that’s heavy, but I don’t know what it means.” The point is to dig into and really grapple with what is concentrated there and get into the fullness of what’s being concentrated.

“Nobody Can Say Exactly”—A Scientific, Not an Agnostic and Aimless Orientation and Approach

Now, moving down a little later in these six paragraphs. I want to focus on what’s said in the paragraph that begins, “It is true that we cannot, by our mere will, or even merely by our actions themselves, transform the objective conditions in a qualitative sense—into a revolutionary situation.” Toward the middle of that paragraph, the very important point is discussed, taking off from Lenin’s statement that he made with regard to the labor aristocracy, that nobody could say for certain where all of the labor aristocracy would line up in relationship to the proletarian revolution, in the event of such a revolution, when it actually came down to it. Nobody can say exactly how that would fall out, Lenin emphasized. And here that same kind of approach and same basic formulation is applied to the question as follows: “applying this same principle, we can say that nobody can say exactly what the conscious initiative of the revolutionaries might be capable of producing, in reacting upon the objective situation at any given time.” I’m going to stop there because this does hark back to what I was just discussing. Reacting back upon the objective situation is not simply reacting back on an undifferentiated monolithic objective situation, but reacting back upon a contradictory objective situation, and transforming it in the way that I was just speaking to, beginning with the point from Mao about how matter can be transformed into human consciousness and human consciousness, in turn, can be transformed into broader matter.

So I wanted to stop there to focus on what is meant by this phrase, and how should this phrase be correctly understood: “reacting upon the objective situation at any given time.” It doesn’t just mean doing what you do—what you think you can do—in relation to the objective situation. It means actively seeking to transform it, as is emphasized a little later, to the maximum degree possible at any given time, or in any given set of circumstances.

But, here again, I want to emphasize this: “nobody can say exactly”—”nobody can say exactly what the conscious initiative of the revolutionaries might be capable of producing, in reacting upon the objective situation at any given time—in part because nobody can predict all the other things that all the different forces in the world will be doing.” Now, I have heard that this phrase, or this formulation and how it’s discussed here, has been taken to mean—once again interpreted through frankly revisionist “determinist realism” as: “Well, nobody can say, so it doesn’t— the point is it doesn’t really matter what we do, because you can’t really know what result it’s gonna have, so it’s sort of aimless.” No, that’s not the point at all. The point is not that we should be carrying out aimless work—and I’ll get into that further as we go along. Quite the contrary—we should be carrying out purposeful work. But the point here is that there is a larger objective world out there that is, once again, full of and driven by contradictions and ongoing transformation of one kind or another all the time through the dynamics of the contradictions and the interaction of those contradictions.

There’s a much larger world, and whatever we’re doing at a given time, even if it’s along the correct lines in taking up the main contradictions that we can identify as what should be worked on—in other words, struggled over to transform at any given time—there’s still a much larger world, and there is the role of what in the framework of what we’re doing is accident, things that didn’t arise out of the dynamics on which we’re working and even the larger dynamics we can identify at a given time. Because all kinds of forces are operating. Forces of nature are operating. We can’t predict all the floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, you know. Science can have some—has some sense of how some of these things might come about—but not all that can be predicted by human beings at this time. And then there’s also all the social forces that are at work—different class forces, and their political and literary representatives, are all operating out there in the larger world. And all this is interacting with what we’re doing, in one way or another, on one level or another, or on many levels. So while we, in being scientific, have to—as those two paragraphs on “Some Principles for Building a Movement for Revolution” say, we have to work to identify at any given time the major concentrations of social contradictions and go to work on them. Other forces are working on them, and there’s a lot more happening in the world, including nature out there, and so on so forth—and sometimes not so “out there”—sometimes right inside where we are.

This is the larger dynamic world that we’re dealing with, and universe that we’re dealing with. So, even when we correctly are working on the basis of correctly identifying the major concentrations of social contradictions, all these other things are happening and they interpenetrate with, impinge upon, if you will, influence what we’re working on, and how people are seeing things, including the contradictions that we’re working on at a given time. So the meaning of this is not a constraining meaning: “Nobody can say...well, we do our best but you can’t know if it’ll come to anything good.” No, that’s not the point at all. The point is, we work to transform the objective situation in the direction in which it can and needs to go in terms of the emancipation of humanity—in other words, toward the goal of communism at any given time— maximizing transformations in that direction to the greatest degree possible at any given time, but also being alert to the fact that all these other things are happening out there. And even if you— here’s the point (which gets developed more fully a little later) here, in this part of this section of Part 2 of “Making and Emancipating”: Even if you could sit down and say, “Well, if we made the best analysis we could of the effect, the most positive possible effect, of all the work that we’re doing to transform things, particularly in relation to the major concentrations of social contradictions that we’ve identified, all that still at this point wouldn’t lead to revolution”—even if that were scientifically true, the point of “nobody can say” is, there might be a lot of other things happening out there which might, might at any given time, come together with what we’re doing to radically transform the situation, even possibly all the way to a revolutionary situation, when we had not at any given point anticipated that possibility. That’s the point of “nobody can say exactly,” as applied to this. It’s not to promote agnosticism—”Oh, who knows”—but it’s to promote science, including a scientific recognition of the interrelation of accident and causality, the interrelation of larger things happening out there through the motion and development of contradictions and those dynamics, and what we’re consciously approaching in terms of seeking to transform reality. So that’s a very important understanding that’s concentrated in this paragraph when it’s speaking about the principle of “nobody can say exactly.”

Now, this relates to another point toward the end of the same paragraph, where it says what I was just touching on. And this, I think, is very important: “And there is the fact that, although changes in what’s objective for us won’t come entirely, or perhaps not even mainly, through our `working on’ the objective conditions (in some direct, one-to-one sense), nevertheless our `working on’ them can bring about certain changes within a given framework of objective conditions and ”(the word and is emphasized here) “and—in conjunction with and as part of a ‘mix,’ together with many other elements, including other forces acting on the objective situation from their own viewpoints—this can, under certain circumstances, be part of the coming together of factors which does result in a qualitative change.” In other words, even possibly all the way to a revolutionary situation. “And, again”—the end of this paragraph goes on: “And, again, it is important to emphasize that nobody can know exactly how all that will work out.”

And here’s an irony, which is another way of saying a contradiction, not only for us but for all these other class forces out there. Look what it says here: That this—what we’re doing and the effects of it, in conjunction with and as part of a mix together with many other elements, including other forces acting on the objective situation from their own viewpoints—can come together and create a qualitative change, or make possible the bringing about of a qualitative change, even to a revolutionary situation. And the irony and contradiction, not only for us but for these other forces—here are all these other forces acting on the objective terrain, trying to take it in the direction other than where it needs to go in terms of the emancipation of the oppressed of the world and ultimately all of humanity, and yet, if we’re working correctly, with the correct orientation and the correct scientific method that’s concentrated in what’s said here and is based on dialectical materialism, the things that they are doing to influence things—these other class forces and social forces, the things they’re doing to influence the terrain, can be things that we in turn go to work on to make it move toward a revolutionary situation. So this should not be understood in linear terms: “Oh, these other class forces are contributing to the revolution, too, by what they’re doing.” No, they’re actually working against it, but then those are contradictions—what they’re doing and the effects of that are also contradictions that we go to work on.

So this is the living and dynamic way we have to understand the process of transforming the objective conditions—including the thinking of masses of people, which we’ll get to more directly a little later—in the direction toward the communist revolution that’s necessary, as opposed to either just idealist voluntarism—we just go out there and because what we’re saying is, you know, morally better, then it’ll just somehow prevail, which is another form of religion, if you will. Or, the much, much more common and much more powerful pull, this “determinist realism,” that there really isn’t much we can do until, as it’s said in another part of these six paragraphs, some deus ex machina—some almost supernatural external factor—intervenes and saves us, whether it’s objective changes, whether it’s god, whether it’s the masses who have replaced god, or whatever—intervenes to save us and makes possible the revolution, when before there was no basis for it anywhere. These views are completely wrong and have to be thoroughly broken with in order to actually carry out revolutionary work, in order to actually carry out the principles for building a movement for revolution.

And the last point I want to dig into in these six paragraphs—and it should be obvious in reading them, and also in what I’ve touched on here, how important it is to continually go back to these six paragraphs and really dig into and get inside of what it’s actually saying, and the method and approach that it embodies—but here what sums it up is where it’s...Oh, no, I’m sorry, there’s one other formulation I want to get to before I get to the end (of this part). And that’s this point that starts the paragraph which deals with the deus ex machina, where it starts out saying, “Revolution is not made by ‘formulas,’ or by acting in accordance with stereotypical notions and preconceptions—it is a much more living, rich, and complex process than that.” This is also important. You know, the revisionists always say—always are approaching things, again, in linear and undialectical ways, not seeing the contradictions and thinking that they can compress reality into something manageable for them. And then, “let’s have a recipe for how we’re going to accomplish things and maybe even how we’re going to accomplish somehow getting to socialism—let’s take a little of this and little of that, in other words, first we do this, then we do that, then we do this, then we do that, and eventually somehow all this will all add up, if we just do the formula right, it’ll all add up to some kind of change that would be good.” There’s a lot of that out there, broadly speaking, in what we loosely and somewhat charitably refer to as the “movement.” And it’s a characteristic of revisionism as well to try to approach things by formulae rather than by grasping the living dynamics in the way that I’ve been speaking to.

So I just want to underscore that point. Saying that revolution is not made by formulas doesn’t mean, once again, that the work is aimless, that you don’t have a strategic approach, that you don’t actually make very scientific analyses and syntheses as part of continually refining your strategic approach, and developing such a strategic approach in the first place. But science tells you precisely that the world is much more complex than this, that it is much more dynamic, that it can’t be wrapped up into a neat package, that you can’t have a formula for, “first we do this, then we do that, and this will lead to that... this will lead to that... this will lead to that... and eventually the end point will be socialism—if not now, maybe a hundred years from now.”

I still remember that revisionist who was working on the Bob Scheer campaign for Congress, back in the 1960s. He was running in the Democratic Party, but running on an anti-war and anti-racism platform. And he didn’t win, but he got quite a few votes, and this revisionist, as the votes were being announced, turned to all the rest of us sitting in the office and said, “Now I can go home and sleep well knowing we’re one centimeter closer to socialism.” NO! That’s not the way that you get closer to socialism, that’s not the way—and the point after all is not to get centimeter by centimeter by centimeter closer to some variation of some idea of socialism, but is actually to apply this living, scientific, dialectical materialist approach, recognizing that, yes, you do have to have things that you identify as contradictions that you’re putting concerted effort and concentrated effort on and working to transform at any given time, but you also, even as you’re doing that, have to look at the much broader world, how other social forces are acting, not just on the contradictions that you’re focusing on, but on the larger contradictions of society; what nature is doing, and how that’s impacting society, and what different effects it’s having on different sections of society and different parts of the world, and so on; and how all that sets in motion, or transforms the motion of, different contradictions—all of which you have be encompassing in a basic sense as part of your strategic approach to actually carrying forward the struggle to transform the objective world toward the goal, the ultimate goal of communism and the more immediate goal of overthrowing the existing system and establishing socialism with the dictatorship of the proletariat.

So that does get back to the very end, where it sort of sums it up, and says, “if you are looking at things...”—and this is at the end of the six paragraphs—”if you are looking at things only in a linear way, then you only see the possibilities that are straight ahead”—you don’t see the contradictions and you have blinders on, you only see what’s right in front of you: “you have a kind of blinders on,” as it says. But, “On the other hand, if you have a correct, dialectical materialist approach, you recognize that many things can happen that are unanticipated, and you have to be constantly tense to that possibility...”—and this is a very concentrated last part of the sentence, so I want to emphasize it, word by word almost: “if you have a correct, dialectical materialist approach, you recognize that many things can happen that are unanticipated, and you have to be constantly tense to that possibility while consistently working to transform necessity into freedom.” There’s so much concentrated in that last part: “you recognize that many things can happen that are unanticipated, and you have to be constantly tense to that possibility while consistently working to transform necessity into freedom.”

Here, again, is another contradiction: being constantly tense to the possibility of things that arise unexpectedly, to put it in a certain way, on the one hand, while on the other hand consistently working to transform necessity into freedom, particularly in light of what you can identify as the main contradictions we need to be working on at any given time or in any given period. That is a very important contradiction, and at times can be a very acute contradiction, because you can be burrowed into what you’re doing to try to transform what you see as the main things that need to be worked on, at any given time, to be transformed, and you can lose sight of these larger things—and you’re taken totally by surprise by unexpected developments, or you just ignore those developments because they don’t fit into your formula, your narrow agenda. So it is worth going back to that last sentence (or actually the next-to-last sentence) of these six paragraphs, in particular the last half of that sentence, and really digging into and discussing it and wrangling with it, individually but above all collectively, over and over again.

These six paragraphs rest on a certain material foundation. They’re not just talking about an approach of a subjective kind that proceeds out of the bright ideas of somebody, or out of the biases of people, or their inclinations of an idealist kind of how they’d like the world to be and what should be possible. All this is grounded in a scientific approach to analyzing material reality, basing ourselves in the actual contradictions of material reality and the possibilities for transformation that lie within all that, and how that relates to the goal of communism.

Now, let’s look at that. Is the goal of communism just a goal, and then you look at the contradictions of objective reality and see how it relates to that goal? No. The goal itself is based on analyzing material reality, and its contradictoriness, in a scientific way. As has been emphasized—but can’t be emphasized too many times, it seems—the actual understanding of both the possibility, necessity, and desirability (well, that’s three things, not both—but of all that: the possibility, the necessity, and the desirability) of communism is based on an analysis of material reality and its contradictoriness and the motion and dynamics and transformation that this gives rise to and the potential within that to realize this goal of a revolution ultimately leading to communism on a world scale.

This fundamental approach is what’s being applied, and applied in a very concentrated way, in these six paragraphs—and it’s not only in those six paragraphs, that’s not the only place it’s applied, but it is what’s being applied in a very concentrated way there. And that’s why I’ve also said these paragraphs are a very important, essential concentration of not only points of strategic approach in a general sense, but also of method and of epistemology—which, you know, is at the heart of that method—the scientific epistemology which leads to a scientific approach and method.

On that basis, let’s go forward and talk about the strategic approach of hastening while awaiting itself. Now, again, as I’ve been emphasizing, this is in opposition, on the one hand, to voluntarism. It’s not hastening like a speed-up of the assembly line, just moving faster and faster and faster, and digging ourselves a deeper, deeper hole going nowhere. It’s not running around frenetically on the basis of, “We gotta make revolution, the world’s terrible, you know, rrr... rrr...the people are suffering, we have to....” Yes, we should have that kind of passion, but not freneticism. There’s a very important distinction between passion and freneticism, because freneticism is opposed to and undermines a scientific approach. Hastening while awaiting is in opposition to a kind of a voluntarist approach—well, so many deeds, as Mao said very correctly, cry out to be done, so let’s just try to do everything at once without any materialist assessment of the objective reality and where we are in relation to that objective reality and what we can transform that will lead in the direction of where we need to go, on a scientific foundation, as opposed to just what we’d like to be able to do. I mean, if we just want to do that—just do what we’d like to do—we’d just try to have a revolution right now, and get crushed. Which would be very bad. To actually try to seize power now would be very bad, and would demoralize the masses and disorient them and set back the whole struggle, and not only in a particular country but in the world as a whole, for quite a while and very seriously.

So that kind of voluntarism, again, is no good. But as has been emphasized—and, once again, can’t be emphasized, it seems, too many times—there is a much stronger pull off the revolutionary road represented by determinism. And it actually links up with and has a fundamental unity with idealism, and voluntarism in particular, because it is actually a form of idealism—determinism is actually a form of idealism. It can be expressed as mechanical materialism, that is, you see objective reality but you see it only as uniform, without contradiction, unchanging, not moving and transforming, etc. So it can take form as and be an expression of mechanical materialism, but that mechanical materialism is also ultimately a form of idealism, because you’re not actually analyzing and synthesizing objective reality in a scientific way, and therefore you don’t recognize the contradictoriness of it, and therefore you don’t see the possibility of transforming the objective conditions, and you don’t see everything I was just talking about—not only the ways in which you can transform things, but the ways in which things are being transformed by other forces, social and even “natural” forces that are constantly at work, according to their own inner contradictions and dynamics and the interaction of these different contradictions.

So, once again, what’s concentrated in those first six paragraphs from Part 2 of “Making and Emancipating” has direct bearing on our strategic approach and concentrates some key things about that strategic approach.

Let’s talk a little bit about what is that strategic approach. Let’s get to that more directly. It has been concentrated—we’ve written about this in many places, it’s spoken to in works like “Making and Emancipating,” especially Part 2, and also in “Birds and Crocodiles,” Birds Cannot Give Birth to Crocodiles, But Humanity Can Soar Beyond the Horizon particularly, again, in Part 2 of that work—but it’s also very directly, and in a concentrated way, set forth in the statement “On the Strategy for Revolution,” which is also the supplement of the third chapter of BAsics on the question of revolution.

“Fight the Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution”

Let’s look at different elements of this—not as just isolated elements unto themselves, but as part of an overall strategic approach. One of the key elements of this approach, which is emphasized in the statement “On the Strategy for Revolution,” is encapsulated, or concentrated, in the slogan “Fight the Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution.” Now, in the interview that I did with A. Brooks, What Humanity Needs: Revolution and the New Synthesis of Communism, I talked about the relationship, or important aspects of the relationship, between fighting the power and transforming the people, and people transforming themselves, and the critical role that’s played by people standing up and fighting back against oppression. That, to put it negatively, if people do not stand up and fight back against oppression, then there is much less of a basis—certainly in an overall sense—for revolution, but also for people to grasp, and to be open to understanding and to be seeking to understand, the reality that they are caught up in and what is both necessary and possible in terms of transforming that reality. So that’s a point that’s emphasized in that interview, and it’s a very important point.

But what’s also given emphasis, and is even more important in an overall sense, is that all three parts, if you will, of this slogan are important, yes, in themselves as aspects of this, but most essentially they are important as a unified whole—in other words, in their interrelation and in the totality of this slogan, which is greater than any of its particular parts, or even greater than the sum of the parts, taken as such. To put it another way, there’s a dialectical interconnection between fighting the power, transforming the people, and the fact that this has to ultimately go for revolution—and, fundamentally in terms of where it needs to go, it has to be aiming for revolution, or else all the other aspects are going to be set back: the aspect of people standing up and resisting, fighting the power in that sense; the aspect of people seeking to understand the world more deeply and being open to and being, in fact, transformed in their thinking is going to be set back. Because the terms and the dynamics of the existing system are going to continue to operate on people and, if there’s not a rupture to an actual revolution, that’s going to reassert itself. We’ve seen that, and once again if you look through the whole experience of the ‘60s into the early ‘70s, and what’s happened since—things that some of us who were around then could not have imagined would ever happen in terms of how the social relations have been transformed, a reversal of some changes that were made, in terms of how the thinking of people has been transformed in a backward and reactionary way, on a very great scale since that time, because revolution—it didn’t go all the way, it didn’t break through all the way to revolution, didn’t break on through to the other side, to use that line from the song.

So, there’s an integral whole here, and all these different parts, the different components—“fight the power,” and “transform the people,” and “for revolution”—are interconnected. But for revolution is what gives it its ultimate decisive definition. So that’s one important point.

Now, again, it is important that people stand up and fight back, and the outrages that this system continually perpetrates against masses of people as well as against the environment—all over the world, not just in one country—do, in fact, provide a basis for people to stand up and fight back. But, in and of itself, just the fact that people are oppressed and that the system does horrific things, does not, in every instance, lead to people resisting, to people fighting the power, if you will; and it certainly doesn’t lead to that fight being sustained. So, on the one hand, these outrages of the system, these egregious abuses of the system, these injustices and oppression of the system and exploitation, do need to be fought. They are themselves real contradictions that need to be fought—that people need to develop struggle around. At the same time, if you are approaching all this with the science of dialectical materialism—not with the “narrative of communism,” but with the science of dialectical materialism—you know that all this has to be developed, in an overall and fundamental sense, toward the goal of revolution, aiming for the ultimate goal of communism on a world scale, even as—and this is very important, and I’ll talk about this more a little later—even as it’s very important to work to unite as many people as possible to fight against these outrages, who come at this from a diversity of viewpoints and many of whom are not, at any given time, won to or convinced that all this has to go toward revolution and the ultimate goal of communism. If we don’t seek to unite with everybody who is outraged, or can be won to see what an outrage it is that these injustices and exploitation and oppression go on, then we are going to be undermining in the fundamental sense our basic objectives of revolution, which is not just to get our “narrative” but is what is actually necessary to finally and fully eliminate all such outrages and injustices.

So that’s on the one side and very important. And I’ve emphasized this before and I want to emphasize it again: These outrages are real outrages, and if we, who claim to be revolutionaries and communists, are not in fact more outraged by this, or certainly not less outraged by these things, than other people who do not have a communist understanding and approach, then we are not deserving of the name of communist, not deserving of the name of revolutionary. If we don’t have a deep hatred and passion to eliminate these things and to fight against them, even before and all along the way in order to fully and finally eliminate them, then we are not revolutionaries and we are not communists. We should certainly have no less passion about this, no less outrage, than other people who do not have a communist understanding and a scientific dialectical materialist method and approach at any given time. So, I want to emphasize that—all that on the one side.

On the other side of the contradiction, if we only give expression to our hatred for these things, if we are only passionate in fighting them ourselves and mobilizing other people and bringing forward other people to fight them, but we don’t, in what we do—not what we expect others who are not communists to do, let’s be clear, but in what we do—if we do not actually bring forward the fact that all this has to go toward revolution and the ultimate goal of communism, then we are also betraying the masses of people and we are also leaving things ultimately to the not-so-tender mercies of the dynamics of this system and its state and its ruling class, and what this system will do in relation to these contradictions in seeking to resolve it on its terms.

So that’s, again, another contradiction that we have to correctly handle. And if we are wrong on either aspect of this, or on the synthesis of the two aspects, then we are not going to be doing what we need to do and we are actually ultimately going to be doing harm instead of what we need to be doing to actually lead people to stand up and fight more and more consciously to achieve, yes, their own emancipation through the revolution leading to the ultimate goal of communism. So, that’s one point I want to emphasize in terms of “Fight the Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution.”

The Pivotal Role of Transforming the Thinking of Masses of People

The other point I want to stress is that within this entire process of “Fight the Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution,” and within the entire overall process of building the movement for revolution and building the Party as its leading core, what is most essential and pivotal is transforming the thinking of, not just this individual and that individual isolated by themselves—although struggling with individuals can be a part of this, and is a part of it—but the pivotal role of transforming the thinking of blocs of people, of whole groups of people, of masses of people ultimately. Now, what do I mean by saying it’s pivotal and most essential? Let’s be clear. That does not mean the solitary, the only element or aspect of this that’s important. People actually standing up and fighting, as I’ve been stressing, is important as well. But if we look at this as an overall process, we should be able to recognize—and we will recognize if we’re approaching it scientifically—that, even in order for people to stand up and fight, and certainly to sustain a fight as they run into different obstacles and twists and turns, and so on and so forth, people’s thinking has to be transformed. Now, in something I’ve written, I posed the question, to try to put things in very basic and concentrated, and in a certain sense simple, terms: Who should be involved, for example—I’ll talk about this more a little bit later—who should be involved in the mass initiatives that we’ve undertaken: on the one hand, to put it in short, concentrated terms, against the degradation of women; and, on the other hand, mass incarceration and everything bound up with that. Who should be involved in these mass initiatives? And the answer is everyone, the way I formulated it was: everyone who understands—or can be won to see—that these outrages that these mass initiatives are taking up are intolerable and must be fought. And this, it should be said—and, you know, it should be understood but apparently it needs to be said—should not be limited by any means to communists and a few people gathered around the communists. It should include growing numbers of people in the hundreds, very soon in the thousands and ultimately millions.

But let’s look at that formulation: who understand—or can be won to see. Now, what’s implied, particularly in the part within dashes there—”or can be won to see”—it implies that people have to be struggled with. People have to often be struggled with to recognize these outrages, even to see them sometimes, because of the way this system operates and how it blinds people, and how it encourages people in many ways to blind themselves, to many of these outrages. So people have to be struggled with in many instances, many cases, just to recognize these outrages, and then to recognize them as outrages, and then to recognize that they are not the fault of the people who are subjected to them. Even before they come to understand the whole thing scientifically, in terms of how all this flows from the system and is encompassed within the dynamics of the system, there’s still struggle with people that has to be—and everybody who’s gone out to do any of this kind of work knows this—struggle has to be waged to get people to see the necessity to fight these things, and to understand in basic terms that the people who are being oppressed in this way are not the ones responsible, and it’s not their fault, their “personal responsibility”—all these other kind of lines out there, the bullshit that leads people away from understanding correctly, in basic terms, even the fact that this is an injustice. You have to transform people’s thinking. And how do you transform people’s thinking? Through struggle (we’ll come back to that). Overwhelmingly, when you’re among the masses of people, this is non-antagonistic struggle, not struggle with the enemy, but it’s struggle, and sometimes very sharp struggle, and sometimes, and in many ways, relentless struggle.

So, even in order to get people moving—even with the people who are directly oppressed by, and are the victims, if you will, of this oppression, there often needs to be, and generally needs to be, a lot of struggle with them to get them to stand up and fight these things. I was reading something, I believe it was on our website, about people going out talking about mass incarceration with some of these basic youth—mass incarceration, police brutality, the criminalization of youth, all that—and some of the youth who are directly under the gun of this, literally, were asked, “Well, what do you think about this?” And one said, “I don’t have any thoughts about it.” Another one said, “Well, I don’t like it, but there’s nothing you can do about it.”

Now, in order to get people to stand up and fight the power, you’re going to have to struggle with that. And, again, as we’ve talked about previously, there’s the pull once people do get moving, in mass movements, in struggles that are unleashed around these contradictions, there’s this striving to come under the wing of the bourgeoisie. There’s the way in which the bourgeoisie, or its political representatives and literary representatives, throw up obstacles or entice people into traps, or make pretty-sounding phrases or respond to a contradiction around mass incarceration, and police murder and vigilante murder of Black and Latino youth, by saying, “The problem is that we have to get the males to stand up and be better patriarchs.” Thank you very much, President Obama, for a very insightful and new analysis that really will lead to people being liberated. To use that old phrase from a while back: NOT!!!

So, anyway, with this kind of thing, there’s going to be continual struggle for all these reasons. And this is dialectically related to fighting the power, to standing up and fighting back, to resisting. Think about it: If people do themselves stand up and fight back, and even see other people standing up and fighting back, that becomes another way in which (to go back to the point with which I started) matter gets transformed into consciousness. And this is a point of struggle, too, but people see that and they say, “Oh, maybe it is possible to do something about this. I thought nobody else cared; now I see other people do.” That is a change in their consciousness. Now, where it goes, and whether it goes right back into the bourgeois framework or whether there’s an actual movement to take it somewhere where it needs to go, is a matter of struggle. It’s a matter of transforming the thinking of people—again, not just an individual here and there, although that can be important in a certain context—but blocs of people, groups of people, masses of people. So, when people’s thinking changes, then they feel more compelled to act in certain ways.

This is an ongoing dialectic back and forth, through which, in an overall sense, if you will—sort of like a thread running through it, pivotal to all of it in an overall sense—is transforming the thinking of blocs of people. This doesn’t mean that we have to just go out and preach at people to change their thinking, like one of the reverends out there, or the priests, or whatever. You know, “let’s get people to change their thinking and to be in line with some grand design that we have.” No. It means struggling with people to see the world as it actually is, more and more deeply and in a more and more all-around way, comprehensive way, and to act accordingly, to transform their thinking even as they are acting. And certainly, in order for people to come to see the basis and the need for revolution and the desirability of revolution, if you will, there needs to be a tremendous amount of struggle carried out in an ongoing way. And, again, I want to emphasize this: on the one hand, and as most essential, struggling to transform the thinking of people in most fundamental terms toward recognizing the necessity and possibility and desirability of revolution leading to the ultimate goal of communism, while at every point, in dialectical relation to that, we are uniting and bringing forward people as broadly as possible to wage struggle around and against the outrages of the system, and particularly where that takes form as concentrations of major social contradictions. In that overall process, the struggle to transform the thinking of blocs of people is most essential and pivotal—but it is most essential and pivotal in that overall process and in the dialectics of that process. Neither as a thing unto itself, nor as something set aside just for special occasions, but as pivotal in this overall process. So that’s something I want to emphasize very strongly.

What We Are Doing Now and “On the Possibility of Revolution”

The next point I want to speak to is—and this is something that has been spoken to in the recent speech and film, REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS!, also in Part 2 of “Birds and Crocodiles”—and that is the relation between everything we are doing now and “On the Possibility of Revolution.” That is: how, when there are radically different objective conditions, such that things are on the precipice of, or actually being transformed into, a revolutionary situation and, as one key feature of that, there is a revolutionary-minded people at least—people who are at least revolutionary-minded, seeking out radical change in the millions and millions—how, at that time, the key task and the pivot of everything then becomes actually developing and waging the struggle for the seizure of power. That is not the direct goal, it is not the pivotal and immediate task now, in this period. But what is the relationship between what we are doing now, in this period, in carrying out the strategy for revolution, in carrying forward the dialectical process of “Fight the Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution,” in transforming the thinking of blocs of people as pivotal within that overall dialectical process—what is the relationship between all that and what is set forth in the document “On the Possibility of Revolution,” speaking to the struggle for the seizure of power when the objective conditions have come into being for that, including a revolutionary people, or at least a revolutionary-minded people, actively seeking radical change in the millions and millions?

Well, obviously this could be a subject for a whole—not only one discussion, but an ongoing series of discussions, in its own right. But here I just want to touch on some key points. First of all, the fact that there is, and must be, a relation, a dialectical relation, between the two things—between everything we are doing in this period and what’s concentrated in the document “On the Possibility for Revolution,” speaking to the struggle for the seizure of power when that is the order of the day, when those are the conditions—which, again, are radically different from the conditions now. And I emphasize that it’s important just for people to correctly grasp the basic fact that there is an ongoing relationship, that it’s not a matter of somehow what we’re doing now is over here, in a self-contained bubble, so to speak, and over here, somehow completely separated from that, and something that is only for some abstract indefinite future, is the question of “On the Possibility of Revolution” and what it concentrates.

Yes, there is a qualitative change that has to come about. Yes, they are qualitatively different—there should not be any confusion about that—they are not just a continuum without a qualitative leap, both in the objective situation and in the nature of the tasks of the communists, of the challenges of the revolution, if you will. But they are related. Otherwise, what’s the point? If we’re not actually working to hasten while awaiting— to bring closer, and to help transform the conditions toward, a revolutionary situation and to be in the best possible position to seize on that situation when it is brought into being—then what’s the point of anything we’re doing? Once again, you go back to the polemic against Alain Badiou. If there isn’t a revolution, if there isn’t a defeat and dismantling of the exploitative, oppressive and repressive relations and institutions of this system, and their replacement by revolutionary relations and institutions and processes and dynamics, then all of this is going to continue, as that polemic says. You know, the world will go on as it is, with the machinery of imperialism humming in the background—of capitalism-imperialism humming in the background—crushing lives and destroying spirits (to paraphrase).

So all of this is aiming for something. It’s aiming for, not just a revolution in the way that term is thrown around sometimes these days, where there is a change in government—who’s in the government, or even a change in the form of the bourgeois existing oppressive and exploitative government and the system of capitalism-imperialism and related systems of exploitation that are enforced by that governing system. That’s not a revolution. A popular uprising, even millions in the street, sincerely calling for a change, does not itself constitute a revolution, and will not bring about a real revolution. Elsewhere, I’ve pointed out what a revolution is and isn’t. But it is an overturning of the existing system, a defeating and dismantling of its forces of repression and its concentrated forces of violence that are used to enforce the present system, and the replacement of all that with a radically different system—a radically different system economically, in terms of social relations, in terms of political institutions and processes, and in terms of the culture and thinking of the people. That’s what a revolution is. And if we are not preparing for that revolution, then we are doing worse than wasting our time, we’re also wasting the time of the masses of people, but we’re doing more and worse than that—we’re actually leading them into, once again, the killing embrace of the existing system and its apparatus and institutions of brutal and violent force and repression to maintain that system.

So what we’re doing, to go back to hastening while awaiting, is actively seeking, once again—as is concentrated in those six paragraphs that I was speaking to from the beginning of “Making and Emancipating” (Part 2), is we’re transforming the objective conditions to the greatest degree possible at any given time, while also being alert to changes that arise from larger factors, from the development of other contradictions, and other forces working on those contradictions from their own point of view and with their own objectives. We’re seeking to transform the conditions so that we are not just passively awaiting, but we’re actually changing the situation in ways that accelerate—on a materialist basis, and not through attempted application of voluntarism—but on a materialist basis to actually accelerate things toward the development of a revolutionary situation and the emergence of a revolutionary people in the millions and millions; and also prepare the masses of people, growing numbers of the masses, and their leadership, the vanguard party at the core of the movement for revolution, prepare them to seize on this revolutionary situation when in fact it does come into being, not just through our work but through this overall process that I was examining and which is presented in a concentrated way in the first six paragraphs of Part 2 of“Making and Emancipating.” That’s what it means to hasten while await.

We’re working with a purpose. It’s not aimless. It’s not purposeless. Again, it’s not by formulae, it’s not by some sort of recipe, it’s not by a linear approach—we do this, we do that, and we get one centimeter, then four centimeters—let’s even be a little bit more dialectical than that revisionist, so it’s not just one centimeter and then another centimeter, but WOW, one centimeter and then eight centimeters closer to socialism on the same straight line linear approach—No. It’s actually working to transform the conditions to ones more favorable for revolution in the context of all that’s spoken to in terms of the larger objective world that’s going on—all that’s spoken to in those six paragraphs (or in a concentrated way in the six paragraphs) that begin Part 2 of “Making and Emancipating.” It’s doing that, on the one hand, while also preparing growing numbers of the masses, and a growing party at the core leading the masses, in preparing the ground for revolution, so that when things do come together—when, through our work and these larger dynamics, there actually does emerge either the qualitative change or the possibility of our then working directly to transform the situation into a revolutionary one, then there is the strongest possible basis to actually seize on that and fight through and win.

And that gets back to the point that everything we’re doing is preparing for that. Everything we’re doing is preparing—we’re not preparing in a direct sense, we’re not organizing forces directly in the particular sphere of fighting all out for the seizure of power now. But we’re working in an all-around way to accumulate the forces for revolution in an accelerated way, not just in a slow, gradual and linear way, but in an all-around and an accelerated way.

So, if you look on the one hand—and this is important—there is a qualitative distinction between the objective conditions, including the mood of the masses and what the masses are prepared to do and what the party is actually prepared to lead them to do in this present period, on the one hand, and on the other hand a qualitatively different situation, a revolutionary situation and revolutionary-minded masses. Those two things are qualitatively different, and they’re not just a linear extension along the same continuum. They involve qualitative leaps along the way and a major qualitative leap to an actual revolutionary situation and a revolutionary people. On the other hand, they are not separated by an absolute wall. And what we are doing now is actively working, once again, to hasten developments in the objective situation and in terms of the consciousness and organization of masses of people and their vanguard party in preparation for, and at the same time as working to bring closer and to accelerate the development of contradictions toward, when such a qualitatively different situation would emerge and then the tasks of communists become qualitatively different in a very telescoped and concentrated way, even as, as has been stressed in “On the Possibility of Revolution,” the actual struggle for the seizure of power will be somewhat more protracted than had been previously understood and will not be simply a matter of simultaneous urban insurrections and then the establishment very quickly of a revolutionary regime.

And, again, it’s worth going back to the original article “On the Possibility of Revolution,” and to what’s said about this in REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! as well as in “Birds and Crocodiles,” and really study and dig into and grapple with what’s being said there. And then to grapple with the question that I’m now addressing of what that has to do with what we’re doing now, even though the situation and the tasks, to put it that way, are qualitatively different now than they would be then.

So that’s a point I want to give a lot of emphasis to, because if we are not—look, you can see in microcosm, this is a very important point, even though the situation is qualitatively different now, you can see in microcosm at least some of what the features of a revolutionary situation will be like, and what the life and death struggle will be like at that time, not only with the direct representatives and enforcers of the existing system, their politicians and all their whole state apparatus of violent repression, but also with all other forces in the field who, in a magnified way—just as we will be working on a magnified basis—will also be working on a magnified basis to try to transform the contradictions in the direction in which they want them to go—various political and literary representatives of various strata, the petite bourgeoisie, including the petite bourgeoisie and bourgeois strata among oppressed peoples and nations. They are in the field now in certain ways, many times directly and sometimes very viciously in opposition to what we’re seeking to do to bring forward the masses around an actual revolutionary understanding and program, and to accumulate forces for revolution in that way. But they’re also just more generally out in the field trying to win people to their program, which is objectively and sometimes very directly in opposition to how we’re seeking to lead people to recognize and act in their most fundamental interests. And just as that exists now, that will exist in a magnified way at the time of revolution. You know, Lenin made this point: a revolution is not something simple, like one army lines up one place and says, “we’re for imperialism,” and another army lines up somewhere else and says, “we’re for socialism,” and then they have at it. There’s all kinds of other forces in the field, some of which you’ll be able to win over, or at least unite with or win to friendly neutrality, and some of which will actually go over to the side of the bourgeoisie when it comes down to it—the side of the old system and the old ruling class. Again, that’s one of those things where Lenin’s statement applies, “nobody can say with certainty”—and it would be wrong to try to predict with certainty—but this we can say, to put it in very basic terms: We are in a contestation not only with the direct political, literary and, yes, repressive representatives and forces of the existing oppressive and exploitative system, but also with many other class forces which are not the ruling class, but which represent programs and interests which will end up capitulating to—when left to their own dynamics, to put it that way, will end up capitulating to and, even in some cases, becoming actively enlisted in the forces of counter-revolution along with the ruling class of the old system.

We are engaged in a struggle, obviously, with the representatives of the old system. It’s an antagonistic struggle. Even though the struggle now is not one for the seizure of power, the fundamental interests involved are antagonistic. We are also involved in all kinds of struggle—including particularly ideological struggle, but also struggle which comes down over practical policies and programs for all different kinds of immediate struggles—with different forces out there representing all different kinds of interests which fundamentally cannot break with, and will lead people back to within the killing confines of, the existing system. And there is not a linear connection, but there is a definite connection, between how that struggle is waged now, and all along the way while we’re hastening while awaiting, and then in a magnified and concentrated way—will take a concentrated and magnified form, will undergo a qualitative leap, when there actually would be the emergence of a revolutionary situation and a revolutionary people.

So it’s neither the case that the terms are exactly now as they will be then, and again Lenin’s point comes in, “nobody can say exactly” how these all different forces will fall out and line up—that’s also a matter of struggle and of pulls on them from different sides. So it’s not that there is just some straight line, on the one hand. On the other hand, it’s not that there is no connection; there is a definite connection. There is a definite connection in that dimension and overall between everything we are doing and whether or not a revolutionary situation even fully ripens and then can it actually be seized on by the vanguard forces of communist revolution to lead masses of people in an actual emancipatory breakthrough, one that ruptures out of and defeats the killing confines and repressive—violent repressive forces—of the existing order and the existing system and its institutions and apparatuses.

So we should be understanding this, not linearly—that would be wrong, on the one side—but an even greater danger is not to see the connection between everything we’re doing all along the way and what will happen and what will be possible when there would be a qualitative change to a revolutionary situation and the emergence of a revolutionary people. If you think that you’re just going to go along and be in a little corner somewhere, and then all of a sudden all of society is going to be convulsed in major upheavals, let alone a revolutionary situation, and then everybody is just going to come over to you because you have better ideas, you are betraying the masses of people, I’m sorry to say, in fundamental terms. If you are not actively working to transform the conditions, including the thinking of the people, and including what the people are actually—what growing numbers of people are actually organized around—then you are not preparing for revolution, and not only are you not preparing for that, you are actually preparing for a disaster if there is a major convulsion in society, even one that leads to a revolutionary situation.

Preparing Minds and Organizing Forces, Accumulating Forces for Revolution

We are actively working on the terrain to prepare, as Lenin put it—or actually Lenin said organize forces and prepare minds, and we reversed it to get the dialectic more correctly in an overall sense: preparing minds and organizing forces for revolution. That’s what we’re actively doing, working on transforming the objective conditions and working on transforming the subjective factor, namely the Party, both qualitatively and quantitatively, that is, transforming it to be more and more on the scientific foundation and as a real revolutionary communist vanguard that it needs to be, and bringing forward growing numbers of people into the ranks of the Party on that and no other basis. And also bringing forward growing numbers of masses and winning them more and more to move in a revolutionary direction and to be won to a revolutionary understanding and to act on that understanding.

This is what we’re doing—nothing else. It’s not a matter of okay, we got some assignments and we go out and we do this and we do that, totally disconnected from any kind of strategic approach. There’s way too much of that, but that’s not what needs to be done, that’s not what cries out to be done. What cries out to be done is preparing minds and organizing forces, just as we’re fighting the power and transforming the people for one thing: for revolution—even as many of the people we’re uniting with are not for that revolution at any given time, and that’s the dialectics, the nature of the contradictions that we’re dealing with and that’s the dialectical materialist method we have to have to correctly handle those contradictions. We’re preparing minds and organizing forces for revolution.

To put it another way, we’re accumulating forces for revolution. That’s very important. That is one of the major yardsticks by which we should measure what we’re doing. Are we actually accumulating forces? Not just accumulating forces for any old thing, but are we actually, in this overall process—not that everybody we’re involved with in any particular struggle or any particular mass initiative, not that all the people or maybe a majority of the people at any given time are for revolution—but are we actually, through this overall process, which I’ve spoken to in many dimensions, are we through this overall process actually accumulating forces who are more and more consciously seeing the need and basis for revolution and actively working to bring closer and then to carry out that actual revolution, when the time comes and the situation is qualitatively different: the actual defeat and dismantling of the old system and its forces of violent repression and the bringing about of a radically different system—are we accumulating forces who are actually more and more consciously working for that and are part of that process where they’re moving forward in a revolutionary direction, and making the leap to join the Party as part of that? Because after all—and this is something that’s not understood in the way it should be—after all, the most essential, important force that needs to be organized in all this—not the only, not the single, not to the neglect of everything else that needs to be organized, but in the midst of and at the core of this overall process, the most important force that needs to be organized is the vanguard force of the communist revolution, and in this country that means the Revolutionary Communist Party.

We ARE Building a Movement for Revolution, and Building the Party as Its Leading Core

Having now laid a certain foundation, I want to try to speak to, but move somewhat more quickly through, a number of points that flow from a number of important ramifications or aspects of this overall strategic approach.

First of all, I want to speak to the slogan, “We ARE Building a Movement for Revolution and Building the Party as Its Leading Core.” This is a slogan which, like everything else, can be turned into its opposite, turned into something meaningless and lifeless, which is not actually carrying out what’s concentrated in the slogan itself. In order to get at this, let’s look at the way the word “ARE” is presented in this slogan. You notice that it’s capitalized. In other words, the word is given emphasis. It’s not “We Are Building a Movement for Revolution,” it’s “We ARE Building a Movement for Revolution and Building the Party as Its Leading Core.” Why is it presented that way? Why is the “ARE” emphasized? Because it’s giving stress to an active orientation, that this is what we’re doing. We’re not asking permission to do it from anybody—certainly not from the ruling class, but not from any of the masses, either. We’re not taking a poll to see if people think it’s a good idea. We’re not going out and asking people if it would be alright with them if we do it. We’re not going out to see how many people say, “I’m with that,” and then determining whether it’s a good idea or not. None of that populist epistemology or other incorrect approaches is what’s concentrated in what this slogan is, and is supposed to be, all about. This is an orientation: This is what we’re doing.

Why are we doing it? Because this is “our thing,” or because in the 1960s some of us got inspired by the idea of revolution and we’re just too fucking stubborn to give up on it? You know, the old Japanese Emperor Hirohito’s soldiers who haven’t gotten the news that the war (World War 2) is over. We haven’t gotten the news that the revolution’s over and done? No! It’s because, once again, a scientific dialectical materialist method and approach tells us that this is what’s both necessary but also possible in order to bring about the emancipation of humanity, not only from the present conditions and relations of oppression and exploitation, but from thousands of years, as it’s put, of tradition’s chains.

So this is scientifically grounded, and on that scientific basis—once again back to the basic point, what is the basis for this, what basis are we proceeding on? On that scientific grounding, with that scientific method and approach, leading us to understand that this is both necessary and possible—not something preordained, not some religious thing that’s bound to be brought about by supernatural forces, or just by our good intentions or the strength of our will or our determination, but something that we can scientifically establish as both necessary and possible. This is the basis on which we’re proceeding; and this is why, when we go out to the masses of people—it’s not that we don’t, you know, BAsics 4:11, it’s not that what they think is unimportant, but it doesn’t determine reality. So when we go out to people, it’s not—we’re not asking their permission or seeing if they think it’s a good idea, we’re telling them: this is what we’re doing because this is both necessary and possible. This is what’s needed to get rid of all the horrors that people are subjected to.

This has to be our active—and, on a scientific foundation, enthusiastic—orientation. You know, we don’t care what a bunch of bourgeois representatives and a bunch of fucking opportunists and others say. We pay attention to this, because it’s part of the objective reality out there that we have to deal with. But that doesn’t determine what we’re doing or how we’re approaching this. This is determined scientifically, and our enthusiasm and our passion for this flows from that science, and from a recognition—which, again, is scientifically grounded—that the world is not only a horror but that it is totally unnecessary for this to be, and there could be a radically different and much better way.

So that’s the first point. Why emphasize the “we ARE?” Because we ARE—and, goddamn it, we better be. This is what we’re doing and, in a certain way, at any given time if somebody doesn’t like it, that’s their tough shit. Now, that doesn’t mean we write them off or treat them as an enemy if they’re not with it. But, I mean, that’s not—that doesn’t stop us from doing what we’re doing. It doesn’t even give us pause, even if a whole bunch of people don’t like it who should be with it at any given time. That doesn’t give us pause. We ARE building a movement for revolution, and you should get with it and here’s why. And then there are all the components that I’ve spoken to, and will speak to in some aspects further, that go into that. But this is the core: We ARE doing this, because this is what’s needed and that has a scientifically established foundation, it’s based on a scientific method and scientific analysis and synthesis. So that’s one point. We ARE Building a Movement for Revolution and Building the Party as Its Leading Core. Not, “We are thinking about it.” We are not just talking about it. It’s not, “We’ll talk to you about it, if you would deign to listen to us for a few minutes or come to our bookstore.” We ARE. So that’s point one. That’s a basic point of orientation.

Then there’s the fact that this slogan has been changed recently, that is, it’s been added to. The slogan that was out there for a number of years was “We ARE Building a Movement for Revolution.” But it’s been changed to say “We ARE Building a Movement for Revolution” with the addition of “and Building the Party as Its Leading Core.” Why? Because it goes back to the point that I was emphasizing just a little while ago—that, out of all the organized expressions of accumulating forces, the most important is the party itself—that without a party based on the science of communism as it’s been developed through the new synthesis of communism, without a party based on the scientific method and approach of dialectical materialism, none of this, none of the stirrings, none of the struggles, none of the questioning, none of the upheavals, none of even the convulsions in society can go where they need to go. And if the party is not being actively built all along the way, in dialectical relation with building the broader revolutionary movement, then even if a revolutionary situation should arise, or at least the immediate potential for one—even if society should be deeply convulsed in a crisis that the ruling class has no easy way out of and that every move the ruling class makes only makes the crisis worse for them—even if that should come about, there will be no chance of its getting resolved in a way that would be in the fundamental interests of the masses of people, not just in this country but in the world as a whole, and ultimately all of humanity.

So we are not just going out to build a movement—and, yes, not just a movement in general but a movement for revolution, “Fight the Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution,” “Prepare Minds and Organize Forces, Accumulate Forces for Revolution”—we ARE building a movement, but we are not just building a movement, we ARE building a movement for revolution, and we ARE building the Party as its leading core. And all these are points of contention and struggle, that we should be very actively and positively and enthusiastically taking up. Why? Because our idea is better than somebody else’s? No. Because this, once again, is scientifically grounded. It is a correct reflection of reality and the contradictory motion and dynamics of reality and where this can be taken, through all the struggle that is involved, that would actually be in the fundamental interests of the masses of people and ultimately all of humanity.

Now, you can use that phrase, “the fundamental interests of humanity”—but, look, this translates into the tears of the mothers and fathers whose kids are shot down in the street. It translates into the horror of a young girl being betrayed and sold into sexual slavery and imprisoned in sexual slavery. It translates into the bodies being blown apart unnecessarily in the wars waged by these imperialists and other reactionaries. It translates into moving away from the destruction of the environment that goes on. This is what we’re talking about when we talk about the fundamental interests of the masses of people. It’s not some abstract formulation. It is a formulation, it is a scientific formulation, it is an abstraction in the correct sense, it is a theoretical abstraction that is a concentration of reality. But that reality is made up of all the suffering of the masses of people, and all the ways in which that suffering is perpetrated and perpetuated by this system, and the fact that all this is unnecessary. That’s what that statement, that theoretical abstraction—that the communist revolution is in the fundamental interests of the masses of oppressed people, and ultimately all of humanity—that’s what that means. That’s the living reality of that.

So we ARE, on that basis, that scientifically founded basis, we ARE, yes, we are building a movement for revolution and we are, yes, we are building the Party as its leading core.

Thousands and Millions

Now, next I want to speak to the formulation that’s in the statement, “On the Strategy for Revolution,” which can be posed as: the thousands and millions. This has everything to do—I mean, it’s speaking to the way that thousands now can be brought forward, oriented and trained in a revolutionary way while influencing millions—millions being influenced by the actions of those thousands, and millions being influenced by the overall work of a party at the core of all this—in dialectical relationship with, and in transforming, and struggling to transform, the larger objective world in the way that I was speaking to at the beginning (and once again as concentrated in those opening six paragraphs of Part 2 of “Making and Emancipating”).

This has everything to do, once again, with accumulating, or not accumulating, forces—for what? For revolution. Are we actually just trying to have a diffuse and diverse grouping? It’s not a diverse, amorphous grouping of people, without any form and substance, that we can call thousands because we got a strategy statement that says we should have thousands, so let’s find some vague way in which we can say there are thousands of people. No! This is thousands of people being won to the banner of revolution— but not just to the banner in the abstract, to the actual substance of that revolution, to what its scientific method reveals about the possibility and necessity, and the character as well, of the revolution—and to be won as well to that method itself, that scientific method of communism as it’s been developed further through the new synthesis of communism.

So thousands need to be brought forward who are more and more themselves taking up this banner of revolution in a figurative sense—but sometimes very directly, in a literal sense, manifesting that out into the world, and struggling with others to win them to it. This is an actual concrete objective: to, in this period, actually win thousands of people, to accumulate forces for revolution in the thousands now, while influencing millions in a revolutionary direction. This is a crucial expression and aspect of hastening while awaiting. It has everything to do with what I was saying earlier about the dialectical—not the linear, but the dialectical—relationship between everything we’re doing now and what’s concentrated in “On the Possibility,” dealing with when there is a qualitatively different, revolutionary situation and revolutionary masses.

So this is not just some vague, formless general idea: if we talk to several thousand people, that means we have thousands. No! It’s actually accumulating thousands now for revolution, through all the diverse streams and the interconnections, and the correct handling of all the contradictions involved in—in what? In what we ARE doing—building a movement for revolution and building the Party as its leading core.

So, once again, this has to do with accumulating forces for revolution. Once more, we should be measuring—as a very significant yardstick, we should be measuring what we’re doing and how we’re doing against that objective of actually accumulating forces for revolution. But not just in the abstract. Actually bringing forward and winning and organizing in the revolutionary movement, and moving forward many into the Party at any given time—thousands, while millions are being influenced.

And think about it concretely. Let’s go back to that dialectical relation and the struggle not only with the direct representatives and forces of the ruling class, but all these other forces out there in the field. What’s going to happen when—let’s posit, let’s theorize right now that such a revolutionary situation had emerged, and all these other forces are in the field contending. Does it make a difference whether, all along the way toward that, we’ve had a growing accumulation of, first hundreds, but then—not in some distant future, but more immediately—thousands, and growing thousands, who are actually moving in a revolutionary direction under the banner of revolutionary communism? Is that—whether or not that’s happened, is that having only minor or even totally insignificant influence on what would happen in a revolutionary situation? Or would it have tremendous bearing on whether that situation is not only squandered but much worse, is led into yet another horror for the masses of people in one form or another?

So this is an active goal. If we’re actually—and we ARE actually—building a movement for revolution and the Party at its core, then actually bringing forward, orienting and training in a revolutionary way, on the basis of communism and the new synthesis of communism, thousands in this period while influencing millions and preparing those thousands to lead, and to become, millions under the revolutionary banner with the emergence of a revolutionary situation—that has to be an active goal, something actively worked for, and an active and ongoing yardstick, a major yardstick against which to measure our work and whether in fact we ARE building a movement for revolution and building the Party as its leading core, or we are doing something else, which is not what we should be and need to be doing.

Bridging the Chasm—Bringing Alive the Revolutionary Potential of Basic Youth

Now, a particular aspect of this that I want to speak to is what could be called bridging the chasm, and it is a real chasm, between what we have recognized and what has been said about the potential role in this revolution of basic youth—basic youth and basic masses more broadly—and specifically what’s said about this in REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS!, how we should be approaching these youth—and, in fact, where things are now and what’s being done now, particularly with regard to these basic youth. It’s a fact that a lot of these basic youth—out of the dynamics of the contradictions of this system and how those are posing themselves and moving now, a lot of the youth are into some bad shit. Or they are completely disoriented—even if they are not actively caught up in some bad shit, they’re disoriented and don’t understand and don’t recognize even the need for radical change and certainly for a revolution.

But, once again, is our assessment that among these basic youth, as well as basic masses more broadly, there is tremendous potential for this revolution—is that based on some moral precept or some variation of identity politics? In other words, some kind of idealist notion that we can’t give up on? Or is it scientifically grounded? Is it, once again, based on a scientific analysis and synthesis, through the application of dialectical materialism, of the actual potential—and what that’s based on, the actual fundamental interests of these youth and where, therefore, through a tremendous amount of struggle, they can be led, unleashed and led again, to actually become a driving dynamic force for this revolution? And the answer is the latter.

This is not just, “Oh, you know, these youth are terribly oppressed, so they must be a major force for revolution.” This is actually based on a lot of scientific work that’s gone into analyzing the “social composition,” and its changingness, in the U.S. over a number of decades, reaching back into the early twentieth century and even before—the whole analysis of the separation of the labor movement from the communist movement that’s been discussed in a number of documents, talks of mine in particular. And an actual scientific analysis of what are the dynamics that these youth are caught up in, what effects does it actually have on their lives, and what is the way out of this for the masses of these youth. That’s what this is scientifically based on. And we need to keep deepening that scientific analysis and synthesis through the living application of dialectical materialism. But as we’re doing that, we need to be actively working on bridging this tremendous chasm between that scientifically established and grounded recognition of this real revolutionary potential, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, where the masses of these youth are at now and where they’re being pulled by the dynamics of the system.

And it is not going to—this chasm is not going to be bridged by any kind of tailism, by any kind of reification of these youth, as if somehow the revolution resides within them, in their “inner essence” in some sort of metaphysical and idealist sense. But only on the basis, once again, of science and what it tells us about the dynamics of society, its effects on them and where their fundamental interests actually do lie, and what, to put it that way, is the way out for them, and the role they can play in relation, not only to their own emancipation from all this, but the emancipation of all of humanity from all of the different horrific chains that are fastened on masses of people.

So, we’ve identified, on a scientific basis, what we’ve called “a backbone and driving force role” in this revolution for these basic youth, and basic masses generally. And that’s not to say they’re the only source of revolutionary forces, or the only grouping in society, or social force, that can be brought forward powerfully around this revolution. But they are a critical one. And we do have to find the means to forge across this chasm and bring forward these youth—and we have to do it now, not in some future far-off time, and not in some sort of utopian way, but by applying, and being rigorous in applying, our scientific method and approach. And we have to do it through a tremendous amount of struggle. We have to do it by applying, in the way that I’ve been discussing this, “Fight the Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution.” We have to do it by recognizing and carrying out the overall process of preparing minds and organizing forces—in which, in all of this, transforming the thinking of blocs of people is not the only, but is the pivotal thing that needs to be carried forward.

So there’s a lot of struggle to be waged with these youth, both in terms of transforming their thinking and in terms of finding the means and forms through which they can actually come forward and be a decisive force in what we ARE doing—building the movement for revolution and building the Party as its leading core. And we need to go to work on this, systematically and consistently, and in a real sense relentlessly. We need to find the ways to bring forward groups of these youth, and then we need to find the ways to work with them to bring forward others, and to have an impact broadly in society. Not just to bring forward others from among whom they come, so to speak, that is, other basic youth only, although that’s very important; but also to have an impact and influence—not through “bogarting,” not through posturing, but through carrying out revolutionary work and representing and actively working for this revolution—among all strata of the people.

Now, in my New Year’s message this year, 2014, there is a basic orientation and a basic approach set forth which follows up on what’s set forth in the talk and film REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! about how to go at the contradictions that are holding back these basic youth, how not to tail but how to struggle, how to directly address the basic questions and the basic contradictions that are holding them back and keeping them chained to what is, and even keeping them misdirected in the context of everything this system is putting them through. So that’s something also to look at and to study. How is this approached in REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS!, but also in a very concentrated way in that New Year’s message: how the contradictions are influencing things, and a lot of the way people’s thinking is being shaped by the contradictions now, in the absence of our systematic work and struggle for revolution, and how to go at carrying out that systematic work and struggle. This is something that we have to work on with a “pit bull” determination, relentlessly—how to break through and bring forward layer after layer of these youth and involve them in bringing forward others, not just among the basic masses and basic youth themselves, but from all strata of society, and to have a growing impact and influence on the mood and thinking of people—not, again, by posturing but by actively taking up and fighting for the movement for revolution and the Party as its leading core.

So we have to both carry out the struggle on the basis of the right orientation and the right scientific method and approach, and we have to work very hard and very scientifically, and involve youth in struggling together with us about how basic youth—about how to create and develop the means, or various means, for involving growing numbers of these youth, and other basic masses, as well as people from other strata, in the movement for revolution, and moving them forward through this movement for revolution to actually become part of the vanguard of this revolution, the Party at its core. And this involves many different components. It involves, obviously, fighting the power—standing up against the ways in which they’re oppressed, but also other sections of people and people in other countries and other parts of the world are oppressed, and battered and blown apart by this system. But it also involves all-around ideological work and struggle—transforming the people, transforming their thinking. For example, there have been embryonic efforts that have been made, which need to be further developed and carried through on and built on, to involve basic masses, including basic youth, in discussion and struggle over things like evolution and the broader questions that it touches on, or directly interconnects with, such as the question of religion and whether one is going to have a scientific or religious approach to reality.

And this is something that, by the way, I want to say I thought was very important in the article taking off from the upsurge in Egypt, the article in (Demarcations No. 3) by Sam Albert called “Impasse,” for short, where it said that many of these opportunist forces—I’m paraphrasing, but many of these opportunist forces only see religion in its role as an opiate for the people. You know, Marx said—and these forces, these opportunists, are always invoking Marx’s statement that religion is the opiate of the people in a way to say, in effect and after all, don’t people need this opiate? It is the heart of a heartless world. Don’t people need heart? They’ve taken Marx’s statement there and they’re perverting it into being a rationalization for not struggling with people around religion. But also, as is pointed out in that “Impasse” article—again I’m paraphrasing—these opportunists miss, or step right over, or push to the side, the recognition that religion is not just consolation, it’s not just an opiate, it’s not just a numbing, it’s not just some heart in a heartless world. It is also a worldview. It is also an ideology. It is also a way of attempting to interpret reality, and it’s one whose interpretation is fundamentally wrong and ultimately very harmful to masses of people, reinforcing the chains on them, mental chains and actual chains of all-around oppression and exploitation.

So, involving the basic youth is not just a matter of “let’s get together and fight,” although that’s part of it—Fight the Power—but it’s also the all-around work to enable them to transform their thinking, not just so they “like our `narrative’ better.” No. That’s not how we’re proceeding, or not how we should be proceeding. So that they actually come to a more and more scientific approach to and understanding of reality and on that basis see both the necessity and the possibility to radically transform that reality through revolution and guided by the new synthesis—communism and its development further through the new synthesis of communism. If we don’t carry out all-around work in which, yes, standing up and fighting back, fighting the power, is extremely important, but is only one part of the overall process that needs to involve—that these youth need to be part of—an overall process in which, in a pivotal sense, transforming the thinking of the people is what’s pivotally involved in this overall process of Fight the Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution, of preparing minds and organizing forces for revolution.

So in this way, in this overall sense in which transforming the thinking of blocs of people is pivotal—this is what I mean by saying we need to be working and struggling to bring forward growing numbers of basic youth and other basic masses and working and struggling, including together with them, on this basis to create and develop means for involving growing numbers of them, as well as people from other strata, in the movement for revolution and moving them forward through this to actually become part of the vanguard force, the Revolutionary Communist Party, at the core of this movement for revolution.

The “Two Maximizings”

Now, at the same time, we have to also look at this in the broader context of what we’ve described as the “two maximizings” (revolutionary work among the basic masses, and revolutionary work among the middle strata, and the dialectical inter-relation of all this) as a key part of our overall approach to building the movement for revolution. As important as it is, as crucial as it is, to actually fight through and bring forward growing waves—not just ones and twos, but growing waves—of these basic youth and other basic masses to the movement for revolution and through that movement, to the Party at the core of it, this cannot be done in a vacuum and it cannot be done just by carrying out even the best work to do this by itself and in and of itself. This has to be in the context of the overall building of the movement for revolution and the Party at its core, in all the different ways that this has to be carried out (some of the key ones I have touched on here). And the “two maximizings” means that we have to be working with the same line, with the same scientific method and approach, among all the different strata of the people, not just the basic masses, but all strata—among students, the intelligentsia and in academia, among other sections of the petite bourgeoisie, and through many broad and diverse streams, to actually build the movement for revolution, to correctly carry out the relationship between particular struggles uniting people broadly and the overall movement for revolution, to actually correctly prepare minds and organize forces, fight the power, and transform the people, for revolution in which, once again, transforming the thinking of blocs of people is a thread running through the entire thing and pivotal to the overall process.

But we really have to bear down on carrying out the work among all different strata and the dialectical back and forth influence of this in a positive way. For basic masses to see people from other strata stepping forward, even when they’re doing so around other banners in many cases—something like “Occupy,” for example, a couple of years ago, had a positive influence, at least in a beginning way, among basic masses, feeling there are other— they’re always told that they’re surrounded and that nobody cares; “yes, you’re being kicked in the face but nobody gives a damn.” And it’s all too true that not enough people give a damn now, and we have to go to work on that, part of which is taking on all this identity politics bullshit—”Well, yes, it’s terrible what’s happening to Black people, but I’m not Black so it has nothing to do with me”; or “I’m not Black and I can’t do anything about that.” Or Latino, or a woman, or whatever. “I’m not gay, so that’s not my thing.” We have to break through all that as one key pillar of the oppressive system that needs to be knocked down in people’s understanding and how they’re acting—or not acting—accordingly.

But this has to be part of an overall process, and at the same time we have to really bear down and make breakthroughs on this. We can’t just talk about it. We actually have to accumulate forces through all the different aspects—through the overall process and in all the ways that I’ve been speaking to, and others which have been spoken to more fully in other documents.

Re-ascend, or Break Our Bones—Vanguard of the Future, or Residue of the Past

So with that as backdrop, I want to turn to the question of the ensemble of revolutionary work now. This is our way of identifying what are key concentrations of social contradictions and key objectives that we need to go to work on—once again going back to what I said at the beginning—in the context of the larger dynamics flowing out of the basic contradictions of this system and the interpenetration of those contradictions. This is an identification of key concentrations of social contradictions and key objectives that we need to be working on in order to break through and make urgently needed advances in, yes, building the movement for revolution, which we ARE building, and building the party as its leading core, which we ARE building.

Now, the formulation has been used, and it’s a very real one, that the contradiction we’re facing immediately—looking at the actual situation in our Party, its dynamics, the contradictions of this Party, and that in the context of the larger society and world and the contradictions that are at play there, if you will—the formulation has been brought forward, and it’s very real, that we have to make breakthroughs and re-ascend on the path of revolution or, to paraphrase Mao, we will fall into a deep hole and break our bones. And this is very real. This is another way, a very particular and concentrated way, of posing the larger problem and the larger crossroads that the communist movement as a whole in the world is facing. As it’s put in the Manifesto from our Party, Communism: The Beginning of a New Stage, it’s either vanguard of the future or residue of the past. This is a contradiction that’s being posed for communist forces throughout the world, for the communist movement throughout the world and for the whole struggle for communism, even beyond the particular organized movement—the whole struggle for communism, even beyond, once again, organized forces that are genuinely communist, and organized forces which claim the banner of communism but are anything but, and are instead opportunists and, even in some cases, counter-revolutionary. But for the larger struggle for communism, this is what’s acutely being posed: vanguard of the future or residue of the past. And, as this takes shape in our Party, it is: re-ascend—make breakthroughs, actually begin ascending on the road of revolution in some qualitative ways—or break our bones, with all the consequences of that, not just in terms of our Party being broken apart, no longer able to do all the things that I’ve been talking about to transform the objective world in the direction of revolution, but actually setting back the struggle for communism in the world in very significant ways.

The Ensemble of Revolutionary Work Now

This is posed very immediately and very acutely, and it’s with this recognition, as well as in the broader context of what we need to be doing out in the world to build the movement for revolution and build the Party as its leading core, that we have formulated this ensemble of revolutionary work as, not the entire content of our work, but the main focus and concentration of our revolutionary work in this period. And I say not the entire content because, once again—going back to what was discussed at the beginning in relation to those six paragraphs from Part 2 of “Making and Emancipating”—there are other things happening in the world which we cannot ignore and which have a direct effect—or indirect effect, but nevertheless a significant effect—on the overall terrain and on the overall work that we need to be doing, and the challenges we need to be confronting in building the movement for revolution and the Party as its leading core.

So this ensemble is a concentration but not the entirety of everything we need—it is a concentrated focus of the revolutionary work we need to be carrying out now, but it is not the entirety of what we need to be doing to confront and transform contradictions in the direction of revolution and ultimately communism worldwide.

So, I want to begin by talking about why is BA Everywhere the “leading edge” of this overall ensemble. This has been talked about, and like many others this formulation has been used—and it has been misused and abused as much as it’s been used, or even more perhaps. Once again, it comes down to, are we being scientific or are we being essentially religious and idealist? This can be gotten at by looking at the acutely contradictory elements of the original editorial (in Revolution) on BA Everywhere . On the one hand, as has been pointed out, there were some serious errors, some seriously wrong formulations, in that original editorial which did tend in the direction of, and influence people toward, a religious rather than a scientific viewpoint—statements along the lines that without BA Everywhere revolution simply is not possible and, in essence, without BA, and the leadership of BA directly, revolution is not possible. That is not the line that needs to be guiding BA Everywhere and its role as a leading edge in the overall ensemble; that has been pointed out sharply, and there needs to be a deepening in the understanding of why that is so, what is wrong with that kind of orientation and how it is in contradiction to the correct understanding and what the correct understanding is about that.

On the other hand, there were some important correct formulations in that original editorial which, of course, have been retained in the editorial as it has been rewritten to correct what was seriously erroneous and formulations that were leading people and pointing people in the wrong direction. And in particular, in that editorial it makes the point that BA Everywhere is not just about the promotion of an individual in some abstract sense or in some way divorced from the role that that person plays in relation to what we do have to be all about, namely building the movement for revolution, building the Party at its core, and struggling to transform society and the world toward the goal of communism—first, through the overthrow of capitalism-imperialism, establishing socialism with the dictatorship of the proletariat, and then continuing to advance toward a communist world. That person (BA) and the work of that person—the body of work and the method and approach concentrated and brought forward in the new synthesis of communism associated with and brought forward by that person—is a concentration of what this is all about and what it all has to be aiming for. What we’re promoting when we are promoting BA Everywhere is the advance in the understanding of the necessity, the possibility, the character, the strategy and the means for revolution aiming for the final goal of communism. This is a continuation with further leaps—and, yes, some ruptures and breaks with secondary, but not insignificant, aspects of communism, which, as I have said previously, is the way that every science develops, every scientific approach to changing the world, which is what science is, after all. Science is not just an abstraction to understand the world, it is also an approach to changing the world, in any sphere of science, whether medicine or physics or biology or what have you.

So, what’s said in that editorial that is very correct and very important is that, correctly understood and correctly approached—not in a religious way, but in a scientific way, understanding this as a concentration and the most advanced expression of the strategic approach to and the scientific grounding for revolution aiming for communism—BA Everywhere provides the overall context and the underlying foundation for all the different elements of the work that we are doing. Not, again, because the point of everything we’re doing is to promote BA in some personal sense, divorced from what BA is all about and what BA is leading people toward. But precisely in the sense in which I was just speaking about it—as the method and approach, the new synthesis, the means, the understanding, the scientific approach to actually carrying forward the struggle toward the goal for which everything we’re about is aiming, namely revolution and ultimately communism in the world—that’s what we’re promoting with BA Everywhere. We’re promoting a further development of the scientific method and approach, and everything that flows from that approach in terms of the struggle to bring about revolution in the world and ultimately achieve the final goal of communism in the world as a whole.

And that provides, again, the framework and the context for all the other work we’re doing, to fight the power, and to transform the people, for revolution. Because otherwise, without that overall framework and context, it’s going to be pulled into something other than for revolution. Now let’s be clear, just carrying out BA Everywhere in the most correct way—once again, let’s not fall into metaphysics and religion and idealism—this is not some magic elixir which guarantees that our work won’t go off course and become non-revolutionary. That, again, would be unscientific. It’s not some sort of magic potion: “Well, if we sprinkle some BA Everywhere around, then when we carry out the two mass initiatives and when we do the website, and so on, then that will guarantee that it will all be for revolution.” No. It’s in correctly and actively carrying out BA Everywhere, in dialectical relation with all the other elements of this ensemble and the overall revolutionary work that we’re doing—it’s in that way that we have the foundation to carry forward the struggle to keep this on the revolutionary course, and to actually be building a movement for revolution and building the Party as its core. If we don’t have that, if we don’t have that foundation, if we’re not struggling to proceed on the basis of that foundation—and it is a struggle, it’s not a magic potion, it’s not a guarantee—but if we’re not struggling to carry things out on that foundation, then it’s guaranteed that the gravitational pull to come under the wing of the bourgeoisie will affect not only masses that we’re together with and waging struggles with, but ourselves, our Party itself.

So BA Everywhere is bringing to the fore and providing an all-around framework of what this is all for. But that, too, is a struggle. As we’ve seen, and as we should understand, this is a struggle also over whether or not BA Everywhere, as well as the overall ensemble and the entirety of our revolutionary work, is carried out on a revolutionary basis or transformed into something else by the gravitational pull of the influence of the larger society and world and what is still dominant in the world in terms of relations, economically, socially, politically, and in terms of culture and ideology, namely the dominance of the bourgeois system of capitalism-imperialism and other systems of exploitation and oppression.

BA Everywhere is a way of providing a leading edge to all of our work—to the ensemble, and our revolutionary work as a whole— and providing a revolutionary communist foundation for that work, even as, as I’ve been emphasizing, there needs to be ongoing struggle to forge the work of BA Everywhere itself on an actual basis of revolution and communism, and not have it be turned into something else. And this is another contradiction we have to handle correctly. Just because it’s true objectively that what’s concentrated in the new synthesis of communism and the leadership of BA is, in fact, the scientific foundation and strategic approach to revolution and communism, doesn’t mean that it can’t be transformed into something else in how it’s taken up and approached. Everything in the world is contradiction, and everything in the world can be turned into its opposite, through struggle. And, you know, we’ve seen that: the dictatorship of the proletariat could be turned into the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie without dropping the name “dictatorship of the proletariat”; or socialism can be turned into capitalism with or without—and often without—dropping the name “socialism.” And communism can be turned into its opposite without ever dropping the name “communism.” So it’s a matter of the substance of this. It’s a matter of the method and approach. It’s a matter of the science. It’s a matter of whether what is being brought forward when we’re carrying out BA Everywhere is actually what it represents and embodies—namely, the new synthesis of communism and leadership toward the goal of revolution and communism—or whether it’s fashioned into something else, transformed into its opposite, in effect.

At the same time—and as the other side of yet another important contradiction—this campaign of BA Everywhere is not and should not be understood and approached as a flat linear thing of just reaching out and involving people in whatever way they can be involved, at whatever level of unity they might seek to find and whatever way we can get them to contribute to BA Everywhere. But it’s a matter of correctly handling this very important contradiction between the leading aspect—and it does need to be the leading aspect—of what is represented by the leadership of BA and the new synthesis of communism, on the one hand; and, on the other hand, the fact that objectively there is a basis for many people to be involved in this campaign who do not agree, even with the goal of communism, let alone with everything that is represented in the new synthesis of communism and the leadership of BA.

So, on the one hand, another way this contradiction is posed or could be posed is that BA Everywhere is not just a campaign in some general sense, it’s not a flat linear thing, but in fact constitutes a form of class struggle in the ideological realm— understood, again, not in some sort of economist, narrow reified way, but struggle in the ideological realm over what is the problem and solution in the world, to put it that way, and what role does the new synthesis of communism and the leadership of BA play in relation to that. All that, on the one hand, being a form of ideological struggle, not just simply putting this out and seeing what people think about it, but engaging them in active ideological struggle about what’s true about this—all that, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, actually having the orientation and actively seeking the means to involve many people, and growing numbers of people, who at any given time are not won, or not fully won, to that but do think that it’s very important that the questions raised by what’s concentrated in BA Everywhere—whither humanity, if you will: what is the problem, what is the solution, what is going on in the world, why is it going on, does it have to go on, if there’s a solution to it, what is the solution, how do we bring about that solution—all those big questions that are very much at the heart of what the new synthesis of communism and the leadership of BA is all about, all those questions need to be out there in society having major impact. Everyone who recognizes that, with whatever disagreements they may have, we should be working to find the ways, and working with them to involve them in finding the ways, for them to contribute to this campaign, even while we carry forward and carry out the ideological struggle over all that with them, as well as more broadly.

Again, I spoke about the mass initiatives, and I referred to something I wrote recently about who should be involved in these mass initiatives, and on the other hand what is our approach to them, coming from where we need to be coming from. Well, the same applies to BA Everywhere. Who should be involved in BA Everywhere? Everyone who recognizes (or, once again, can be won—through struggle, let me emphasize—to see) that the questions raised by the new synthesis of communism and what is represented by BA as the concentration of the leadership around that new synthesis, that all that needs to be out in society in a big way, having a major impact in society, actively being discussed and debated, even while many such people may not agree with all or even perhaps much of the actual content of that new synthesis of communism and what is represented by the leadership of BA. But everyone who thinks it’s important for the questions that are raised by that, the big questions it raises, to be out in society in a major way—impacting society and the discourse in society, the debate and struggle in society in a major way—all such people are people who potentially can be and who need to be involved in BA Everywhere. Just as in the two mass initiatives, everyone who understands, or can be won to see, that the outrages these mass initiatives are taking up are intolerable and must be fought against needs to be involved, and potentially can be involved, in these mass initiatives, even while we are bringing forward our full understanding of not only what is represented by what these mass initiatives are taking up, but the overall context into which it fits in society and the world as a whole.

And it’s important to understand and approach this ensemble precisely as an ensemble, an overall process of carrying forward—not the entirety but a concentrated focus of—revolutionary work in this period; an ensemble, an overall process which is greater than just the sum of its parts, greater not only than any component including its leading edge—BA Everywhere—but greater than the sum of its parts. By which I mean that all the different parts of this, and the carrying out of this, should be seen as not only an overall process, but one in which there is a dialectical relation (a back-and-forth interplay and mutual influence) between these different things being actively developed and actively worked on to contribute to, yes, building that movement for revolution and building the Party as its leading core. That’s the way we need to be carrying this out. Not people who don’t agree with us about what this overall ensemble is about, but may agree on particular aspects of it—whether it’s BA Everywhere or one of the mass initiatives, or some of that but not all of it. Many such people need to be involved. But we need to be approaching this as an overall and concentrated focus of revolutionary work—not, again, the entirety, but an overall and a concentrated focus of revolutionary work whose parts are mutually influencing each other in a positive way, not spontaneously but through our work to make that happen.

Whatever part of that ensemble we might be particularly working on, in an overall division of labor, this is the approach we have to have: that it’s an overall process, an overall ensemble, whose whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and whose particular parts, and the work on the ensemble as a whole, are dialectically interconnected and mutually influencing each other in a way to build the whole movement for revolution and build the Party as its leading core. So that people who get involved out of particular concerns, for example, about what’s being taken up by one of the mass initiatives, will through our work become introduced to what’s being taken up by the other mass initiative, or will be influenced also by other things, such as what’s going on around the environment, and will become influenced by and interacting with what’s being done around BA Everywhere.

The Crucial Role of the Website/Newspaper

The way in which all this is brought together, and the way in which this is greater than the sum of its parts, gets expressed in a concentrated way through the pivotal role of the website/newspaper, which is after all one of our two mainstays. It is one of the ongoing, not only foundation stones but active elements of our ongoing revolutionary work. This means that the website in particular, but the newspaper as well in its own way, is a source for people to actively learn more about what is happening with the different components of this overall ensemble, but also a way that they learn more about the interconnectedness of all this, and how all this relates to the larger picture of the problem and the solution, to put it that way.

The website, and the newspaper in its own way, is also a way in which people learn about the larger world—once again going back to what was stressed at the very beginning here, relating to those six paragraphs from Part 2 of “Making and Emancipating”—the things that are going on, the contradictions that are taking shape and that are moving and changing things, and dynamics associated with all that in the larger world, beyond the concentrated focus that we have now through this ensemble of revolutionary work. The website, and the newspaper in its own way, is also the concentrated way in which people are brought to an understanding of that in an ongoing way, in a developing way, in a growing way. And in which all these different elements—both what we’re concentrating on, and other things beyond that—are synthesized for people. Not in one place, not in one single article, but through the overall process of what’s being done in an ongoing way by the website, and the newspaper in its own way, people are getting a synthesis of how all this fits together in the larger sense—not in a reductionist sense, a narrow mechanical sense, but in the overall sense of the playing out, if you will, the struggle, of different contradictions in the world and their interconnection, and how, at the same time as it has a life and dynamic of its own (or these different elements have life and dynamics of their own) at the same time all this is fundamentally rooted in, or encompassed within, the ongoing dynamics of this system and its fundamental contradiction, and the driving force of anarchy as the main expression of that fundamental contradiction.

All this, in a living way—through many articles which are short and pithy and popular, and some articles which are longer and more complex, through graphics, and in all the other elements that go into the website and the newspaper—this is what should be coming through to people, so that, as Lenin said, this is actually the greater part of preparation for revolution. It is here that people are introduced to the new synthesis of communism and the leadership of BA, as well as the other parts of the ensemble, as well as what is going on in the larger world, what’s happening with the environment, the different contestations that are going on in society, the different things that flare up, even the contradictions within the bourgeoisie itself and between the ruling class, the imperialist ruling class of the U.S., and other imperialist forces and other reactionary forces in the world, and what’s happening with the “two outmodeds” in the world (imperialism and Jihadist Islamic fundamentalism). All this is synthesized through not just one article, or one analysis, but through an ongoing analysis and synthesis that’s provided, in a living way and in a timely way, by the website and the newspaper. And this is how whole generations of people of different strata, including the basic masses, are being brought forward and trained—going back to that thousands and millions—people being oriented and organized and trained as revolutionaries, as communists, as active forces and fighters for the communist revolution; working, with that basic guidance, on the contradiction of hastening while awaiting the development and emergence of a revolutionary situation and a revolutionary people.

There are a few more elements I want to speak to, in terms of building the movement for revolution and building the Party as its leading core. But, by the way, just one last thing on the website and the newspaper: We should be constantly evaluating the website and the newspaper against what I just said. How well is it doing at fulfilling that role? What is written and posted on the website and in the newspaper should be measured against that criterion or that basic orientation: how is it doing in contributing to the role of that website and that newspaper, of being the principal means through which the forces of the revolution are brought forward, oriented, trained and organized to be building the movement for revolution and building the Party as its leading core?

The Role and Importance of Ideological Struggle

Now, a few other key elements that need to be spoken to in terms of, yes, building this movement for revolution and this Party as its leading core—which we ARE building. I want to speak to the role of ideological struggle and fighting for the future. A couple of years ago I spoke to some questions which were then concentrated in some files (observations) I wrote, which were called “Boxing” and accompanying files on the “Mass Initiatives” and on “Freedom and Necessity,” which I definitely feel have not been sufficiently—people have not sufficiently gone back to them repeatedly, to ground themselves in them more deeply. And they still have great relevance and importance; they are something that people should be—individually, but perhaps at certain times collectively—going back to and grappling with what’s concentrated there.

And without going into everything there, but rather urging the importance of people going back and digging into this themselves, I do want to emphasize that what’s in that “Boxing” file is stressing, once again, that (as I said about BA Everywhere) it is a matter of building the movement for revolution, and pivotal to that is transforming the thinking of blocs of people. And transforming the thinking of blocs of people is not something that’s done in some sort of abstract way, or by finding some way to entice people to think better. It’s done by waging ideological struggle. Once again, overwhelmingly among the ranks of the people this is non-antagonistic struggle, struggle not with the enemy, although one of the main forms of it is exposure and refutation of what’s put forward by the actual enemy, the actual ruling class. But this ideological struggle is a key component of everything—it’s a lifeblood of everything we are doing and should be doing and have to be doing—waging active ideological struggle with substance, but at the same time in a compelling way and often sharply. But never shrilly. And there’s a difference between being sharp and being shrill. One we need to be, the other we should not be and cannot be, must not be.

But ideological struggle is crucial in everything we’re doing, including in building the ensemble and its different components, and in building the overall movement for revolution and, obviously, building the Party as its leading core. And “Boxing” refers to ideological struggle. As was said in that “Boxing” file, we should be getting up in the morning—I’m paraphrasing, I can’t remember the exact wording, but paraphrasing—we should be getting up in the morning hungry for ideological struggle, actively seeking out ideological struggle. Not to beat other people over the head—and not to “make `our narrative’ triumph over `their stupid narrative’”—but to actually fight with people in a good way about what is the correct, scientific way to understand reality, what is the implication of actually scientifically understanding reality, and how should people act accordingly.

This should be something we have a great hunger for, as opposed to seeking to avoid it. As pointed out in the “Boxing” file, often if you wage ideological struggle as you should, it does in fact temporarily disrupt the unity that’s been achieved with a certain person or group of people at a given time. And this is one of the reasons why people often shy away from it. The other, and perhaps even more fundamental, reason is that they’ve divorced this from what this is supposed to be all about—from actually building a movement for revolution and actually carrying out a revolution with the Party as its leading core—and so they just see things in immediate terms. They’ve lost sight of, and divorced this from, the larger objective of which it has to all be a part.

That’s the other reason why people shy away from ideological struggle—perhaps even a more fundamental reason. But an immediate reason is that it does often disrupt unity that’s been achieved. And, you know, that’s not inconsequential. Struggles do need to be built, people do need to be united with to carry out the struggle that needs to be carried out to achieve the things that need to be achieved. So it’s not inconsequential, it’s not a trivial matter, that unity gets disrupted. But how do you see this fitting into the larger process of actually building a movement for revolution and building the Party as its leading core, actually hastening while awaiting, actually preparing minds and organizing forces for revolution, actually doing this with the view of how this is leading to what will happen when there is a qualitative leap and a qualitative transformation in the objective situation so that there’s a revolutionary situation and a revolutionary people. If you’re approaching it all in that sense, you understand that the temporary disruption of unity has to be evaluated against that larger picture and those larger objectives. And then you fight to win people to a more advanced understanding and to forge new unity based on, not their full agreement necessarily with what we’re all about, but a further advance in their understanding of reality and what needs to be done to transform it.

We shouldn’t be cavalier about disrupting unity that’s been forged. Unity with people, again, is important. We shouldn’t lightly disrupt that unity or undermine it. But, even more, we should not be afraid to carry out struggle, including sharp ideological struggle, if we are keeping in mind what this all needs to be for, in terms of our understanding of reality and how it can be and needs to be transformed. So ideological struggle is a crucial part of this—this is what’s being gotten at in the “Boxing” file, that we should be itching for ideological struggle in the correct sense and carried out in the correct way.

At the same time, here is another contradiction. This should be carried out in dialectical relation with what’s been characterized as “An Invitation” from BA: Let’s go on a crucial journey together in the fight against oppression. Follow your—I’m paraphrasing, obviously, but people should go back to this and look at it in dialectical relation with what I’m saying about ideological struggle and what’s in the “Boxing” file—follow your own principles and the things that you find intolerable, follow those out to their own logical conclusions, and don’t turn away, have an open mind, be openly searching out a deeper understanding of reality, and don’t turn away from that process or stop short on that process because it makes you uncomfortable and specifically don’t turn away from the understanding that all this is rooted in a system, the system that we now live under of capitalism-imperialism, and the answer to this is revolution and the ultimate goal of communism. Be willing to confront and grapple with that on the basis of whether it’s true, i.e., a correct reflection of reality, or not—not turning away because it challenges your prejudices or takes you out of your comfort zone. Again, I’m paraphrasing, and people should go back to the original statement which has been characterized as “An Invitation” from BA.

This exists in dialectical relation with what’s in the “Boxing” file about the importance of ideological struggle. And, in the overall sense, the ideological struggle is principal, because if people were already where they need to be in terms of their understanding of problem and solution, to put it in short form, then we wouldn’t need—then we’d be in a whole different place in the world. But, first of all that’s impossible—that everybody would understand this, at the stage where we’re at. And even under communism, for that matter, there will be a need for continuing ideological struggle over how to understand the contradictions in the world and what to do in relation to them. But at the same time as we’re carrying out that struggle, we should also, in dialectical relation with that, once again, be applying the orientation that’s in what’s been called the “Invitation” from BA.

Now, moving on, there’s another point I want to emphasize, which is the importance of continually regrounding ourselves in, but also actively wielding, the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North American (Draft Proposal), as well as things like the special issue on the history of communist revolution and the experience of socialism in the Soviet Union and China and the new synthesis of communism—setting the record straight on the history of communist revolution and on the role of the new synthesis of communism . These are particulars, but they’re particularly important in relation to our own orientation, but also in terms of this element of waging the ideological struggle. Because, as we have a sense, and has been spoken to, there is a very important contradiction that even people who are very deeply disturbed by the state of the world and the conditions of the masses of humanity and what’s happening with the environment, and the wars, and on and on—even people who feel that way, if there is a lid put over their thinking by the notion that this is the only possible system, or the best possible system, even with all of its faults, and that every radical alternative to this system, and in particular the communist revolution, has been discredited, has been a negative experience, has been a disaster or a nightmare for those who lived under it, and for humanity in general: so long as that is the case, then people are not going to be able even to sustain struggles short of revolution—struggles which we can approach as part of building a movement for revolution, but they are not even going to be able to sustain those struggles past a certain point without striving to come under the wing of the bourgeoisie, let alone be won to an understanding that there’s something much bigger and overall that needs to be struggled for, namely a radically different world achieved through revolution and communism.

So these are two concentrated expressions of the future. What’s in the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal) which, as we’ve pointed out, is at one and the same time very sweeping and very concrete. So that’s something we should be constantly regrounding ourselves in. But also this special issue, setting the record straight on the history of communist revolution and the role of the new synthesis. Because these embody an active vision of and an active fight for the future. And this is crucial in terms of people being able to carry forward with “Fight the Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution.” Not just for us to be able to carry that forward, but for other people to be able to sustain this and be able to advance and make leaps to actually come to see both the desirability, but also the possibility, as well as the necessity, for this revolution and for fighting through to achieve a communist world.

Internationalism, and the Strategic Approach to Revolution

The last thing I want to speak to—all this in terms of carrying forward our overall work to build a movement for revolution and the Party as its leading core, as a part of the overall struggle in the world as a whole toward the final goal of communism—in that context, the last thing I want to speak to is internationalism and the struggle in the international arena.

First of all, I want to return to the point that’s been emphasized, and is obviously a point of great contention among communists and professed communists, but something that’s been brought forward, especially since the time of Conquer the World? more than three decades ago now: That, in an overall sense, in fundamental and overall terms—even in terms of making revolution in a particular country, as well as the overall advance of the communist revolution toward the goal of the emancipation of all humanity and the establishment of communism in the world as a whole—the world arena is decisive.

Now, here I’m not going to try to rehearse, or go again more deeply and extensively into, all the analysis that’s gone into why that is so. But I do want to refer back to hastening while awaiting, and where we originally got this formulation from and then applied it to our own process of making revolution as part of the overall world revolution. We actually got this formulation from Mao, writing during the period of the war against the Japanese occupation of China, the anti-Japanese war, as they called it, in the larger context of World War 2. Significantly, Mao brought forward this formulation, hastening while awaiting. What he said is, we’re hastening while awaiting changes in the international situation. And what he was speaking to was, not that they were passively sitting around waiting for more favorable developments in the international situation—suspending their revolutionary activity and struggle until there were those more favorable conditions—but, on the contrary, he was recognizing two things. On the one hand, if you want to put it that way, the balance was not going to be immediately shifted qualitatively to where they could go after state power in the country as a whole, through the defeat of the Kuomintang and the imperialists behind it, namely U.S. and British imperialism in particular—that they were not in a position where those tasks were immediately on the order of the day, that the overall objective situation had not been transformed, and was not going to be immediately transformed, even through their own efforts, to where that became the thing that was immediately on the political agenda, so to speak. But, on the other hand, they were also never going to get to the situation where they could carry through even the new democratic revolution, and then advance to the socialist stage, if they sat by passively, awaiting external developments in the world as a whole—and by “external” I don’t just mean outside of China, but external to their own efforts to bring about changes in the situation. So, in opposition to both those wrong orientations and tendencies, he stressed that what we’re doing is actively hastening while awaiting larger changes in the overall international situation—and that applied both to the immediate focus of the struggle, which was to defeat Japanese imperialism, as well as to the larger revolutionary process of which that was, at that time, a decisive stage. What he meant was: We can’t even, at this point, go all out to try to drive Japan out, defeat its occupation of China. We’re not in a position to do that; more needs to happen in the world as a whole before we can go to that task immediately and directly, let alone carry forward the whole process of overthrowing all the reactionary forces in China and embarking on the socialist stage through the new democratic revolution. He was saying, we’re not in a position to do that, even with regard to Japanese occupation, but we are in a position to actively struggle and contribute to the process whereby Japanese imperialism will be defeated, and its occupation of China can be broken and the revolution can advance to yet another stage.

So this was the formulation actually—it’s ironic because we’re attacked in the name of Mao, in the name of Mao we’re attacked for saying the world arena is decisive, but here was Mao in fact recognizing that the international arena was decisive. And we’ve adopted and adapted this formulation of hastening while awaiting. We’ve adopted it, but we’ve also adapted it to the particularities of making revolution in a country like this, in the context of the overall world situation. But if you look at it—once again, you go back to that special issue (on the history of the communist movement and socialist society, and the new synthesis of communism) or you look in general at the history of the socialist revolution—revolution with the final goal of communism—you look at how it’s taken place in different countries, it is not accidental—there are two errors we could make here. One is not to recognize that the breakthroughs that were made with the two great socialist revolutions in the world—in what context were these made? One was made in the context of World War 1, the other was made in the context of World War 2. And that is not by any means accidental. Failing to recognize that that’s not an accidental or coincidental relation, but is for very real material reasons, and is in fact an illustration of how, in relation to both those revolutions, the international situation has been ultimately and fundamentally decisive—that it was in the context of the shifting of world contradictions that particular contradictions in those countries changed, and were changed by active struggle in such a way that it was possible to break through and actually embark on—overthrow the existing system and embark on the socialist road, with the different particularities in the two different countries (Russia and China). So not recognizing that, and the implications of that, is one serious error that could be made. On the other side, making an absolute out of that—treating it in a metaphysical kind of way, as if, because that’s been the case, that is the only way that revolutions could be made, in particular countries (if not today through a world war, because that might destroy the whole world, but through some sort of similar international concentration of contradictions), that only in that context could some sort of breakthrough be made on the path of socialist revolution toward the goal of communism—that would be equally wrong.

Once again, revolutions are not made by formulas—they’re not made by formulas either in the sense of recipes or formulas even in the sense of some grand analysis that nevertheless is formulaic. But the point is that there is an interconnection in any particular situation, in any time period in any particular country, between the situation in that country and the overall world situation—or, if you will, the overall interconnected web of contradictions within which that particular country and the contradictions particular to it (in a relative sense) is situated.

What is the way to correctly apply this understanding and what is the correct orientation for actively carrying out hastening while awaiting, in the way that Mao originally formulated it and in the way in which we have adopted and adapted it? This has actually been set forth in a very concentrated way in what is contained in BAsics 2:12. And I want to just briefly examine this, because we’re accused—it’s not just that I want to answer accusations—I do, at least if they touch on anything important, but more fundamentally it’s important to actually stress, in opposition to distortions of the correct understanding, what is the correct orientation and approach. This is originally from Phony Communism Is Dead...Long Live Real Communism!, back in the early 1990s, more than 20 years ago. Here’s what it says, and I want to read it and then speak briefly to some particular aspects of it and the overall thrust of it.

“The achievement of [the necessary conditions for communism] must take place on a world scale, through a long and tortuous process of revolutionary transformation in which there will be uneven development, the seizure of power in different countries at different times, and a complex dialectical interplay between the revolutionary struggles and the revolutionization of society in these different countries...[a dialectical relation] in which the world arena is fundamentally and ultimately decisive while the mutually interacting and mutually supporting struggles of the proletarians in different countries constitute the key link in fundamentally changing the world as a whole.”

Now this is worth thinking about and digging into in its entirety and overall, but I also want to just examine particular aspects of it and how they illustrate the overall, or how they fit into the overall.

Okay, it starts off with something that most people who are—or consider themselves or claim to be—communists would agree with: The achievement of the necessary conditions for communism must take place on a world scale. Now, this doesn’t mean all at once, as the statement next makes very clear. But ultimately communism has to be achieved on a world scale. Or else, as long as socialism, a radically different system, exists within the overall world situation, where there still is imperialism, then that’s going to have an effect in terms of the inability of those particular socialist countries to advance to communism. So you can’t have a bunch of different countries advancing to communism each on their own path, and then somehow it’ll all add up to a communist world. This has to be achieved in the world as a whole ultimately, even while, as the next part of the statement gets to, breakthroughs and advances also have to be made in order to achieve that overall world advance.

We’re accused of saying—oh, you know, it’s like we’re accused of being essentially Trotskyites who say that revolution has to be made in the world as a whole, or at least in a big part of the world, including especially the capitalist countries with the most developed productive forces, or else there can’t be any socialism anywhere. No, that’s not what we’re saying. We’re saying something sharply in contradiction to that. We’re saying something that is materialist and dialectical. Because what does it say? The achievement of the necessary conditions for communism—material and ideological (I’m adding that), but the achievement of the necessary conditions for communism must take place on a world scale, through a long and tortuous process of revolutionary transformation in which there will be uneven development. That means there will be breakthroughs, as there was in the Soviet Union or in China or different places. Uneven development, not all advancing in a uniform way throughout the world as a whole.

Lenin made this point very sharply at the time when the Soviet Union was being established and was fighting for its existence, with reactionaries and imperialist forces ganging up to try to overthrow it. And all these social democrats, Kautsky and all the rest of them, were hammering away at the Soviet Union—that it was a perversion of socialism, that it wasn’t democratic, and furthermore that it wasn’t an advanced country, it was a backward country, they should wait for the more advanced countries to gradually evolve to socialism and then the poor backward Russia could somehow be led along by these more advanced forces, and so on and so forth. And Lenin made sort of the “Alphonse-Gaston” point—like “after you, no after you.” You know, you come to a major entryway, and its “after you, no after you.” He said, look, the problem with this is, if everybody waits till everybody else makes revolution, we’ll all be suspended in midair and nobody will ever make a breakthrough. So no, it’s not going to be everybody together—or, in particular, everybody wait for the more advanced productive forces of the capitalist world, for the working class and its social democratic incarnation and reformist leadership there to gradually evolve into socialism and to pull all the backward people along with it.

This goes along with a story I heard about the Soviet Union. Some German so-called communists were visiting the Soviet Union in the 1930s and they went to some of the rural areas where there were still outhouses—which, by the way, were in rural areas and still are in some rural areas in even the “advanced” United States, productive-forces wise. But anyway, they went around and they saw all these outhouses in the countryside in the Soviet Union, and one of these so-called German communists turned to another and said, “Socialism is wasted in this country.” A classic expression of the “theory of productive forces.” Here they had all these advanced social relations they were struggling to bring into being, but because they still had outhouses and not modern plumbing, socialism was wasted there, you know. Well, this is the kind of outlook that says—the Trotskyite kind of social democratic outlook that everybody has to wait until the whole world can go together, or at least until the countries with the more developed, advanced productive forces in the capitalist world can break through or evolve to socialism, by reformist means, and then bring everybody else along.

That’s not what’s being said here. In opposition to that, what’s being said is, this is a “long and tortuous process of revolutionary transformation in which there will be uneven development”—in other words, breakthroughs made in different places, different times, “the seizure of power in different countries at different times, and a complex dialectical” (note, not a linear and reductionist process, but) “a complex dialectical interplay between the revolutionary struggles” (and note the wording) “and the revolutionization of society in these different countries.” In other words, the revolutionary struggles—but also places where that breaks through to actually seize power and begin revolutionizing society. So you have a patchwork, if you will, of socialist countries and other countries where the revolution hasn’t yet broken through and achieved socialism at any given time, and a “complex dialectical interplay between the revolutionary struggles and the revolutionization of society in these different countries.”

But, going further, a dialectical relation “in which the world arena is fundamentally and ultimately decisive”—that’s one side of the contradiction, that’s fundamental. What’s the other side? “[W]hile the mutually interacting and mutually supporting struggles of the proletarians in different countries constitute the key link in fundamentally changing the world as a whole.” What does that mean? It means: where does the freedom lie for the communists and the masses of people whom they lead? It lies in their waging the revolutionary struggle, in their doing all the things we’ve been talking about to hasten while awaiting, and to break through where they can.

And here we go right back to the beginning, where I began today, to the statement in those six paragraphs of “Making and Emancipating” Part 2: Nobody can say for sure, nobody can say with certainty. That principle also applies here. Just because the two revolutions of the Soviet Union and China were made in connection with world wars, and just because that was not fortuitous—or accidental or coincidental—does not mean that that’s the only way it could happen, and it does not mean that we can say with certainty that until some, again, external factor—external to a particular country, but also external to the work that any revolutionary force is doing—until that somehow brings about all the right conditions for revolution, that nothing can be done, or even that no breakthrough can be made qualitatively to overthrow the existing system and establish a new revolutionary state. Nobody can say with certainty—once again, this is a very important principle—nobody can say with certainty, in the context of the moving and transforming overall world situation, what might be possible in any given country.

The point is not to sit by passively awaiting. The point is to be actively hastening while awaiting, understanding all the things that are concentrated in what I spoke to earlier (without repeating them all), in terms of what’s in those six paragraphs that begin Part 2 of “Making and Emancipating.” Again, it’s a dialectical relation in which the world arena is fundamentally and ultimately decisive—not decisive necessarily at every moment in any particular country, but overall and fundamentally, ultimately and fundamentally decisive—while, as the other side of the contradiction, the mutually interacting and mutually supporting struggles of the proletarians in different countries constitute the key link—what we can grab hold of to seize freedom through those struggles in fundamentally changing the world as a whole. That’s the way it transforms. It doesn’t transform by sitting around waiting for the larger contradictions to plop revolution into the lap of the revolutionaries and the masses of people; and nobody can know with certainty what the work of revolutionaries and the struggle of masses of people might be capable of achieving in any given framework. It is not passively dependent on changes in the larger objective world and the larger world arena, even while in an ultimate and fundamental sense that world arena is decisive.

Correctly and scientifically understanding the materialism and dialectics of that is crucial to being able to apply internationalism in the most correct and powerful way, and also to being able to correctly apply the necessary method and approach to make revolution in general.

So I’ll end with this. Once again we’re back to vanguard of the future or residue of the past. We’re back to what’s stated very sharply in that regard in the Manifesto from our Party. We’re back to the need, once again, not to have a passive attitude but to actively wage struggle, including very sharp and compelling struggle, in the international arena, in dialectical relation with carrying out the work of, yes, building the movement for revolution and building the Party as its leading core in this country as our contribution, or as a major aspect of our contribution, to the overall world struggle for the final goal of communism, at the same time as we wage struggle in that arena for the new synthesis of communism and to bring forward forces—both among the existing forces and new forces which are not presently won to or organized around the banner of communism—to constitute and to fight as a vanguard of the future, and not be consigned to being a residue of the past.




Revolution #348 August 10, 2014

Around the World and in the U.S.

Outrage and Protest Against Israel's Assault on Gaza

August 4, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


Since Israel began the current genocidal assault on Gaza on July 8, hundreds of thousands of people have taken part in determined street protests. Prominent people in the arts, entertainmnent, science and politics have spoken out. It is critical that protests continue and become larger and more determined. The past couple of weeks have seen important shoots of protest within the U.S.—the main backer of Israel—and within Israel itself.

Six Nobel peace laureates and more than 100 other prominent people and activists signed a statement published in the Guardian newspaper demanding an arms embargo against Israel. The statement declares "Israel has once again unleashed the full force of its military against the captive Palestinian population, particularly in the besieged Gaza Strip, in an inhumane and illegal act of military aggression. Israel's ongoing assault on Gaza has so far killed scores of Palestinian civilians, injured hundreds and devastated the civilian infrastructure, including the health sector, which is facing severe shortages. Israel's ability to launch such devastating attacks with impunity largely stems from the vast international military cooperation and trade that it maintains with complicit governments across the world."

Actors Penélope Cruz and Javier Bardem, director Pedro Almodóvar and dozens of other people from Spain's theater and film community issued an open letter condemning Israel's bombardment of Gaza as "genocide." The letter, printed in Spanish and European news outlets, declares "Gaza is living through horror these days, besieged and attacked by land, sea and air." And, "Palestinians' homes are being destroyed, they are being denied water, electricity [and] free movement to their hospitals, schools and fields while the international community does nothing."

A diverse group of celebrities, artists, and activists -- among them American Jews and Palestinians, and including Chuck D, Jonathan Demme, Gloria Steinem, Wallace Shawn, Tony Kushner, Mira Nair, Roger Waters, and Brian Eno participated in a video, holding signs with the names and ages of Palestinian civilians recently killed by the Israeli military in Gaza.

Those taking these important and courageous stands have, and will continue to come under attack, and need our support and backing.

The photos below give a sense of the worldwide outrage, and the emerging protests within Israel and the U.S.


Above: July 26, over ten thousand march in Chicago to stand with Palestine.
Photo: (photo credit:Danielle Villareal)

Israeli activists protest at an Air Force base against the attack on Gaza

Above: August 2, Israeli activists protest at Hatzor Air Force base near Ashdod, where Israeli planes depart on their way to bomb Gaza. Photo:

July 24, Seville, Andalusia (Spain) sign translates to: Yesterday South Africa, Today, Palestine. Sanctions against Israel!

Above: July 24, Seville, Andalusia (Spain)—banner translates to: Yesterday South Africa, Today, Palestine. Sanctions against Israel! Photo:

Jewish Voice for Peace speaks out against Israel's attacks on Gaza

Above: St. Louis, Missouri, Jewish Voice for Peace speaks out against Israel's attacks on Gaza. Photo:




Revolution #348 August 10, 2014

Art from Mr. Fish

August 4, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


Cell Damage

Cell Damage, by Mr. Fish


Israel attempting to rid the world of Anti-Semitism, by Mr. Fish

Dwayne Booth (Mr. Fish) is an award-winning cartoonist and writer whose work has appeared in numerous magazines and on websites across the country and internationally. He is also the author of Go Fish: How to Win Contempt and Influence People, as well as a forthcoming book on art as commentary, due out in September. Nothing delights Mr. Fish more than to use the razor’s edge of his art to reveal truths that snap your brain around and lay bare the hypocrisy and crimes of the system and all that goes with it. To see more of his work visit his website,

Revolution/ welcomes correspondence and artwork, including poetry, music, literature, and graphic art sent to (please include contact and crediting information). The perspective and political views of those submitting works are, of course, their own; and they are not responsible for the views published elsewhere in Revolution/




Revolution #348 August 10, 2014

The Mass Initiatives and Their Relation to Our Strategic Objectives

by Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party

May 19, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |



Editors' Note: The following are part of observations that were made by Bob Avakian, and were originally distributed within the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP) at the beginning of 2012. This is being published now as the first part of the serialization of these observations. These observations were originally made at a time when the "Occupy" movement was having a significant—and overall positive—impact, but was also increasingly running up against the repressive force of the state, as well as its own limitations. While this was an important particular aspect of the overall situation at that time, and this is reflected in these observations by BA, these observations are speaking more broadly to the situation and challenges facing the RCP and the communist movement in the world as a whole. For this reason—and because these observations continue to have relevance and importance in that light—the decision has been made to publish these observations. Also included, as an addendum at the end, is a more recent document, "Basic Orientation Regarding the Two Mass Initiatives (and the Overall Ensemble of Revolutionary Work)," written by Bob Avakian and distributed within the RCP earlier this year (2014). Some editing has been done, and footnotes have been added, in preparing this for publication.



We have to resituate the two initiatives—against mass incarceration, and against the degradation of women—in the context of the larger approach and objectives embodied in the Campaign as a whole that we are carrying out, with its three objectives: really putting revolution and communism on the map; making BA a household name and what BA represents a subject of substantive discussion and debate throughout society; and bringing forward waves of new initiators of the communist revolution. At the same time, we need to keep in mind that while these mass initiatives are part of an overall strategic approach or ensemble, they are not gimmicks to achieve the goals of the Campaign. There are two "mirror opposite" errors: the economism of "the movement is everything, the final aim nothing," divorcing these initiatives from larger strategic objectives (and slicing further down within that, reducing mass incarceration to STOP Stop & Frisk, for example); or not really building these initiatives as truly mass movements and struggles.

These mass initiatives are part of a strategic approach, but they also have relative identity themselves. They are real struggles that we are taking up—real outrages and concentrations of key social contradictions. And Marx's point applies to both—if these are not resisted, the masses will be degraded into broken wretches, incapable of rising up for anything greater. Think about that report summarizing a wild discussion with basic masses about the oppression and degradation of women—and all the backward shit that came out from those very oppressed masses, including women, about the degradation of women, rationalizing and even in some ways getting into this. And these are not the most backward masses—in fact, in some ways these masses are advanced. It is not just a matter of the degradation of masses who are directly oppressed by this, but the dragging down of the masses as a whole. And the same applies to mass incarceration. It is not just that it's hard for masses of inner city youth to rise up in these conditions—including the aspect of self-degradation when they are cast into these conditions—but also the effects in society as a whole. These are egregious outrages, acute concentrations of major social contradictions, and masses do need to rise up against them. People of all strata have to be won to take this up. "Fight the Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution" has to be going forward rather than people being dragged down by these things.

And, without any hyperbole, we should recognize and present to people what really is involved in these concentrations of social contradictions. It is a form of slow genocide, what is happening with mass incarceration. That is not hyperbole. The degradation of women that's involved in both of these expressions—pornography and the Christian Fascist-spearheaded offensive on forced child-bearing—that's not hyperbole either. Forced child-bearing—denying the right to abortion, as well as to birth control—is slavery. There needs to be a truly mass struggle that's called forth in society against these things.

We're not going to overturn and eliminate national oppression and the oppression of women within the present system. But we're not Trotskyites with "transitional demands," aimed at tricking people into fighting the system over certain demands, and then, when they realize that they can't win those demands under this system, they supposedly become convinced of the need for some other system (whatever that means in the minds of Trotskyites). But this doesn't mean that there can't be real mass struggle developed and that the political and ideological terms can't be changed around these outrages, that the masses can't be transformed in their understanding; and it doesn't mean you can't put the ruling class back on its heels on these things. If we are correctly working in relation to this—if we are approaching all this with the understanding and orientation that this is all part of building a movement for revolution and these contradictions can only be fully and finally resolved by revolution, even as people should not now just take this and not fight it—then people, rather than being demoralized, can advance.

So, two points: One, what is involved with these mass initiatives are real battles in their own right that have to be built to change the terrain ideologically and politically, in terms of who has the initiative on this and how the masses are being transformed; and two, there is the question of how these link to the whole oppressive system and to making revolution.

These mass initiatives have to be taken up, on our part, in the framework of "Fight the Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution"; we have to constantly raise things back up to that vantage point and framework. At the same time, while we are coming from that framework and approach things from that perspective, these DO have to be taken on as real questions, real concentrations of major social contradictions. These outrages are NOT tolerable, and a mass struggle in many different forms has to be undertaken on the basis that they are not tolerable. Masses of people should not be forced, tricked and misled into putting up with this. If we don't approach this with this orientation, it will just be "let's get a few things going," and nothing will change.

That's why I keep going back to the paragraph in the Badiou polemic1 on the machinery of capitalism-imperialism humming in the background: "And [with reformism] the world stays fundamentally unchanged. Capitalism-imperialism continues humming in the 'background,' crushing lives and destroying spirits in its meat-grinder of exploitation. And the horrors continue unabated." That captures very powerfully the difference between reform and revolution. That basic point of orientation has to infuse how we take up both of these initiatives and how we handle the relation between them and the overall strategic objectives we have to keep clearly in mind and be guided by.

We should look at each of these mass initiatives in its own right, but not lose track of bedrock principles relating to the full picture, the overall strategic situation. And we need to go to people with a compelling argument for why these outrages are intolerable and mass struggle must be built against them. If you don't give people a feeling of what an intolerable outrage they are, you won't call forth the felt compulsion to struggle against them; but if you just do that and don't give them the full picture, they will be demoralized by the difficulties and twists and turns in the struggle, and/or misled and co-opted by other forces which will not lead things in the direction they need to go, even in terms of really building mass struggle against these outrages, let alone in terms of the fundamental solution. If you get something going, then other forces come in; if we don't bring in the larger picture, then it gets led back under the wing of the bourgeoisie, it gets sidetracked and dissipated and/or crushed.


To emphasize it again: These outrages—mass incarceration and the degradation of women—need to be fought, and we can change the terrain around these things. "Occupy" hasn't "won" anything, but it has contributed in a significant way to changing the political terrain. These mass initiatives have, if anything, even more potential to do that. These outrages really are as egregious, and as integral to this system, as we say they are. At the same time, I agree (with the point raised by another leading comrade) that a key goal of the work of our comrades in these initiatives should be driving people to the two mainstays of our ongoing work.2

We are still not thinking big enough in terms of these initiatives. With mass incarceration, we are talking about millions of people affected by this, and whole generations of inner city youth. On the one hand, there has been, since the time of the 1960s, the raising of significant Black middle strata—although their position is still precarious. On the other hand, this—mass incarceration—concentrates what this system has done to the masses of Black people in the inner cities. It is no better than Jim Crow. And don't think that—during the time of Jim Crow segregation and Ku Klux Klan terror—they didn't have all kinds of rationalizations about how this was necessary and even good. This is a big deal, mass incarceration. With the woman question, we're talking about the oppression and degradation of half the human race.

These are outrages around which really mass struggle has to be called forth. We need to constantly return to that. And then, in turn, on a more fundamental level, we are taking this up because these are two very key concentrations of what this system is all about and part of the whole larger picture of what this system is all about—which is why this system needs to be swept away. That's how we are coming at these initiatives, that's why we are working to make revolution, and why we're driving people to the two mainstays. Without revolution, egregious oppression, in many forms, will remain. And the world will get worse—there are the wars and torture, poverty and starvation, the brutal repression of people, the devastation of the environment. All this is rooted in the same system. And that's why you have to get into the question of what our Party is all about. We cannot mishandle this either way—either in effect treating these initiatives like gimmicks, around which we are not really intending to change anything, or treating them as things unto themselves. Many other people can and should be involved in these mass initiatives, for a diversity of reasons, but our orientation has to be: "We're going to change the whole society around these things as part of laying the groundwork and building up the basis for going for the whole thing." If you don't set out to change the society around these things, you're not taking up these initiatives correctly. There's a difference between saying you're going to eliminate all these outrages short of revolution, and saying you're going to change the whole society, that is, the whole political terrain, in relation to them-—the first is not true, the second better be. And then there is the fundamental point of how our work in relation to all this is laying the groundwork and building up the basis for revolution.

Changing society around these things, while it is not the same thing, and should not be confused with, making revolution, is nevertheless a real objective that has to be approached and fought for—but, on our part, fought for as an important part of building up the basis for and building up the movement and accumulating forces for revolution, and bringing something better into being. This is what we have to be constantly regrounding our own people in, and this is what the responsible Party collectivities should be constantly bringing it back to: how are we doing at handling these different aspects and their correct relation?


On the question of transformation of people vs. the notion of unchanging human nature. We have repeatedly—and for very good reason—emphasized the point that the problem is not human nature, the problem is the nature of the system. There is an analogy here to what is said in Part 2 of "Birds/Crocodiles"3: how do people get out of the self-degradation, which IS real? Particularly in regard to inner city youth, there is this notion, which is widespread, including among the basic masses, that "they're all messed up." What is actually wrong with where many of these youth are at right now—the shit they have gotten pulled into—will not be changed by telling them not to wear baggy pants, to pull up their pants and get respectable. No, through sharp struggle against what's holding them down, and especially as they see the prospect of a whole different world, and that becomes real and viable to them, they CAN transform themselves—but that is the ONLY way this can happen on a mass scale. The only way that will change for the better. Once again, we need to be bold with that.

In regard to what these two initiatives are dealing with, there is an element of self-degradation involved on the part of masses. But how you are gonna deal with that? This is the only way it's gonna change—through building mass resistance against these outrages and, on our part in particular, waging struggle to win people to revolution. In other words, "Fight the Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution." As has been emphasized, people don't make choices in a vacuum, they do it in the context of the social relations they're enmeshed in and the options they have within those relations. Which are not of their own choosing. They confront those relations, they don't choose them. Second, if people feel for whatever reasons they want to choose to harm themselves and others, we're going to struggle with them but not blame them—we're going to show them the source of all this, and call on them to struggle against it.4 There is no other way, besides "Fight the Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution" that this will change for the better in any fundamental sense.


A point on how people with the responsibility of representing publicly for our Party and its line present themselves vis-à-vis BA. We do not want "preliminary mantras" (or "mantras" of any kind) "in praise of BA." We are not, and we should not come off as if we were, some kind of religious cult which has to begin everything we say by praising our "god." What we want, what we need, is to bring out in a living way where we are coming from. The point is that we have a Party that stands on the basis of certain fundamental things. We should present this well. We should, in essential terms, put this forward: We have a Party that bases itself on communism as it's been brought forward to a new synthesis by BA, a Party that is led by BA. We should do this in a living way, as opposed to religious-like "mantras."

This should not be difficult at all. This should just be presented naturally—in a matter of fact, and at the same time compelling, way. It should be put forward boldly, and with the essential substance—and if people don't like that... boxing gloves—ideological struggle. But we should not come off as if there is, or there has to be, some kind of religious "mantra" involved. We shouldn't let petit bourgeois ways of thinking, with their prejudice against leaders, or at least communist leaders in particular, set the terms for what we do. But we also shouldn't actually turn into a cult, and tactically we should take into account how things affect people.

Where is all this proceeding from and where does it all have to go? How do you convey that, and not something else—how do you present that in the best way—given the particularity of the audience and the particularity of the circumstance? There needs to be a further leap in terms of how this is presented, with substance, in a living and compelling way—not only by a few people but by our people as whole.

If we are talking about someone like Sunsara Taylor, or Andy Zee, or Carl Dix, or Raymond Lotta, for example, what's the correct synthesis? People should get a living sense that these people are coming from a certain place—with substance, and liveliness—they are not at all a bunch of automatons. If our people clearly come through as basing themselves on a developed line, the new synthesis, and the leadership of BA, and at the same time it comes through that they are lively and creative people, and so on—that's what we need. Here are people basing themselves on this line and leadership and, wow, they can really think on their feet and have a lot to say—that's what should come through, that's what's gonna build up the whole thing.

Both of these things have to come through very prominently: 1, people are coming from the new synthesis of communism and the leadership of BA—that's the foundation; and 2, what they have to say and the way they present it is very provocative and illuminating—they don't fit the stereotype of a dogmatic communist, they're not cultists, etc., but people who are lively, creative and critical thinkers, with a scientific method and approach. And, in an overall way, it should come through that one flows from the other (that 2 flows from 1) in a fundamental sense. That is the right synthesis—there shouldn't be even a hint of defensiveness in all this, but there does need to be the right synthesis—and that will help drive people to the mainstays.

It should come across: The essential reason this person (an ST, AZ, CD, RL, etc.) is cool is because they've come to this understanding and orientation, this communism; it has a specific content in the world today and they're part of or related to a Party that has as its basis the new synthesis of communism and the leadership that's provided by BA. This embodies a synthesis of two things, which should be mutually reinforcing, in a positive way: the particular person with their own experiences, positive qualities, their own way of going after things, as one aspect, which is real; and the foundation and leadership that gives this the character that it has in its most fundamental aspect.


All this goes back to the interconnection (the dialectical relation) between the fact that what we're all about is revolution and communism, and that the new synthesis and the leadership that has brought this forward is crucial in relation to that. In ultimate and fundamental terms, the reason people get exercised about my role and leadership has to do with the reality that we're actually working to make revolution, with the final goal of a communist world. The terrain today is not what it was in the early 1970s, when there was a big struggle over what's real communism. The reason that people are so put off today is that they're not for revolution and not for communism—or they haven't been won to that yet. You can't understand why you should give so much importance to one person, unless you understand what it is that needs to be done—that you need a revolution, and what kind of revolution—and what the role of this person is in relation to that.

This relates to what is concentrated in Chapter 6 of BAsics,5 on revolutionary responsibility and leadership and the role of outstanding individual leaders, in relation to the challenge of making revolution and advancing toward the final goal of communism. Back in the day, from the time of the late 1960s, we'd argue: there is no such thing as being a communist without being a Maoist. Communism has developed—if you're not with Mao, you're not a communist.

Today, communism has advanced again, through the new synthesis. It is, and it should be, very easy, not at all hard, to present that, and argue for it, with substance and in a living and compelling way. Even with people, or at least honest people, who may not agree with you, who may not see or agree that communist revolution is what is needed—even with people like that, to present things in these terms is better. Whether someone agrees or disagrees with you, you get to the real question: whether you should be for communism or not, whether or not there should be revolution aiming for communism. Those are the fundamental terms we want to get to. The boxing gloves should be put on essentially to struggle around that. Problem-solution. It is simple if you're coming from that—if you present things in a living way and get into the role of leadership and individual leaders, and specifically myself, in that context, it makes sense, it puts things on the right terms, provides the right framework for struggling over things.

To go back to the two mass initiatives—and this applies to all that we do—in our approach we can't allow these things to be separated off from communism and what that means. If the mass initiatives become things unto themselves, then they will not actually be built as powerfully, in a mass way, as they can be and need to be, and they definitely will not contribute to building the movement for revolution, in the way they can and should. If we do our work correctly, in relation to these mass initiatives—and overall—growing numbers of people will begin to see the need for revolution and the need for communism. In the final analysis, if people do not get won to the need for revolution and communism, we're not going to get anywhere and the masses are not going to get out from under all the many different ways in which they are oppressed, exploited, and degraded.

People are not going to really understand and appreciate our Party and my role in particular if they're not being won in the direction of seeing that we need a revolution and it's got to be a communist revolution. We have to do all our work in a way that brings that forward. The reason for promoting and popularizing BA and the new synthesis is that this is what is needed to deal with the problems of the world and the solution to them. This relates to the "Because" formulation that our Party has brought forward as a concentrated statement on this question: "Because of BA and the work he has done over several decades, summing up the positive and negative experience of the communist revolution so far, and drawing from a broad range of human experience, there is a new synthesis of communism that has been brought forward—there really is a viable vision and strategy for a radically new, and much better, society and world, and there is the crucial leadership that is needed to carry forward the struggle toward that goal."

Let's get back to the basic question: what is the significance of this for humanity? People don't have to live this way. Here's what communism is about, and here, in the new synthesis, is another leap to it. People are living in ways that are horrible, and here's a way that they don't have to. Not that it's going to be easy, and not that people won't have to make sacrifices, but we don't have to live this way. Why can't people get excited about that? I can understand why certain people attack and don't want it. But why cannot people who are straining for a different way get excited? We ought to be able to convey this in a living way: this is where we're coming from, this is why we're taking up this mass initiative, as well as other important things we're doing, and this is why we're part of an organized vanguard force, or with that vanguard force, that is fighting to make this a reality, and to bring forward others to make it a reality. It's that that people ought to be deeply with and passionate for, and on fire to present to many others; and that should come across as really exciting to people. Not because you're some kind of "mentally deranged cult member," but because people could live in a much better way than this cesspool that they're chaining people in. If you're a Party member or a supporter really partisan to the Party, you ought to radiate this—not in a religious "beatific" way, but with living passion, because this is really the scientifically grounded understanding of what is, and what could be, and how to bridge the gap between the one and the other.

If that is what people are grounded in, we won't have these recurrent problems of going off track on this and even getting defensive when there is no reason to be defensive. This is what should infuse the Party and everybody around it. Yes, what we're setting out to do is very tough—but there is something to be very passionate around here.

As our Party's Manifesto6 puts it, there has been this long night, since the emergence of class divisions among human beings, and everything bound up with that. We don't want to go back to early communal society, which had real problems. But there has been a long night since then of enslavement and exploitation and oppression. And it can end. It could end badly or it could end well and go to a whole different, much better thing. And that's what we're fighting for here—and it is a fight. If you come into contact with people who have a sense that the world can go a whole different, much better way—that should be exciting.


In terms of these mass initiatives, once again, it is a matter of transforming societal terms around this and really mobilizing masses to battle back, politically, against certain concentrated forms of oppression. There is a need for massive struggle to do this—to change the terms, the thinking of people, and to really affect who has the initiative, politically and ideologically. At the same time, in terms of our orientation and approach, we have to do all of this, out of the gate and consistently, as part of building the movement for revolution. We need to be constantly regrounded in that synthesis—of really building struggle around these mass initiatives, against these concentrated outrages, on a truly mass scale, and at the same time doing this as part of building the movement for revolution. This orientation, on the part of our comrades involved in these initiatives, and of our Party as a whole, needs to be consistently applied, modeled, and fought for by people who have responsibility for providing leadership, in regard to these initiatives and overall, and this should be basically and increasingly setting the terms and the orientation for people who are around us and are being more and more drawn to our line. We need to change society on these questions—in terms of the major social contradictions that these initiatives are addressing—as part of building up the basis to make a fundamental change in the whole society and make a qualitative leap in terms of fully uprooting the different forms of oppression, in this society and ultimately throughout the world.

With regard to these mass initiatives, we have to be constantly paying attention to making sure that these things are both staying on track and getting somewhere. There really does have to be mass struggle against these outrages. These things are intolerable. And they are objectively intolerable to millions and millions of people. These are assaults on the masses which are against their interests, and masses can be won to see the intolerability of this and therefore feel compelled by that understanding to act. We have to win them to that and give expression to that. We have to mean what we say—these things are intolerable—and we have to take them on and mobilize broad masses of people who feel that they are intolerable and want to act because of that. And, in terms of our fundamental orientation, we approach all this—and we present all this to other people—as part of our work to build the basis for the revolution that is needed.


More on the role of the website/newspaper and polemics. The website/newspaper needs to be a key tool to take on the lines that have to be taken on, and it needs to model how to do that. That's how my statement on "Occupy"7 should be seen—as a tool for people to use to go out and unite, and struggle, with people. Unite—and struggle.

We do need people to get deeply into things like "Birds/Crocodiles," with all the complexity that involves. Not everything should be "quick and concise." The Badiou polemic, the polemic against Popper in Making Revolution and Emancipating Humanity8—those things are very good, and very important. More and more people should be introduced to things of that kind, and led to "work their way through" them. That is very important, it is essential. But we also need—and the website/newspaper should be a key source and model for—punchy, quick and concise polemics. Let's encourage people to use the website/newspaper in this way: "I ran into this, and I don't know how to answer it." Utilize the website/newspaper to answer it, and move the process along. We need to model and lead in making this happen and come alive. And if we do that, people will want to use the website/newspaper in that way. If we can't answer stuff that people run into, then we should just fold up and go away. But we CAN answer it—and we should—with the website/newspaper a key resource and tool for doing that.





Basic Orientation Regarding the Two Mass Initiatives (and the Overall Ensemble of Revolutionary Work)

Grappling with questions of theory and line (including policy for particular initiatives, etc.) is of course necessary and important, and has a definite role to play in the overall process of making revolution. BUT IT IS ALSO IMPORTANT TO EMPHASIZE THIS: Let's not overcomplicate matters—causing things to go off course and be stuck in paralysis, when there is a pressing need for things to move forward, and advances and breakthroughs to be made, in actually building these two mass initiatives, as mass movements/mass struggles, and pushing forward the ensemble of our revolutionary work as a whole, with BA Everywhere as its leading edge. The basic orientation that needs to be taken up—and actively applied—with regard to the two mass initiatives (as well as BA Everywhere and the ensemble overall), should be very clear. We need radical simplicity here and now, not overcomplication of what should be very clear.

What follows is the basic orientation for what is to be done with regard to the two mass initiatives and the ensemble overall, and basic guidelines for proceeding now to do it.

There is a profound basis in the objective world—in the contradictions of this system and how they find expression continually—for these mass initiatives (and the ensemble overall). And there is a definite and powerful basis in the subjective factor—that is, in the actual line of our Party—our line overall and specifically in relation to these mass initiatives (and the ensemble as a whole).

Who should be part of these mass initiatives—whom should we be working to involve in them? Everyone who agrees—or can be won to see—that what these mass initiatives are taking up (in essence: mass incarceration and everything bound up with that; and the degradation of women, particularly as focused now around the attacks on the right to abortion, and even birth control, and pornography and the sexual degradation of women) is intolerable, and must be fought against. This should mean that, in the very near future, hundreds are actively involved, in an ongoing way, in building these initiatives, with the aim of involving thousands and ultimately millions in various ways and on various levels. The situation and atmosphere need to be created in which people broadly who meet this criterion (of who should be involved) will recognize and feel that there is an important place and role for them in these mass initiatives, and the practical means must be developed to enable them to be actively involved and make real contributions to the initiatives.

At the same time, WE, as revolutionary communists (and those who are in basic agreement with us on this), should be putting forward, in relation to these mass initiatives, as well as in an overall way, that these and other outrages which in fact constitute concentrations of major social contradictions, are rooted in the basic nature and dynamics of this system, and they can only be finally and fully ended, and a radically different and much better society and world brought into being, through communist revolution, proceeding on the basis of the new synthesis of communism that has been brought forward through the work done by BA over many decades.

Through this ongoing process, and through correctly handling the contradictions (dialectical relations) that will be involved, in an overall way both the mass initiatives—as truly mass initiatives, involving growing numbers of people who are, at any given time, coming from different perspectives but are all in basic unity with the understanding that these outrages are intolerable and must be fought—and the movement for revolution, and the Party as its leading core, should grow and gain strength.

VERY IMPORTANTLY: We should certainly include ourselves among those who are in fact outraged by these outrages and feel deeply that they are intolerable and must be fought. The fact that we—as revolutionary communists, with a grounding in the scientific outlook, method and approach of communism (dialectical materialism), and its development through the new synthesis—understand that these outrages (and the many others we recognize as flowing from the fundamental nature and dynamics of this system) can only be finally and fully ended through communist revolution, and ultimately the achievement of a communist world, should make us even more—and certainly not less—outraged about all this and determined to fight it, now and in an ongoing way! This should come through in everything we do. And, as a matter of fact, a very important part of what we should be doing is (as another leading comrade put it) ORGANIZING AND MOBILIZING THE ANGER OF THE PEOPLE. In relation to that, as well as overall, we need to be consistently working—in the correct ways—to make all this serve the building of the movement for revolution, and the Party as its leading core.

And what about BA Everywhere—whom should we be working to involve in that? Everyone who agrees—or can be won to see—that it is very important that what is represented by BA/the new synthesis become a major point of reference, and subject of discussion and debate, throughout society, can and should be involved in and contribute, in various ways, to BA Everywhere. At the same time, those of us who are revolutionary communists, basing ourselves on the new synthesis, should be consistently setting forth, boldly and compellingly, our understanding of the importance of BA Everywhere, and its role as the leading edge of an overall ensemble of revolutionary work, and should be working consistently to build the movement for revolution, and to win growing numbers of people to agreement with what is actually the line of our Party, and to join the Party on that basis. In dialectical relation with that, the number of people who are, in various ways, involved in and contributing to BA Everywhere should also be continually growing—including many people who are not (or not yet) won to full agreement with what is represented by BA/the new synthesis of communism, but are in agreement that this, and the big questions it raises, should be broadly known, and actively discussed and debated, throughout society.

The important thing now is to have a grounding in this basic understanding, and to implement this, actually building the mass initiatives as truly and increasingly mass initiatives—and building BA Everywhere in the ways and on the level it needs to be built, to truly have major societal impact—all as part of an overall ensemble, whose whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

As has been emphasized, in proceeding to actually carry this forward, various contradictions, including ones which are complicated and difficult, will have to be confronted and correctly handled, and there will be a need, and a role, for continually returning to the basic grounding and guidelines that have been provided—and undoubtedly further guidelines that will need to be developed as things go forward, proceeding from the basic grounding spoken to here. But, to emphasize it again: The basic grounding and guidelines are there, to proceed to actually build these mass initiatives as truly mass movements/mass struggles around these crucial faultlines—involving growing numbers of people, with diverse viewpoints but all in unity that the outrages these mass initiatives are taking up are intolerable and must be fought—and to build BA Everywhere on the correct basis, while WE (and those who agree with us on this at any given time) work, in the correct ways, to have all this contribute to building the overall movement for revolution, and the Party as its leading core—learning and deepening our understanding and our ability to handle the contradictions that have to be confronted and struggled through, AS WE GO FORWARD.

In conclusion, let me return to where I started and give this emphasis yet again: As a basic point of orientation, and especially now: We must not get mired in overcomplication and paralysis. Again, radical simplicity. Grappling with questions of line and theory, and developing conceptions, plans, etc., are necessary and important; however, this must not be allowed to become, or be turned into, yet further, self-imposed, obstacles. Right now we need conception and plans that in fact facilitate—provide means and vehicles for—the carrying out of the line on the two mass initiatives (and the overall ensemble, with BA Everywhere the leading edge) in an active way, from here forward. On the basis of what I have written above here, and what it concentrates, and continually returning to and deepening this, AS WE GO FORWARD... LET'S GET OUT THERE, NOW, AND DO WHAT NEEDS—WHAT CRIES OUT—TO BE DONE!!


1. "Alain Badiou's 'Politics of Emancipation': A Communism Locked Within the Confines of the Bourgeois World," by Raymond Lotta, Nayi Duniya, and K. J. A., Demarcations: A Journal of Communist Theory and Polemic, Issue Number 1, Summer-Fall 2009 [back]

2. These two mainstays are the promotion and popularization of the leadership of Bob Avakian (BA) and the new synthesis of communism he has brought forward; and the website newspaper. [back]

3. Birds Cannot Give Birth to Crocodiles, But Humanity Can Soar Beyond the Horizon (2010-2011) [back]

4. This is spoken to in an article by Bob Avakian: "On Choices...and Radical Changes," Revolution #254, December 25, 2011:

On Choices... And Radical Changes

First, people don't make choices in a vacuum. They do it in the context of the social relations they're enmeshed in and the options they have within those relations—which are not of their own choosing. They confront those relations, they don't choose them.

Two, if people feel for whatever reasons that they want to choose to harm themselves and others, we're going to struggle with them—but we're not going to blame them. We're going to show them the source of all this in the system, and call on them to struggle against that system, and transform themselves in the process. Just because a youth "chooses" to sell drugs, or a woman "chooses" to commodify herself sexually, doesn't mean that they chose to have those choices. And there is no other way besides fighting the power, and transforming the people, for revolution that all this will change for the better. Blaming the masses for bad choices just reinforces the conditions that they are oppressed by.

 In sum, people do make choices—but they make them enmeshed and confined within social relations that are not of their choosing. We have to bring into being different social relations and conditions so that masses of people can act differently and relate differently to each other. Fundamentally, that takes a revolution which is aiming for communism. [back]

5. BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian, RCP Publications, 2011. The title of Chapter 6 is "Revolutionary Responsibility and Leadership." [back]

6. Communism: The Beginning of a New Stage, A Manifesto from the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, September 2008 (RCP Publications, 2009) [back]

7. "A Reflection on the 'Occupy' Movement: An Inspiring Beginning...and the Need to Go Further," by Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, Revolution #250, November 13, 2011 [back]

8. Making Revolution and Emancipating Humanity:  Part 1: "Beyond the Narrow Horizon of Bourgeois Right"; Part 2: "Everything We're Doing Is About Revolution", Revolution, October 2007-February 2008. Also included in Revolution and Communism: A Foundation and Strategic Orientation, a Revolution pamphlet, 2008. "Marxism as a Science—Refuting Karl Popper" is in Part 1 of Making Revolution and Emancipating Humanity. It begins on page 18 of the pamphlet Revolution and Communism: A Foundation and Strategic Orientation. [back]





Revolution #348 August 10, 2014

Freedom and Necessity, and Proceeding from a Strategic Standpoint: Some Thoughts on Methods and Leadership

by Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party

May 26, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |



Editors' Note: The following is a part of some observations that were made by Bob Avakian, and were originally distributed within the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA (RCP) at the beginning of 2012. This is being published now as the second installment of the serialization of these observations. The first installment of this series, "The Mass Initiatives and Their Relation to Our Strategic Objectives," was published online May 19, 2014 and is being serialized in the print edition of Revolution, beginning with issue #339 (May 25, 2014). These observations were originally made at a time when the "Occupy" movement was having a significant—and overall positive—impact but was also increasingly running up against the repressive force of the state, as well as its own limitations. While this was an important particular aspect of the overall situation at that time, and this is reflected in these observations by BA, these observations are speaking more broadly to the overall situation and challenges facing the RCP and the communist movement in the world as a whole. For this reason—and because these observations continue to have relevance and importance in that light—the decision has been made to publish these observations. Some editing has been done, and footnotes have been added, in preparing this for publication.



A big and recurrent problem has to do with the relation between freedom and necessity. Historically, there have been difficulties with this in the communist movement and in our own Party. On another level, this is manifested in relation to "Occupy" and what it is up against. It has come up against necessity, particularly in the form of repression by the bourgeois state, and there is the phenomenon among many of not seeing any way to forge any freedom out of this—and, instead, they are trying to find some way to work within the necessity that's been imposed that they don't see any way of breaking through on. That is objectively what is going on to a significant degree.

Returning to our Party, if you have a successful program like 411 (the April 11, 2011 program on the occasion of the publication of BAsics1) even the very real advance represented by this program creates new necessity for you. All of a sudden, here you have some people come forward that have made a commitment on a certain level, and you have to allow for the fact that they're in the picture now, in terms of what to do to build on and go forward from this. But you will run into problems if you don't see that the freedom in this situation lies in grasping the principal aspect of this contradiction, and then going to work on things from there. The principal aspect is that there WAS a solid core that did cohere that program and give a central expression to what that program was about; but in going forward from there, you have to go back and have further rounds of discussion and struggle with people based on continuing to put forward the solid core, and developing elasticity on that basis.

But there is a recurrent tendency: instead of seeing the freedom, one gets weighed down by the necessity. When you have made advances, and when the situation is overall more advanced, more people take seriously and care what you say, and that brings new necessity. The constant pull is a pull to determinism—to being afraid of losing advances that have been made. Do you play to win or play not to lose? In the name of playing to win you can play recklessly—but the far bigger erroneous tendency is that people get a lead and they get conservative and they lose. People start protecting what they have and get afraid to risk that to make further advances, and therefore they begin throwing away what they've achieved.

Okay, we have new necessity—how did we get to this point? We confronted necessity and transformed it. Did everybody immediately say "great!" when we contacted them to get involved with that 411 program? No, of course not, we had to struggle to transform necessity into freedom. Then you get new necessity. So why, in that situation—or any other situation where advances have been made—should we stop the approach of transforming necessity into freedom? In going forward to build off what has been achieved, you have to recognize that the achievements themselves bring new necessity; you have to be anticipating that and working to lay the basis to transform new necessity into new freedom (which will itself involve necessity).

Another important factor contributing to the tendency to bow down to necessity is losing sight of the larger objective that this is all part of. There is not going to be a seizure of state power on the basis of what was achieved through the 411 program. As positive as that was, it was only a small building block of what needs to happen. If you keep that in mind, you have more of a basis to be less determinist in the next round of things, because you know we have to get to a whole other place. If you lose sight of that, the pull to play not to lose becomes stronger, because you see things in narrower terms. Things have to go a lot further than any particular event, or any particular movement or struggle, so how do we get things to go further? Proceeding on that basis, you are better able to handle the solid core/elasticity dialectic. This involves a combination of the freedom/necessity dialectic with whether we are really continually going back to the largest strategic perspective and looking at things in regard to that, and figuring out how to struggle through to transform necessity into freedom and make things go further to advance toward the goal it all has to contribute to.

In order to lead and not continually be pulled off the track and not be pulled down, these are key questions of ideology and methodology, as well as political orientation in terms of what we're aiming for. If you see particular things as "things unto themselves," you are going to have a tendency to go off to the right and get conservative (this could conceivably cause you to go off in a "left" direction, but that is less likely) because you're gonna lose sight of the larger reason why things have to be ruptured from the present level they've achieved to something larger.

Where does freedom come from? It comes from a correct analysis of objective reality and its contradictory character. And that has a material basis. We don't have spontaneity going for us, but we do have reality, in the most fundamental terms, going for us. Therein lies a lot of our freedom—grasping that. Here I think of a recent comment by the actor Johnny Depp about Marlon Brando. Brando, he said, had "the great gift of not caring." In other words, he didn't care about, he wasn't weighed down by, what other people thought of his acting and how they thought he should approach it. There is an analogy here, to keeping the larger picture constantly in view. I think, for example, of the 1977 Central Committee, where the struggle with the Mensheviks in our Party came to a head—concentrated over the question of how to assess and what stand to take in relation to what was in fact the revisionist coup in China, following the death of Mao in 1976. This is spoken to in my memoir.2 In that situation, a lot of freedom came from recognizing that, even if the battle was not won at that Central Committee meeting, those of us fighting for the revolutionary line, and opposing the revisionist coup, could not lose, because in any case we had to take the stand of opposing that coup and fighting to win as many people as possible to that stand, even if that meant splitting the Party, or having to leave the Party and fighting to form a new one. The question of the revisionist coup in China was that kind of a cardinal question, on which there could be no compromise. And while that presented us with a lot of necessity, it also embodied a definite freedom. Why? Because, those of us upholding and fighting for the revolutionary line, and opposing the revisionist coup, were coming from an understanding of the deeper reality and the bigger stakes than simply what happened at that Central Committee meeting, or even what happened with regard to our Party, as it had been up to that point. One way or another, that Party was going to be qualitatively different coming out of that Central Committee meeting—either strengthened as a revolutionary communist vanguard, or dragged down into revisionist betrayal. Understanding the stakes in those terms, and proceeding from the larger strategic standpoint that the Party had to really be a revolutionary communist vanguard, or if instead it became an instrument of revisionism then it wasn't worth preserving and remaining in—and something new would have to be brought into being, to reconstitute the remaining revolutionary forces—that provided the basis to not bow down to necessity.

Our thinking and approach should not be shaped by the immediate thing before us. Why can we wage struggle—dare to wage struggle—with people, including people with whom we have had a certain level of unity? Because we are waging struggle for a bigger thing, AND we know that this is grounded in a deeper material reality. And while things may be tougher in the short run, reality is what it is—and that will assert itself. We can't be governed and determined, constrained and confined, by the ups and downs of the mass movement, or of any particular struggle or initiative, or by the "chops and changes" of the situation at any given time. We have to take these things into account, but we can't bow down to them in a determinist fashion. We have to proceed from a scientific, dialectical materialist, analysis and synthesis of the deeper reality, and its contradictory dynamics.

Freedom lies in grasping, in this way, the material basis for what we are setting out to do, strategically. Grasping that, and proceeding from the larger perspective corresponding to that, enables you to wrench freedom out of necessity, because you are looking at things from where you fundamentally and ultimately need to get to, proceeding from a scientific, materialist and dialectical, assessment of reality, particularly the deeper and driving mainsprings and dynamics of that reality.


Not recognizing that reality is constantly changing AND that there are other class forces out there in the world which are working on people in various ways, directly and indirectly, will cause you to go off track and lose your bearings. People who have united and worked with us will often then come under attack as a result of having taken the step to work with us. Or they get a sense that taking another forward step in uniting with us could jeopardize their career, or make it more difficult for them to achieve certain short-term objectives they may have. To fail to take this into account amounts to ignoring the fact that there is a larger and continually changing reality out there that is also acting on and influencing other people.

The masses do know a lot about reality, and we need to learn from that, but they're not going to tell us about the deeper mainsprings of reality and where that reality can go and needs to go. When we go out among the basic masses, they can tell us a lot about what we're up against—among the masses, as well as with the authorities—and how things work. That can and should enrich our understanding of reality—but if you think that whether something is true or not depends on whether masses say it's good or bad, you will get into a lot of trouble and become disoriented. People keep getting away from the point—and we need to keep drawing people back to the point—that what the masses think is part of objective reality, but it does not determine objective reality. Rather than going up and down with the mood of the masses, we have to be proceeding with a deeper, and more strategic, scientific approach and method. What have certain opportunists and counter-revolutionaries attacked us for—what has been one of their main lines of attack? A whole pragmatic thing that our line "hasn't worked and won't work." That begs the question of what "working" means. Our line has "worked" to maintain a revolutionary communist party over a whole period in which there have been major setbacks for the communist movement in the world as a whole, and conditions for building a revolutionary movement, with such a revolutionary communist party at the core, have been very difficult, particularly in a country like this. Has it "worked" to give us a big mass base during a period when that wasn't possible on the right basis, on a basis that would actually be leading toward the revolution that is needed? No. Of course, the point is not simply to remain as a party and to "stay in the game." The point is to work, actively, to build a movement for revolution; to influence and change the "political terrain" in a way more favorable to revolution; to accumulate increasing forces for revolution; to prepare for—to hasten while awaiting—the emergence of a revolutionary situation and a revolutionary people, whenever that is brought into being. But doing that, and evaluating how we are doing in relation to that, involves and requires the application of scientific communism, and not pragmatism and empiricism.

At the same time, we also have to combat a tendency to have a superficial, and fundamentally wrong, view that what we are basing ourselves on is ideas abstracted from reality—as if we, with our set of ideas, can see that other sets of ideas are not the same as our set of ideas, and therefore they are wrong. That kind of approach explains why, as indicated in a report on a discussion of the Badiou polemic,3 people in our own ranks can say things like: "Why would anybody be attracted to the Badiou line?" That reflects an approach of not really looking at things in terms of what social position and aspirations might the Badiou line express, and therefore not recognizing that there might be a significant attraction, particularly among certain social strata within the "middle class," to ideas of this kind. This is not thinking like a materialist and not proceeding from our strategic standpoint and the recognition that this strategic standpoint flows from a scientific analysis and synthesis of a deeper material reality. Why would people in "Occupy" be pulled toward doing something that (to refer to Badiou's orientation) is "at a distance from the state"? Because they've run right up against the state—and their response to that is significantly conditioned by their social position, and correspondingly their spontaneous aspirations, and a spontaneous orientation that corresponds to those aspirations.

Failing to see this—or to really take it into account, proceeding from a scientific materialist approach—has to do with why in some cases we don't write with the audience in mind: don't proceed with a sense of where the audience, for example the audience for our website/newspaper, is "at," what at least many of them don't understand or aren't familiar with, how they spontaneously see the events and questions we are addressing, and therefore how we have to approach things in order to address these contradictions in the best way to move people from where they are in the direction of where they need to go, with regard to their thinking and their felt need to act. This happens when and to the degree that we are not really thinking about transforming people and dealing with the contradictions that weigh upon them and push them in certain directions—including ignorance in some cases, as well as spontaneous aspirations, inclinations, and prejudices—but rather approach all this as just a matter of presenting our set of ideas. We have to consistently approach things with our scientific materialist standpoint and method: that we are seeking to understand reality, as it actually is—in its contradictory nature, and as it is actually moving and changing—in order to be able to transform material reality in a certain way, and that we have to be constantly seeking to learn more and more about reality. We have to consistently come at all this from the framework of our scientifically grounded strategic objectives, as opposed to viewing it through the tunnel of this or that particular thing.

The essence of the problem is whether we're proceeding in a materialist and dialectical way, and whether we're really working and struggling to transform the necessity—which is posed by the actual reality and its changingness—into freedom, by recognizing where the pathway lies for doing that. If your framework is too narrow, you are not going to see the pathways for freedom correctly. If you are looking at only a corner of the world, and viewing things just through that prism, then you're not going to see how you're going to be able to change the world in the way it needs to be changed.


Especially in the context of the acute challenges facing our Party (and, more broadly, the international communist movement as whole), and in terms specifically of the role of people with leadership responsibility in our Party, an important part of the objective reality we have to know about is the Party itself. If people with leadership responsibility don't have a good sense of the work of the Party, the "ideological state" of the Party, and so on, then we have problems. A question: What percentage of the people in the Party really understand Marx's point about the shopkeeper and the democratic intellectual? Do we know the answer to that? We need to know the answers to those kinds of things. What is the ideological state of the Party?—that is also part of the objective reality we have to know.

Even with very real and significant positive developments, the objective situation we are confronting remains difficult. It is no doubt wearing on people that we are having difficulty breaking through in qualitative terms, and that our movement is continuing to suffer losses in the world. This is the objective reality and the dynamic we have to confront, and transform, and if we don't break through—if we think we can just go along and do a few good things—we're going to be seriously set back. Plus there are people out there—including opportunists and counter-revolutionaries—who are trying to destroy us. Those opportunists and counter-revolutionaries are, in a basic sense, motivated by the same kinds of petit bourgeois viewpoints and aspirations as someone like Badiou—except that theirs is a virulent variation of this that wants to destroy us, because these are people whose particular petit bourgeois aspirations depend on our not being there and not constituting a standing alternative to—and in fact a standing indictment of—what they're about, and not about. If, as is the case with these opportunists and counter-revolutionaries, what you do is in fact predicated on the view that you can't—or really that you shouldn't—change things in any fundamental way, but you want to pretend you are for that, then you will feel compelled to destroy a force that says you can and is actively working to do it.

In a basic sense, the world outlook of at least many of these opportunists and counter-revolutionaries is not different than a lot of other viewpoints that have sway among sections of the petite bourgeoisie. It is just that their particular form of capital—in pretending to be for some kind of social change, while not really believing in or working for a truly radical change—is invested in trying to build themselves up as what amounts to a "perpetual left opposition" within the existing system, and this involves animus, extreme hostility, toward us and a necessity to see us fail and to no longer exist as what we objectively are, even with all our shortcomings and difficulties: a revolutionary communist vanguard. Other people among the petite bourgeoisie, even where they may have certain views in common with these opportunists and counter-revolutionaries, don't have the same "investment" and thus not the same animus toward us. This is why, as the Chinese Communist Party pointed out in its polemics with the Soviet revisionists back in the 1960s, it is possible to unite with many people who are not communists but also don't pretend to be communists, while unity with revisionists (phony communists) is impossible.

So this is what we're up against—this is the objective situation, in its various dimensions, that we have to confront and transform—and we have to make real breakthroughs and advances, not just in some long-term sense but in more immediate terms. The objective situation, even if and as it could become more favorable, in strategic terms, would also involve the heightening of negative aspects, including the prospect of heightened repression and increasing attacks on us of various kinds and from various quarters. We cannot afford to be passive, or to just go along in a routine way, or even just "do a few good things." We need to transform the situation, qualitatively, wave after wave, to where on a whole other level growing numbers of people are won to this—including new and fresh people, particularly (though not only) youth, who have the advantage of youth to go out and work and struggle, tirelessly and with great energy and initiative, for this.

This is a materialist assessment. You can get absorbed in what we're doing at any given time and lose sight of the larger picture—both the positive elements that are emerging and developing, even if in a contradictory and still fragile way, as well as the negative elements—and you can lose sight of the bigger strategic orientation in which all this has to be viewed and approached.
To meet the very real and acute challenges we face requires "playing the piano" well—handling well the dialectical relation of things, and in particular the relation between principal and decisive things, on the one hand, and secondary things—correctly dealing with the question of "props on the stage," and solid core/elasticity: handling well the relation between things that require finely tuned and calibrated attention, and those things to which such detailed attention not only cannot but should not be paid. It requires keeping in mind that reality is constantly changing and that, with regard to "key links" and key "props on the stage," this is not a static matter, but something that may undergo change—what is a "key link" or a key "prop on the stage," requiring continual and finely calibrated attention, today, may not be that tomorrow—and other things may come to occupy that kind of role and require that kind of attention.

This is a key part of the challenge: constantly investigating and interrogating reality, to see what in fact should be the main theme on the piano at a given time, and how you let the fingers play the other parts without paying the same level of finely tuned attention to that (to continue, and perhaps torture, this metaphor of "playing the piano"). You have to know if you're dealing with something that would have a decisive outcome on a whole process—or even on the overall strategic process of revolution. This constantly poses AND re-poses itself—what we need to concentrate on really knowing and giving concentrated direction to, as opposed to what we do not need to pay so much attention to (or perhaps can even be relatively ignorant of) at any given time. This changes all the time. It is not just a matter of reality shifting in a general sense, but the ways in which things get posed in a concentrated and decisive way repeatedly shift.


We do have to pay significant attention to "Set The Record Straight" (STRS). The questions that STRS is addressing are coming more to the fore now, because there is more upheaval and resistance, more questioning and searching for an alternative, for another way. We need to be speaking to this in a consistent and compelling way—working to turn the negative view that far too many people have, and which generally prevails, regarding the history of the communist movement and socialist society, into something positive. The fact that many people are raising their heads and thinking about big things creates more favorable conditions for doing this—but it requires work and struggle.

I noted in a report that a basic person who has been around us, and generally supportive, for some time now has changed his thinking radically on Stalin: kind of "flipping" from really one-sidedly opposing Stalin (he had been influenced by the ISO) to thinking—once he understood, on the basis of reading Conquer the World?4 the necessity that Stalin was facing—that Stalin really had no alternative other than to do what he did. That, too, is wrong; and it is not what is said in Conquer the World? We need to win people to the correct synthesis on this—and to the new synthesis of communism overall.

But it is a bedrock fact that, in general and as an overall and at this point overwhelming phenomenon, people don't have even an inkling of a materialist understanding of things like this. What was Stalin actually up against, and how did he do at dealing with this—evaluated from a materialist standpoint and in accordance with the strategic orientation of advancing toward communism? People's prejudices are striking. Many people talk glibly about Stalin, and Mao, repeating slanders about how they "killed millions of their own people" without having actually looked into this in any serious way. And many of the same people will refer to the Bible as a moral authority! Well, the fact is that the Bible is full of figures who insist on slaughtering many, many people, often in the most wanton ways, and committing other truly horrendous and grotesque acts—and these people are upheld as positive figures, even icons—people like Moses, for example.

Moving closer to the present time, and looking at this country, how many people were killed through the Civil War? A great, great number. And it could be said that Lincoln was ultimately responsible for this. Why did Lincoln do this—why did he wage war against the Confederacy, instead of just letting it secede? His essential and basic reason was not to end slavery—Lincoln himself made that clear. It was because the Confederate forces were trying to break up the Union—the United States of America—and that, Lincoln insisted, could not be allowed, even if huge numbers of people had to be killed in a war to prevent it. As it turned out, this war could not be won—by the Union—without emancipating the slaves of the Confederacy and allowing them to fight on the Union side, a fight in which many of these emancipated slaves died. Should we condemn Lincoln as a mass murderer?

We are still not materialist enough when we are hit with stuff like this. And we need to be.

We have to confront, understand and transform material reality. We have to proceed as dialectical materialists, not as sectarian keepers of a "temple of secret knowledge." It will not do to dismiss Badiou, or similar types, as "Kautskyite," as someone did recently in a discussion. We have to have substance—and present it in a living way. What would our answer be to someone who says, "I don't know who Kautsky is and what he was about, so that doesn't mean anything to me"? By contrast, the actual polemic against Badiou is very substantive, thoroughly dissecting the Badiou line and its bankruptcy. The recent Raymond Lotta polemic against Žižek5 is also a positive example and model—it has substance and a good method. We have to do the work to actually understand different aspects of reality, and to win people to understand it correctly. We—our Party collectively and comrades in the Party—also have to make use of, wield effectively, the work that has been done. A lot of work has been done through STRS. A lot of work has been done in relation to many other dimensions of reality, in the present era and historically. We must not squander this work either—we have to immerse ourselves in what it has brought to light and wield this in a living and compelling way.


Comrades in the Party and people around us should be demanding answers from us. People should be going into their Party units and saying, "this came up, and I don't know how to answer it"—demanding collectivity and leadership in dealing with this. Where is the percolation? There is not nearly enough. But instead of bemoaning the fact that there is not enough of this, we need to find out why and do something about it. The "tone" for the whole Party gets set by leadership. Leadership IS decisive. Yes, the masses make history—but even with good aspirations, if they don't have the necessary leadership, they can't make history in the way they need to, in accordance with their own fundamental interests. Leadership is of decisive importance in all this, including within the Party, and we do have to lead on the basis of being materialists and scientists, and lead with an understanding of where we are in the process, the process of confronting and transforming the objective situation, the necessity we face, in its many different significant manifestations—and specifically the acute challenges we face now.

Where are we at in this process now, and how does that relate to what we're all about? We need to consistently keep that in mind, in order to determine how to play the piano well and to lead overall. This means constantly interrogating reality, being in touch with and learning more deeply about and keeping pace with key aspects of reality, and their changingness, in the various aspects of the objective situation, and in regard to the subjective factor (the Party itself), in order to correctly lead. If we just make a list of what we're doing, or supposed to be doing, at any given time, and try to lead that as best we can, that's not gonna cut it. We have to pay attention to important particular aspects of things—but we have to view and approach all this with a grounding in an understanding of the deeper material reality, and its contradictoriness and changingness, correctly comprehending and handling the relation between necessity and freedom, and proceeding fundamentally from the plane of our strategic revolutionary objectives.

On any and all levels of the Party, in any Party collectivity, everyone is supposed to speak up and say if something is right or wrong; it doesn't matter where it's coming from. Of course this needs to be done through the right channels, and in the right spirit. And it is true, it is a key aspect of democratic centralism, both epistemologically as well as organizationally, that the higher up the "chain" you go, the more basis there is, and the more responsibility there is, for grappling with and concentrating what is being learned, through the work of the Party overall and from other sources. That is one side of the picture, and it is important. But, at the same time, just because there are people who have more and higher level leadership responsibility, doesn't mean that other people aren't responsible. Everybody, on every level of the Party, has responsibility for the line of the Party and the direction of its work in carrying out that line, even as that gets expressed through a division of labor and through the channels of the Party, which are not simply "horizontal" (involving people on the same level of collectivity and responsibility) but are also "vertical" (involving a chain of knowledge and of command, from lower to higher levels, and back down again). But, again, in terms of fundamental orientation, everyone has responsibility for the revolution and for the line and role of the Party which must be the leading core of that revolutionary process. And everyone should be striving to take as much responsibility as they can, and to contribute as much as they can, in ways consistent with the democratic centralist principles of the Party and the structures and processes of the Party which give expression to those principles. In a way consistent with this, we need a great deal of, and continually increasing, initiative and percolation, throughout the Party, on all levels and in the back and forth process which gives life to the Party's chain of knowledge and of command.
Wield, model and insist. Wield the line of the a model of grasping and wielding this line...and insist that this line, and no other, be carried out, through the application of democratic centralism, in both its epistemological and organizational dimensions. And approach all this as an ongoing, living process.


1. BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian, RCP Publications, 2011 [back]

2. From Ike to Mao and Beyond—My Journey from Mainstream America to Revolutionary Communist, A Memoir by Bob Avakian, Insight Press, 2005

3. "Alain Badiou's 'Politics of Emancipation': A Communism Locked Within the Confines of the Bourgeois World,"
by Raymond Lotta, Nayi Duniya, and K. J. A., Demarcations: A Journal of Communist Theory and Polemic, Issue Number 1, Summer-Fall 2009 [back]

4. Conquer the World? The International Proletariat Must and Will, by Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, published as No. 50 of Revolution magazine, RCP Publications, 1981 [back]

5. "Vilifying Communism and Accommodating Imperialism: The Sham and Shame of Slavoj Žižek's 'Honest Pessimism,'" by Raymond Lotta, Revolution #256, January 15, 2012 [back]





Revolution #348 August 10, 2014

Putting on Our Boxing Gloves—and Other Key Methods, Principles and Objectives

by Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party

June 2, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


Editors' Note: The following is a part of some observations that were made by Bob Avakian, and were originally distributed within the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA (RCP) at the beginning of 2012. This is being published now as the third installment of the serialization of these observations. The first installment of this series, "The Mass Initiatives and Their Relation to Our Strategic Objectives," was published online May 19, 2014 and is serialized in the print edition of Revolution, beginning with issue #339 (May 25, 2014). The second installment, "Freedom and Necessity, and Proceeding from a Strategic Standpoint: Some Thoughts on Methods and Leadership," was published online May 26, 2014. These observations were originally made at a time when the "Occupy" movement was having a significant—and overall positive—impact but was also increasingly running up against the repressive force of the state, as well as its own limitations. While this was an important particular aspect of the overall situation at that time, and this is reflected in these observations by BA, these observations are speaking more broadly to the overall situation and challenges facing the RCP and the communist movement in the world as a whole. For this reason—and because these observations continue to have relevance and importance in that light—the decision has been made to publish these observations. Some editing has been done, and footnotes have been added, in preparing this for publication.


We have to start by returning to the reality that the international communist movement, and our Party specifically, is faced with the rather acute contradiction that we must make significant, qualitative breakthroughs and advances, in the near future, or we will be seriously set back, or even face the danger of being rendered "out of the game" for a certain historical period. And the consequences of that for the communist movement and ultimately the masses of the world are very, very heavy. This is another way of formulating—and underlining the importance of—what is said in the Manifesto from our Party,1 regarding the crossroads facing communists today: vanguard of the future, or residue of the past. We have to soberly and scientifically reground ourselves in this, and deepen our grounding in how all this has to be approached. It is not that there are no favorable objective developments, and no prospects for making the needed breakthroughs and advances—but the point is that the basis must be seized and new, more favorable conditions created through struggle, in order to actually make these breakthroughs and advances.

This calls to mind a comment from another leading person: In this context where there are more contradictory but overall favorable developments happening, in particular mass upsurge and the sharpening of the objective situation overall, if we don't go forward, then we'll go significantly backward. If we take this seriously and recognize in fact the acute contradiction we are confronting, then we will see that we do not have infinite time to make the necessary breakthroughs. And, while there should not be any panic in this regard, there most definitely needs to be a sense of urgency. This orientation has to form an important part of the grounding for everything we do.

We Need Revolution—Anything Else, in the Final Analysis, Is Bullshit

We are doing some positive things with BAsics,2 for example, and some comrades have gathered people around them on this basis—although this, too, is contradictory. And the events, the dialogues, involving Carl Dix and Cornel West have been very positive—drawing large numbers of people and having a significant impact. There are the two mass initiatives—against mass incarceration, and pornography and patriarchy—and masses have come forward around those initiatives. Some of the advanced people closely around the Party are continuing to advance. All that is on the one side. But then there is what we could call "what is objective to us, department one" and "what is objective to us, department two" that we have to deal with—the second "what is objective to us" being the opportunist and counter-revolutionary attacks on us.

In regard to this "objective to us, two" factor, we are not correctly recognizing, let alone dealing with this. And how we understand and approach this has everything to do with fundamental principles concentrated in the "as long as" point (in essence: as long as what we are actually about is revolution and communism, it should be easy to correctly appreciate and promote BA and the new synthesis he has brought forward). What is concentrated in that "as long as" point has to do with our whole core message—you could rephrase it as that core message and the "because" statement3: the fundamental fact that what we're about is radically transforming the world through revolution and the seizure of power, with the dictatorship of the proletariat as the transition to communism, and how BA/the new synthesis relates to all that, is crucial for all that.

There is the first quote in Chapter 3 of BAsics, which begins: "Let's get down to basics. We need a revolution. Anything else, in the final analysis, is bullshit."

We don't proceed enough from the understanding that anything else, in fundamental terms, is bullshit. I took note of a report about a youth who worked with us closely for a while in "Occupy" but lately has been pulled toward anarchism and influenced by opportunist and counter-revolutionary shit. This happens all too often: people come around us and get close—or, in some cases, youth in particular have been recruited, but on the wrong basis and with a heavy influence of a revisionist line, and then some quit and pull away from us—in some instances going over to the camp of counter-revolution. This is both a result of objective factors—including what I'm calling "objective factor, two"—and is a result of revisionist lines and influences within our own Party and how, consequently, we work with people. This reminds me of how Lenin said that, in the revolutionary movement of his time, anarchism was to a significant degree payment for the sins of revisionism within the ranks of the communists—this revisionism, gutting the revolutionary heart out of communism, made it easier for anarchism to appeal to some people. But, speaking of our situation specifically, it is a combination of remaining revisionist influences on our part and the pull of objective factors. This involves the influence of what exists and predominates in society and the world as a whole, under the rule of the imperialists—including, as a very significant factor, the reality and continuing effects of the reversal of socialism and the restoration of capitalism first in the Soviet Union and then in China. But it also involves the role of opportunists and outright counter-revolutionaries.

You can see this reflected in some reports on work with students. People are initially attracted to what we're about, in a general and basic sense, and then they begin to get a fuller sense of what we're about, and everything this involves—and the heaviness hits them. They get introduced to BAsics and they are drawn to what it concentrates, but then they come up against everything this involves, and many back away, at least in the short run. We should understand that this is part of the process. We shouldn't get freaked out. We should remain firmly grounded in our scientific materialist understanding of the whole process, and maintain the orientation of struggling this through with people. But we also have to understand that what happens is not just that people come forward, come up against the heaviness of it, come up against the difficulties in taking this out, and then they back away. In the age of the Internet, there's an analogy between people who defect from our camp, so to speak, and the Christian Fascists in society at large. If the Christian Fascists were just scattered, just a bunch of scattered individuals, they'd be a problem—but nothing like the problem they are, where they are given a coherent and organized expression and powerful backing by sections of the ruling class. The analogy is that when people drop away there is a place where they can go where they will get a coherent counter-revolutionary program that is directly in opposition to us and is determined to viciously attack, undermine and if possible destroy us.

It is time for us to put on our boxing gloves. We have to realize that this process involving counter-revolutionary attacks on us is not going to go away—we have to incorporate in our approach the understanding that this is objective to us, is a significant part of the objective obstacles we face. The conscious opportunist and counter-revolutionary forces—which are objective to us—this is part of the terrain we have to reckon with and deal with correctly. And we are not really doing this the way we need to.

Not that this should be our main thing. But if we don't incorporate this understanding and deal with this—recognize that this is a real part of the "encirclement" we're dealing with: people and forces which have a passionate, active orientation of trying to destroy us and keep people from joining up with us—then we are going to pay a heavy price for failing to recognize and deal with this. If it weren't for the Internet, it wouldn't be the same thing, although it would still be a problem on a certain level. But there IS the Internet, and the Internet provides a means whereby people who really represent nothing—or at least nothing positive, in terms of actually opposing and going up against this horrific system, and offering any kind of real alternative to it—can magnify their influence, especially in today's putrid cultural atmosphere, and especially if they engage in "snarky" attacks against those who are seriously going up against this system and actually working for revolution. Yes, this is part of the process; but dealing with this, in the way it needs to be dealt with, is OUR part of the process. We have to take on this opportunist and counter-revolutionary garbage—with the right approach, flowing from and consistent with our fundamental revolutionary communist orientation and objectives. And this means we need a lot more "down on the ground"—and, yes, "up on the mountain" at the same time—ideological struggle and polemics to hit at this crap and expose it for its utter bankruptcy and its role in aiding the ruling class in maintaining this oppressive system. And, overall, we have to hit hard, in polemicizing against and exposing things that help to keep the masses in an enslaved and degraded situation.

For literally more than 10 years we said, let's write something on the Illuminati, and nothing appeared. That can't continue.4 I noted that someone who was drawn to us but then got pulled by slanders as well as spontaneous petit bourgeois thinking, read a statement by some anarchists and said: "This is the greatest statement I have read." We should get hold of that statement and polemicize against it, including in our paper. Let's dissect a statement like that and tear it apart. Because this matters—it is actually of profound importance in relation to the fundamental interests of the masses of people—which road leads to actual emancipation, and which to a dead end, or worse. We have to learn how to do quick, short and concise, hard-hitting polemics. The Badiou polemic5 is great, very powerful. It is a living and compelling application of the new synthesis of communism. But we can't approach everything as if we're writing the Badiou polemic. This gets back to the basic point: everything else, in the final analysis, really is bullshit. But we don't proceed that way, from that basic understanding—or at least we certainly don't do so consistently. We are too afraid to be sharp. Yes, we need to do this in a principled and lofty way—but sharply.

Ignorance and Arrogance—Answering This with Science and Substance

I am sorry but the culture that has been "imbibed" to a significant degree by this younger generation is very bad. Many of them are arrogant—frankly on the basis of very little substance. Not all, but far too many, have the ignorance/arrogance thing that Mark Twain talked about, when he said: What you need to get along in America is the perfect combination of ignorance and arrogance. They don't ask questions, they just make assertions. And I get the definite sense that we don't respond strongly ourselves—and, in fact, we are still often defensive in the face of this stuff, when there is absolutely no good reason to be defensive. The point—at least with people who are not conscious and dedicated opportunists and counter-revolutionaries—is not to "demolish" them, but there is definitely a role and value to administering a good "shock" to them, through sharp ideological struggle.

When people say stuff that reflects ignorance—like someone at a protest who demanded: why isn't Bob Avakian out here among the masses who are protesting?—our people don't respond the way they should. They should be ready to say: "Even assuming BA wanted to come here, it would be extremely irresponsible for our Party to allow him to do that." And then, in basic terms, they should explain why. How about wielding my memoir6 when someone says, "Why isn't BA out here"? There is a whole history of activism, as well as revolutionary leadership, there. And let's get into the substance of what communist leadership actually is, and what role I play in relation to that.

All this backward stuff comes from the fact that people are not really talking about changing the world in a fundamental way—or they haven't really thought about and grappled with what that really means. We shouldn't just let that go and be liberal. There is a time and a place to be sharp, to draw the lines sharply. If people don't like it, TOUGH. In one report I read, someone was complaining that Raymond Lotta was being sharp. That's part of waging the struggle for people. That's part of why I responded the way I did to hearing about a religious person attacking Mao as well as Stalin for "killing their own people." Along with refuting this, we should put back to such people: How about Moses? How about all that monstrous shit in the Bible—mass rape and slaughter, including the killing of babies, which is ordained and commanded by the Bible's god and that god's representatives like Moses? Even with people with whom we should be and need to be uniting, when they come up with rank shit, we need to call it out and hit back, ideologically. Let's put on our boxing gloves—get ready for some ideological battle here.

Someone else (a person from the "Occupy" movement) is quoted in a report as saying, "Well, I've been thinking about these big questions all my life, so what's so special about BA?" Okay, then, here are some questions:

Being defensive in the face of a comment like that?—you've got to be kidding me! There is not enough in our paper of: "Here's the reality and here's bullshit"—and if people don't like it, tough.

If that guy says my statement ("Reflection") on "Occupy" is the last straw—good. [This refers to someone who had been, or who had appeared to be, coming close to the RCP, but then went to join the camp of counter-revolution.] That is a reflection of the fact that my statement didn't just tail "Occupy," but went into things that needed to be gone into and hit at things that needed to be hit. That statement didn't say anything like "Occupy" is all fucked up; it recognized the positive side of "Occupy," and got into the material contradictions that are involved and laid out what we need.7

Is it true, or not true, that fundamentally everything else is bullshit? There are real tactical problems, and necessary tactical considerations, in putting forward the need for revolution and what revolution is actually all about and requires. But we have to talk about what revolution really means—we have to find the best and most mature ways to get across the essential point that revolution means overthrowing capitalism and replacing it with socialism (and then continuing on the socialist road toward the final goal of communism). We do have to take tactical concerns seriously into account, but we can't let tactical problems set the fundamental terms. And we have to tell people that anything else in the final analysis is bullshit, as it says in BAsics. And then the next paragraph in BAsics (3:1) "rounds things out," making clear that it is necessary and important to wage struggles against particular outrages and injustices of this system—and, in doing so, to unite with people who do not, at that point, agree with the need for revolution—while we act on the scientific understanding that all these outrages can only be fully and finally eliminated through revolution, aiming toward the final goal of communism throughout the world. Is that true or not? Or is that just our "narrative"? Our "mantra"? "Our thing" that we're feebly trying to impose on reality?

What is the problem in the world? What is the solution? We need to keep going back to that, and then get into the role that different people and social forces play in relation to that. We let these other people set the terms too much, instead of bringing them back to the real terms. What are the terms here? You want to say we don't need leadership?—let's talk about what you're going to encounter if you are really trying to fundamentally change the world, and what you need to do that. And if you have someone who has in reality emerged as a leader on another level than the rest of those around, you should celebrate it—it is precious, if your goal is really the emancipation of the masses of oppressed humanity, and ultimately humanity as a whole.

The problem is that, with people we encounter, and where they're coming from spontaneously, we're not talking about the same project. I am not upset that youth we encounter, who are newly awakening in mass movements, see things in ways that reflect a lot of spontaneous misunderstanding—but what are WE saying and doing about this? The point is not to club people over the head or swear at them. The point is, what do WE really understand, and point toward, about what is fundamentally needed? It is important whether people in the Party are actually (re)reading the Badiou polemic. There are real and important reasons why studying that was called for in the midst of this upsurge, with "Occupy" and some other things. The Badiou polemic continues to be highly relevant, and it is very substantial.

We can't put out every slanderous fire. But we have to have the right orientation and approach. There are positive things developing, objectively and through work we are doing, but they're not going to go anywhere good with a wrong orientation. We can't afford another rerun of the movie "The Movement Is Everything, the Final Aim Nothing"—where it's worse than just a rerun because, among other things, you're going to have people going to the camp of counter-revolution. I don't want to see that kind of rerun, or any rerun, of "The Movement Is Everything, the Final Aim Nothing."

The "to the masses" orientation has to apply to the Party and Party units as a whole—but also to more than just the units. We have to look at the whole thing. The Party leadership, and certainly those people with particular responsibility for speaking for the Party and being propagators of the new synthesis and the leadership of BA, have to put on their boxing gloves. The real issue got focused in a program/debate between Bernard Harcourt and Raymond Lotta—and I was glad to see the issue get joined in that way: Is being a permanent opposition within the existing system all you can do, while the machinery hums in the background, crushing lives and destroying spirits, to paraphrase the Badiou polemic?

Speaking of "Occupy," there's still a lot of American national chauvinism in the "Occupy" thing—some more conscious and some less. When we came forward in the '60s, one of the reasons we weren't arrogant in the way still too many youth today are, including many in the movements of today, is that you had a sense of your responsibility to the people of the world—you felt that responsibility. "Look at Vietnam, what they're doing in our name." This point that Raymond Lotta brought out about communizing the spoils of imperialism—how that's what anarchism ultimately amounts to—is very important. And that's what "Occupy" would represent, even in its most radical expression, left on its own terms and taken to its logical conclusion: more economic equity in the framework of being good patriotic Americans. Should we just whisper about this among ourselves, or should we take this out there to people?

We're not getting up in the morning itching for battle ideologically. We go out with our basic toolkit of revolutionary materials, and that's fine, that's important—but we have to be itching for ideological battle. Not sectarian diatribes—and that should be stopped if it starts. Leading people should be modeling this. Unity-struggle-unity. Advance through struggle—uniting with people, but advancing THROUGH STRUGGLE. We should be itching for ideological battle—we should be looking for people to join this with. The problems with this are related to why our own people don't take out the Cultural Revolution in our Party8—don't bring this up with people and get into it with them. If this is going to happen—if it's going to be done right, the way it should be—it's going to have to happen by Party leadership actually leading it and modeling it. If something happens that's important, call something at the bookstore and talk about this. If opportunists and counter-revolutionaries are running shit and confusing people, get people together and expose the bankruptcy of these people—set the terms the way they should be set, with the focus on the problem and the solution.

I was reading a report about the ISO9—people pulled to that trend canceling out on meeting with us because they're pulled by the shit that ISO puts out. We should be having things at the bookstores. Don't overcomplicate things—get right into it: what the deal is with this ISO, and why it won't lead anywhere good. What is this "S"—this "socialism"—they have in their name: what does that actually mean, and how do they say it will get brought about? Let's dissect this and expose what it really represents, and where it will lead—and won't lead. Or what the deal is with anarchism and why it just reinforces the existing system. If we can't do this, and do it well, we should learn how to—QUICKLY. And we should model that from the top. Don't answer rumors and slander with rumors and slander—don't descend to addressing things on that level and on those terms—answer it with substance, speaking to essential questions regarding problem and solution. This is not a matter of "sectarian squabbles"—and it should not be allowed to become that, or to be treated as that. This is nothing less than a matter of the fundamental needs and interests of the masses of oppressed people in the world, and ultimately humanity as a whole.

State Power: in Whose Interests, for What Objectives?

There should be a combative atmosphere in a good sense. We actually believe BAsics 3:1, and we know what the content of that revolution is. "Dictatorship of the proletariat" is not an unfortunate phrase (as the opportunist Kautsky once said as part of his attacks on Lenin). The dictatorship of the proletariat is a fucking good thing. Do you want to keep having vicious police repressing, brutalizing, and murdering masses of people—or a state power in the interests of masses of people and backing them up in overcoming exploitation and oppression? Why in the world would you be defensive? Yes, there have been some problems in how the dictatorship of the proletariat has been exercised in the experience of socialist society so far—but, mainly, there have been some really great things. I certainly don't feel apologetic about that. It's time we stop any defensiveness now. You're not going to get anywhere good without the DOP. All these contradictions you can't solve now—divisions among the masses, etc.—you won't solve them within the confines of this system, and you won't solve this without the DOP. These are simple, basic facts—and anything else, fundamentally and in the final analysis, is bullshit. Let's talk about that.

We cannot afford another round of squandering things and squandering people. If we do that, we are going to be much further behind. Part of the backdrop for the backward lines that some comrades are running into and tailing is also people getting demoralized about the "Occupy" thing. People are finding out even that's not so easy. First, "oh it's great..." But then there's state power that you have to go up against. State power exercised on behalf of the "one percent." They don't give a fuck about you—other than to stop you. If you persist in getting in their way, they'll do a lot more. Some of us have been through that—and if you're new to this, you need to learn about that, too. If people are not learning that, and we are not challenging them in order for them to learn what they need to learn, that's on us.

Overcoming Obstacles, Making Breakthroughs and Accumulating Forces for Revolution

All this relates to how we view this fundraising campaign—this massive fundraising campaign to project BA Everywhere, to have that actually create societal impact, raise the level of discussion and debate throughout society about the state of the world and what can and should be done about that. It has everything to do with whether this campaign is really going to be what it needs to be—or falls short. We are not really going to succeed with this, and we are not going to make the critical breakthroughs overall that we need to make, unless leading people model this and lead with this, and insist that people do this—applying democratic centralism. If you get a report that speaks about a lot of problems comrades are encountering—and maybe also reflects problems with how these comrades are dealing with this, ways they are being pulled by spontaneity and tailing wrong lines—you deal with those contradictions and have people learn from how you deal with it.

Even small things can't be squandered. This whole situation we face can't be turned around by just winning and recruiting twos and twos. But we can't squander that either. We have to be thinking in terms of winning and recruiting masses, in waves. If we're not thinking in terms of masses, we won't even get twos and twos. But we also can't step over the twos and twos. Some people will go backward, and some will even go into the camp of counter-revolution—but we have to be winning and recruiting people, in growing numbers, and in waves.

We have to look at comrades' situation on different levels, and take tactical things seriously into account, but we cannot let that fundamentally set the terms as to whether people are being unleashed and utilized in the correct way. We cannot keep this knowledge we have about the history of our project, about the DOP and what the transition to communism has to be about—we can't keep that bottled up among a few people. We have to mobilize all positive factors and the synergy between them, to get this line out there, contending in a big way.

In carrying out ideological struggle—particularly when people are influenced by and caught up in bullshit—we have to strongly insist: that's not the question, here's the question. Whatever it is—dredging up and regurgitating unprincipled attacks against the Party and its leadership, or in talking about what's wrong with society—an important part of struggling with people is constantly recasting the terms: "that's not the question, this is the question." And then you have to back it up, with substance. But we do have people to back it up, and others should learn from them how to do it. We are perfectly willing to argue with you all day if you're principled and serious but not convinced—fine, we'll talk with you and struggle with you all day... unless you're not principled and not serious.

We cannot do things to organize people for revolution, and accumulate forces for revolution, on the wrong basis, where the wrong terms are being set. Not only do you lose people, you lose at least some to the camp of counter-revolution. When we do things on the wrong basis, we go backward and hurt ourselves. We have to have a core that's really won to what this is all about—including people who may not be quite ready for the next leap to join the Party, but are really close, and are being struggled with to make that further, crucial leap. That is the struggle with them: are they going to go forward to that? You can have your electrons around that solid core, but the electrons can't be the nucleus.

Really Being in It "For the Long Haul"

What HAVE we been working for, for nearly 50 years? What have we been learning through all this? Does everyone have to repeat the mistakes of the past? Do people in these movements today really think nobody ever tried this before? In the past upsurges, we didn't succeed in getting all the way to revolution—that's what remains to be done—and you don't have to repeat every lack of knowledge and mistake that we made. And, yes, we're here to teach you what we've learned. And not just in terms of this or that practical aspect of a particular movement, but in relation to the broader questions and the fundamental interests of humanity.

I read a comment by someone involved in the "Occupy" movement in NY—saying that the problem with the '60s was that people gave up, "but we're in it for the long haul." That's still the ignorance/arrogance thing. It goes along with the culture of tabloids, of short attention spans, and of solipsism and individualism. Do you really think there weren't many people in the '60s who were very dedicated and went up against a lot, and made many sacrifices, for a number of years, really trying to bring about radical change? Do you really think nobody has been in this for the real "long haul," and that nobody has learned anything in the process? There is too much of people proceeding from subjectivity—from how they see something from a limited perspective, or even how it "makes them feel." For example, whether we need leadership doesn't turn on the personal experience you've had, or "how it makes you feel." The question is what the masses of people are going through, and what's the solution to that? Is there an answer? What does the answer consist in? How it makes you feel is definitely not the question—how it makes you feel depends on what you understand. What is needed is not these tendencies of empiricism and individuals proceeding from their subjective impressions. No, we need a scientific method and approach—the scientific method and approach of communism, as it has been further developed through the new synthesis.

Critical Thinking and Discipline—A Unity of Opposites—A Scientific Approach to Understanding and Changing the World

In terms of the communist vanguard, democratic centralism is not just a matter of discipline in an organizational sense, but a matter of how you actually come to know and transform the world in the most profound ways in the interests of humanity. You don't get a better understanding of reality if everyone in a party goes off in their own direction. There is an important lesson relating to this in my memoir, regarding the struggle with the Mensheviks within our Party who tried to take our Party into the swamp—supporting the revisionist coup in China after the death of Mao in 1976 and arguing for a whole revisionist line—and why it was important to apply d.c., even in the face of factionalizing by those Mensheviks. People should review and reflect on that experience and how it is summarized in the memoir. We definitely need lots of initiative and creative and critical thinking, within the right overall collective framework and with the right spirit and orientation. But you won't learn more all on your own, and you definitely don't learn more by having factions within a party. Factions among the communists (or alleged communists) of Lenin's time were a remnant of social democracy, which led to the collapse of the Second International of supposed socialist and communist parties. Having factions was a part of that social democracy—in reality a form of bourgeois democracy, in the name of "socialism"—which actually rendered support to the existing imperialist system, in opposition to real revolution and communism. The Bolsheviks breaking with and moving against that was part of rupturing with everything that led to the collapse of the Second International, the degeneration by almost every one of its parties into open support for "their" imperialists in the context of World War 1.

Can prohibiting factions be misused to suppress initiative and the necessary lively atmosphere and ferment within the Party? Of course. But the possibility of its being misused does not change the fact that it is correct, and is essential, not to have factions. It is correct and essential, not just in terms of organizational functioning and discipline, but even more fundamentally in terms of epistemology and epistemological discipline, in terms of increasingly gaining a correct understanding of reality and moving to radically transform it in the direction of communism.

The "Party-State Paradigm" Is Much Better Than the Dictatorship of the Bourgeoisie, and Much Better Than the Prejudices of the Petite Bourgeoisie

We are not going to make it if we continue to have too much of a revolving door—where people come around us and become supportive, but then they are pulled away, and in some cases even turned against us, and we don't correctly recognize, and counter this, winning people over more deeply through really joining struggle with them. We will never make it, if we don't get down in the trenches ideologically and have a hunger for ideological struggle. Really, we don't think we can take on anarchism? Come on. You just have to ask a few questions. We can't answer the weak shit the anarchists put forward? Come on!

Who shot Lenin in the early years of the Soviet republic, seriously wounding him while attempting to assassinate him? It was forces that were essentially anarchist. Why did they do that? Because Lenin approached things from the largest perspective, proceeding from the interests of the proletariat as a class, in the most fundamental sense, and he understood what would happen if you allowed the terms of things to be set by workers in this or that factory, or a particular group of peasants, or the sailors on a ship, acting on the basis of their more particular and narrow interests. He understood that, if you proceeded in that way, different sections of the masses would be pitted against each other, in opposition to their most fundamental interests, socialism would be undermined and destroyed, and things would be dragged back to the anarchy of capitalist production and capitalist competition, and the overall dynamics of the capitalist system, with all its horrors.

Anarchism is an outlook representative of the petite bourgeoisie—and it will not and cannot lead to a radical rupture with and advance beyond capitalism, beyond the anarchistic dynamics of commodity production and exchange.10 There is much in the Badiou polemic that is very relevant in this regard.

As opposed to what people like Badiou try to argue, the "party-state paradigm"—state power, the dictatorship of the proletariat, led by a communist vanguard—is a very good, very necessary thing, so long as the line of that vanguard is correct. And you have to use that state power, to keep the revolution and to continue the revolution. Do we think the whole petite bourgeoisie in socialist society will just be wildly in favor of carrying forward revolutionary transformation in that society, that there won't be any opposition among them? As long as there is the material basis for the petite bourgeoisie to exist, including in socialist society, there will be manifestations of the assertion of the outlook and aspirations of the petite bourgeoisie. I think of students at a university in Canada who, during the high tide of the 1960s, staged a march under the banner: "as the future managerial class, we demand our rights." You're going to get that—whether expressed that crudely or not. You think that outlook doesn't exist in the "Occupy" thing? And, while this outlook basically corresponds to the material position and corresponding aspirations of the petite bourgeoisie, it's not only among the petite bourgeoisie itself that petit bourgeois ways of thinking exist—this kind of thinking exists among basic people too. The idea that we should tail this in any way is ridiculous and should be solidly combated and overcome.

Of course, the point is not that the petite bourgeoisie is the same, or should be treated in the same way, as the big bourgeoisie—the class that dominates ownership of the means of production and exercises dictatorship in capitalist society. The orientation is not that, in socialist society, dictatorship should be exercised over the petite bourgeoisie. In strategic terms, the point is, as Lenin put it, to live with and transform the petite bourgeoisie, through the course of the socialist transition to communism; and the relations involved are fundamentally non-antagonistic. But the terms cannot be set by an orientation that corresponds to the social position and spontaneous aspirations of the petite bourgeoisie, or there will be no revolution, no socialism, and no transition to communism.

My "Reflection" on "Occupy" welcomed "Occupy," but then went into the depth and complexity of the contradictions involved and what needs to happen if you don't want to maintain a society and a world marked by profound inequalities, oppression and exploitation—if you don't want people to continue suffering needlessly in this world.

Leading People, Comparing and Contrasting Revolution and Bullshit

We really have to come out strongly on this. We have to sharpen up this orientation. And we have to use this website and newspaper of ours, for many things—but including quick, concise, and sharp polemics. "What's wrong with Slavoj Žižek?"—that is, what's wrong with his viewpoint? What about Gramsci? Can't we do a few paragraphs on Althusser? Is it so hard? Can't we do simple things that provoke people, in the good sense? Can't we do that? And people do learn by comparing and contrasting. They learn by doing, but also by compare/contrast. We're cheating people and cheating ourselves by not struggling with them and joining the questions with them that are of objective importance—questions that they are often raising in somewhat distorted form (not always, but often). This is not surprising, because how they see things, spontaneously, is refracted through the predominant bourgeois outlook in society. Even people who are not consciously doing so, but are more spontaneously doing so, still represent the outlook and aspirations of classes other than the proletariat when they open their mouths to speak. The fact that you, in "Occupy," are discovering that it's much harder than you thought: ask yourself WHY it's much harder than you thought it was. It's not just that you are confronted by a wall of police. Why are they there, and why are they acting the way they do? And why does Mayor Bloomberg call them out and you can't? There are bigger, more powerful social forces at work, and underneath those forces are dynamics—the fundamental dynamics of this system—that even they don't control. Can't we get into joining these kinds of things with people? How to wield spokespeople and leadership to do this?—we have to pay systematic attention to that. We need to become good at quickly developing the forms for doing this. If five or 10 show up for a meeting or discussion, then give them something, some basic substance, to take out and join with others.

Without this basic orientation and approach, there won't be a real fundraising battle. We won't get where we need to go unless these questions are being fought through on the correct basis. There will be funds raised, but there will be no massive, multi-faceted fundraising campaign unless we lead with this orientation. Not only with the masses, but if you go to people who do have real money and you tail, you won't get anywhere. We need to put it to these people, straight up, and struggle on this basis: If you give your money to something like Obama, and not to this BA Everywhere fundraising campaign, it will have bad results and bad consequences for the masses of people and for humanity. We need a revolution, a communist revolution, and what you think you know about this is NOT true.

We can't let "Stalin and Mao were mass murderers" just go down. More than a few people sit in a privileged position in this country, with the "luxury" of accepting "verdicts" on crucial things without really bothering to learn the truth about them, because people have been slaughtered on a massive scale—in reality, and without hyperbole, their lives have been snuffed out in the tens and hundreds of millions—by the rulers of this country and the workings of their system, all over the world. People just can't get away with accepting the slanders about communism and refusing to face the real, truly monstrous crimes of this system. There are tactics and tact in struggling with people—but strategically we cannot let this go down. We can't let people go on talking about how Qadaffi (or whoever is identified as the villain of the moment) is somehow the worst person in the world. Can we talk about reality? We need to join these things with people—from a lofty and principled position, and with substance, but sharply.

If we don't do this, we are going to go backward and toward the abyss. Some of what I am talking about can happen right away, including with the website and newspaper. Can't we back our shit up?

Simplicity and Complexity—Handling This Contradiction Correctly

BAsics is very important—a very valuable tool—and we need to be wielding it in even greater ways. But it is a distillation of much bigger things. Do we think Marx is obsolete? No, there is much to learn, much of importance, in studying Marx. In speaking of the shopkeeper and the democratic intellectual, for example, Marx points out that they are driven to the same problems and solutions—not just the solutions. There is a lot to learn from repeatedly going back to this. There is great importance to correctly, scientifically understanding, and presenting, the problem—to setting the terms on the right, scientifically grounded basis.

On Communism and Jeffersonian Democracy.11 This is on a high level of theoretical abstraction, even while efforts were made to break that down as much as possible, without "dumbing it down." It is an important work and definitely serves a very important purpose. But we need to take the line that's in there and go with it—popularize it, without distorting it or watering it down. And we need things besides that work which deal with the same basic subjects. There is a need for things that are shorter, hard-hitting—boom boom. We should correctly understand and deal with, and not mis-handle, the simplicity-complexity contradiction. Dealing with the complexity of things is necessary, and very important—and we should struggle with people when they want things to be too simple, oversimplified, when they don't want to do the work you have to do to really understand and therefore be able to transform the world in the way it needs to be transformed. But we also need forms for boiling things down to their essence—things that are simple in that sense. If someone wants to say, "It's more complex than that," we can speak to the complexity, and we do speak to it.

We definitely should not do what opportunists do, where they vulgarize things, including by chopping up and distorting the statements of people they disagree with, in an unprincipled, instrumentalist way. But we shouldn't overburden ourselves with the complexity of things. There is a trend like that—to overburden ourselves with attempts to deal with complexity, to where we mumble and then don't get to the point. We don't want simplicity in the sense of vulgarizing and taking cheap shots—but in the sense of really getting to the essence in a concise and basic way. There is a point to boiling the complex down to the simple and basic, so long as it is accurate.

You want the masses to learn?—let them see someone doing this. That's one of the main ways masses learn. Training them involves letting them see how it's done. Let them see the confrontation of opposing views. When we had the struggle vs. the Bundists (nationalist opportunists, posturing as communists), way back in the day, a few of us wrote things and everyone grappled with them. And people learned a lot.

"There Is Nothing There"

In my memoir, there is a part that talks about this guy, Robere, who was a dogmatist who intimidated a lot of people, back in the day, by spouting from memory passages from Mao and Lenin, and so on. He created this "larger than life" image around himself. But some of us knew enough to recognize that rote recitation of "classics"—in the manner of a religious zealot repeating scripture—did not mean that there was a lot of substance, or a correct method for that matter. Then, one time, he got up and spoke at some demonstration at a courthouse, and in listening to him it struck me: "there is nothing there"—no real substance behind the supposedly intimidating front. And there is nothing there with these other lines, as far as problem/solution. This is an important point of orientation. Robere wasn't speaking to reality, and wasn't correctly dealing with it, and he had no "solution" other than dogma.

In short, with these opportunist forces: strategically, there's nothing there. And especially when you get to solution, there's nothing there. Now, it's different with someone like a Chomsky, or Arundhati Roy. There is much they do that is positive. In contrast with opportunists and counter-revolutionaries, their orientation and intent is to proceed in a principled way, and they do a lot of good work particularly in exposing many crimes of oppressive forces throughout the world, with a lot of focus on bringing to light the crimes of U.S. and western imperialism. But, in fundamental terms, and particularly when it comes to the solution, there is nothing there—no real orientation or program that can actually lead to a radically different world. With the opportunists and counter-revolutionaries, there is nothing there at all—that is, they have nothing positive to offer—they can only do damage. And we do have something—there is something here—because we are dealing with reality, that's what we're grappling with, scientifically, and struggling to transform. We have learned a lot in this way, and of course we have much more to learn—but we have a foundation to learn a lot more as we go forward.

Combating Opportunism and Counter-Revolution: A Necessary Part of Making Revolution

It is not a matter of preoccupation with opportunists and counter-revolutionaries. But we do have to take into account, and actively counter, the one thing they can do: cause real damage through their counter-revolutionary activity. They are profiting from the larger putrid culture that still holds sway to far too great a degree, and profiting from the fact that they are not seeking to really go up against the powers-that-be, but in fact can and do act in ways that not only don't threaten but that actually serve those powers. We do have to actively take on the harm they are able to do, with their counter-revolutionary activity, particularly with today's technology and in the context of today's putrid culture. We have to take that shit on sharply and powerfully, even while not becoming overly preoccupied with it, in order to counter—and to provide a positive, substantive and uplifting alternative to—their opportunist and counter-revolutionary garbage. Again, the point is not to answer them on their terms, getting dragged down into the gutter—the point is to answer with substance, and by focusing things on the fundamental questions related to problem and solution, to what is needed to actually transform the world in an emancipatory way.

The "advanced" who, in today's situation, are simply "immune" to this all this "stuff out there" simply don't exist—or are very few. People come forward the way they come forward—this is part of the objective reality we're dealing with—and people running into, and even being influenced by, opportunist and counter-revolutionary shit is part of the objective reality we have to become better at recognizing and dealing with—struggling effectively to bring more and more people through it. Too often our response to this kind of stuff is watered down and namby-pamby. Again, we need to answer this with substance—but not in a way that is merely academic and educational, in the wrong sense. There is a battle to be waged. Part of the struggle we need to wage, an important part, is over the question: what matters, and what should we focus on and get into? Is it tabloidism, gossip, rumor-mongering and slander—or lines? Of course it should be lines, and where they will lead. We have to fight for people—which means fighting with people, ideologically—in order to make breakthroughs.

The fact that some people get drawn forward and then get turned away because we are "making too much of BA" isn't happening in a vacuum—or simply because of the influence of the ruling class and the dominant institutions and what prevails in society generally. Opportunists and counter-revolutionaries are telling them shit. They work on people that we draw forward. "Work on" doesn't really get it. Often they descend on people, including through the Internet. Some of this is studied counter-revolution. To use a metaphor, if people are sitting in the bushes and taking potshots at you, and you ignore it because you don't want to be dragged down to a petty level, or into the gutter, then you are making a mistake—you have to deal with it, without allowing yourself to get dragged down. If we don't sharply deal with this, shame on us. Not to answer it on its terms, but by pointing out the bankruptcy of this—and, in some cases, the outright piggery as well as the ideological and political bankruptcy.

I recently read again our response to Mike Ely's "Nine Letters." That response is quite good.12 In particular I was struck by the exposure and refutation of Ely's rank relativism and agnosticism—his attempt to undermine the understanding that, while there are of course things human beings cannot know with certainty at any given time, on the other hand there is much human knowledge that has a well-founded and well-established basis in reality and can be judged to be true, with a great deal of certainty, and does not simply have a tenuous link to reality, to use Ely's formulation. As part of our response, since Ely had invoked—and in fact had crudely distorted—Mao in an attempt to buttress Ely's agnosticism and relativism, the following was posed, pointedly, to Ely: Does he think that dialectical and historical materialism, the need for revolution and the seizure of state power, the DOP and socialism as a transition to communism, and the continuation of classes and class struggle in socialist society—do these have a tenuous link to reality? And would Mao agree? There is no good answer to that, if you are proceeding according to the opportunist "logic" of Mike Ely. He has also never been held to account on his shit with Nepal—tailing all the revisionism there and attacking us for not tailing it. Apparently, being an opportunist and a counter-revolutionary means never having to be accountable for anything—so long as you attack what is genuinely revolutionary and communist, you can get a "pass" from some people for just about anything you say and do. When he first quit the Party, Ely's opportunism and his attacks on me and the Party were mainly rationalization for giving up—for capitulating to imperialism and everything that represents—while putting up a shabby pretense of still being some kind of "communist" or "revolutionary." But here something Lenin pointed to is very relevant. It is one thing to make a mistake, Lenin said (although capitulating to imperialism, turning your back on and attacking what actually represents revolution and communism—even stooping so low as to appeal to ignorant and crude prejudice against communism and communist organization, invoking the specter of "thought control" within the RCP, and so on... garbage literally on the level of a J. Edgar Hoover—is more than a mere mistake; but to continue with Lenin's essential point) if a mistake is persisted in—and if "profound justifications" are sought for this—then this can become something truly monstrous. This is the basic process that has taken place with Ely.

Again, the point is not to have a disproportionate preoccupation with these opportunists and counter-revolutionaries, but to take seriously the fact that they can, and do, cause real harm, especially in today's situation and with the putrid culture that prevails, including far too much among people who claim to be some kind of opposition. It is part of the process that some people who are initially drawn toward us—especially if they are worked, and struggled, with well—will continue to make leaps forward, while some others will fall back after a certain point. But, if things are dividing out the wrong way with this, something is wrong. Part of the problem is that we don't join these issues sharply enough with people. Too often there is too much of trying to evade or finesse things, rather than getting into the essential questions frontally and sharply. Our sharp edge should not be dulled.

When people come around, and then they begin to get a sense of how big what we're talking about is—how hard and complex, and how much up against what most people think, as well as being up against the state—they discover this, and they come to a juncture. Now you're in a different stage with people than when they first came around. The questions are not simply the same as when they first came around, first got on the escalator. And the things that are pulling them down, pulling them away from this, are not just the objective things that come from the bourgeoisie and its ruling institutions and ideas—what also pulls on them is what these other forces are saying, what they are saying about our Party and BA and the whole communist project, really. These forces do fight for their line—such as it is. We certainly cannot afford not to fight for ours. To really counter their shit, we need to get, deeply and sharply, into what the differences are—the real and substantial differences that matter—and why this is right and these other people are wrong: why there really is "nothing there," when it comes to an analysis of the fundamental problem and the solution, why in fact everything else is bullshit.

As you learn more about the actual process of building a movement for revolution, and carrying out that revolution when the conditions for that emerge, the more complicated and difficult it seems, particularly as you first come to grips with these contradictions. But the fact is that actually making revolution involves and requires consistently applying a scientific method and approach to identify and analyze, and to develop the means to radically transform, the contradictions that are bound up with this process. We have gone to work, in a substantial way, on these problems—and we have more work to do to solve these problems as we go forward. We have a foundation, and there is a need for new people to join in and help do the further work that is needed. And the truth is, nobody else has anything underneath what they're talking about, because it doesn't correspond to reality. This point needs to be driven home.

This has to be very sharp. In the current situation, and in terms of the forces coming forward in the movements of today, we are dealing to a very large degree with forces representing the petite bourgeoisie. Something like "Occupy," while it has attracted and drawn in some people from the basic masses, is largely and essentially a movement of the petite bourgeoisie, and you are going to get lines, tendencies, and pulls characteristic of the petite bourgeoisie—coming at things from a different point of view than that which represents the interests of the proletariat, in the most fundamental sense. Approaching this scientifically, we can see that this is what we're dealing with, in terms of things like "Occupy"—even with its very definite positive aspects. We had better understand that and struggle accordingly. And, again, this way of thinking is not limited to just the petite bourgeoisie itself—it exists more broadly in society. Add to that the fact that people actually know very little about communism and its history—and most of what they think they know is wrong. With all this in mind, it should stand out very prominently what is profoundly wrong with the idea that we should tail this, rather than waging principled but fierce struggle, ideologically, with what is wrong—with what represents a misguided, unscientific sense of the problem and solution.

Yes, we should discuss and wrangle with people over questions like what direction movements that arise, like "Occupy," should take, as such. That is part of our responsibility, even an important part, but it is not our main responsibility. Our main and essential responsibility is building a movement for revolution—and we have to approach everything from the fundamental perspective of how it relates to that.

The problem that some of our comrades have, in relation to movements like "Occupy," stems to a significant degree from the fact that they are not proceeding systematically from an understanding that there is not an antagonism but there is a real contradiction between what's represented by things like "Occupy" and where things need to go. There needs to be unity/struggle/unity to resolve contradictions among the people—but if we are not proceeding from the correct foundation and the correct, scientifically based understanding, we will not have a real chance of correctly handling the very real contradictions and the unity/struggle/unity dialectic.

The Problem and the Solution

Problem/solution. Problem/solution. Problem/solution. Everything revolves around problem-solution: what the fundamental problem in the world is, and what the solution is. In a fundamental sense, this includes me and my role. The emphasis we give to my leadership, and what it has brought forward and concentrates, has real meaning and great importance—but only in the context of problem-solution. It is not simply an appendage or addendum or footnote to that—but it IS in that context.

This applies also to polemics—in an overall and fundamental sense, they should focus on and continually ground things in the problem/solution.

Keep in mind: "there is nothing there." Polemics should focus to a large degree on the fact that what is represented by these various other forces—and in particular organized opportunist and counter-revolutionary forces—will not lead to anything good and is actually working against what is needed.

Three Quick Points

One: There is the phenomenon that when you are drawn to our Party and what it represents, and then you step out with this, people representing the disaffected but self-absorbed petite bourgeoisie bray and bark. This is fundamentally how we have to understand these attacks—and, in a living way, explain it to others, including those who come in for such braying and barking.

Two: Every time we tail, we kick ourselves in the teeth and get seriously set back.

Three: We are for revolution and communism. You opportunists don't like it because, in reality—in terms of the content of what you put forward—you want to make this system "work"; your vision and aspirations actually do not extend beyond the narrow horizon of this system, to paraphrase Marx. Let's recast the terms to what they actually are. Our Party, and in a concentrated way BA, represents the leadership that is needed and the struggle for revolution, and the state, the dictatorship of the proletariat, that is the necessary outcome of that struggle— and in turn is a transition to the final goal of a communist world. That is why people, and in particular those who constitute political and literary representatives of the petite bourgeoisie, react the way they do. They want to make this system "work," at least for themselves. That's not what we're about.

We should take a lesson from the experience in the Bay Area with the group STORM some years back. Unfortunately, there was a marked tendency on the part of comrades there to be intimidated by STORM, because these comrades were approaching things incorrectly, looking too much at surface phenomena and not grounding themselves in the deeper dynamics of things. STORM seemed to be a "going thing," for a while, and was wielding nationalist identity politics as a weapon, while putting up some kind of a pretense of being Marxist, or in some way against the system. But where is STORM now? And where are the people who were put forward as its leading lights—someone like Van Jones—what's the deal with him now?! Openly working for this system. Which is a kind of leap, but a leap that, in a real sense, is an extension of the outlook and approach of something like STORM. This is not a matter of "personal traits," but of line—of outlook and method, and the strategic orientation flowing from that. Of course, so long as there are class distinctions, and so long in particular as there are people constituting the political and literary representatives of the petite bourgeoisie, including among the oppressed nationalities, there will continue to be different incarnations of the kind of phenomenon that STORM represented. But lessons should be drawn from the experience with STORM—and the fact that STORM itself is now defunct!

Short-Term Advances and the Fundamental Goal of Revolution: Correctly Handling a Real Contradiction

Apparently Chris Hedges declared that "Occupy" is "too big to fail." This is simply wrong. "Occupy," as such, will have a certain life—and, as I put it in my "Reflection" on "Occupy," it can make a significant contribution to the revolution that is needed, IF the revolutionary communists approach this correctly. "Occupy" itself will have a certain life and, as has already happened, it will face a series of challenges; and how those challenges are dealt with will have a major role in determining what course it takes and whether and in what ways it can continue to have a mainly positive impact. Right now this is concentrated in whether there will be a powerful challenge to the concentrated move by the ruling class to suppress and disperse "Occupy." There are important things that we can and should seek to do in relation to that, but the most important thing that we should be doing is accumulating forces for revolution, in relation to this movement and in other ways as well. If we don't really and deeply grasp this, and act on it, then not only "Occupy" but our Party, too, will either go out of existence or be absorbed into the political scenery of bourgeois society, to paraphrase the recent polemic against Slavoj Žižek13.

Can anyone claim that they've never been influenced by the line that something good has happened, so let's not spoil it by bringing in the solid core, by bringing alive the need for revolution and the final goal of communism? No it happens—but we have to be very attuned to that, recognizing and struggling against that.

We have to think about different ways of working with the advanced around us—to struggle things through and make some much-needed advances in bringing forward new forces, new initiators of the new stage of the communist movement—accumulating forces for revolution and recruiting more of the advanced into the Party. We need to make breakthroughs in all three objectives of the overall Campaign we are carrying out: really putting revolution and communism on the map; making BA a household name and what BA represents a subject of substantive discussion and debate throughout society; and bringing forward waves of new initiators of the communist revolution. This—and in particular the third objective—requires winning people to be really partisan for and then fully committed to THIS. We have to get more and more people to the point where they want to go out and take on the braying hounds. Let's instill that Black Panther Party spirit from back in the day. The BPP members really believed they were the vanguard, and they didn't want to hear any shit from you about how they weren't. We need much more of that basic spirit. The point is not to attack people, but to have a spirit of itching for ideological struggle.

We need to unleash and marshal the people who feel that way—give them substance, and get them out there fighting for this.

We don't think enough in terms of fighting for people who are being influenced toward wrong lines. Let's go up against the spontaneity—let's put on our boxing gloves. Let's jump into ideological contention, spoiling for a fight. If you are a leading person, take some others, including advanced masses, with you when you do this. Take these masses coming around with you. Engage these other lines. Call them out: "You don't even know what the problem is, let alone the solution." Then get into the substance. We have a developed line with a lot of substance. But you have to fight for it. If you want to win masses you have to fight, and you have to take masses with you so they see the contending lines and which ones have substance and are based on reality, and which ones don't and aren't.

Some Basic Questions

How do we make sure that people go out in the right way to do revolutionary work? One of the advantages of BAsics is that this book lets you do good work. But, as we've seen, you can do work with BAsics with a wrong line seriously contending in that work. BAsics is not some kind of inoculation against the wrong line—it's a factor that creates more favorable conditions for work to be done correctly. With many people we need to figure out how to simplify things without being reckless, and get people into the mix and swirl of what's going on these days.

Let's pose a series of very basic questions. Do you think that this outrage of police brutality is going to be eliminated with a few sit-ins? If not, is that tolerable? And if not, further, what is it going to take to get rid of this outrage? Do you think this is the only outrage of this system, and how are all those other outrages going to get dealt with? How does what we are doing fit into a revolutionary movement to get rid of this whole thing? This resistance is great as a beginning and part of what needs to happen—but not so great as just a thing in itself and unto itself. Bring people back to what they know, and have a basis for knowing.

Do you really think that "Occupy" just growing and growing is going to solve everything we're about? People in the Party and close to us know the answers, and "forget" them. We have to constantly bring them back to what they know. There are line questions and the pull of spontaneity.

In situations where there are increased numbers of masses awakening and in motion politically, and we are working to relate to that, what we say matters more. And the more it matters, the greater the pull to tone it down. When you introduce something like my "Occupy" statement, it breaks up some of the unity that exists, even as it has the potential to unite people on a higher level. It is the same thing with regard to STOP "Stop & Frisk." Is it a static linear thing of more and more unity—or is it unity-divide-more unity, through junctures and struggles? Comrades, and in particular comrades with leadership responsibility, know the answers. So why does it happen that people lose sight of this and tend to tail? One, the pull of "the movement is everything, the final aim nothing"—and part of you is pulled toward thinking that revolution and communism is not viable, or is in some abstract realm, unrelated to what is going on now. And two, the pull to thinking: bringing this in is going to disrupt the unity we've forged, when we've got something good going here. This has to be fought through, in repeated rounds of struggle. Comrades need to see their responsibilities above all as communists, and not as people dealing in a particular realm.

We should use the website and newspaper to model things. Even a short piece, like the one I wrote on "The American Enterprise,"14 can concentrate a lot. If someone raises the present Constitution of the USA, we can respond by saying things like, "that belongs in the museum"—as opposed to an academic argument. The effect of a punchy response like that is to change the terms to more what they should be. And then you get further into the substance. That Constitution represents the past, here's what we need for the future—and point to the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal)15. Use the website and newspaper to model things like that. They should have some more in-depth analysis, but there is also a definite need for a lot of shorter, biting stuff.

Leading Consistently with the Correct Method and Approach

We have to consistently lead with the correct line, and most fundamentally the correct, scientific method and approach. That has to be what we're striving for. That's the standard we have to set and aim for—nothing less. And, even as we are persevering to make breakthroughs in things we have identified as crucial, we need to keep looking afresh at things, and not fall into ruts and routines. We have to adhere to certain fundamental matters of principle and keep our eye on the prize of decisive objectives, while looking at things anew repeatedly.

We do have to get more focused in what we do and how we wield our forces, but the principal and decisive thing is leading with the correct line, and then how to get the correct combinations and synergies. We don't want to just judiciously wield our forces—we want, we need, to grow. We want more people to carry out the correct line and not some other line. Attention needs to be paid to how to lead that and effect the right combinations and synergies to make that happen. Think about the effect of a leading person going with a comrade in the work and doing the work correctly and fighting it through and summing it up with them. And we should involve advanced masses where that's appropriate. Masses learn by seeing things done correctly and seeing them in contention with other things. There are people who can do this right, and do it really well, but there are still too few—we need to wield them correctly and combine them, correctly, with basic Party members and people who are coming forward, so others can learn and develop.

How do we wield the strengths we have and the strengths of people around us in the best possible combinations and synergies, and get into the real-world places where this can go on? We can't just bring masses to our bookstores—we have to do that, but we also have to go TO the masses. This goes along with simplify, simplify, simplify. Radical simplicity. Get people together in groups and go places with somebody who's gonna set the terms in the right way.

A Final Point: On Unity and Struggle

Because I have given so much emphasis to the confrontation of opposing lines where the contradiction is in fact antagonistic—dealing with opportunists and counter-revolutionaries—I don't want to underplay the importance of non-antagonistic struggle, struggle with people with whom it is also correct to seek unity, even while carrying out ideological struggle over big questions and matters of principle. The difference is that there are many people who disagree with us, who are objectively representatives of an incorrect outlook, which ultimately leads things away from where they need to go, but they haven't made themselves in effect an appendage of the ruling class. They are not setting out to destroy our Party. And they are not framing their disagreements with us in the guise of "revolution" or "communism." This relates to why the Chinese Communist Party made clear, in its polemics against the Soviet revisionists in the 1960s, that unity with many forces who do not claim to be communists is possible, but there can be no unity with revisionists—phony communists who distort and oppose the revolutionary core of communism, while attacking those who uphold and act on the basis of real, revolutionary communism.

The emphasis on the need to hit back, with substance, ideologically, against the opportunist and counter-revolutionary forces that do make it their business to wage unprincipled attacks against our Party and BA—this should not lead to ignoring or undermining the importance of engagement and carrying forward the unity/struggle/unity process with what are objectively non-antagonistic representatives of other classes and strata. That remains very important.


1. Communism: The Beginning of a New Stage, A Manifesto from the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, September 2008 (RCP Publications, 2009) [back]

2. BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian, RCP Publications, 2011 [back]

3. The "because" statement refers to the following:

Because of Bob Avakian and the work he has done over several decades, summing up the positive and negative experience of the communist revolution so far, and drawing from a broad range of human experience, there is a new synthesis of communism that has been brought forward—there really is a viable vision and strategy for a radically new, and much better, society and world, and there is the crucial leadership that is needed to carry forward the struggle toward that goal. [back]

4. After BA made these observations, Revolution/ published "The 'Illuminati' Is a Myth! Wake Up and Deal With the REAL Problem!," #272. June 17, 2012. [back]

5. "Alain Badiou's 'Politics of Emancipation': A Communism Locked Within the Confines of the Bourgeois World," by Raymond Lotta, Nayi Duniya, and K. J. A., Demarcations: A Journal of Communist Theory and Polemic, Issue Number 1, Summer-Fall 2009 [back]

6. From Ike to Mao and Beyond—My Journey from Mainstream America to Revolutionary Communist, a memoir by Bob Avakian, Insight Press, 2005 [back]

7. "A Reflection on the 'Occupy' Movement: An Inspiring Beginning...and the Need to Go Further," by Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, Revolution #250, November 13, 2011 [back]

8. For a discussion of the Cultural Revolution in the RCP, see Communism: The Beginning of a New Stage, A Manifesto from the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA. Part VI, "A Cultural Revolution Within the RCP," begins on page 34 of the pamphlet. [back]

9. International Socialist Organization [back]

10. For an analysis of the driving force of anarchy as the most essential expression of the fundamental contradiction of capitalism, see "On the 'Driving Force of Anarchy' and the Dynamics of Change—A Sharp Debate and Urgent Polemic: The Struggle for a Radically Different World and the Struggle for a Scientific Approach to Reality," by Raymond Lotta, Revolution, November 4, 2013. [back]

11. Communism and Jeffersonian Democracy, by Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, RCP Publications, 2008 [back]

12. "Stuck in the 'Awful Capitalist Present' or Forging a Path to the Communist Future? A Response to Mike Ely's Nine Letters," by a writing group in the RCP, 2008 [back]

13. "Vilifying Communism and Accommodating Imperialism: The Sham and Shame of Slavoj Žižek's 'Honest Pessimism,'" by Raymond Lotta, Revolution #256, January 15, 2012 [back]

14. "The American Enterprise—Property and Slavery: Peculiar Notions of 'Freedom' and Profound Contradictions," by Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, Revolution #252, December 11, 2011 [back]

15. Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal), RCP Publications, 2010 [back]




Revolution #348 August 10, 2014

“Israel is built on ethnic cleansing and it’s a product of imperialism”

August 4, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


Interview with Alan Goodman, writer for Revolution newspaper, August 1, 2014, on The Michael Slate Show on KPFK FM in Los Angeles.

Q: Alan, how are you?

A: Well, I’m angry, and I’m here.

Q: Good. That makes two of us. We talked last night, I looked at the newspaper this morning and they’re talking about a ceasefire, and as I was driving over here, and what do I hear? It’s broken, and the Israelis have begun bombing shelters, schools, hospitals, especially in Rafah. The attacks on civilians continue, just unmitigated. And it poses huge questions for people right now. As I was saying earlier, I interviewed a man from Gaza last week [Dr. Haidar Eid], and as his horror and anger grew throughout the course of the interview, he kept, almost tearfully, demanding to know, where is the world? Why is no one doing anything about this? Why is no one seeing what’s really happening here? Let’s kick that around a little bit.

A: First of all, some people are doing some things about it, and it’s important that we recognize that and have their backs. I don’t know if your listeners have heard about this, but a number of very prominent Spanish actors, including Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz and Director Pedro Almodóvar, issued a strong statement condemning what’s going on with Israel’s assault on Gaza, and we should note, beginning but important statements have been made by people who are pro-Israel, but for whom these crimes are just “off the charts,” in quoting some veterans of the Israeli military. You had sent me an editorial by a supporter of Israel who’s really saying that this has gone too far.

So on the one hand, when people say nobody’s doing anything, we have to speak about what people are doing, but we also have to speak about, sometimes when people say that, they’re expecting something better from, say, Obama or the UN or forces they expect should be speaking out in the context of this horrible outrage.

I was listening to the show before yours [Democracy Now!] that was identifying some of the horrors going on in Gaza. You have a situation where almost two million people have been locked down for going on eight years now. Food and water are almost cut off. Ninety-five percent of the tap water in Gaza was undrinkable before this horrific slaughter started. People do not have access to the basic necessities of life. Now the electricity is off. In an area as densely populated as New York City, the electricity was taken out by Israeli bombs. This is really a collective massacre of civilians. And then you had an Israeli attack on a UN school. And then you had another Israeli attack on a UN school. And then you had the Israeli attack on the UN school where desperate people had taken refuge in Beit Hanoun on July 24 and were standing in the courtyard of the school in open air. So don’t give us any of this stuff about how they were hiding missiles under their jackets or something. They were standing in a courtyard. You can see this in video. We’ve got a link to the video at, where you can see this courtyard. It’s like a parking lot. People are completely exposed, and on July 24, 16 people were killed and a hundred injured, women and children and families who had taken refuge in the UN school.

And then, two days ago, you had yet another Israeli attack on desperate people gathered at a UN school where 19 people were killed. And here’s where I want to speak to the other side of what you were citing where people are saying why isn’t anybody doing anything about this? Let me just read from the statement from the United States White House, Barack Obama’s press secretary: “The shelling of a U.N. facility that is housing innocent civilians who are fleeing violence is totally unacceptable and totally indefensible.” And then he said, “We need our allies in Israel to do more to live up to the high standards that they have set for themselves.” Then he further expanded on that in saying that the Israelis should, “Live up to the standards that they have set for their own military operations to protect the lives of innocent civilians.”

2009: Alan Goodman speaks at town hall meeting opposing Israel's 2008-2009 massacre in Gaza on parallels between the Warsaw Ghetto and Gaza. This speaks to questions that are very relevant to what is happening right now.

Well, the standards that the Israeli military has set for protecting the lives of innocent civilians is that absolutely anybody, anywhere, doing anything or doing nothing in Gaza is a target. Then the next question is, as they were pointing out on the show that was on right before yours, in the midst of all this horror, this wanton massacre of which a majority are civilians, the U.S. is shipping more tank missiles over to Israel to continue the slaughter, and presenting Israel as the victim in all this, the ones under attack. Maybe we’ll get a chance to talk about the role of the media in all this. And that really poses the question of what is behind the U.S. backing for Israel, which I think you probably want to get into. But I’m just kind of responding to this question of “Nobody’s doing anything.” The global powers-that-be are aiding, abetting, enabling and sponsoring this massacre. People are beginning to speak out, and they need to be supported when they do.

Q: I do want to visit this thing about the role of the U.S., because this is one of the questions that has come up a lot with people I’ve been speaking with, including the Palestinian I interviewed last Friday night, who also made the point—he was talking about what he saw when the Senate, 100 to 0, said, OK, we’re going to support this. There’s all these things that are coming out where, it’s a constant reference to—it’s the media, but it’s also what the government is saying, when the Obama administration comes out and says, yeah, this is not good that they’re doing this, but on the other hand, you have to begin with Israel has the right to defend itself. This man was pointing out that it’s not just a question of complicity. He said it’s also green-lighting. He made the point that you have the fourth-largest military in the world. All the weapons they use in their genocidal attacks are supplied or furnished or refurbished by the U.S. I wanted to ask you about this, because it is something you’ve written about a lot. You’ve written about both what’s behind this as well as the history of this, of a very special relationship between Israel and the U.S.

A: There’s no way of evading it now. When you hear a statement like that, first of all, the first three Israeli bombings of schoolyards and all these other horrific crimes have been justified by the White House and the mainstream media, including the New York Times, all framed in the context of “Israel under attack” from rockets from Gaza, and just distorting the whole situation. We’ve got a piece at that I wrote that just walks through a whole series of incidents, and I can’t go into them all here, but some of your listeners might be familiar with these. Diane Sawyer ran a piece supposedly showing devastation in Israel. But the film footage was from Gaza. And then the next day there was a correction issued, but the damage was done. There’s a whole series of these kinds of things, as well as lies by omission, lies by distortion. We ran a capture of a New York Times headline, “First Israeli Dies.” Well, this was on a day when dozens of Palestinians had died. People who read the Times are being conditioned to see Palestinian lives as valueless, essentially.

So there’s this whole distortion of things, and then there is this 100-to-nothing vote you noted in the Senate, and so on. I know this poses a question for people, including, I think some of this is prompted by some of the very contextualized criticisms of Israel from the White House, like the one I just read, like, OK, you’ve bombed a few too many school courtyards with children and innocent civilians in them, but of course, you’re the good guys in all this. And this does pose for people, what is the nature of the whole historic special relationship between the U.S. and Israel? This is something we’ve written about extensively at, including in a special issue on Israel. But just in a nutshell, historically, Israel is built on ethnic cleansing and it’s a product of imperialism, as an outpost of imperialism in the Middle East.

That’s part of what goes into this provocative quote from Bob Avakian that I encourage people to think seriously about, when he said, “After the Holocaust, the worst thing that has happened to Jewish people is the state of Israel.”

So there’s the question of where did Israel come from? What’s its nature? What’s its role in the world? Right now, there’s a whole complicated swirl of things going on in the Middle East. As the rulers of the United States bully their way through these shifting alliances and instability and so on—Syria, Egypt and beyond, they’re backing Israel as their most reliable ally in the whole region. The rise of the U.S. empire after World War 2 and everything since has been dependent in important ways on that special relationship with their enforcer Israel in the Middle East. That in a nutshell is what’s driving this.

Q: You mentioned earlier about the press, and I wanted to dig a little more deeply into the press, because they have been really pushing a whole perspective on this, everything from convincing people that it’s a complicated issue, that you really have to understand, that there’s two wrongs going on there, one’s more wrong than the other, but there’s two, they’re even-handed. Each one’s responsible for a certain amount of suffering. And it’s just a mess, and really, I don’t know how to sort this out. The press has been doing that.

I was looking at the Los Angeles Times and they had an article about some horrendous thing that happened in Gaza, and then in the middle of the front page, they had a picture of a mortuary with three kids in it, and the caption read that it was Palestinian kids in a mortuary. But the whole big, center-page article was on Israel, and how Israel is worried about the impact of all this on them, and how are they going to deal with all this?

Here’s a force in the world that’s committing—when you talk about what the Zionists are doing, they are committing, as Ilan Pappé called it— incremental genocide. They’re committing war crimes, beyond question, crimes against humanity. And yet the U.S. press is going overboard portraying this as, well, you can’t really tell who’s doing what to who here. Can you talk about that a little? Because it has implications for everything else we’ve been talking about.

A: Well, I think there’s a lot of dimensions to it. One is just portraying a one-sided massacre by a country built on ethnic cleansing against the victims of that ethnic cleansing as, like you say, a two-sided conflict started by Hamas. But I think there’s an ideological dimension to it, or a moral dimension to it as well, that kind of underlies a lot of the examples you’re bringing up, and it kind of gets to that New York Times headline I was talking about— “First Israeli Dies,” and then sixteen  paragraphs down, Oh, by the way, 80 Palestinians died today.

It reminds me of back when The Onion newspaper was coming out in print, and they had a massive headline, “One American Dies,” and then 12 paragraphs down, “Japan sinks to the bottom of the ocean and 200 million people die.” But never mind that, one of them was an American. And this is the way people are trained to think in America. By extension, “Israelis are like us. They believe in the same values we do. They’re civilized people.” You can see the racist connotations and dimensions to this, but more fundamentally, these are people who are part of the “civilized world.” Well, yeah, you know, the shared values between the United States and Israel include that they’re both built on genocide and ethnic cleansing. But people are trained that we have these special high moral values and that we share them with the Israelis. So Israeli lives are kind of an extension of American lives.

And in opposition to that, at, and other people have brought this forward as well, and it’s an important stance to popularize, and I encourage people to tweet it and so on:

"American lives are Not more important than other people’s lives."

"Stop thinking like Americans, and start thinking about humanity."

Q: You commented in one of the things you wrote that Ilan Pappé’s analysis that what Israel is doing in Gaza is part of an incremental genocide, that this is a very critical insight. Why?

A: Well, because it’s true. In the interview that you did with him, he goes into depth about how it’s important for people to stop looking at things in terms of, was the current conflict provoked by Hamas rockets, and then before that, it was shelling from Lebanon, and before that it was something else—and to recognize a pattern here of incremental genocide.

Now, when we’re hearing the Israelis saying that they’re not going to stop the slaughter in Gaza—and I don’t have the wording right in front of me, but a lot of formulations along the lines of “Until we resolve the problem once and for all”, there are ominous echoes of Hitler’s rhetoric around the “Final solution.” The whole logic and immorality of what’s being argued by Israel and its backers in the halls of power in the United States, is that the Palestinians are the problem and that there has to be a final solution. So far, their PR people, probably, to the extent one of them blurts out “final solution,” might point out, can’t you come up with another wording? But there are ominous echoes of that, both in what they’re doing—I mean, this is a sealed-off, small area, as densely populated as New York City. Water has been cut off. Israel bombed the electricity. This is not an area of the world where people can live very long without electricity. Israel has been choking off food and construction supplies for years, and now is creating an atmosphere where something like 50 percent of the population are refugees. Well over 100,000 gathered at UN facilities where they should be able to seek shelter and safety, and instead they’re essentially sitting ducks for Israeli missiles. So Ilan Pappé’s observation is critical because it’s true and it’s important. Other people are recognizing this and it’s important that people speak out—and when that they do speak out, we have their backs. Celebrities and others who speak out about this come under vicious attack and we have to make sure that they’re not silenced.

Q: Do you have any closing comments you want to make?

A: I’ll share something. I don’t have the wording in front of me, but a reader at sent in something along the lines of From Gaza to the U.S.-Mexico border, to the ghetto, people must be free. We need revolution. And I think that is kind of the take-away message from what we’re seeing now.





Revolution #348 August 10, 2014

Armed Militia Groups Mobilizing at the Texas Border

August 4, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |



“You see an illegal. You point your gun dead at him, right between his eyes, and you say, ‘Get back across the border or you will be shot.’”

Chris Davis, “Laredo Sector Militia Commander” of “Operation Secure Our Border”

Ten or more newly formed teams of vigilantes armed with semi-automatic weapons are now actively patrolling along the Texas-Mexico border, from El Paso to Laredo, to stop “illegal immigrants” coming from Central America through Mexico. And militia groups from around the country—many of which took part in the armed standoff at Cliven Bundy’s Nevada ranch this April—are now calling for “patriots” to go to the Texas border to join “Operation Secure Our Border.”

The crisis that is driving tens of thousands of children from the most impoverished Central American countries to the Texas border—caused by decades of military, political, and economic crimes committed by this U.S. imperialist system—is being used as a rallying cry by a growing, armed right-wing militia movement. Their following is said to be growing through social media, blogs, and a 24-hour “Patriot Hotline” that recruits and mobilizes volunteers.

Chris Davis, the commander of one of these armed militias now “deployed” along the Texas border near Laredo, claims, “We have patriots all across this country who are willing to sacrifice their time, money, even quit their jobs to come down and fight for freedom, liberty and national sovereignty.” And a call to action circulating on Facebook and websites reads: “We need at least 20 thousand troops there to secure the border. We need to save America. Look to the future. Step up NOW!!”

These vicious, ignorant, and fascist vigilantes arrogantly believe they have every right to brutalize and possibly kill a Latino youth because in their minds one of their country’s “laws” has been broken.

These children at the border are criminals? The horrific conditions in the countries they are desperately trying to flee—Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador—are “made in the USA.” The ruthless dictators the U.S. put in place and armed and the death squads they trained at the “School of the Assassins” (The U.S. Army School of the Americas) in Georgia slaughtered hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children in Guatemala and El Salvador in the 1980s, drowning the resistance to U.S. domination surging through Central America at that time in rivers of blood.

The economies of these countries have been systematically pillaged by U.S. imperialism for decades, and gangs and tremendous violence have filled the economic void left especially after the 2005 Central American Free Trade Agreement that overwhelmingly benefited U.S. agribusinesses and manufacturers.

These children are not criminals. They are not “illegal immigrants.” They are living witnesses to the criminality of this imperialist system and the ruling class that directs it.

These children have a completely legitimate, legal right to apply for asylum in the U.S. and not be forced to return to the horrendous conditions they are trying to flee. The vigilantes have no right to treat them as criminals—much less inflict violence on innocent lives.

These children have been driven from their homelands, fleeing at tremendous risk to escape conditions they had no role in creating. No, it’s NOT their parents’ fault—they aren’t the ones who created this crisis. They didn’t call in the butchers in the 1980s—the U.S. and its local enforcers did. They didn’t ask for the “choice” of either slaving in dangerous jobs that pay next to nothing growing sugar used by Coca Cola to make their profits—or going to work for a gang, with the danger of dying for refusing to join. No, it’s not because of “bad parenting;” as though if they’d made better decisions their child could have escaped this. All of this criminality committed by this system here and all around the world—and the “benefits” of living inside the belly of this beast—is what these racist, fascist vigilantes are out to “secure.”

A press release from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency commenting on the militia groups along the border said, “They could have disastrous personal and public safety consequences,” but was also careful not to criticize them. Some border sheriffs—including those in Brooks and Hidalgo counties, where the influx of Central American children is centered—have rejected offers of help. But the fact is that in many cases, these armed militias are working hand-in-hand with law enforcement at different levels.

Chris Davis said he had contacted the FBI in Laredo and that local law enforcement “is well aware of what we’re doing.” The Los Angeles Times interviewed another militia leader who has joined Davis’s “Operation SOB”—Rick Light, who leads the “Edwards Plateau Rangers,” a militia in Rocksprings, Texas, about 100 miles north of the border. Light says they “have worked with the local Edwards County sheriff and county agencies for the last two years.” Light said his group wants to be a “productive, professional militia that just assists our law enforcement.” He told the Los Angeles Times that he had just traveled to Laredo to “meet with Border Patrol agents and see some hot spots. This week, he hopes to meet with Laredo police and local sheriff’s officials.” (July 8, 2014)

This country has a long, ugly history of its legal machinery of oppression and repression—the police forces and law enforcement on every level—working hand-in-glove with extralegal, armed vigilante forces that are given free rein to operate “outside the law” and to terrorize masses of oppressed people with impunity. The lynching of Black people by the KKK, without any fear of retribution, played an essential role in enforcing the oppressed position of Black people during the period of segregation.

And internationally, as we’ve spoken to above, the U.S. created and closely supervised the extralegal “death squads” that operated in these countries and carried out systematic terror through mass murder of whole village populations during the period of the revolutionary struggles in the 1980s. That the children and grandchildren of that “made in the USA” slaughter are now becoming targets in the sights of these armed American vigilantes is utterly intolerable.





Revolution #348 August 10, 2014

PRLF Calls on Prisoners to Write About the October Month of Resistance

August 4, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


The following letter, dated July 25, 2014, is from the Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund volunteers to Revolution newspaper subscribers in prisons across the country.


Dear Subscriber:

Hopefully, by now you've had an opportunity to read the Call for a month of resistance to mass incarceration, police terror, repression and the criminalization of a generation this October, which was printed in Revolution newspaper. Your voices, summed up experiences, and visions of a radically better and different future are a very important part of changing the political terrain in the U.S., to educating millions about the need to end mass incarceration.

Your letters have an enormous impact on all those who read them. Please write us about how you, your families and friends and others you know have been impacted by mass incarceration and what you think about this Month of Resistance to Stop Mass Incarceration. If possible, we'd like to hear your thoughts about how this month of resistance can impact all of society nationally, and even internationally, and open the eyes of millions of people to the need to end this new Jim Crow.

If you're an artist, please send us artwork that expresses how you think and feel about any part of mass incarceration. If you know others who are artists and who would like to contribute, please ask them to send their art work to PRLF. (Please include a written, signed statement authorizing Revolution newspaper, Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund, and the Stop Mass Incarceration Network to use your art for publicity around mass incarceration.)

Please ask your families and friends to do the same as the above. The voices of your families and friends need to be heard much more widely in society. Ask them to send letters and artwork to PRLF. If they are interested, ask them to get in touch with the Stop Mass Incarceration Network. And ask them to donate money to making October a very powerful month of resistance. Everyone can donate something, and many small amounts adds up to much more. After reading The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander, the daughter of one prisoner wrote a letter to PRLF describing what it meant to lose her father to mass incarceration. It was published in Revolution and was very well received.

We can't stress enough how much your letters mean to readers of Revolution everywhere. We're looking forward to hearing from you soon.

Best Regards, PRLF Volunteers


Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund is a sponsored project of Global Exchange, a 501c3 nonprofit international human rights organization.


Send letters and artwork to:

1321 N. Milwaukee Ave #407
Chicago, IL 60622




Revolution #348 August 10, 2014

Rendition, Torture, and the “Values” of the U.S. Empire

August 4, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


During a press conference on August 1, Barack Obama said that in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. “did a whole lot of things that were right, but we tortured some folks.” The torture that Obama referred to was part of the Central Intelligence Agency program to capture individuals who the U.S. claimed were involved in terrorism and sending them to secret prisons in various countries around the world for “enhanced interrogation.”

This program of kidnapping (known as “extraordinary rendition”) and torture began in the 1990s under the Democrat president Bill Clinton. It took a leap under George W. Bush, who moved to openly legalize torture against prisoners. All this was completely against international law—these actions were blatant, unconscionable war crimes. But no U.S. official has ever been charged, much less convicted, for these crimes. When he first came to office in 2009, Obama made clear that he was not going to investigate, much less prosecute, those who carried out torture in the previous administration—from Bush and Dick Cheney to CIA officials and operatives. At the recent press conference, Obama said that those who carried out the torture were “working hard under enormous pressure and are patriots.” And to this day, the U.S. government refuses to even reveal the locations of the secret CIA prisons—called “black sites” because they operated completely in the dark.

A week before Obama’s “we tortured some folks” remark, a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights officially confirmed the location of one of those secret CIA torture chambers—the Eastern European country of Poland. The court ruled that Poland violated the European Convention on Human Rights by allowing two men to be transported by the CIA to a secret prison at a military base where they were tortured.

One of the two men, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, a Saudi Arabian citizen, was captured in Dubai in 2002 and first taken to a secret CIA prison in Afghanistan known as the “Salt Pit.” Next he was taken to another black site in Thailand, where he was waterboarded—forced to the point of near drowning by the torturer. Then al-Nashiri was “rendered” to Poland.

According to the Open Society Justice Initiative, which represented al-Nashiri at the European human rights court, “In Poland, U.S. interrogators subjected al-Nashiri to mock executions with a power drill as he stood naked and hooded; racked a semi-automatic handgun close to his head as he sat shackled before them; held him in ‘standing stress positions’; and threatened to bring in his mother and sexually abuse her in front of him.”

The court said Poland also violated the human rights convention by allowing the CIA to transfer al-Nashiri and the other prisoner in the case, Abu Zubaydah, to the U.S. prison at Guantánamo despite the clear danger of a “flagrant denial of justice” and the threat of the death penalty.

These two are among the 136 known cases of people who were subjected to rendition, secret detention, and torture by the CIA in the Bush years—these are the victims that Obama casually referred to when he said, “We tortured some folks.” According to a report last year from the Open Society Justice Initiative, “There may be many more such individuals, but the total number will remain unknown until the United States and its partners make this information publicly available.” (Globalizing Torture: CIA Secret Detention and Extraordinary Rendition)

The report gives brief descriptions of what happened to each of those 136 known victims of CIA rendition and torture. One example is Binyam Mohamed, an Ethiopian citizen and resident of Britain who was rendered in 2002 to Morocco and then to Afghanistan: “In Morocco, his interrogators tortured him in various ways: they subjected him to regular beatings, causing multiple broken bones and occasionally until he lost consciousness; sliced his genitals; poured hot liquid onto his penis while cutting it; and threatened him with rape, electrocution, and death. He was also repeatedly drugged, subjected to incessant loud music day and night, and placed in a room with open sewage for a month at a time.”

The Open Society Justice Initiative report says that “as many as 54 foreign governments reportedly participated in these operations in various ways”—hosting the CIA prisons, helping in the torture, providing intelligence to the U.S., etc. These governments are all partners in crime. But the master criminals—those who led this whole operation—are the imperialist gangsters ruling the U.S.

In the August 1 press conference, Obama said about CIA torture, “We did some things that were contrary to our values.” We won’t, right here, go into the whole history of the U.S. that illustrates the predatory values behind this country—from its foundation on the slavery of people stolen from Africa and the genocide of Native Americans, to the outright theft of half of Mexican territory, wars of conquest and aggression around the world, and countless other crimes and atrocities.

But let’s look at the values and rationales behind the so-called “war on terror” that the U.S. launched after 9/11—which was in reality a war for greater empire. Under the doctrine of “preemptive war,” the U.S. gave itself the right to attack any country in the world or carry out assassinations and other military actions unilaterally anywhere in the world simply based on assertions that someone, some group, or some government might—in the future—do harm to U.S. interests. This has been carried out under the signboard of “protecting American lives”—but this war for empire is not about protecting the safety of the masses of people in the U.S., and certainly not about protecting the people of the world.

When Obama came to office, he announced some changes in how the U.S. operates, like officially renouncing torture and secret CIA prisons. But Obama did not end renditions, and there have been recent reports of secret U.S. prisons in Somalia and Afghanistan.

More fundamentally, Obama has continued—and even intensified in various dimensions—the brutal pursuit of U.S. imperialist interests with total disregard for international law and people’s lives. Under Obama, the U.S. has murdered hundreds of people from the sky with drones, prosecuted violent war across the globe, continued on the road heading toward planetary environmental catastrophe—while stepping up the spying on people and the whole police-state apparatus here in the belly of the imperialist beast.





Revolution #348 August 10, 2014

Flash Mob in Westlake, Ohio, to Support Palestinians

August 4, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


From a reader:

Thanks go out to the young Palestinian leaders who organized the “flash mob” at Crocker Park (an upscale shopping village in Westlake, a suburb of Cleveland) yesterday, July 25. Four hundred Palestinians, many wearing keffiyehs, Free Palestine T-shirts, or traditional garb, jammed the sidewalk and tree lawn along the motorcade that borders the mall. We non-Palestinians were made welcome with “thanks for supporting us in Palestine.” Motorists honked back at signs which called out “Honk to Free Gaza.” The Palestinian flag was everywhere. And the police presence was heavy with snipers on the rooftops.

The most remarkable thing: from the beginning the protest was led by young people. No one over 25 handled the microphone until toward the end of the protest. College-age Palestinians, young women and men, told us all “to be respectful to the police,” they led the chants, and carried out a “die-in” by sounding sirens. They were the primary speakers to the media! (They did give Don Bryant a moment of TV time—Channel 19—to explain Al-Awda, the Right of Return Coalition, which sponsored the event.)

Oh, the biggest contingent protesting may have been mothers with children, and babies in strollers. The die-in found young people striking poses on the sidewalks as imagined Israeli bombs rained down. There was certainly lots of anger, understandably, against Israel, but I heard no anti-Jewish words whatsoever.

I spoke repeatedly to small groups of young people, showing them two New York Times front- page photo spreads, one with a dead Palestinian boy on the beach, and a van full of crying children being driven away from Israeli bombs. I said we were starting to win the battle in the media against Israel’s hasbara [propaganda], that they must stay strong and keep speaking out against our corrupted political leaders in our badly flawed American democracy. That it is up to them to make sure that the 800 Palestinians who have died have not died in vain. (I once taught high school civics classes.)

[As Revolution/ goes to press, the Palestinian death toll stands at more than 1,600.]




Revolution #348 August 10, 2014

Interview with Honduran Immigrant:

"They send the children because they are more likely to survive the journey than they are to survive if they stay there."

August 4, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


Some Revolution readers interviewed an immigrant from Honduras about his own experience and the recent flood of people fleeing the country to come to the U.S.


Q. Where are you from?

A: I am from Honduras. From San Pedro Sula in Honduras.

Q. Why did you come here?

A: Well I lost my job. I was in a union and the company fired me because they wanted to get rid of the people in the union. I was not able to find work. I decided one day that to survive I would have to leave Honduras. My wife and children and go to the U.S.

Q. Did you have a plan? Did you have money saved up? Were others traveling with you?

A. No.

Q. Weren’t you afraid ?

A. Yes but I was more afraid of dying of hunger if I stayed. I had three children, two boys—one 9, one 12—and a 14-year-old daughter who all depended on me. 

Q: How long did it take you to get here ?

A: It took a month. I had to go through El Salvador, Guatemala, and Mexico. I hooked up with a guy in Guatemala. We crossed into Mexico at a place called Tapachula. It was the place where people from all over Central America who are going to the U.S. cross. 

Q. How did you travel once you got to Mexico?  

A. There you take a train. It is known as “La Bestia” (The Beast). I don’t mean you take a train like here I mean I rode on top on the roof. You tie yourself down so you don’t fall off, but even then some people fall off, maybe because they fall asleep or they didn’t tie themselves down very well. You hear of people losing an arm or a leg or even being cut in half by the train depending on how you fall. If you fall off and get hurt you are on your own because the train doesn’t stop if you fall off.

Q: What was it like crossing Mexico ?   

A: Since there was only two of us the Mexican migra didn’t pay attention to us. But others of those who were stopped were robbed, sometimes also beaten, and the women and even young girls raped. 

Q. How long were you in Mexico ?

A. I stayed in Mexico City a week. There I met many others from Honduras, all on the way to the U.S. There were also others there from El Salvador and Guatemala and Nicaragua.

Q. What do you think of all the children who have been crossing the border? 

A. I talk to my family on the phone. They tell me things there have gone from bad to worse. It was bad even before the U.S.-sponsored coup which took place in June 2009. In Honduras everything has gone up except the wages. You would see children on the streets with swollen bellies. They have swollen bellies not because they ate too much but because they are starving in most cases and they have parasites. 

Q. How do they survive ?

A. Many of them don’t. You know the U.S. company United Fruit has a lot of banana plantations in Honduras. People are allowed to eat the rotten bananas that have fallen to the ground. You have to eat them there. You can’t carry any out; you have to eat them there. 

Q. How do the workers get treated in places like United Fruit ?

A. Well they treat the workers with no respect just as they do with Honduras. The pay is very low and they make use of the country's roads and seaports to ship their products all over the world, mainly here to the U.S. In the past if anyone tried to raise their taxes they would force the government to resign.

Q, How do the workers survive?

A. People who have jobs often live in long rows of one room units. Sometimes two or three families live in one room. It has dirt floors, no bathroom, no running water. The people who live there all share a single water faucet. These people have a job. 

There is a saying where I grew up: “You take care of your job like you take care of your eyes.” People work for very low wages among other things. In the factory where I worked women, especially the young women, often had to have sex with the foreman in order to keep their jobs. This was before the coup and things are worse now.

Q. What do you think about the children coming from Central America ?

A. Some people say they can’t understand why they send the children on such a dangerous journey. They send the children because they are more likely to survive the journey than they are to survive if they stay there.





Revolution #348 August 10, 2014

Genocidal Realities

What the Water Shutoffs Mean to the People in Detroit

August 4, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


In speaking to the situation facing Black and Latino people in the U.S.—mass incarceration and the school-to-prison pipeline, the criminalization and demonization of a whole generation of youth, the overt or just-below-the-surface racism prevalent in society, etc.—Carl Dix of the Revolutionary Communist Party has said what is taking place is a slow genocide that could easily become a fast genocide. This regular feature highlights aspects of this slow genocide.

From Revolution newspaper distributors:

You probably have heard about the massive water shutoffs occurring in Detroit. We want to share just a little of what this means to the people of Detroit.

We talked with a friend who lives in the North End—an area that the authorities have announced in their “Detroit Future plan” they intend to “develop.” We will call our friend René. Her experience is far from exceptional—estimates are that more than 150,000 families, or 40 percent of Detroit’s 269,000 households, about 83 percent of whom are African-American—will lose their water.

Very early one morning, René heard noise in front of her house. She looked out her bedroom window and saw her water was about to be turned off. She rushed out of the house in her bare feet and stood over the shutoff valve and refused to move. She defiantly announced that they were not shutting off her water. They could call the police, arrest her, but she wasn’t moving. She had five children in the house and they couldn’t live without water. Her act of defiance earned her a reprieve. The water wasn’t shut off that day. But the truck moved on to the next house, and the house across the street, and the one next to that. René followed the truck down the street, pleading with them not to shut off her neighbors’ water and calling for the workers to defy their orders. But to no avail. Within 45 minutes, 70 percent of the occupied houses in a four-block stretch had their water shut off.

René admits she was behind on her water bill but that she and her husband have slowly been paying down the balance. But money is tight. Her husband was laid off from the auto plants several years ago. Since then he’s been in and out of work and now is working odd jobs. But that’s not true for all of her neighbors. The city claims that they are only shutting off water of people who were two months behind on their bill or owed $150 or more. But René spoke of several of her neighbors who owed $120 and weren’t two months behind. She also knew of people who had their water shut off who were current on their bills. One of these people is Ms. Jones. She is an 85-year-old retired schoolteacher who lives by herself in a house she has owned for decades. Ten days after her water was shut off, she still has no water. Ms. Jones is acutely embarrassed by her current situation. She cannot flush her toilet and the stench in her house is overwhelming. She has taken to wearing diapers because she can no longer use the toilet. Her health is deteriorating from the stress of living without water. She is overwhelmed by the bureaucracy involved in getting her water turned on and is afraid to make a fuss because she is afraid social services will use this as an excuse to remove her from her home and place her in a nursing home, something that terrifies her.

René spoke to her neighbors after their water was shut off. With tears in her eyes she described how people felt alone and isolated. She spoke of the despair people felt after waking up and discovering they were without water. Most people can’t afford to pay their back bills and have their water turned back on. Reconnection fees cost hundreds of dollars. Over the past 10 years, with income plummeting and unemployment skyrocketing, water bills have increased by 119 percent. René described people blaming themselves for being irresponsible because they had “mishandled” their finances; if only they’d been able to give up smoking or had spent less on groceries, or decided not to get their car repaired, they could have paid their water bill.

René told us of the horrible conditions her neighbors are living with. Without water, people are living in unsanitary conditions. They cannot flush their toilets, bathe, or clean their houses. Other than water, she said the biggest need of people is hand sanitizer, bleach, and baby wipes. She pointed out that without water people can’t cook or wash their dishes. People are living off sandwiches and fast food and are beginning to get sick.

René told us of one man who lives in another part of town, the Brightmoor area of Detroit. Even before the city announced the massive water shutoffs, people in this neighborhood had their water shut off. Like René’s neighborhood, in one fell swoop early in the morning almost the entire Brightmoor area was without water. Six weeks after people there lost their water, the man is the only person left on his street. All of his neighbors have moved away, abandoning their houses because they can’t afford to get their water turned back on and they can’t live without water.

René has established her house as a water distribution center. Volunteers from other parts of the city and from the suburbs drop off large containers of water and she and her children distribute it to her neighbors.

Detroit is essentially surrounded by the Great Lakes Basin, which holds one-fifth of the world’s fresh water supply. But once that water is cleaned, oxygenated, and purified, it becomes a commodity that is available only to those who can pay for it. As Bob Avakian has said:

One example that I’ve cited the question of the “right to eat.” Or why, in reality, under this system, there is not a “right to eat.” Now, people can proclaim the “right to eat,” but there is no such right with the workings of this system. You cannot actually implement that as a right, given the dynamics of capitalism and the way in which, as we’ve seen illustrated very dramatically of late, it creates unemployment. It creates and maintains massive impoverishment. (To a certain extent, even while there is significant poverty in the imperialist countries, that is to some degree offset and masked by the extent of parasitism there; imperialism “feeds off” the extreme exploitation of people in the Third World in particular, and some of the “spoils” from this “filter down” in significant ways to the middle strata especially. But, if you look at the world as a whole, capitalism creates and maintains tremendous impoverishment.)

Many, many people cannot find enough to eat and cannot eat in a way that enables them to be healthy—and in general they cannot maintain conditions that enable them to be healthy. So even right down to something as basic as “the right to eat”—people don’t have that right under capitalism. If you were to declare it as a right, and people were to act on this and simply started going to where the food is sold as commodities and declaring “we have a more fundamental right than your right to distribute things as commodities and to accumulate capital—we have a right to eat”—and if they started taking the food, well then we know what would happen, and what has happened whenever people do this: “looters, shoot them down in the street.”

BAsics 1:20





Revolution #348 August 10, 2014

Interview with Anthropologist Alan H. Goodman:

Refuting the False Claim That Differences Among Races Are Genetic and the Driving Forces of Human History

August 4, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


Revolution Interview
A special feature of Revolution to acquaint our readers with the views of significant figures in art, theater, music and literature, science, sports and politics. The views expressed by those we interview are, of course, their own; and they are not responsible for the views published elsewhere in our paper.


Editors’ note: Nicholas Wade, a former science writer for the New York Times, has written a book, entitled: A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race, and Human History. Behind what our interviewee calls “a veneer of genetics,” the book recycles pseudoscientific (supposedly scientific, but actually non scientific) justifications for the savage inequalities in U.S. society and the world by claiming they are inherent in supposed genetic differences among “races.” Alan H. Goodman (no relation to the correspondent for newspaper) is Professor of Biological Anthropology at Hampshire College and the former president of the American Anthropological Association (AAA). He co-directs the AAA’s public education project on race ( and has written widely on race, human variation and racism, including Race: Are We So Different? Here he discusses A Troublesome Inheritance with Revolution:


Q: What, essentially, is the claim made in A Troublesome Inheritance.... and how does it stand up to what is scientifically understood to be true about evolution and the concept of biological races?

A: Nicholas Wade makes two central claims, both of which are categorically false. First, it is taken as obvious that humans are divisible into biological races. Second, Wade tries to build a case that differences among races are genetic and deep and the driving forces of human history, leading to, among other things, wealth in the West and poverty elsewhere. If race is real and wealth differences are due to race-genetic differences, then that is just the way nature (or evolution) made it!

Unfortunately, even though Wade completely misunderstands the science of human variation, his tiresome and profoundly unscientific argument is being taken as fact by a wide audience and has ominous political and social implications. His book gains readership and acceptance precisely because it increases racial smog, a phrase used by Beverly Tatum to describe the way that unscientific racial ideology pervades our society.

Q: Can you break down what you mean by that? What is wrong with Wade’s view of human variation—the differences among humans and how they related to classifying people into races?

A: First, humans do not apportion genetically into races or subspecies. Race might seem obvious because both our cultural eye is programed to detect and characterize differences and we often see big differences in outward appearance, for example in the skin color of someone from equatorial Africa and someone from Scandinavia. However, our genetic variation is continuous. Moreover, there is more genetic difference within a race than among races. The average genetic difference between individuals from the same continent is basically the same as the average genetic difference between individuals from different continents.

Races are not evolutionary units; they can’t be defined in a useful and replicable manner, and there is so much variation within any human group that it makes the differences among groups rather inconsequential.

However, Wade sees variation and calls it race. That is wrong. Variation is real, but it is not race. Race is an idea used to explain variation and that use is wrong. Race is real socially and as what I call “lived experience” because we invented it. However, evolution and history, and not race, explains biological variation.

Second, because there are no human races (rather a complex world wide pattern of variation) racial differences obviously can’t explain wealth differences. But it is more than that, or said differently, there is more than a single error. It is a huge leap to say that that any simple variation is the cause of a complex attribute like the ability to drum or to swim the butterfly or even more so, emotions and political patterns. These complex phenomena are the result of hundreds of genes working in different environments in complex ways.

Q: The political implications of arguments that behaviors like criminality are based on genetics, as opposed socioeconomic conditions (broadly speaking), seem to have very ominous implications. History teaches us that such assertions have led to terrible events, including slavery and genocide.

A: There is no scientific argument in Wade’s book for linking race to genetics to complex traits. Wade can’t identify anything like a form of a gene (an allele), differences in frequency of that allele or anything else that could with any plausibility explain histories of, say, domestication, forms of governance, and affiliative behavior. He admits that his race-gene explanations are speculative, but they are not even on the map of plausible.

Wade’s house of cards falls down because of two scientific errors. First, thinking races are real and second, thinking genetic differences among races are behind differences in wealth and the like. Wrong and wrong.

Q: Despite being based in those scientific errors, as you put it, the book has seems to have been greeted quite favorably in mainstream media. Fareed Zakaria on his popular Sunday morning show on CNN, deemed this an important book. The Wall Street Journal, in promoting the book, dug up the infamous Charles Murray, who co-wrote the fully discredited book The Bell Curve about how Black people and other oppressed nationalities are genetically inferior in intelligence. How do you respond to this acclaim on the level of the science involved?

A: The reviews, the plentiful on-line discussion of the book, sales and attention exposes cultural beliefs. The right and extreme right loves it. This includes virulent anti-immigration websites like VDARE and white supremacist groups. David Duke ran a radio show on Wade’s book. Their only complaint is that Wade is stating the obvious: that god or evolution color coded races from dark to white with whites getting the better of most everything.

Scientifically, this argument—and the book—is a sham. It is an embarrassment to the New York Times. Wade had for years been skewing his reporting in a way that accepted all genetic claims (to explain human behavior and phenomena like social inequality), and left out anything like capitalist exploitation that was not natural or pre-ordained. Similarly, he championed papers that suggested anything that supported assertions of racial differences. His book, however, free of reportage, shows his racism behind a veneer of genetics. Wade asserts that race is real and relies on a couple of scientific papers to buttress his assertion. But even here, he misinterprets these papers.

When he gets into the historical and political implications of so-called race differences his book goes even more into fantasy land. The basic argument is that we have found a tiny average difference in an allele (or have not but might) and who knows, there might be other tiny differences, and who knows, these might be important. And over here, we see some differences in something like crime or wealth or whatever and maybe that tiny genetic difference explains the thing we saw. Oh, and we’re not considering colonialism or slavery, oh, let’s not.

I have to say, this is not really a book about science. Wade’s book shows how little he understands about the sciences he has been writing about and the scientific process. Wade says that science should be free of politics. (I say that this is impossible. Science is in the service of humanity. And that is politics.) Paradoxically, Wade’s psycho-pseudo-science is all about politics: defending racial hierarchies in wealth and hanging on to the status quo.

Q: You’ve just pointed to some profound social and political implications of this book and the way it is being promoted in these times of extreme inequality in this country, and around the world, and the historical and social, economic and political factors behind those things—like colonialism and slavery as you point out. And how Wade’s book serves to—as you put it “defend racial hierarchies in wealth and hanging on to the status quo.” And again, this is without scientific evidence. Yet, the book will have or already is having a very bad impact, right?

A: Although critiques of the book have been many and strong from those who work in the fields of genetic, history and human variation, I am afraid that the book (and the arguments it reverberates and reinforces) will still do tremendous harm. Heuristically, one might consider two audiences. The first audience, “true believers,” are convinced of the naturalness of racial hierarchies. White Supremacists, for example take the book as support for their position. They will continue to use it to legitimize their racism.

I am, however, even more concerned about another group: those without well formed beliefs, such as young individuals and others who have not yet formed an intractable position. I am extremely disturbed by the possibility that individuals without access to counter arguments will read Wade’s book and think that it all makes sense. That would be a terrible thing.

A friend just told me that he met a high school teacher is a highly educated community (Amherst, Massachusetts) and that this teacher and his partner were reading the book a second time. They wanted to make sure they got it all. But this teacher should be using his critical thinking skills and knowledge, rather than accepting what he reads as true. If he falls prey, what can we expect from those less educated? That is disturbing.

On the other hand, I have faith in the open minds of younger individuals. It can seem counterintuitive to say that race is not real genetically because we seem so able to divide individuals into races based on their appearance. But if one thinks about the actual data and processes that lead to variation, then it is like seeing that the world is round for the first time. It is an “ah ha” moment. And youngsters seem most able to get there because they have fewer preconceived biases.

Q: You’ve been talking about what race is not. That humans are all one species not genetically divided into distinct biological groups, as Wade claims, that coincide with what people see as race. Does race have a scientific meaning when talking about human beings?

A: The best Wade can do is say that races are obvious and that the actual classification doesn’t matter. Well, obvious is not a criteria for truth. And if classification and race grouping are not clear then one can’t use them scientifically.

In science, race has been used in two ways. First, race has been used to identify individuals, especially in the field of forensics. Second, race has been used as a causal variable, for example as a risk factor for disease in medicine. Let’s take a quick look at the problems with both uses—where, to borrow a phrase, the rubber hits the road.

Forensic scientists are asked to check a “race box” if they find a body. They think they are good at checking the right box. But my research suggests that they are not. A formula that works in one place where it is developed works less well the further one moves away in time and place, to the point where it might be no better than a coin flip. The reason why is simple: race is socially defined and biology and the social definitions change from place to place. Color lines change. So who is white in Boston in 1914 is different in 2014 and different even more in Boise in 2014.

The same instability of race invades medicine. So, for example, a study in the 1950s suggests that bone loss varies by race based on individuals who were born decades earlier. That study freezes in time the notion that there are race differences in the risk of bone fractures. But it is never repeated so we never know if it is still true. Moreover, we do not know if the original difference was because of genetics or the embodied experience (stress, poor nutrition, etc.) of living in a racialized and racist society.

I used to say that race isn’t biological. But that is not true because there are profound racial differences in health. Racism gets under the skin. Racism is biological.

Q: You are saying, racism has a profound affect on the lives of humans, including on their biology (like their health and even lives), right? But there is no biological foundation for breaking humans into races.

A: Humans do not have races or subspecies. It isn’t even close. What is clear is that the amount of variation within any so-called race is so great that it simply renders unimportant the small average differences one could find among races.

Q: In an article you wrote, you said Wade doesn’t know the difference between a theory and a fact, and that he doesn’t understand the scientific process. Would you elaborate on how you see that difference, and why it is important?

A: Yes, this is important. Wade mistakes the facts that humans vary (based on data, observation) with a theory (we are divided into races) used to explain variation. Race is not a fact, rather it is a discredited theory used to explain variation. Wade can’t comprehend the difference: human variation (facts) are real but race (theory) is not. Race as an explanatory theory is a tautology—there is no process to go from theory to fact. It is a thing trying to explain itself. As I said above, evolution and history are processes. Those processes explain the facts of variation (and they have nothing to do with race).

Q: If I understand you correctly, you’re saying methodologically Wade blurs the distinction between identifying a pattern, or a perceived pattern, on the one hand, and the necessary rigorous scientific process of analysis and testing that must take place before that pattern or perceived pattern is identified as a broader explanation (a theory)? In this case, saying essentially: Well, some “races” are poorer than others, higher official crime rates, and different “races” have visible differences, thus there is an element of inherent biological factors behind that inequality? And you are arguing that a) even if there were significant defining biological differences within the species of human beings that had a relationship to race, you would have to know much more, and have a much larger context to understand how that related to things like poverty or crime; and b) there are no such biological factors. Am I understanding you correctly?

A: Human variation is explained by evolution and history. Those are grand processes, and processes that have nothing to do with race.

Q: You have written: “I have a long political and scientific interest in how race became reified (made real) and is still frequently used as if it was a ‘natural’ reality, rather than a politically useful cultural meme.” Why is that important—both in terms of the political and social implications, but also in epistemological terms—how we humans understand how we got here, so to speak, and why the world is the way it is (and how it might be changed)?

A: Explanations are powerful. We are meaning making beings. And one of the biggest myths we have told ourselves is that race differences in health, wealth and access to resources are natural and inevitable. This myth is powerful because it lets white and powerful individuals off the hook. But the deplorable differences in wealth and health are not divine will or natural. They are not in the genes. They are the result of history, racial ideologies and racist institutions.

Q: And if this inequality is not natural or inevitable, there is a moral imperative to change?

A: If we see race differences in wealth and health as due to social institutions, rather than nature, then we, as justice, kind and sentient beings, have an obligation to right that wrong.

Q: Thank you for making time in your busy schedule to discuss these important questions for our readers.

A: My pleasure! Thank you too for the opportunity to engage with you and your readers.





Revolution #348 August 10, 2014

Interview with Texas Abortion Provider on the Abortion Rights Emergency

"The time machine has been turned back about 40 years"

August 4, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


Revolution Interview
A special feature of Revolution to acquaint our readers with the views of significant figures in art, theater, music and literature, science, sports and politics. The views expressed by those we interview are, of course, their own; and they are not responsible for the views published elsewhere in our paper.


In 2011, Texas had 46 clinics; by September 1 this year, there are likely to be only six left. Nationwide, hundreds of laws restricting abortion have been passed in recent years. Six states have only one abortion clinic left. As the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride 2014: Ground Zero Texas entered Houston in the midst of the nationwide abortion rights emergency, Sunsara Taylor conducted the following interview for with an abortion provider in Texas.


Sunsara Taylor: Thanks for taking the time, in the midst of such a crisis, to talk. Before we get into the emergency developing today here in Texas, let me ask you: Why do you do abortions?

MD: What initiated my concern about abortion was I've seen deaths from illegal abortion and attempts at self-induced abortion and that is enough to make anyone think more about the situation, particularly safety. Also if you have loved ones, wives and daughters, I feel it is very important that every woman should have access to safe abortion services, and I felt I needed to help provide this needed service. In my opinion Roe v. Wade (the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion) was the best ruling that has ever happened in the world for women's reproductive rights but at this time of certain political ambitions, women are facing the possibility of losing these rights. I very strongly feel that women have to overcome the apathy that exists amongst the majority. They themselves have to regroup and unite NOW and realize there are concerted efforts at this time to deny women of this fundamental reproductive right that they have had for the past 40 years. It is happening, it is reality, and women need to realize that something they have taken for granted for many years could be history.

ST: When you say that you've seen the deaths in the past, a lot of young people don't know what you are referring to. Could you paint a bit more of a picture of what it was like before Roe?

MD: It was a horrible scenario. Women would try to abort themselves. Everybody thinks the cliché of coat hangers is just some made-up term. It's not, it's reality. Women would do anything possible to themselves if they thought it would cause them to abort. Women would beat themselves in the stomach. I had a patient who attempted to inject turpentine into her abdomen, thinking it would reach her uterus. The end result: sepsis and a sloughing of her abdomen wall. These patients experienced either uterine perforation, hemorrhage, acute infection or a combination of these complications. There are many people today that are not aware of what women endured during this time, nor the morbid consequences. It is a fact that any country that has illegalized abortion, the morbidity and mortality rate definitely increases. I hope that women never again will be faced with that dilemma.

ST: Can you tell us about some of the women you see in your offices, who they are, what their lives are like? I know that one in three women get an abortion but most keep it secret. Could you tell us about them?

MD: By the time of 45 years of age approximately 35% of women will have had an abortion, and this doesn't spare any particular religious sect. It is inclusive of all religion. You see a potpourri of women. The youngest patient I ever saw was 9 years old, the oldest 53. I have seen everything from incest to rape, whatever the situation may be. There are no races, ethnicities, socio-economic class, or religions excluded from the women seeking abortion services. I don't believe that abortion should be used as contraception but women have abortions the majority of the time because it is a personal issue. It is circumstances that many in the general public do not understand or have not been confronted with. Someone who has never been in that particular situation cannot be passing judgment on someone else because they don't know what is going on in their life.

We have patients that are seen that are 11, 12, 13, 14 years of age, that is not unusual. We are talking about 12, 13, 14 years of age. These patients are usually clueless about what is going on with their body. Sometimes there is denial. You have mothers being seen with their young daughters (sometimes the father accompanies their daughter) that don't know what to do. They are apologetic. Sometimes it is very obvious that the patient is pregnant when preparing her for an ultrasound. The mother states, "I just found out yesterday." They have stated before, "She always wears loose fitting clothing. I never noticed."

It goes back to the education of our society. Many religious faiths do not want to discuss or mention sex education or the bad word, sex. If we can start educating younger, we aren't trying to tell these young girls to have sexually active lives; but when you know what to expect, what the consequences might be, you may rethink and avoid an unplanned pregnancy. Many of the patients already have children, sometimes three before turning 20 years old. Many of them are single mothers or they live with somebody. There are definitely a smaller number of patients that are married, but in this subgroup, there are more circumstances relating to fetal abnormalities. Again the need for abortion access is not exclusive.

Sometimes patients come in apologetic, like "I'm sorry I waited so long," or "I'm sorry I really don't know what to do, I'm in a predicament," or "I lost my job." I had a patient one time who was in the middle of her second trimester, she came in and said, "I am so sorry, I don't know what to tell you," and I said, "Well ma'am, what has happened?" She said, "I had this guy and he was going to marry me, we were going to get engaged and so forth, and all of a sudden we found out I was pregnant and this morning I woke up and he had packed up his belongings and he left." The sad thing in these situations... what people don't understand is that women don't have the convenience of packing their bags and leaving. This is a very simple thing for men to do.

So, this isn't always something they want to do. But they have the ability to think rationally and to make a personal decision for themselves and for the present family that they have and for their future. A lot of women may think that women enjoy coming in, but those people don't have a clue. We've seen a lot of people come in with genetic disorders and fetal abnormalities. We've seen women who have gone through many in vitro fertilizations and the result has been something devastating because the fetus has abnormalities. But then they have anti-abortion protesters yelling and screaming at them on their way in, telling them you're a killer, you're this, you're that. They have no clue as far as what's going on in these people's lives.

A patient comes in and says, "I don't know what to do, I don't really have any choice, I already have two at home, I have a hard time putting clothes on them, being able to feed them." What people need to understand is this has to be a situation of quality not quantity. Not having more [children] but having the ability to have a family that you can take care of, love, care for, these are the things that are very, very important. To the general public they have on their mind one thing: you're a killer, you're a whatever, that is all they can relate to. They have to understand that they are very demeaning to women. This is really anti-woman bullying, this is sexist.

ST: Why do you say that?

MD: Because they are out here literally trying to belittle women and prevent them from being able to make decisions on their own and saying that they were created to be nothing more than a reproductive vessel. There is an old saying, maybe you've heard it before, "Women should be barefoot and pregnant." I think what is happening, we talk about the glass ceiling for women when it comes to business and jobs and pay, well we are hitting a big glass ceiling here, women are not equal, women are not being allowed to make a personal decisions on their own. My belief as far as the genders, women are the strongest. Maybe not to the weight room to see how much weight they can lift, I'm talking about the family unit, holding the family together. Like I said it is too easy sometimes to leave. You have women come in who basically say I don't know what to do. I've got this relationship and the guy says I am going to marry you but we're having problems, we're fighting. So they have difficult decisions to make; one of the most difficult of their lives. They have major decisions to make and they need help but also they need the freedom of choice.

ST: You know one thing that is coming alive as you speak is that there is a war on women's abortion rights, there are all these restrictions that have been passed, all this harassment, and I want to come back to that in a few minutes, but this is also not happening in a vacuum. It is happening in a society where women are systematically oppressed, brutalized, discriminated against. All this degradation of women is part of a fabric of society and it is coming through as you're speaking how abortion intersects with and is all the more important because of all of that.

MD: Yes, it is all-inclusive. Women have to realize that they are equal and they are going to have to understand that they are going to have to take things in their own hands and be proactive. I am talking about non-violence for sure. But it goes back again to rallying the women because whether they realize it or not, their reproductive rights are definitely being taken away from them. We live in a society where people are apathetic; they see it one day and it's going to be there for many more years. Not necessarily. Alert. Wake-up call. Women's reproductive rights 2014 a thing of the past. What happened?

ST: Can you describe what kind of restrictions there are in Texas today? What are the hurdles women have to jump through to get an abortion and what is looming?

MD: The hurdles of Texas are multiple and there have been a number of changes in the last several years. In Texas we have a large number of restrictions and many more every year. In Texas the process has changed from a woman being able to make an appointment and that same day have blood work, counseling, pre- and post-op instructions and then have the actual abortion procedure that same day to scheduling initially for an ultrasound only, extensive disclosures about the procedure, special requirements for the person performing the ultrasound, discussion with the physician to inform the patient of specific information required by the Texas law and then, if the patient wants to have an abortion procedure it must be performed on a return visit that is more than 24 hours after her ultrasound was performed.

ST: You mean face to face, in person?

MD: Yes. In 2004 for patients that were more than 15 weeks gestation in their pregnancy, their procedure had to be started and completed in a hospital or a licensed ambulatory surgery center. Now we have a new bill, HB2, which was legislated last year, which has also affected how the abortion bill is administered. The general consensus from many physicians who have done this for many years is that the new guidelines are not working near as well and are very patient-burdensome with more visits and more ultrasounds and less success. Therefore, availability of the abortion pill in Texas is minimal, and most patients cannot justify all the additional required visits. Again, more restrictions to abortion access.

As a footnote to that, what is happening as a result of all these new laws is that women, like men when they are employed, have a job, they need to make a living to support themselves and their children. As a consequence of the new legislation their access is impeded again by these restrictions because employees are not allowing the patient to be excused for half a day or sometimes a full day to have a doctor's appointment without the risk of losing their job.

Therefore, there is a problem for patients being able to comply with the restrictions. Many times it is almost impossible to coordinate patients' appointments with their work schedule. They require about any and every possible scheduling option, even appointments, weekend appointments. There are numerous roadblocks in the path of women in Texas trying to have abortion access.

ST: And on HB2 there are also restrictions on the providers that go beyond what you describe.

MD: HB2 also has a section of law that was overturned by a district court judge, but then the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned that as far as physicians having admitting privileges within 30 miles of wherever the procedure is being done. That is like telling every doctor out there you have to have admitting privileges or you cannot practice medicine. Have you been to an oral surgeon? Have you had wisdom teeth removed? They give you anesthetic; you may have an issue, you may have an anesthetic complication as far as breathing or whatever else, and you possibly may need to be admitted to the hospital. Do they have admitting privileges? No. Possibly they may have some kind of medical backup as far as a hospital, but they themselves personally do not have admitting privileges.

Also, you have patients that travel 40, 50, 80, 90 miles. The law also requires the provider to give each patient a list specifically of the hospital closest to them so if they have a problem they can go to the emergency room closest to them and the ER Department phone numbers. So that is a little bit hypocritical. If you're going to tell the physician they have to have admitting privileges but most of these patients are going to go to the hospital which is closest to them anyhow. They are not going to travel an hour and a half to get to the hospital where their physician has privileges if there is a closer hospital to them. And if you have an emergency at a facility, an ambulance is called to transport a patient to the nearest hospital emergency room. If the physician has privileges 30 miles away and you are in a metropolitan area, that may mean an hour, maybe more, in traffic. If another hospital is five to seven minutes away, they are going to take the patient there. It is their policy and procedure. So I am trying to understand this conflict as far as requirements.

After that we have a situation where by September 1 of this year facilities are required to be "equivalent to" an ambulatory surgery center to be able to provide abortion services. So there are going to be a number of facilities that will not be able to retrofit their facilities to be able to do that.

ST: Can you just briefly describe what are the requirements of an ambulatory surgery center that are different than most of these clinics? My understanding is that all but six clinics that are left in Texas will close because of this.

MD: These requirements are numerous. You have to have certain widths as far as hallways, certain heights of doors, certain requirements as far as your air conditioning. Your surgical suites have to have their own independent air conditioning unit. You have to have special plumbing, special electrical, you have to have generators. You have to actually have medical gases pumped in, not a portable oxygen stand. You have to understand that most clinics are like a regular doctor's office, seven by nine exam rooms. But starting September 1, the operatory room has to be a minimum of 240 square feet. That is quite a substantial difference. Clinics have been converted from maybe a residence located in commercial offices.

ST: It's very clear that the motivation behind the restrictions, they say that it is for the safety of women but in fact it is actually motivated by the desire to take away women's rights.

MD: That's very obvious. They are saying it is the safety of women but actually their goal is to drop abortion services in Texas. So they will find that anything and everything they can possibly do to try to achieve this goal with unsubstantiated legislation.

ST: What do you think it says about the society we live in that this right of women to decide something as fundamental as whether she is having a child or is forced to have a child against her will, that that right is being taken away from her?

MD: I don't believe in one-liners but it is very simple. The time machine has been turned back about 40 years. We are taking a U-turn and we are going south. And we have to do what we can do to divert that southward bound traffic back the other way. It is going to take grassroots, we've heard that term, but it is going to take numbers. Women have to be on the same page to believe in the cause for their reproductive rights. You're going to have some women that don't believe in choice. But, let's face it, probably 70 plus percent of the people that are against women's reproductive rights are men. They're not women, they're men. As far as the legislation, we have politicians now practicing medicine. I don't know, I thought you had to go to medical school, and thought you had to have a license to practice, but they're basically practicing medicine is what they're doing. They do not use scientific fact. Medicine and providing health care is not based on superstition! But, when it comes to all these restrictions, there remain no facts to prove what these alleged "problems" are that need all these restrictions when it comes to women's reproductive rights.

ST: The level of harassment you indicated in terms of what women have to go through, and actually this is around the country, what impact does that have?

MD: It makes a very large impact on women. The point is, is that this is a democratic society, if you want to go ahead and protest, ok, that's your right. But, it's not your right to demean, belittle, accuse, shame, a woman when you don't know what her situation is. All these horns, and all these megaphones, and all this screamin' and hollerin' and cursing... There's no grounds, there's no excuse for that. That's not acceptable. Not acceptable. Basically, it's just humiliation, and I don't see any reason why. What have these women done to them? What have they done to them to cause this type of treatment? They've done nothing. This is a free country, supposedly, they should be able to have the freedom to do what they want, it's a legal act, and it should definitely stay that way.

ST: Earlier you described what an enormous difference Roe v. Wade made in women's lives and for the whole way that women are in society. And it wasn't just the law, there was upsurge, there was a liberation struggle, there was a whole atmosphere where, not only did the law change, the people changed in the course of fighting and winning the change in that law. So, on the eve of the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride 2014 coming down here to Texas with the aim of making a real leap in the kind of resistance that can turn this whole assault around—not just stop this or that measure, but the kind of transformation with people in a mass way through rising up and defeating this war on women—what difference do you think that succeeding in this would make on women's lives, on society, on doctors who do this service? And what would be your message to people considering whether they should step out and be part of this struggle?

MD: The message is if you don't do it, you are not going to have reproductive rights. Everyone likes to be on the winning team. We always want to be able to celebrate. We like big crowds so we don't have to stand out. That's just human nature. One of the things that's going to be very, very important in this process is if you can finally rally women to quit being apathetic, realize what's really going on. If you were to survey my patients, probably over 90% are clueless about what has been going on as far as reproductive rights, particularly here at home in the state of Texas. They come and say, "Why can't you do the procedure today? We used to be able to come in and do it the same day." "Well ma'am, do you realize, have you been up to date about what is going on with the law?" "I don't know."

So, that's the first step: you have to educate, then advocate. Education is the bedrock for the whole process. That's the common denominator for all the principles that assimilate in this cause. In order to get women to come out and start being able to feel like they can do that, you have to get a cause going and they have to associate with the cause. They have to be unified, determined, and believe in the cause, their reproductive freedom.

The other barrier is the stigma of the word "abortion." If you say the word abortion, that is evil. It's terrible. Like I alluded to before the interview, abortion is in the medical literature, it's in the medical terminology, it's in the medical dictionary. It's all over the place. It's a common way that doctors and medical people communicate. The word is abortion. No matter if it's incomplete, habitual, spontaneous, whatever. That's the nomenclature that we deal with as far as in the world of women and their health care too.

You need to also realize, you have to go back to sex education. It goes back to these young teenagers. They need to know simply what it's all about, what's in the future for them. Mothers need to be educating their daughters about the history of women's reproductive rights...there was this movement and there was victory—Roe v Wade. But then we became very apathetic because, hey, it's there, it's not going to go away.

Well, I don't think it works that way. A lot of things in life you have to perpetuate. If you don't practice this, after a while, it may not be there, right? Be more of what is happening in this country, usually politically, that may have an effect on you and your family. Now it is a woman's reproductive right. You've heard a lot of times politicians say, "We have to look out for our children and grandchildren." That's correct. Women have to look out for their daughters and granddaughters.

ST: And men too.

MD: Yes, and men also. I agree wholeheartedly. And there are men who are for women's rights. There are men who aren't "male chauvinists." I think it needs to be across the board. We've seen men stand up for the women they're with when they get harassed by these protesters. It's almost got to the point of confrontations. But that's what has to be done. You have to stand your ground. I don't mean violence. Non-violent. But the point is there has to be that understanding because the ideology as far as the two sides is always going to be there. There's not going to be debate because there's not going to be any "common ground."

And particularly with the political landscape we have right now, politicians are using this to score points and to get votes. They will do whatever it takes to get people out to vote. And that's a large part of the effort right now—voting. They're going to go out there and bring people to vote while the other side has to realize they can't be apathetic. Can't say, "My vote doesn't make any difference." And don't do anything about it.

So it has to be literally a surge, full-scale surge, to get women to realize what is happening, what this means. This precious privilege that you fought for in the years before may not be there much longer. Years and years ago, you had to go to the east coast or the west coast [to get an abortion]. Well, if it keeps going like it is now, we're going to go back in history and you'll have to go to the east coast or the west coast to be able to access services. We're going back. So if and when women and men realize what the situation is, look at the big picture, become informed, hopefully they will realize what's happening. And hopefully they will join the cause.

This is a very important and critical time for women, 2014, and I can't believe we're seeing this. Technology has advanced. Everyone can do everything with their little hand-held device, but the fact is, conversely, that a woman's reproductive freedom is deteriorating expeditiously.

One other thing to mention which is usually forgotten in the discussion but actually is the most important component of the abortion access movement is we have to find some way, futuristically, to be able to train physicians to provide these services because there are few young physicians awaiting to continue the access to abortion services. There are very few or any hospital training programs available to obtain the training. Also many of the younger physicians, themselves, don't want to provide these services, the fear factor. If you are in this world as a woman's specialist, abortion is part of your specialty. Now it's your personal choice if you choose to perform abortions or not to perform them but uncompromised abortion access needs to continue to be available to women and provided safely with sound medical regulation (oversight), not by unsubstantiated, biased, politically motivated legislation to eventually stop all access to abortion.

ST: Thank you for taking the time to talk. A lot of people are going to learn a lot from this and it's going to make a difference, so I appreciate you taking the time.

MD: You're very welcome. I hope it does something positive.





Revolution #348 August 10, 2014

On the First Anniversary of Disaster at Lac-Mégantic, Canada

August 4, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


From a Reader:

One year ago, on July 6, 2013, a train derailed in the small town of Lac-Mégantic in Quebec, Canada. The 73-car train exploded in the center of town, creating an inferno of fire and smoke, and hazardous chemicals that devastated the town, killing 47 people and destroying over 40 buildings. This was briefly reported as a horrible accident in the media, but quickly the story disappeared from the U.S. news.

At Revolution Books in Chicago, a student of fire and safety presented a slide show about this disaster, and what she brought out demonstrated that this “accident” was brought on by the workings of capitalism in the all-out search for profit by expanding the extraction of oil and gas. The substance being carried on the train cars that exploded in Lac-Mégantic was a special type of crude oil, called “Bakken” after the shale deposit in North Dakota where it is extracted by the process called “fracking.” Bakken oil is much more volatile than even regular crude oil, with an ignition temperature of just 68 degrees F, meaning that once ignited, it can sustain and generate explosions at that temperature, making it highly volatile. It also burns hotter than regular crude oil, being loaded with highly flammable hydrogen sulfide and other chemicals used in fracking.

Fracking, an environmental nightmare, involves drilling into the shale and pumping a mix of water, sand, and chemicals (including methane and propane) that spreads for miles underground, forcing the gas and oil up a well through fissures in the rock, where it is collected, put into trains, and sent off through cities and small towns, through farmlands, forests and wild lands, to refineries thousands of miles away. The use of rail transport by the oil industry has increased dramatically in the last five years, with McNish & Robertson (2014) citing an increase from just 8,000 cars in 2009 to 400,000 in 2013.

The train that exploded in Lac-Mégantic had left North Dakota on the morning of July 5, 2013. The speaker explained that the train was operated by a single engineer—who was the only human being on this train. When he reached the town of Nantes, about 4 miles uphill from Lac-Mégantic, the engineer found an unguarded train yard nearby to park the 73 cars behind the engine, set the brakes, and left the train to go to a hotel to sleep. No, it was not negligence, or in violation of regulations: this was standard operating procedure for these kinds of transports. This is a change from the previous Standard Operating Procedure; years ago, there would have been at least 2 people on the train, and it would not have been left unaccompanied. But with the general trend toward cutting back on regulations and the U.S. relying more and more on fracking to maintain its energy dominance world-wide, the mad rush to extract more has meant changes in the systems used to transport it, to increase all-round profitability.

The speaker described how later that night in July, sparks ignited on the first car. It didn’t explode, and someone driving by called the fire department, which put out the small fire, and turned the train off in order to prevent further sparks. Everyone then went back to bed; no one truly understood what those cars contained (Bakken oil) or the immense danger of explosion. A short while later, with the air brakes turned off, the hand brakes on the train failed, and the unattended train began to roll, downhill, toward Lac-Mégantic. By the time it reached the curve in the middle of town, it was going 63 mph. There it derailed and detonated, with the resulting explosion killing 47 people in the town center and the sonic blast blowing down 40 buildings.

Diagram of fracking
Above: A diagram of the fracking process.
Photo: flickr Creative Commons/

The oil- and chemical-fed fire was too hot to extinguish, comparable to lava flowing from an erupting volcano, and it was several days before it burned itself out. The volunteer fire department in this small rural town was never alerted that this type of material would travel through their area and had no adequate resources to fight it. Not even larger Quebec City could assist them in dealing with the disaster, all of which illustrates why trains carrying Bakken oil are commonly referred to as “bomb trains.”

In addition to the 47 people killed and the 40 buildings destroyed, there was even more environmental damage. The “Lac” in Lac-Mégantic means “lake” in French and refers to the beautiful lake the town borders. That lake is now heavily polluted from whatever of the Bakken oil did not burn in the town center.

The fire safety speaker brought out another reason this disaster was so severe, linked to the driving force of anarchy as capitalist corporations seek ever more profitable methods of transporting crude oil. The cars on this train were “DOT-111” cars, the rail industry’s standard train cars that are easily more than twenty years old and not manufactured to carry the volatile Bakken oil and associated fracking chemicals. There are no regulations prohibiting the use of DOT-111 cars; whatever cars are in the train yard are used, even if they do not have the features required to safely transport this kind of hazardous material. This is the way the transport industry is set up—to run at a frantic pace, with as little cost as possible.

Are the capitalist companies concerned about this now? After the disaster at Lac-Mégantic did they pull all the DOT-111 cars out of their fleets and use the newer train cars that have been developed with safety features to reduce the risk of explosion in a derailment? No, according to USA Today (2014), DOT-111s currently comprise 228,000 of 335,000 cars in active use, with only about 18,000 train cars that meet the safety standards for transporting Bakken oil.

Just a few days ago—after this presentation at Revolution Books—the Department of Transportation issued proposals for new regulations that require retrofitting of the DOT-111 cars carrying this highly volatile Bakken crude and reduced travel speeds. However, the director of the Sierra Club called them “far too little, too late, and the process takes far too long.” The new rules will not be finalized until after a 60-day comment period, and typically that is followed by legal challenges. The president of the American Association of Railroads, however, called them “a much needed pathway for enhancing the safe movement of flammable liquids...” The capitalist class and the railroad industry in particular face a crisis. More disasters like Lac-Mégantic pose serious financial and even more serious political problems as opposition to tar sands and fossil fuels in general grows. And yet under capitalism, these DOT-111 cars must earn at least a going rate of return on the investment of capital they represent before they’re decommissioned, and slowing down the extraction of oil through fracking in the midst of the boom in North Dakota would be a serious brake on an important economic driver.

The discussion following the presentation, involving several people from the Chicago environmental movement, revolutionary communists, and other activists, started with the question of why the disaster at Lac-Mégnatic happened and quickly went to why capitalism has created an environmental emergency for the planet.

The speaker brought out how the disaster at Lac-Mégantic was just one example of how the whole planet is at risk, and that the way to stop the environmental emergency is through communist revolution, highlighting the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America and the special issue of Revolution, “State of EMERGENCY! The Plunder of Our Planet, The Environmental Catastrophe & The Real Revolutionary Solution.” This is true because under socialism, there wouldn’t be a reliance on unsustainable energy sources, and “solutions” that destroy the environment on which life depends (like fracking) would not be implemented. This led to a lively exchange over problem/solution, with points made about the need to resist on the local level since these Bakken trains are believed to be routed around and through Chicago (a major rail hub), through the oppressed neighborhoods of Pilsen and Little Village, and there have been significant objections raised by suburbs such as Aurora, Illinois. Even all the firefighting personnel, technology, water, and stored fire-fighting foam available in Chicago, which can handle an airplane crash at O’Hare airport if necessary, would still not be able to handle a derailment and detonation of 72 cars full of Bakken oil, and these trains are allowed to pull as many as 120 cars, 40 percent longer than the train that incinerated Lac-Mégantic. Most rural towns these trains pass through would be completely at a loss to handle the devastation of derailed tanks cars carrying this fuel if they detonated in their area.

The discussion touched on the international dimensions of the environmental emergency, including the fact that 2015 is the 30th anniversary of the Union Carbide explosion in Bhopal, India. The discussion on communist revolution sharpened up the question of what it will take to stop capitalism and whether there is a social base for it in this country, bringing in lessons from the special issue of RevolutionState of EMERGENCY! The Plunder of Our Planet, The Environmental Catastrophe & The Real Revolutionary Solution” and the fundamental need for state power to be able to really address the root cause of tragedies such as the disaster at Lac Mégantic.

Finally, determination was expressed to make the protests at the UN Climate Summit 2014, which takes place in New York City this September 21, a powerful manifestation of our intent to STOP the destruction of the planet.





Revolution #348 August 10, 2014

Emergency In Texas: First Day of Austin Abortion Trial

By Sunsara Taylor | August 4, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


Today, on page three of the Austin Statesman (the main newspaper in the capital of Texas), a striking ad declared to the world, “Emergency in Texas—Stop Forced Motherhood—Abortion On Demand and Without Apology!” Signed by luminaries and long-time abortion rights and women's liberation fighters from Gloria Steinem and Cornel West, to Susan Brownmiller, Cindy Sheehan, Mark Ruffalo, Cynthia Nixon, and Eve Ensler. Voices from many different walks of public life lent their voices to wake people up to the emergency facing women and to call for courageous and massive political resistance to this war on women. This must be spread widely, more people should sign, and everyone should act on the truth of what is laid out:

“We reject the view that a woman's highest purpose is to bear children. Women are full human beings with the moral, ethical and legal right to decide when and whether to be mothers. NO MORE women denied the right to dream, the right to live full lives, the right to love, the right to decide for themselves. WE WILL RESIST!”

Austin, Texas, August 4

However, aside from this powerful ad, it is a stunning indictment of the state of emergency facing abortion rights that the entire national media is not closely following the trial that began today in Austin, Texas to determine whether on September 1 all but six abortion clinics in Texas will be forced to shut down. Inside the courthouse, Whole Women's Health and other Texas abortion providers challenged two major elements of last year's draconian anti-abortion bill HB2.

Austin, August 4

One portion of the law being challenged is the requirement that every abortion facility in the state of Texas meet the same physical requirements as an Ambulatory Surgery Center, basically a mini-emergency room. To give a sense of how unnecessary this is, it is ten times safer to have an abortion than to give birth to a child, yet while it is perfectly legal to have a child in your own living room, you will soon only be able to get an abortion in a mini-emergency room. This law was designed to close down clinics and it will have that effect, leaving over a million women in Texas at least 150 miles from the nearest abortion clinic. Without a doubt, this puts an “undue burden” on women in restricting their right to abortion.

The second portion of the law being challenged relates to its requirement that all doctors who perform abortions have admitting privileges at local hospitals. This also is completely medically unnecessary. Again, abortion is extraordinarily safe; as testified to in court today it is safer statistically than taking a shot of penicillin. Another illustration of this fact brought out in court this morning: while over 500 women died due to pregnancy-related deaths in Texas between 2008 and 2011, only one woman died from an abortion-related death! But even more than that, in the extremely rare instances that women experience complications during an abortion, hospitals are already required to admit and treat these women. But, during this hearing, this hospital admitting privileges requirement as a whole is not being challenged (that is being challenged in a separate case currently working its way through the courts). What is being challenged is the closure of clinics in the Rio Grande Valley and in El Paso on the basis of this portion of the law. Abortion providers and the Center for Reproductive Rights are arguing that enforcing this portion of the law creates such an undue burden on women in these extremely geographically isolated and extremely impoverished regions by closing the only clinics that were there that it should not be enforced even if it is allowed to be enforced in other parts of the state.

In sum, at its worst this trial will result in no change and all but six abortion clinics in Texas will be closed on September 1. At its best, the closure of non-ambulatory surgery center abortion facilities will be halted—keeping nearly 20 abortion clinics in operation—and the already shuttered facilities in both the Rio Grande Valley and El Paso will re-open. Of course, it also could be any combination of the above, or a delay on a final ruling that allows the clinics to stay open or to be closed in the meantime.

The stakes for how this trial plays out are enormous. If the clinic closures are not halted, this will concretely put abortion services out of reach for huge numbers of women. This will cause many to be forced to have children against their will, with all the horrific repercussions that means for women's lives. Or, they will be forced to go to extreme, degrading and desperate measures to get enough resources together for an abortion, often losing their jobs to take the time off to travel and fulfill the mandatory 24-hour waiting period. Or, they will risk their lives to terminate a pregnancy on their own.

Recently, a Texas abortion doctor described to me and other volunteers on the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride 2014: Ground Zero Texas that he/she regularly sees patients who are experiencing infections or other dangerous side-effects of botched self-abortions. This didn't used to happen, but ever since HB2 began to go into effect (the hospital admitting privileges element of the law already closed more than a dozen clinics) it is a regular occurrence. This will only get worse if more clinics close.

But the stakes for this trial reach far beyond even the women of Texas. The precedent set in any one part of the country, both legally and politically, will affect the country as a whole. What is playing out today in Texas is part of a nationally coordinated, decades-long fight to criminalize abortion in all circumstances for all women.

Outside the Courthouse

Austin, August 4

As bad as it would be for women if this law goes forward, it will be even worse if it goes forward without massive political resistance. Too many years have gone by, actually too many decades, in which people have passively accepted abortion restriction after restriction, clinic closure after clinic closure, anti-abortion terror tactic after terror tactic and ever-greater stigmatization of abortion throughout society. Always there are voices and politicians who criticize the most extreme and hateful dimensions of these restrictions, but still the laws and restrictions go forward. Over and over again we watch as yesterday's outrage becomes today's “compromise position,” and tomorrow's limit of what can be imagined.

This can go on no longer. Each and every new law and restriction must be resisted and opposed. It must not merely be opposed on the basis of criticizing its most extreme and woman-hating dimensions. It must be exposed and opposed as part of an entire nationally coordinated attempt to enslave women to forced reproduction. The full Christian fascist agenda behind these laws and terror tactics must be exposed and opposed and powerful, determined, uncompromising resistance must be brought forward to this entire war.

It is only in this way that we stand the best chance of stopping the clinic closures currently underway, and even more fundamentally that we can build a national strategic counter-offensive that begins to turn the tide throughout society.

Austin, August 4

Austin, August 4

The beginnings of this were proudly on display outside the courthouse. Beautiful and strong people, young and old, from across this country converged, together with people from Texas, in front of the courthouse with pictures of the women who have died from illegal abortions in the past, with bloody coat-hangers representing the dangerous means that women have been forced to resort to when abortion is not available, and with shackles representing female enslavement. Two powerful bright orange banners declared, “Abortion Providers Are Heroes!” and, “Forced Motherhood Is Female Enslavement!”

Members of the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride 2014: Ground Zero Texas marched through a prayer gathering of hundreds of anti-abortion protesters and set up right in front of the federal courthouse. One after another, brave volunteers stepped up and spoke out. A young woman told of recently being raped and finding out that she was pregnant with triplets. She felt that she couldn't breathe and would rather have killed herself than be forced to carry that pregnancy to term. She wanted her rapist's DNA out of her body at the soonest possible time and while it was a tremendous horror what led into her need for an abortion, the abortion itself was life-saving, positive and uplifting. She held her head high and declared that after her abortion she wasn't sad or regretful, but was filled with a “post-abortion glow.”

Another young woman told of a dear friend who had needed an abortion but because of restrictions in her midwestern state could not access one. The woman knew the fetus was not healthy, yet was forced to carry the pregnancy to term and give birth to a baby that suffered terribly and died only a few days later. While this young woman was speaking, an anti-abortion protester heckled her, claiming that she had “slipped up and admitted it was a baby.” No matter how many times the young woman and others speaking clarified that saying “she didn't want to have a baby” is not the same as saying that the fetus within her is already a baby (which it is not), the man kept interrupting and heckling and gloating smugly. He had absolutely no regard for the horror the woman in the story had been forced to endure or the fact that he was heckling and harassing a teenager who had the courage and conviction to get up and speak a very difficult and uncomfortable truth. Yet, the young woman persevered, insisting, “My friend now suffers tremendous depression and this should never have been done to her!”

Several young women who the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride has met only recently, including two who drove down all the way from the Dallas/Ft. Worth area, joined in chanting and holding signs. They'd never been part of a protest of any kind before and their faces lit up as they listened and participated in the spontaneous speak-out.

A college student took the time to give a science lesson to all who were gathered, including the anti-abortion protesters nearby, reading from the article by A.S.K. in the Revolutionary Worker (now Revolution newspaper, about “What Is an Abortion?” She broke down the difference between fetal life and a full human being. Behind her as she spoke, anti-abortion fanatics held pictures of highly developed fetuses floating, totally erasing the women whose bodies they are part of, just as the anti-abortion movement would erase the humanity and personhood of women.

When challenged, many of the anti-abortion protesters told us straight up that women should, indeed, submit to their husbands as their husbands submit to the lord (Ephesians 5:22) and other Dark Ages Bible passages. All this underscores how dangerous the anti-abortion agenda truly is.

We were happy to see that folks turned out from abortion rights groups from Texas. Mostly they were from a group that has put a lot of energy into waging unprincipled attacks against the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride (these have been responded to in substance by the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride Advisory Board) and stayed physically removed from our protest. A few Abortion Rights Freedom Riders went over to let them know we were glad they turned out. Most of them ignored our volunteers and continued what they were doing. A few of them, including some who have issued physical threats against, came over and harassed individuals at our protest, calling young women “bitches.” We did not let this distract us. We came to represent for the millions of women whose lives will be foreclosed if these laws go forward and that is who we continued to speak about and for.

It is incredibly important that hundreds of people across the country have contributed funds, testimony, and time to sending the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride down here to Texas. It is incredibly important that we are acting—and giving others a way to act—that is not waiting for or relying on the courts or politicians. As a life-long Texan who is housing some of our volunteers put it today, angrily, “I got an email from Wendy Davis today and yesterday asking me for money and she didn't even mention this trial!” Everywhere we have been (and we'll be writing more about this soon) we have drawn forward the outrage and the stories of women that have been long suppressed. Teams are busy at work as I type, phone-banking everyone we've met throughout Texas to get involved in the coming days, to go out and do outreach on the street to wake more people up to this emergency, and to reach out and draw in people from around the country. We are just getting started!




Revolution #348 August 10, 2014

Taking Revolution to the Island! Summer 2014 Martha's Vineyard

August 9, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


The following is posted at the Revolution Books, Boston/Cambridge website.

Join us for: Fun in the Sun and So Much More!

The coming together of prominent Afro-American intellectuals, artists and critical thinkers over the summer on Martha’s Vineyard has been happening for over 100 years and is of national significance! Staff and supporters of Revolution Books are planning on going to the Vineyard this August to introduce these people and others to the movement for revolution this summer and we want you to join with us.

We are talking about authors who have written books on critical topics that are widely read, artists who are making films or music reaching broad audiences and academics of national prominence. Many of these are people who have deeply committed themselves to the questions of mass incarceration, the growing disparity between rich and poor and other critical social issues and who have broad and disproportionate influence in society among black people and more generally. Many have been passionate in their commitment to Obama, yet feel great concern and disquiet about where we are at in the world—including where to go now that the “promise” of the first Black presidency has failed so dramatically to address the issues they are deeply concerned about.

In BAsics 3:19, Bob Avakian says: “There will never be a revolutionary movement in this country that doesn’t fully unleash and give expression to the sometimes openly expressed, sometimes expressed in partial ways, sometimes expressed in wrong ways, but deeply felt desire to be rid of these long centuries of oppression [of Black people]. There’s never going to be a revolution in this country, and there shouldn’t be, that doesn’t make that one of the key foundation of what it’s all about.”

If we are seriously working to change the current polarization in the U.S. to make it more favorable to revolution—AND THE REVOLUTIONARY COMMUNIST PARTY IS—we cannot stand aside from this strategic gathering. Join with us in taking revolution to Martha’s Vineyard.

For more information—read on!




Revolution #348 August 10, 2014

The Terror Facing Youth at Rikers Island

August 9, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


Aerial photo of the huge Rikers Island prison complex, New York City. Photo: U.S. Geological Survey

Imagine you are 16 years old. You get into some trouble—maybe you get arrested for something you did or maybe you just got stopped and frisked, got caught with a joint—or some cop just said you did something. You are handcuffed, taken to jail, charged as an adult (in New York, all youth over the age of 16 are charged as adults) and hauled before a judge who sets bond far higher than your family can pay.

Now you are put on a ferry and taken to Rikers Island, a vast prison complex in New York City, to await trial.  

Your world is now controlled by brutal guards who can do pretty much whatever they want – punch you in the head, break your nose, fracture your skull, knock you out, and lock you in solitary confinement for months—with very little chance of punishment, and who openly tell you that if you dare to complain, you will get even worse.

Most likely you will be here for months and you will be brutalized.


Rikers is a hell on earth where some of the worst torments are reserved for its youngest inmates, who are brutalized at an even higher rate than adults. Fourteen thousand people are held on Rikers, the great majority awaiting trial because they could not afford bond.

On August 4, the U.S. attorney for Manhattan released a 79-page report on the “deep-seated culture of violence” at Rikers, resulting in a “staggering” number of injuries. The report also documented “excessive” use of solitary confinement of youth, especially youth with mental illness. On average, 15-25 percent of imprisoned youth are in solitary confinement, as many as 70 percent of them mentally ill, for anywhere from 60 to 200 days.

The report says that on a single day (October 30, 2012) over 43 percent of the 705 adolescent males at Rikers had been subjected to violence by staff on at least one occasion during their time there.  

This is serious violence—in one year, there were a total of 239 head injuries, 96 suspected fractures, and 459 injuries requiring emergency medical service. (Some of these totals are from inmate fights, which past reports have brought out is often incited and organized by the guards.)

The authorities try to justify this brutality by claiming inmates attacked them, but the report notes that over and over when guards claim to have been “punched in the face,” they show no sign of injury, while the inmate is lying in his own blood, spitting out teeth or nursing broken bones.

The report notes that the guards routinely shout “stop resisting” as they beat people who are not resisting, who are handcuffed, lying on the ground, or even blacked out. It describes a video of a captain walking towards such a beating shouting “stop resisting” before she can even see what is going on.

Brutal Intimidation

What actually provokes these assaults is often “disobedience,” “cursing” or “disrespect” – in other words prisoners refusing to bow and scrape before their tormentors (or even just normal teenage behavior). The report details on a number of typical incidents:

* “Inmate C” did not follow an officer’s orders to stop doing pushups; the officer threatened to “slap the shit out of him.” Later the officer punched “Inmate C ”15 times in the head, breaking his nose, while another guard kicked him while he lay bleeding on the floor.

* After “Inmate D” finished a visit with from his girlfriend a guard demanded he strip, squat and cough. He complained, but did it. Then he “made a smart remark”; “multiple officers proceeded to repeatedly punch and kick him in the chest, face and head.” He was ordered to strip again and additional officers joined in the kicking and punching.... [T]he beating continued until one officer stated that he thought “Inmate D was dead. He was then handcuffed and kicked in the face a few more times.” As a result of all this, his skull was fractured and he sustained multiple lacerations requiring stitches.

Over 50 percent of youth inmates at Rikers have been diagnosed with moderate or severe mental illness, and they come in for special abuse. In December 2012, two mentally ill patients were “extracted from their cells for failure to comply with search procedures” and for throwing urine at guards. They were taken to the clinic in restraints, where a Captain and multiple officers took turns punching the inmates in the face and body... One clinician reported that she observed one inmate being punched in the head while handcuffed to a gurney for what she believed to be five minutes.” Another saw guards “striking the other inmate with closed fists while he screamed for them to stop hurting them.” The beatings were so severe that there was blood on the walls and staff members were “sick to their stomachs.” One inmate was still spitting up blood a month after this incident.

Civilian medical and educational staff at Rikers are repeatedly warned by guards not to look when they are carrying out these beatings or they will suffer retaliation. After one beating in the clinic, a Captain told staff that “it was good that clinical staff were present ‘so that they could witness and corroborate the inmates banging their own heads into the wall.’” One day after the U.S. attorney’s report was released, the district attorney for the Bronx (the borough which has jurisdiction over Rikers) announced he would not prosecute the guards involved in this clinic beating, even though a number of clinic staff had come forward as witnesses.

The U.S. attorneys report is a damning exposure of a completely illegitimate system that has no future for millions and millions of Black and Latino youth in this country—except a life of unemployment, poverty, police brutality and mass incarceration.




Revolution #348 August 10, 2014

Dante Pomar


August 9, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


Ten years has passed since Dante Pomar was murdered on 7/29/04 by the NYPD, and, now, there is yet other brutal killing of Eric Garner by the same law enforcement. What is striking about these tragic deaths is that they have strong similarities. Both are killed for no apparent reason. Both are constantly harassed before violently killed.

Dante is chased by an unmarked police car that eventually led to his death. He is chased because he is not wearing a helmet while riding his mini motorcycle. After the chase Dante is seen laying on the ground of an alley motionless in handcuffs. It’s unknown how long Dante was left in handcuffs on the ground before the EMS was called to save his life—assuming he was still alive—because when the family and friends reached the site, the cops involved (Thomas, Roach, Blassic) have left the site and other cops have replaced them, and still the emergency workers have not reached the site yet. Dante suffered horrific injuries: the top of his head was cracked opened, lacerations to his left arm, middle body and, left leg. It’s as if his body was dragged by a vehicle.

Eric is killed because the cops said he was selling untaxed cigarettes. The cops grabbed him in a chokehold and kept choking him, even as he said, “I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe,” and they left him laying on the sidewalk in handcuffs. The EMS workers when arrived to the site, they did nothing at the presence of a dying man.

The only difference between these gruesome deaths is that Dante has only two witnesses, while Eric has the world as witness—his death was caught on video. Now the cops can’t lie and say they acted in self-defense that he had a gun or other dirty lie

Dante’s first witness, a young Black man, saw Dante being chased by the cops. After the incident, these same cops went to his house to harass him. Later he was arrested several times. His second witness is a former military, family man. He saw by the back window of his house how the cops fixed the scene. The cops, then, threaten him pointing a gun at him. They told him he will be killed and his house burned if he says what he saw.

These two men did not deserve to die in a beastly manner. Dante, who was still in his teen years, was a good-hearted person, had just finished his studies in a technical school. Eric was a family man, loved by many.

In short, ten years have passed since Dante was killed and the police continue to follow a vicious criminal behavior against a group of people, mainly Black and Latino. We need to resist and put an end to police brutality that threats minority youth as permanent suspects, guilty until proven innocent, if they survive to prove their innocence. The US has 5% of the world’s population but 25% of the world’s prison population. More than 60% of those in prison are Black or Latino. What can we say about a system that allows its police to brutalize and murder people?

The worst attitude is indifference, “there’s nothing I can do,”—adopting this mindset will deprive you of one of the fundamental qualities of being human: outrage. Our capacity for protest is indispensable, as in our freedom to engage.

 October, 2014 is the Month of Resistance to Mass Incarceration Police Terror, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation throughout the nation.

Hector & Gloria


[Reprinted with permission from Gloria]




Revolution #348 August 10, 2014

Stop US-Israel Genocide against the Palestinian people in Gaza!

August 24, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


(See below for things you can do NOW!)

ABOVE: Standing with the Palestinian people against this genocidal assault is a part of bringing forward a real revolution here in the U.S. and around the world. It is part of our responsibility for real—communist—revolution worldwide. Above: July 25, a protest in the city of Haifa against Israel's attack on Gaza. Photo:

BELOW: Since July 8, Israel has pounded the nearly two million Palestinian people in Gaza with thousands of bombs and missiles, destroyed homes, hospitals and schools, and flooded hospitals with injured and wounded. The people in Gaza are refugees from other areas of Palestine that are now part of Israel. They were driven from their homes by the massacres and terror carried out by Israel in 1948 and the ongoing ethnic cleansing of Palestine. This is Israel's third invasion of Gaza since the end of 2008. Below Palestinians watch as others carry a body from the rubble of a house destroyed by an Israeli missile strike in Gaza City, July 21. Photo: AP


The rulers of Israel are carrying out massive war crimes in Gaza. They say they are "fighting terrorism," but they are waging war on the entire Palestinian population in Gaza. Israel has killed over a thousand people in Gaza since July 8, most of them civilians, including women and children. And the U.S. is backing these crimes.

This must STOP NOW!

For eight years Israel has locked down nearly two million Palestinians in Gaza—an area 25 miles long and as densely populated as New York City. Israel cut off contact between Gaza and the outside world. You can't visit there. People can't leave. Israel starves people in Gaza and keeps them from growing food or fishing—as a result, more than one in ten children in Gaza suffer from acute malnutrition and one in five suffer from anemia. Unemployment is over 38 percent—far higher than in the U.S. during the Great Depression. Israel has destroyed people's access to drinkable water and reliable electricity.

The essence of what is going on here is not a "conflict between Jews and "Muslims." Israel is not—in any real way—a response to the historic oppression of Jewish people. It is a product of and sponsored by imperialism. Hamas and Islamic fundamentalism are not emancipatory at all but they are not the cause of this massacre. To break through and bring forward another way demands people here OPPOSE ISRAEL'S CRIMES NOW.

The United States backs Israel with billions of dollars of "aid" every year—most of it going to Israel's genocidal war machine. In turn, Israel has carried out the "dirty work" of the U.S. empire in the Middle East and around the world. The blood of the Palestinian people is on the hands of the rulers of the U.S. as well as Israel. Above: Gaza City, July 21. Photo: AP


Internationalism—The Whole World Comes First. —Bob Avakian, BAsics 5:8


Things you can do now...

"Stop Israel's Massacre in Gaza NOW!"

"After the Holocaust, the worst thing that has happened to Jewish people is the state of Israel"

(Bob Avakian/BAsics 5:12)

Send reports on your experience to

See also: Suggestions for Relating to Protests Against Israel's Assault on Gaza


An Open Letter to Jon Voight:
Shut up you Fucking Ignoramus

When Javier Bardem, Penélope Cruz, Pedro Almodóvar and many other actors and theater people from Spain courageously spoke out publicly against Israel’s massacre in Gaza, you lashed back, saying they were “ignorant of the whole story of Israel’s birth.”

You were a cheerleader for the U.S. invasion of Iraq—that set the stage for the horrors that inflict that country today. You continued to promote the absurd and obscene LIE that Iraq had “weapons of mass destruction.”

You are ignorant of the facts of “Israel’s birth” based on the violent, terrorist ethnic cleansing of Palestine.

And now you cannot see that what Israel is doing to the Palestinian people in Gaza—massacring people including children, starving and terrorizing a whole population—is genocide.

How much more ignorant can anyone be?

So shut up Jon Voight, you fucking ignoramus.

Jewish Survivors and Descendents of Survivors of Nazi Genocide Condemn the Massacre of Palestinians

Read more

West Coast docks week of 8/18/14 – Hundreds of activists picketed major ports to stop importation of goods from Israel. Israeli ships were blocked or delayed at ports including Oakland and Long Beach, California and Tacoma, Washington. In Oakland, workers from the International Longshore and Warehouse Union refused to cross picket lines set up by demonstrators. The movement for worldwide boycott, divestment and sanctions against the state of Israel for its occupation and savage oppression of the people of Palestine is gaining strength through actions like these.

New York City, August 20— Demonstrators marched over the Brooklyn Bridge in support of the people of Gaza. Many made connections between the struggle of the Palestinian people against US-Israeli genocide and the struggle in Ferguson. Late in the evening, the march merged with protesters in the Lower East Side marching for justice for Mike Brown.


Chicago, August 21: Chicago activists including Jewish Voice for Peace protest a "Chicago Stands With Israel" fundraiser sponsored by the Jewish United Fund at the Chicago Hilton hotel. During a speech by the Israeli Ambassador to the United States, they chanted "Shame." Outside, the largest sign said "Occupation is a crime, from Ferguson to Palestine."






Revolution #348 August 10, 2014

Stop the U.S. bombing in Iraq! The U.S.invasion and bombing of Iraq is NOT the solution to ANYTHING.

Updated August 9, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |



The United States is the SOURCE of the Problem in Iraq, Stop the Bombing!

Today (August 8), the U.S. started bombing Iraq.


They say they are about protecting people from brutal Islamic fundamentalists who threaten tens of thousands of refugees on Mount Sinjar in northern Iraq.    

But more than anything else, it is the United States that has created the nightmare that is Iraq today.  The U.S. ruthlessly bombed Iraq during the 1991 Persian Gulf war, killing 100,000-200,000 people. The U.S. continued to bomb and sanction Iraq for the rest of the decade, killing over 500,000 children—with former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright saying in response to being questioned about those deaths, “We think the price is worth it."  At the time that Madeleine Albright made this statement, she was the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

The U.S. bombed Iraq massively during the 2003 invasion, a war and 8 plus year occupation that caused the death of over 600,000 Iraqis, and drove over 4 million people from their homes. The U.S. wars and occupation fueled and escalated conflicts between different religious sects and religious fundamentalism in Iraq. 

The U.S. used white phosphorous shells in a massive and indiscriminate way against civilians in Fallujah, November 2004, during the offensive against Iraq. Photo: AP

And all this was justified by claims that the U.S. actions were “humanitarian,” or they were acting to liberate the Iraqi people. 

The LAST thing the people of Iraq need is more “humanitarian” help from the country RESPONSIBLE for the humanitarian crises in Iraq, in Syria, in Libya, and everywhere else the U.S. drops its bombs.

For more in-depth articles see the bottom of this page.

Get Out and ACT!

Genocide-Enablers Have No Right to Talk About “Preventing Genocide”

In announcing U.S. bombing raids on Iraq on 8/7/14, Barack Obama declared:

“[T]housands—perhaps tens of thousands—are now hiding high up on the mountain, with little but the clothes on their backs.  They’re without food, they’re without water.  People are starving.  And children are dying of thirst.” And “innocent people facing the prospect of violence on a horrific scale.” And that under these conditions, “the United States of America cannot turn a blind eye.  We can act, carefully and responsibly, to prevent a potential act of genocide.”

This from the head of state of the country that has for decades, and in recent weeks on a savage and horrific scale, is enabling Israel to massacre the Palestinian people of Gaza, to kill their children, to bomb their schools and power plants, to starve nearly two million people and maintain a constant state of destruction and terror.

The head of state of the country that is ENABLING GENOCIDE in Gaza at this very moment has no right to speak when it comes to “preventing genocide.”






Revolution #348 August 10, 2014

Ferguson, Missouri:

People Take to the Streets After Police Kill 18-Year-Old Michael Brown

August 10, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |



“They told me how many times my son was shot. Eight.”

Lesley McSpadden, mother of Michael Brown

Saturday, August 9, 2014. It was the middle of the afternoon and dozens of people saw it happen. Michael Brown and Dorian Johnson were walking home from the store. Johnson told news reporters:

“We wasn’t causing any harm to nobody. We had no weapons on us at all.”

18-year-old Michael Brown was walking down a street with a friend when he was fatally shot 8 times by cops. Photo: Justice for Michael Brown Facebook page.

Johnson says the two were walking in the street when a cop rolled up on them and told them to get out of the street. They kept walking and the officer got out of the car and fired a shot. Johnson said they were scared and started to run away. Then:

“He shot again and once my friend felt that shot he turned around and he put his hands in the air and he started to get down but the officer still approached with his weapon drawn and he fired several more shots.”

Many other witnesses said Brown was unarmed and had his hands up in the air when he was shot and killed.

18-year-old Michael Brown had just graduated from high school and was scheduled to begin classes at Vatterott College on Monday. His grandmother, Desiree Harris, said she had just seen her grandson walking on the street and then minutes later, after hearing a commotion, she went outside and found his body on the ground less than two blocks away. Harris said, “When I got up there, my grandson was lying on the pavement. I asked the police what happened. They didn't tell me nothing.”

The police left Michael Brown’s body on the street for hours. Angry crowds started gathering immediately.

The Ferguson police force called in police assistance from surrounding areas—more than 100 officers from 15 departments responded, including tactical teams in riot gear. Dogs were used against people.

Ferguson is a small suburb just north of St. Louis with a population of about 21,000 people, two-thirds of them African Americans.

One news report said: “Through the afternoon and evening some among the crowds were yelling profanities at police demanding justice. At one point gun shots rang out in the area as investigators gathered evidence. That prompted numerous police canine units to move in and move the crowds back. At least one trash dumpster was set on fire.”

Up to 600 people confronted the police immediately after Michael Brown's murder. His stepfather held a sign that said 'Ferguson police just executed my unarmed son!!!' People continued the protests the next day. Photo: AP

Calls for justice spread quickly through the Internet—Brown’s name trended on Twitter for several hours, along with hash tags such as #Justice for Mike. Several “Justice for Mike” pages popped up on Facebook as well, with one page amassing several hundred “likes” per hour as of Sunday afternoon. Another Facebook attracted nearly 4,000 likes.

On Sunday morning, protesters outside the Ferguson Police Department's headquarters raised their hands in the air and chanted, "Don't shoot." Crowds of hundreds of people marched through the streets that morning and afternoon. Michael Brown's stepfather, Louis Head, held a sign that read: “Ferguson police just executed my unarmed son!!!”


Another stolen life. Another young Black man cut down in cold blood by the police. Another outrage by this system that has no future for millions of Black youth, except prison, unemployment, poverty, police brutality, and murder.

This must STOP!  All out for the October Month of Resistance to Mass Incarceration, Police Terror, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation.





Revolution #348 August 10, 2014

Revolution interview with Collette Flanagan 

Building for the Month of Resistance to Mass Incarceration in Dallas: Not very "Southern and Polite"

August 4, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


Revolution Interview
A special feature of Revolution to acquaint our readers with the views of significant figures in art, theater, music and literature, science, sports and politics. The views expressed by those we interview are, of course, their own; and they are not responsible for the views published elsewhere in our paper.


Li Onesto recently talked with Collette Flanagan, from Mothers Against Police Brutality in Dallas, Texas, and also a signatory of the call for the October Month of Resistance to Mass Incarceration, Police Terror, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation. Earlier this year, when Revolution interviewed Collette Flanagan, she told the story of how her only son, 25-year-old Clinton Allen, was murdered by a Dallas cop on March 10, 2013. It was after this horrible police murder that she founded Mothers Against Police Brutality, which has been working to get justice in the many, many cases where the police just execute people in cold blood and are never even indicted, let alone put on trial and punished.


Revolution: Today I’m talking with Collette about the work she is doing in Dallas to build for the Month of Resistance. And in particular I’m talking with her about a very, very successful event that she organized on June 20 where Cornel West spoke.

Collette, I first met you in New York City at the end of April, at the national strategy meeting for the Month of Resistance and it looks like you got busy right away, didn’t wait a second, putting out the call, making plans, and getting others on board to be a part of organizing to carry out and make real the whole vision of the Month of Resistance. So maybe you could start off by talking about what the idea was behind the June 20 event, why you thought it was important, and then how you went about organizing for it.

Collette Flanagan: I think it’s very important for people to understand their own demographics, their geography, their local politics, who are the leaders, who have the titles who are leaders who are not leading. For me, I understood very early on in this process that no one was coming. No one was getting on the white horse, the leaders did not want to touch anything relating to police brutality. Everyone was washing everyone else’s hands, they would not get involved. Even the churches did not want to get involved because of a lot of the subsidies that a lot of the churches get from the city. And a lot of our Black and brown leaders that we have faith in and have put in offices to represent our communities have gotten entangled financially with the city. In other words, their own political gains and political alliances would not allow them at their own discretion to get involved. So they would turn a blind eye to police murders.

So I knew very early that I needed to organize and that there were other mothers out there like me and other families—that it’s so important to build coalitions. I understood very early on, although Clinton was my only child, my only son, I have a daughter—I loved him and I still love him very, very much. But as much as I loved him and wanted to get justice for his murder, no one really cared about him being murdered because a Black man’s life in this society is not worth anything to most people. And even in our own communities we have become desensitized to Black men being murdered, it’s almost like, “Oh, that’s what happens to Black men, they get murdered.”

So I thought that it was very important to start organizing, making phone calls, and doing it grassroots. I really admired what Obama did, and that was getting the students involved. I think the students are a very important key to organizing because they don’t have the attachments that we do—they don’t care about jobs and titles and political alliances. They just understand that something is wrong and they want it to be right. So we reached out to a lot of students which was very successful for us, that was one of the first things that we did and we organized and we energized that base.

Revolution: I’d like to hear more about that, but maybe first you could go back and talk about what was the idea for the event itself. When you thought, OK, if we’re going to make the Month of Resistance happen in Dallas we gotta get some people together here. What was your whole concept of the event?

Collette Flanagan: The event, we named it Community Matters. Dr. West and I had talked about the history of Dallas and how there had really never been a civil rights movement in Dallas. A lot of the pastors got together back in the ’60s and met Dr. Martin Luther King on the tarmac and turned him away—they said we don’t want you here. They said, the Blacks here like the space that they’re in and all get along, we don’t want what’s going on in Mississippi or Birmingham. So Dallas never fully had a civil rights movement. So the Blacks here have become very complacent basically with, hey, we live in the South—this is just kind of the way it is, institutionalized.

So what I envisioned was having a—we had done some very bold moves here that weren’t very Southern or polite in our movement and we’re known for being right there on the edge, but still peaceful.

Revolution: Like what? Give me one example.

Collette Flanagan: Like the District Attorney, he’s never talked to the families when murders happen, he thinks he’s above the fray. He’s a Black DA and he’s not talking to you because “if I talk to you I’ve got other families might want to do the same.” So we just protested at his house and people were like, “Whoa, you protested at the DA’s house?” And we were like, hell yeah, he’s an elected official, he didn’t have that position for life. If he won’t come to talk to me about my son being murdered I will come to you. He had a tailgate party and we went to the tailgate party and we protested. Outside of the box things that we’ve done to let people know that, listen, we’re not going away, you’re going to have to deal with this. And with that, when I met Dr. West, our synergy was so high—Dr. West had been kind of salivating for years to get his hands on Dallas, he knows what’s been going on. And so we were just talking about how... you’ve got to remember Dallas is a city that has many mega churches, Bishop Jakes is here, TD Jakes is here, the entertainer Steve Harvey is here. We have Black Dallas Cowboy players that get stopped by policemen and harassed all the time. Nobody ever says a word, they’re just glad to get away with their lives. We have a lot of Black influential men who live here but who never, ever, ever will say a word about anything.

So I envisioned that we would bring Dr. Cornel West in, and he was exactly up for the job and to talk about how much our community matters and how the church is obligated to be involved. Churches say they don’t want to be political and yet they let candidates come and talk about, please vote for me. You are political already. And so Dr. West was the perfect fit for that, nobody else would do that because they don’t want to step on anybody’s toes.

So basically the message was crafted and we talked about it—how dare you live in this community and have these families into your churches and organizations that have sons that you know are being targeted by policemen because they are Black and brown—how dare you take their tithes into your church and then say that you cannot be involved. He challenged them and it needed to be done. He challenged white people, Black people, brown people, and I knew that he would be doing it and so the challenge for us was to make sure that we got people there to hear. And so we stepped out on the limb and we went on this media firestorm in getting the students involved, we recruited social media people, we were tweeting all the time, we got some of the mega churches to push out that this was happening. I mean, how can you say, no I can’t send this with Dr. West coming, I can’t promote this. So we kind of backed them into the corner. We really spent a lot of time promoting the event, a lot of calling, we did phone banking. We had a group of about 12 that was the push-out group, we all had a responsibility and then from that 12 we had four people that were responsible for colleges, ok. And then from those four people then there were like 13 more people who came off that. So it grew but we kept a board of advisers and that was what was so important. Because I knew that when you allow everybody to come in and then ask them what should we do, you never really get anything done. You should have a plan already, invite everybody in and say this is how we’re gonna do it, let’s get it executed, now what are some of your ideas on execution, but this is what we’re doing.

We pretty much had it planned out and so we were just pushing it out and getting people. We told people, look, there are different ways you can donate. We send letters out, if you can’t come or can’t donate to the cause, you have a say: print shop, can you print up 500 invitations, can you print up 500 envelopes and go back and ask the next print shop to print 500 more. We basically had everything paid for through donations just simply by asking and that was really cool. A lot of people think you have to have a lot of money. We did too, we were kind of scared—oh my god, we have Dr. Cornel West and we have no money! So we just got really creative and we started leveraging and asking and sending emails and we put our time into crafting really good-looking emails to ask people to donate and we gave them things that they could donate to us, like if you can’t send $250 or $100... and we strategically targeted them, if we knew that they had a print shop or that they did graphics so we would ask for some of their time. And then we had another committee that would follow up with these people after they would agree to help us. So we had like a little machine going, it was fantastic.

Revolution: Can you talk more about the students? Because like you said, they are key, they have the time, the energy. I know this is a big question all around the country; if the Month of Resistance is going to be what it needs to be, in the next couple of months, as school starts, we gotta really get these students in the house in a big, big way.

Collette Flanagan: Sure, I think the way to engage the students—right now everybody is off, they’re getting ready for school. But the thing that we did was we found three or four presidents of different organizations at a college and they gave us a list of all of the other organizations. And so even, like right now, we are fashioning a letter to these organizations because students are young and they want to be important—and they are important. And they’re right in between that young adult thing and they want to be treated like adults and we send them a really nice letter, making them know how important they are and we go out and meet them. We go out sometimes and meet two or three organizations in one week. We’ve been doing conference calls this month, and all of August is going to be dedicated to doing conference calls with the presidents and vice presidents of these organizations and pushing out emails and setting up when we can come and talk with the organizations when they’re having their first meeting—we’re trying to get in on their first meeting.

Revolution: How many student organizations were represented at the event?

Collette Flanagan: About 13.

Revolution: So it’s off this, getting those 13 and others, basically making plans to have meetings at the different schools to launch different efforts around the Month of Resistance.

Collette Flanagan: Absolutely. What we’ve done is taken the 13 and we’ve put them on a council, and you know some of them fall off. But we’ve taken the 13, we’ve made them very, very important and we’ve already had one, we’re going to have a conference call with them—tell them how important they are, the magnificent work that they did with getting the word out with Dr. West coming and this is what we need to keep our momentum going. So we’re using the 13 group to push out not only to their organizations, but to push out to the other organizations. And then we’re going to have within that group... one of the things on the agenda is that we want them to identify professors that will sponsor us—because if you get a professor to sponsor what you’re doing they’re going to let you come into their classes and speak. And if you can come into their classes and speak you get to leave all this literature and they have classes for like five days or whatever. So that’s how we’re using the 13 organizations that we have now, to use them to reach out to the other organizations and it’s working pretty good so far. We’re hoping to get more, but even if the 13 just reach out to two or four, that’s tripling the size of the organization.

Revolution: This is mainly colleges you’re talking about here?

Collette Flanagan: Yes

Revolution: What about high schools?

Collette Flanagan: We have some high schools. High schools are really a little different. The thing with the high schools is you get the parents. So we’re identifying now, we got only three high school students, two are from the same high school and we’re trying to figure out how to work with them with getting more students involved and we’re waiting for school to start so they can give us a syllabus, things that they’re having, registration. So we’re kind of waiting for that but high schools are a little different, it’s a little bit more work but we’re going to do it. And the commitment level is a little lower in high school because they’re not as mature and they’re not thinking about anyone’s going to bother them. But the ones that usually come out of high school are usually really committed, they’re usually the mature ones.

Revolution: And these are a lot of the ones who are the target of the police and facing a possible future of being incarcerated.

Collette Flanagan: Yes! Absolutely, but they’re the hardest group to get but we’re going to set up so that some college students can go talk to high school students. And they can use their organization to get into the schools, so we got to get them to leverage that in that way.

Revolution: I want to go back to the June 20 event with Cornel West for a bit—I don’t think you’ve mentioned yet in this interview how many people attended.

Collette Flanagan: It was 1,187. I had said, I thought if we get 500 that would be great, that would be huge for Dallas. Of course, secretly in the back of my mind I would want like 100,000. But our goal was 500 solid, and people just kept coming and coming and coming. We just couldn’t believe this—where are all these people coming from? They just kept coming. And we had it at a huge church and we were really debating on having it at this church because we didn’t want it to look so empty if it didn’t get filled. And we had thought about having it at another place that held 600-700 people and there we wouldn’t have had enough room.

Revolution: Can you talk about who was in the house?

Collette Flanagan: Sure. We had the county commissioner, we had a police sergeant on the police chief board, we had pastors, city councilmen, state representatives, attorneys. We had students, white liberals, white progressives. The mixture was wonderful. We had people drive up from Houston, from San Antonio, from Austin. It was great.

Revolution: It sounds to me like this became “the event that no one could miss” and it’s kind of interesting because from what you are saying it seems like even the establishment felt they had to be there.

Collette Flanagan: Yeah, absolutely. And we were bold enough to invite them. We even invited the mayor. We knew he would not come because we have an absent mayor. We knew he wouldn’t come but we wanted it on record to invite him because it’s part of a strategic move for later. Of course they sent a little letter that he wanted to come. But just the fact that they acknowledged that, oh we’re sorry, he can’t come, the mayor has a prior commitment. Normally if you send something to the mayor, they don’t even respond.

But they knew that this event was very important. The whole city of Dallas pretty much knew. And pretty much at the last minute we were able to get some free PSA time, some radio time. But we learned, because we were rookies at this—we knew that Dr. West was coming but we couldn’t pinpoint a date down until two weeks before he got here. So we did this in two weeks. Before this we knew he was coming, we did kind of start talking to groups so we did that base kind of stuff. But in terms of really organizing, getting a place, he couldn’t give us a date until—actually it was a little more than two weeks, it was like 17 days. So in fact if we had had more time I think we could have tripled the number of people who came and it would have been even greater.

Of course we had the families—we had reserved seating for the families. In fact, we did not have reserved seating for the politicians. But we had reserved seating for the family members that have lost their children or experienced police brutality, because this was a once in a lifetime and because if anything had died in them I knew that Dr. West could renew it and I wanted them to be front and center. And that is exactly what happened.





Revolution #348 August 10, 2014

Black Man Murdered by Cops! Again!! This Must Stop!!!

by Carl Dix | August 11, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


18-year-old Michael Brown had graduated from high school in Ferguson, Missouri, a small mostly Black town just outside St. Louis, and was going to start college in August. But now he will be buried in August because a murdering cop shot him eight times. Michael was walking in the street with a friend in the middle of the day when cops rolled up on them and ordered them out of the street and fired a shot when they kept walking. Michael and his friend ran, and the cop shot again, hitting Michael. Many witnesses say that Michael put his hands up, but the cop shot him again and again. Then the cops left his body lying on the ground for hours.

We're told all the damned time that Black youth are in the situation they're in because they make poor life choices or don't take personal responsibility. Or because their parents don't raise them right. This is pure bullshit! Michael Brown had graduated from high school and was about to start college. His mother and father worked hard to make sure he had that opportunity. But now a killer cop, a front-line enforcer for a system that has no future for the youth, has snatched all that away.


Michael Brown today, before that it was Eric Garner in NYC, Jonathan Ferrell in North Carolina, Darrick Collins in Georgia, Tyrone Brown in Maryland, and I could go on and on.

Investigations, whether done by the local cops and district attorneys or the feds, aren't going to do shit about the way police brutalize and even murder people. They do it all the damn time and almost never get punished in any way. The authorities treat it like it's part of their job description.


Immediately following Michael's murder, people poured into the streets, outraged that the cops had stolen the life of another Black youth. Cops were called in from all the surrounding areas, some in riot gear and others with vicious dogs straining at their leashes. But far from suppressing people's anger, it brought out even more rage. It has been reported that 20 police cars were damaged and some stores were broken into.

The authorities and the media predictably tried to shift the story away from the police murder to the protests “degenerating into violence.” This is bullshit! People have a right to be burning with rage at this foul murder, the seemingly never-ending list of foul murders of Black people by the cops and the brutal oppression that this police terror works to keep in effect. Cooling things out will only serve to keep all that shit in effect.

People need to fight back against these horrors in Ferguson, and everywhere else that they're being perpetrated. This resistance needs to be developed as part of what's needed to get rid of these horrors once and for all—REVOLUTION, NOTHING LESS. That's what it's going to take to end police murders like this once and for all, and all the other horrors this system enforces on people here and around the world—the wars for empire, the attacks on the rights of women, the devastation of the environment of the very planet we live on, everything. All these horrors are built into the very way this capitalist/imperialist system works, and any approach short of revolution won't work to uproot them once and for all.

Jumping off this kind of revolution is not possible in today's conditions. To do that with a real chance of winning, the whole society would have to be deep in crisis, with the rulers divided up and fighting each other and with the existence of a revolutionary people numbering in the millions. But now is the time to prepare for revolution; time to fight the power and transform the people, for revolution. That's the strategic approach the Revolutionary Communist Party takes to getting ready for revolution. Based on this strategic approach, we are going to be in the streets with people saying NO MORE to the terror the cops enforce in oppressed communities across the country. And it's why we are uniting with thousands of people to make October a Month of Resistance to Mass Incarceration, Police Terror, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation. October will be a month of massive, determined resistance involving tens of thousands of people and impacting and moving millions.


If your heart aches every time you hear of another youth murdered by police... if you wonder why so many millions of people are being beat down, abused and even killed by this country's criminal “injustice” system... if you oppose injustice wherever it happens—join the effort to make the October Month of Resistance powerful enough to mark the beginning of the end for mass incarceration in the U.S. Go to the website of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network at And if you want to connect up with the movement for revolution the Revolutionary Communist Party is building or to get more information on the revolution, go to:










Revolution #348 August 10, 2014


Revolutionaries Call for March Over the Bridge to Staten Island to Demand Justice for Eric Garner and Michael Brown

August 12, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


Carl Dix, from the Revolutionary Communist Party, and Travis Morales, a long-time revolutionary communist, are calling on everyone who is outraged by the police murders of Eric Garner, Michael Brown, and others to take our grief and anger over the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge from Brooklyn to Staten Island on Saturday, August 16. The call has been taken up by the Stop Mass Incarceration Network, NYC. At an August 12 news conference in front of the NYPD headquarters, Carl Dix said:

"We [issued this call] because, look, we all saw Eric Garner choked to death by the NYPD. We heard him going, 'I can't breathe. I can't breathe' as they choked the life out of him. We heard all of that. Then we hear the powers-that-be in this city, that they want to tell us when we can protest this foul murder, how we can go about it, and where. Last Sunday, in the New York Post, they ran this article about how the Mayor, other political leaders, other leaders in this city had prevailed on people, Rev. Sharpton in particular, to withdraw the call for a march across the bridge on August 23. And they said that a march like that would not serve the 'progressive agenda' and would not help to further 'racial healing' in this city.

"Well here is a question: What kind of 'progressive agenda' is it that requires that people not step out the murder of Black people by the NYPD?... What kind of 'racial healing' can you have on the basis of telling people that they cannot protest what's being done? How can we let those who preside over these murders, who implement policies that lead to these murders—and I'm talking about Bratton's ‘broken windows’ nonsense—and people like de Blasio who appoint these people, how can they tell us when, where, and whether we can protest? They cannot, and we should not let them do that!

"So everybody who was angered by the murder of Eric Garner, and then further angered to hear about the murder of Michael Brown out in Missouri, to read about the exposures of the brutality that prison guards in Rikers* are laying out on people in prison, and all the other foul things that the criminal injustice system in this country brings down on people—everybody who's angered about that, everybody who's saddened by the loss of another young life at the hands of those who are supposed to be 'protecting and serving'—bring your anger, bring your grief, Saturday, at noon. We're going to march across the Verrazano Bridge. We're going to bring forward some demands:

"Justice for Eric Garner and Michael Brown!

"Indict the Killer Cops! And in addition to indicting them, convict them and put them in jail—because people who commit murder out in the open in front of many witnesses should not get away with it because they happen to have a badge.

"Stop the Repression of the Witnesses! Because let's look at this: We saw five people kill someone on TV—but the only people who have been arrested are the guy who took the video [of the cops killing Eric Garner with a chokehold] and his wife. They're the only people involved who have been arrested. Let's think of that, and what is that a message of?

"Bratton and 'Broken Windows' Has Got to Go!—and go now!

"All Out for the October Month of Resistance against Mass Incarceration, Police Terror, Repression, and Criminalization of a Generation! Because we have to fight this police terror. We have to fight the brutality that's being inflicted in the prisons. But it's part of a bigger fight. We have to take on the mass incarceration, the police terror, the way they treat our children like criminals—all of that. And we are doing that this October, month of mass determined resistance, here in New York City and all across the country, to all these foul things the criminal injustice system brings down."

The protest will be gathering Saturday, 12 noon, August 16, at 92nd St and Gatling Place in Brooklyn. (R train, 86th St. stop). To find out more: Stop Mass Incarceration Network • • 347-979-SMIN(7646) • Twitter: StopMassIncNet.




Revolution #348 August 10, 2014

The Second People's Hearing of the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride

Courage and Strength Shatter the Silence—We Must Act On What We Know

by Sunsara Taylor | August 8, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


She was a young, poor, and very innocent student growing up in Mexico when a friend invited her over to study. She arrived with books in hand, but he told her, “We are not here to study.” He closed the door and a group of his friends proceeded to join him in raping her.

She was ashamed. She felt stupid. She felt she was to blame for putting herself in that situation. She had no one to turn to.

But this was only the beginning of her pain. Soon, she discovered something was growing inside her body. Without her permission, against her will, a pregnancy was developing and she could not control it. Abortion was not legal.

She gave birth to an unwanted son whose very existence haunted her with the memory of her gang-rape. She carried the shame of being a single mother. Soon, she was forced to prostitute herself just to “drag herself and her son through life.” For thirty-five years, she could not look her son in the face when he asked, over and over again, “Mom, who is my dad?”

This is a story told at the Austin People's Hearing of the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride last night. Tears streamed down her face and her body shook, but her voice never broke. With tremendous strength and courage she brought to life decades of compounded pain and oppression. Her entire life has been shaped by the violence men perpetuate against women, by the blame and shame heaped on women for how they have been made to suffer, and by the denial of the most fundamental right of women to decide for themselves when and whether to bear children.

Take a minute and think of the beauty and joy that can come from having a baby when you want one. The lifelong journey of bonding and learning, of caring for and helping guide a new life on an incredible journey. Think of the scary parts and the exhilarating parts, the exhausting parts and the painful parts. Think of the responsibility and sacrifice, the mundane routines as well as the never-ending surprises.

Now, think of all that once again, only this time through the kaleidoscope of pain and torment of bearing and rearing a child that began with the shattering of a young woman through gang-rape, proceeded through the enslavement of forced motherhood, and continued through a lifetime of desperation, humiliation, social judgement and shame so great she couldn't even look her own child in the eye.

This is what it means to be born female on this planet.

Then there was the white woman who was a foreign exchange student in Hamburg. She began her testimony by emphasizing not just the physical pain, but also the shame. She too had been young and filled with excitement when she accepted an invitation by a male student to dinner. He knocked her down and held her head as he raped her.

She had been raised Catholic and told all her life that it was wrong to “be near the occasion of sin.” Having no one to turn to, she went to mass. The priest agreed that she had been wrong. Wrong to go to his room, wrong to agree to have dinner, wrong to let herself be near the “occasion of sin.” He assigned her penance and sent her away without a single word of comfort.

When she found out that she was pregnant, she was only more ashamed. She watched traffic contemplating the moment at which she could jump out in front of a bus and end her misery. Thoughts of suicide accompanied her everywhere. She wasn't even able to identify the rape as wrong, so consumed was she by the shame and terror of having a child out of wedlock.

She even began dating the man who raped her. He laid claim to her body and her life and she didn't have any framework to respond other than going along. She considered going to some medical students for an illegal abortion but the shame of having more men see her naked kept her from even considering it.

She was “lucky” in that eventually she found an abortion and was not forced to carry the pregnancy to term. But it took decades before she was able to tell the story and look at what had been done to her for what it actually was.

This is what it means to be born female in this world.

Then there was the older Black woman who already had a three year old and was forced to travel alone to Mexico. When the procedure was over, all the other young women bounced back quickly and left the office, but she couldn't come to. The doctor fed her soup and fruit, slapped her face and tried to revive her. Eventually, she woke and was able to walk out.

And there are more stories. Others that were told at the first People's Hearing down here in Texas—of holding a friend as she bled to death on the street after an illegal abortion, of trying to help a 14-year old who had been raped by her father get to a clinic hundreds of miles away, of being raped just months ago and how abortion gave this teenager her life back, and more—and on the street as we reach out every day to bring people into this fight against the war on women.

All this is just a small part of what it means to be born female in this world of male-domination.

As I listened to these stories last night in the Austin Centre, joined by forty or so people in the room and hundreds more tuned in around the country, I was reminded of a pivotal moment in the Abolitionist movement against slavery in this country. In their early days, the Abolitionists were a small group of Christian northerners motivated by their moral opposition to slavery. They were right and they were righteous, but most did not yet understand the full barbarity of chattel slavery and certainly people throughout the north had no idea.

That changed when Frederick Douglass spoke for the first time. People in the North had never heard slavery described by someone who himself had been born into bondage, who as a child had hidden in terror as he watched a slave woman whipped until her flesh hung from her body, who had been whipped himself daily and starved by one of the most notorious slave-breakers in all of the South. They'd never heard such clarity and wisdom, such strength and righteous anger, from someone society legally viewed only as a “piece of property.” Hearing Douglass's voice changed the people who heard him and it changed the movement as a whole. They acted with greater certitude and as his voice and the truth he had brought alive spread, many more were brought into the fight.

Obviously, history never repeats itself exactly, and the conditions described by Douglass are different than the conditions described by the women last night, but there is a parallel and a lesson to draw. Almost no one today understands the full horror of what forced motherhood—the denial of abortion and birth control—meant to millions of women. Even those who lived through it have mainly carried their stories in secret and shameful isolation.

No one with a heart and a head could sit through the testimony of the courageous women Wednesday night and not be changed by it. What is coming alive in these People's Hearings goes beyond what almost anyone fully comprehends. This has the power to change people and to change the level of certitude and clarity of our movement as a whole.

After the program, I got a chance to speak with the woman from Mexico who had shared her story. She thanked me for bringing the volunteers down from around the country and was impressed in particular by the young women who spoke with such certitude and determination not to let women be forced back. When I asked how she felt after sharing such a painful story that had been kept secret for so long, she said, “Lighter. Like something has been lifted off me, like I gave it to you all and it's no longer mine.”

She is right. Her story and her pain are not hers alone any more. She had the courage and fortitude to give them to all of us. But this knowledge and understanding must not stay bottled up with just the few hundred who saw it last night. If you are reading this and you haven't watched this testimony yet, watch it today. Share it with friends, family, and your community. Send a link out in your church bulletin or community newsletter. Spread it through social media or in a live social gathering. Show it in classrooms or conferences. Write about it or broadcast it.

You will not only hear the truth of what forced motherhood really means in a world of male-domination, you will hear the voices of people of all ages who have stepped to the front lines to take on this fight. You will hear one of the Abortion Rights Freedom Riders walk through what it is like going out very broadly into different communities talking about abortion rights; what arguments come up over and over again and how to take them on. Not just how to answer each question, but how to reset the terms back to what this fight is really over: the lives and role of women in society. You will find the ways to take concrete steps together with hundreds and soon thousands across the country to turn this fight around. You will hear the strength and depth of experience and clarity of Carol Downer, one of the Advisory Board members of the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride who has been providing abortions since 1971, even after one of her clinics was burned to the ground, as she acknowledges the scariness and sacrifice involved in looking soberly at the dangerous reality that confronts us, but then declares with joy that there is nothing more enlivening and meaningful than dealing with the real world and changing it. You will hear from me about how I see taking up this fight as part of contributing to a revolution to put an end to all forms of oppression and exploitation and bring into a whole liberated world.

All of this and more will come alive to you and to others and this has tremendous potential to contribute to a major turning point at a critical time for the future of women. And once we have heard these truths, each of us has a solemn responsibility to not only remember what we heard, but to act on the implications of these stories—of what they have meant to untold millions of women for centuries—as we fight to ensure this never happens again.




Revolution #348 August 10, 2014

Statement from Carl Dix on the People Standing Up in Ferguson

August 14, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


The brave people who are standing up in Ferguson, Missouri, are changing the way everybody in this country is looking at what's going on.

The demands are clear: this murdering cop must be named, indicted and put in prison!

One more thing: these Uncle Toms need to get the hell out of the way of the people who are daring to stand up and fight back!




Revolution #348 August 10, 2014

A Call to Act Against the Killing of Michael Brown

August 13, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


Ferguson, Missouri, August 11. Photo: Special to Revolution


1. On Thursday, August 14, go to where people are gathering for “moment of silence” vigils. And after the moment of silence raise your fist and raise the chant: “NO MORE! It Stops Today! We Refuse to Live This Way!” Lead people in this and other chants and in acting in unity with the people in Ferguson.




2. Bring with you to the vigils and everywhere you go many copies of the Three Strikes posters and also posters of “We Refuse to Accept Slavery in Any Form” with prominently displayed. Spread the posters among everyone to get out widely.

3. On Saturday, August 16, OUT IN THE STREETS—in the downtowns and barrios and ghettoes—to make it known that people are standing with and acting in unity with the people who have stood up in Ferguson, Missouri to protest the killing of Michael Brown.  

Bring, distribute and blow whistles. Get out REVOLUTION! Raise your arms and raise your fists. March. ACT, ACT, ACT!!!


Download: PDF for print | JPG for web




Revolution #348 August 10, 2014

Report from Protest in Ferguson, Missouri:

People's Defiance Was Evident Everywhere

August 12, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


From readers:

The murder of Michael Brown in St. Louis on August 9 has touched off righteous outrage over the killing of another young Black man with his whole future ahead of him. The night after the murder, hundreds of people flooded into the street calling for justice for Michael Brown. Nothing like this has happened in St Louis for a very long time. Some people spoke about making history and said that people all over the country were watching what was happening in St. Louis.

The protest consisted of mainly Black youth, but with some middle-aged Black women participating and giving out cardboard signs so that the kids could write their own statements. Cars slowed down in the hundreds, with people honking, giving clenched fist, sitting on the car roofs yelling, supporting and creating this great cacophony of anger and defiance against the police who had arrested 32 people the night before.

Youth carries poster with Bob Avakian's statement "3 Strikes and you're out!"

From the moment the contingent of revolutionaries marched into the street demonstration of hundreds of people, chanting, people's faces lit up—they applauded, grabbed up Revolution newspapers and held banners—the Stolen Lives banner showing people killed by police forces around the country, the "Fight the Power, Transform the People, for Revolution" banner from the Chicago Revolution Club, and "Stop Mass Incarceration, Police Terror, Repression and Criminalization of a Generation—Month of Resistance October 2014." People who stopped at the Stolen Lives banner were taken back at the number of names, which is just a small picture of the many, many people killed by police. But it brought to light this was not just a St Louis thing, but an epidemic of police brutality and murder that continues on in all parts of the country. People looked up friends' names from Missouri on the banner.

The fact that we had come down from Chicago electrified the crowd—marching into the protest with the pigs watching and chanting, “It's right to rebel," "Indict, convict, send the killer cops to jail," "The whole damn system is guilty as hell” and "Michael did not have to die, we all know the reason why—the whole damn system is guilty.” This was interspersed with “No Justice, No Peace” that was taken up by people. The Revolution newspaper with the front cover on the NYC police chokehold murder of Eric Garner became a poster held up all over the street along with the poster with the "Three Strikes" quote from Bob Avakian.

As night fell, the crowd continued to grow and at a certain point surged into a major street in Ferguson. People's defiance was evident everywhere. Men and women who had been fighting with each other before put that to the side, and if anyone started anything personal, the people told them, “Take that shit elsewhere, we are here for a different purpose.”

The police went after the crowd with tear gas, stun grenades and rubber bullets and armored personnel carriers that had been rumbling up and down the street at different times. People ran and reassembled at different locations; one section of the crowd grouped up near a complex of apartments. For the rest of the night, people fought with the police throwing whatever they could back down the hill where the police were, chanting “fuck the police” (very popular and written on just about every flat surface in this neighborhood) and at points getting on their knees with their hands in the air saying “Don’t shoot,” defying the police.

People moved back down the street when the police stopped shooting tear gas, and continued to challenge the police by refusing to go home. More tear gas, more rubber bullets and more sound grenades went off, but people stood their ground. One brother was hit in the face with a flying object and went down. A crew of people immediately scooped him up and got a nurse in the crowd to help him. This fueled more outrage; one brother said, “We’re out here making history, and we’re being peaceful and the cops shot us down.” There was more back and forth as the night went on.

In the course of this street fighting some of us got separated. A sister in the apartment complex right next to the street took us in and made sure that we had the ability to hook back up with our crew. This was a young woman who had gotten out of the Navy. Through the course of the conversation, she spoke about her sexual harassment in the Navy and how she had personally been assaulted by a family member. She said she would never let that happen to her daughter no matter what the man wanted. She was glad to put up a revolutionary from Chicago and make sure we didn’t get lost or picked up by the police.

As the police stood their ground, cutting off any way in or out of this complex, a number of people gathered outside to talk about what this all meant. People wanted to get into why this was happening, the role of the police, the whole state and how it was effectively funneling mass numbers of young Black people into prison, while the police murder others straight up in the streets.

Things were disconnected in people's thinking, but the reality of life for millions of people was there, and when we spoke about how this was all part of one system—capitalism—that is bringing down these horrors, one brother said “I knew it.” Linking up these crimes—police brutality, mass incarceration, the prisons and courts—some people got a sense of the whole state, not just racist cops, but a whole racist system that rested on slavery and genocide. They wanted to hook up again today, which we will be doing and showing clips from BA's talks, getting out Carl Dix’s statement on Michael Brown's murder, and getting into questions of the revolution.

Things are still in flux: Al Sharpton is here giving press conferences, there are demos in front of the police stations, gatherings at church.

People in the streets protests took up the headline from the Revolution issue with Eric Garner and made it their own on posters and placards saying “It Stops Today.” The righteous anger and defiance has to be taken higher.

Prepare the ground,
prepare the people, and
prepare the vanguard—
get ready for the time
when millions can be led to go all out for revolution,
all out, with a real chance to win.


Justice for Michael Brown and Eric Garner
It Stops Today
People are standing up in Ferguson!

“It's right to rebel”
Time is up for this system 

Fight the power, and transform the people, for revolution





Revolution #348 August 10, 2014


August 12, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


Fury and righteous outrage are sweeping the country after the wanton murder of Michael Brown in Ferguson by police.

Photo: AP

On CNN—LZ Granderson says he’s tired of the murder of unarmed Black men. But then says:

“I hate black looters at peaceful rallies the way I hate the KKK.”


“Number one, it’s very important that the community down in Ferguson identify the people who were involved with looting and make sure those people were apprehended and arrested.” 

You beg the vicious oppressors to stop killing Black people. But when those who this system considers less-than-human rise up and demand to be treated as human beings, you say they are as bad as the murderous white-supremacist KKK lynch mobs.

And you direct your real venom at those courageous people who refuse to beg the oppressor for mercy and insist on standing up strong when the oppressor is brutalizing and killing people.

That is the definition of a bootlicker.






Revolution #348 August 10, 2014

On the Struggle for Justice in Ferguson, MO and the Whole USA

August 13, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


We Need to SUPPORT the Courage of Our Youth When They Rise Up... NOT Denounce or Try to Suppress Them!!

The Struggle Needs Broadness, welcoming all kinds of people with different views on how to fight... AND The Struggle Needs DETERMINATION AND DARING.

Two Points on Al Sharpton:

1) No sooner did young people and others righteously and bravely rise up in Ferguson, Missouri—standing up against dogs, tear gas, guns and goddamn mothafucking tanks—then along came Al Sharpton to denounce them. Hey, Sharpton: instead of scolding the youth and others who directed their anger and their bravery and their daring where it NEEDS to be directed, who went up against tremendous odds in a righteous cause, how about SUPPORTING them? How about talking about how GOOD it is to see young people, who all too often direct their hurt and anger against each other, direct it instead against the real cause and the real culprits—this system, and this system’s murdering police? 

2) Al Sharpton attacks those who “have a cause.” Really? Well, quiet as it's kept, Sharpton himself DEFINITELY has a cause—the cause of getting people all caught up in the bullshit dead ends and safety valves that this system uses when people finally do rise up. WE have a whole different cause—REVOLUTION, to put an end to these outrages, these horrors and the whole genocidal program that the people on top of this prison-house society are running. That “cause” makes us totally down for fighting to win justice when this system brings its shit down on people, as it did to Michael Brown, and for standing with the youth and everyone else, of whatever view, who feel the same way. And it makes us totally down for REVOLUTION to bring in a whole other way, a whole other society, where millions of Black and Latino young people like Michael Brown are not harassed and hounded for nothing, are not disrespected by authorities and the larger society everywhere they go and with every breath they draw, and are not finally shot down in the streets for nothing, hours before he was to leave for college, and then left to lie there—NO!!!! HELL NO!!!! A whole better way is possible, where all nationalities of people can flourish and where women and men participate equally in building a new and emancipatory society, here and around the planet. And if jailing and shooting down one young Black or Latino person after another is all that the people running things now can do—and it is—along with all their other great crimes, then they need to get the fuck off the planet! And if all Al Sharpton can do is run his double-talk in defense of “working within the system” and against those who are fighting against it, then he needs to shut the fuck up.




Revolution #348 August 10, 2014

Protests in Ferguson, Day 5:
Going Up Against Police Martial Law

August 14, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


August 14

From a correspondent in Ferguson, MO

Ferguson, MO is under siege. Even though they don't say it, it is martial law, straight up. The city has been cut off from the rest of the surrounding area. Police vehicles have set up blockades at many intersections using military personnel carriers and riot police. The U.S. government has given military hardware to local police and they are using it against the people to try and intimidate them.

There is a no-fly zone over the city, and drones are being used to enable the authorities to focus on the protesters. Police helicopters have been hovering above the protest, streaming bright lights all over the protest area. There is the feeling of a war zone and the use of war tactics being brought down on the people in this city. But people have not backed down. People have been unable to move in or out of their homes; they have been confronted with dogs, flash grenades, rubber bullets, and tear-gas canisters as they have peacefully protested.

Last night as we all stood our ground against military armored personnel carriers with police aiming M-16s with live ammo at the protesters, lines of cops in riot gear—I thought about the need to stand with the people against the crimes of this system; the possibility of getting shot or killed crossed my mind, and how critical it was for revolutionaries to be on the front lines leading and giving voice to the people. I thought about Katrina—what it would have been like to lead people across the bridge in New Orleans, when police and armed racist vigilantes fired at people who were trying to escape the floodwaters from the hurricane that had devastated the city—and then about the need to put our lives on the line to be on the streets with the people here in Ferguson.

At the moment when the pigs called for dispersal, we linked arms with others from Ferguson as the police marched toward us. People yelled and chanted, “Stand your ground,” “Hands up, don't shoot.” Usually, when the media leave is a clear sign that the pigs are getting ready to attack. This time they didn't leave, and within minutes the flash-bang grenades hit, huge sparks flew across the street, gas canisters flew, sound grenades exploded—and in the dark, the riot police marched toward us. At a certain point people broke into smaller groups and ran into the neighborhood with the riot police shooting more tear gas that was now clouding the whole neighborhood.

As people gathered at corners in the neighborhood, there was a feeling that this was not over; that people have courageously stood up, that this has to stop today, and people refuse to live this way. As we walked toward our car, people said, “See you tomorrow.”




Revolution #348 August 10, 2014

A Statement from the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA (RCP)

August 13, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


To all those who truly do want to see an end to the outrages and abuses coming down on people... and to the slanderers, the haters, the opportunists, and worse:


1) We are about fighting this whole wretched system of exploitation and oppression, and bringing in a radically different, liberated world.  We take the responsibility to look at all the outrages and abuses and agonizing problems confronting humanity... we analyze where they come from and how they are linked... we fight hard against them and figure out how to get rid of them.  And we do all this as part of bringing forward a new system. 

2) When there is a particularly outrageous abuse, an abuse which absolutely requires and demands that people stand up against it, we take the responsibility to reach out as widely as we can to unite with every honest person, of whatever viewpoint, who wants to fight it, and together we fight as hard as we possibly can to defeat the outrage.  We don’t view any particular kind of oppression as anyone’s property.  We don’t think that it is negative when people from one section of society stand against abuses coming down on others, and stand with others to fight back.  To the contrary: to do anything less, let alone to work against that, is to betray the hopes of the oppressed who really do yearn to see and know that others will stand up.  And all our experience—right down to today, in taking on the outrageous police murder of Michael Brown in Missouri and in waging a battle against the life-and-death restrictions being put on abortion in Texas—shows that when such support is forthcoming, those who are under attack welcome this!

In other words, we are about fighting the power, and transforming the people, for revolution.  This has been a hallmark of our Party for 40 years.  Not only that—this has been led and fought for and insisted upon, no matter what the conditions or circumstances, by Bob Avakian, the leader of our Party, going all the way back before our founding, to the 1960s.

The biggest problem today is NOT that too many people are daring to fight against abuses coming down on others.  The biggest problem is that too many people who recognize those abuses for the outrages that they are stand aloof, and stay in their comfort zone, as horrendous crimes are being carried out against millions and billions.  Compounding and reinforcing this, people are being given reasons and excuses for this complicity by purveyors of “identity politics”—and when those excuses wear thin, they are given warnings to “stay in their lane.”

A simple but bedrock point of morality: anyone who sees an injustice needs to fight against it.

Contrary to that basic point, some people in the movement act as if they were “franchise managers” of oppression, lashing out with full-blown campaigns of slander and vitriol both against those who are fighting to end ALL oppression as well as many who are fighting very hard on particular fronts against the serious attacks of this system, but doing so without the “permission” of these gatekeepers.  Rather than airing and debating differences of principle and strategy, they try to cow people with slanders and half-truths, and consciously foster an unthinking crowd mentality.  They have spent much more energy going after those who are actually putting something on the line to fight the current attack than the attack itself.  These same forces come down with tremendous pressure against anyone who even wants to give a hearing to those waging this fight, let alone support them or unite with them.

This is not only utterly wrong in its own right, this is not only deadly to the critical and scientific spirit on which getting to the truth actually depends, it provides waters in which counter-revolutionaries and police can and do fish around—as the whole bitter experience of COINTELPRO shows.

This is particularly sharp right now in terms of the attacks on the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride, which the RCP supports and in which we work with people of many other viewpoints.  People claiming to be “Texans for Reproductive Justice” have made and/or refused to disavow physical threats against at least one leader of this movement... they have mounted toxic social media campaigns against those who dare to stand with this Freedom Ride, complemented by vicious behind-the-scenes whispering campaigns... they toss around slanders of racism for daring to draw inspiration from historical battles against the oppression of Black people within the U.S. and for drawing analogies and links between the many different forms of oppression this system brings down... they make threats against people with media platforms for airing the views of spokespeople of this movement... and all the while they pump out crude anti-communist slanders and attacks.  

They have also issued a statement that gathers all this together in a slicker form.  Anyone who reads their statement should think first of all about the fact that nowhere in this whole screed do they even mention the actual emergency afoot in Texas, the actual real-life fact that on September 1, unless the situation is radically reversed, Texas will have only six clinics—down from 46 in 2011!  Do they even stop to think what that will mean for women in Texas and what that means for the whole political direction of the U.S.?!?  That alone should both disqualify this online attack from serious consideration and reveal the capitulationism at the heart of these people. 

But two other, seemingly smaller, aspects of their statement actually speak volumes on the “principles,” the outlook, and the real concerns of those who have been doing this.  First, their “statement of concern”—which in its very first points accuses the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride of “racism” for honoring the tradition of the Freedom Rides of 1961 and then later goes on to attack RCP Chairman Bob Avakian in similar terms for daring to compare the pornographic degradation of women to the practice of making and distributing postcards of the photos of lynchings of Black men and women—a slander which can be easily refuted by just going and reading or listening to what he actually says about this, leaving aside a whole history of battling around this question.  Note, please, that all this self-righteous slander is headed by the flag of the “Texas Republic,” a flag which was carried into battle by those who defended slavery, not just against Mexico but in the Civil War itself.  Second, there is their hungry-eyed obsession with the money that the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride has raised to actually struggle against this attack, while ignoring the egregious fact that Wendy Davis, the so-called “pro-women” candidate who rose to prominence on the back of seeming to fight against the suppression of abortion rights, raises tens of millions of dollars in a campaign which does not even mention the word abortion... other than her support for the ban on abortions after 20 weeks!

What does any of this have to do with principled debate over how to go forward?!?!  And who, ultimately and not so ultimately, does this serve?!? 

This is unconscionable.  It is causing great harm, not only to this struggle but even more importantly, to questions of larger significance.  We all face a question:

What standards, embodying what morality, will our movement have?  Will this be a movement marked by principled debate over differences, and by a focus on the real enemy and the real attacks and abuses that urgently cry out to be opposed and ended?  Or will this be something lesser, where people allow themselves to be divided into competing “interest groups,” clawing against one another for advantage within, yes, the privileged ground of an imperialist empire that rests on the exploitation of billions worldwide... a politics which, for all its rhetoric, is in reality nothing but the so-called “American way” of narrow “pluralism,” a politics that does nothing in the end but keep this horrific way of life going.

Principled people must draw a line against these attacks.  These attacks MUST be ended... now!  Further: to those who have been caught up in this, or stood on the sidelines because of confusion or fear, the time is now to come together and to actually fight against the horrific attack against women’s abortion rights coming down in Texas.  Let that be a first step in changing the ethos and tone of the movements fighting injustice.  Let us, from our various viewpoints, struggle for a spirit of generosity and largeness of mind, a spirit of airing and debating differences to get at what is actually true, in order to better fight for what is just.  We need a movement in which people would want to and can work and struggle for a society in which they would want to live and in which they could flourish. 

Which side are you on?





Revolution #348 August 10, 2014

Ferguson, MO:

No Time to “Calm Down”—Time to Step Up the Struggle

August 15, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


When the police killed Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO—outside St. Louis—on August 9, it could have been just another “justifiable homicide.” It could have been one more time the police murdered a Black man FOR NOTHING and walked away celebrating. It could have been one more time the whole power structure gave murdering police a pat on the back, maybe even a promotion.

But not this time god dammit! People stood up!

People stood up in the face of savage violence and brutality—which is the oppressor’s “bottom line” argument that things have to stay the way they are.

People stood up in the face of spineless “friends” and backstabbers who demanded people calm down, and “find common ground” with the system that killed Michael Brown.

And let’s be real: The ONLY reason the powers-that-be backed off—for now—on the violent terror they brought down on people who took to the streets is that PEOPLE DID NOT BACK DOWN.

Take a lesson.

Then they went and got their President—Obama—to even say people have a right to protest. But let’s not forget, that is ONLY BECAUSE THE PEOPLE DID NOT BACK DOWN.

People who this system sees as less than human have stood up in Ferguson. People around the world heard them. The military-style assault on the people of Ferguson made news around the world. So did the struggle of the people. It was a wake up call, and a call to stand up. People started to think and act differently around what is a world-wide outrage. They came from miles around to Ferguson. There were vigils in more than ninety cities. Thousands are protesting tonight from New York City, Miami, New Orleans... and beyond—with all kinds of people joining in.

The strong stand the people took put the oppressor on the defensive. A light is shining on the brutality people face—for the whole world to see.

But the basic demands have not yet been met, and the whole genocidal agenda is still in effect—an agenda that has no future for millions and millions but prison or an early death.

This is no time to “calm down.” It is time to step up the struggle.

The murdering cop must be named, indicted, and put in prison!

This has to end now.

Fight the power, and transform the people, for revolution!





Revolution #348 August 10, 2014

A reader suggested these slogans for stickers

August 4, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |




Download PDF for printing on crack-and-peel paper for stickers

Click on images above to get JPGs for posting on web.





Revolution #348 August 10, 2014

Justice for Eric Garner!

August 7, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


Get these slogans out everywhere!

Make stickers and spread online.


Download PDF for printing on crack-and-peel paper for stickers

Click on images below to get GIFs for posting on web.








Revolution #348 August 10, 2014

Slogans for stickers on backpacks, t-shirts, and elsewhere

August 8, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


A reader suggested these slogans for stickers:

Download PDF for printing these two slogans on crack-and-peel paper for stickers. Click on images below to get JPGs for posting on web.



Here are more slogans for stickers:

Download PDF for printing these slogans on crack-and-peel paper for stickers. Click on images below to get JPGs for posting on web.






Revolution #348 August 10, 2014

More slogans for stickers on backpacks, t-shirts, and elsewhere

August 4, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |




Download PDF for printing on crack-and-peel paper for stickers

Click on images above to get JPGs for posting on web.




Revolution #348 August 10, 2014

Ferguson is Everywhere
Police Brutality and Murder MUST STOP!

Updated February 3, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


Day — And Still the Killer Cop Walks Free

Read more


Wilson Has Walked

by Carl Dix

November 24, 2014

Read more | Download PDF for print


November 27, 2014

Read more

The Grand Jury: A Sick Hustle, An Obscene Farce

November 25, 2014

Read more

Grand Jury Decision: Protests Around the World

Updated November 30, 2014

Read more

Ferguson Outrage vs. Police-State Repression

Updated February 3, 2015

Around the country, police are violently attacking protests demanding justice for Michael Brown and an end to police brutality and murder of Black people, and they are singling out leaders for arrest. This has to be taken on, in the courtrooms and in the streets. When people who have stepped forward are attacked, including when leaders and revolutionaries are threatened, targeted, and arrested, they have to be defended. We should not let these attacks derail our struggle—every attack has to be a way to expand and strengthen the movement.

» The Unjust Repression Against Protesters Fighting for Justice

Read more

» Repression, Resistance, and Rebellion in Police State Ferguson, by Larry Everest

Read more

» Assaulted by Police, Threatened, and Facing 11 Charges For Leading Resistance:
Defend Noche Diaz of the NYC Revolution Club!

Read more

» From the Chicago Revolution Club:
Drop the Charges Against Grant Newburger and Everyone Arrested! They want to punish a Revolutionary and make you afraid to stand up!

Read more

» Chicago: Ferguson Protesters Face Vicious Repression by Police and Court 

Read more

» Hundreds of Arrests in LA Met With “Free the protesters, jail killer cops!”

Read more

These slides are from the immediate aftermath of the murder of Michael Brown.

It took Darren Wilson 30 seconds to pump 6 shots into Michael Brown. It should not take any longer than that to indict him. Yet still the process drags out. 

This is “letting the system work.” Which really means letting them wear you down, tire you out, slander Mike Brown over and over again, and put bullshit stories into the air to confuse people. There are more than enough witnesses to indict this pig. All they’re really saying is that they don’t count because they’re Black. 

If the process had been reversed—if Michael Brown had somehow been able to shoot Darren Wilson 6 times, Michael Brown would never have survived. And if somehow he had survived, he’d be in jail with no bail. So if “this is how the system works,” then it works one way for the pigs and another for the people.

And don’t tell us that “there’s a different standard for police.” Yes, we know that all too well—the standard is that they can commit these crimes with impunity, without being punished. In the new society, after the revolution, the people’s security forces would sooner risk their own lives than kill somebody from the masses. THAT should be the standard.

If this is how the system works, and it is, then that’s one more reason why we need a revolution to get rid of this system! Because a system that works to enable the police to go on killing Black and Latino people with impunity, along with all its other great crimes, must be gotten rid of.


Bob Avakian, "The police, Black youth and what kind of a system is this?"



If you are unable to see the video, click here to watch the video.

Michael Brown to Eric Garner
This has to stop NOW!

People are standing up in Ferguson!
It's right to rebel!

Time's up for this system.

Fight the Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution!

Tweet these slogans! 

"This is Bob Avakian, Chairman of the
Revolutionary Communist Party,
with a New Year's message—


Listen       ▶ Read       ▶ Download audio
▶ Download Flier
Download Centerfold Poster:  PDF | JPG

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 [and], you get into this Party's leader and what he's bringing forward.

Bob Avakian
BAsics 3:34


A Statement and Call from Stop Mass Incarceration Network, Ferguson-St. Louis chapter

February 2, 2015

The Department of Justice (DOJ) decision on whether to bring civil rights charges against Darren Wilson is expected any day. Indications are Wilson will NOT be charged. If so, such a decision whitewashes and gives a stamp of approval to the police murder of Michael Brown. It gives a green light to killer cops everywhere. It is a slap in the face to Michael Brown’s family, to all who stood up against this injustice, and to the millions whose hopes were raised when people defiantly rose up and said, “Not this time!” If the DOJ brings down this outrage, we must take to the streets across the country.

Read more


On the Justice Department "Leak" That Michael Brown's Killer Will NOT Be Prosecuted on Civil Rights Charges Either... Yes, the WHOLE Damn System IS Guilty as Hell!

January 29, 2015

Assuming the reports that have been recently published that no charges will be filed by the (in)Justice Department against Darren Wilson for violating Michael Brown’s civil rights prove to be accurate, this is not at all surprising. But the lack of surprise does not remotely diminish the outrage represented by such a decision. I think it is important to recognize this as a compounding, reinforcement, and escalation of the original outrages of the murder of Michael Brown and the Ferguson grand jury’s subsequent decision not to indict Darren Wilson for that murder...

Read more


Berkeley Law Faculty Statement Expresses "Despair and Outrage" About the Police Killings of Michael Brown and Eric Garner

January 27, 2015

Read more

In the Streets in Ferguson: "It is our duty to fight"

January 14, 2015

On January 10, 50 people took to the streets in Ferguson, Missouri, blocking traffic on W. Florissant Ave. where the rebellion began last August after Michael Brown was murdered by cop Darren Wilson.

Read more

December 13: Tens of Thousands March Across the U.S. Against Police Murder

December 13, 2014

Saturday, December 13, tens of thousands converged on Washington, DC for the "Justice For All" march. Protests also marked the day in dozens of other cities around the country, including tens of thousands in New York City. Other cities with protests include Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco-Oakland, Houston, Boston, and more. There was also a large police presence at these protests, and reports of multiple arrests in Chicago, Boston, Houston, and Oakland.

Read more

Scenes from Ferguson: the Uprising's Reach, and the Reaction

December 10, 2014

Tuesday, December 9, Ferguson, Missouri—I've been in Ferguson since November 22, and I don't think a day has gone by where there hasn't been a protest, most often multiple protests. There may be one at the Ferguson police station, and another in the St. Louis Shaw neighborhood, just south of the City Center, or perhaps on one of the campuses: Washington University, St. Louis University, the University of Missouri St. Louis, and/or out in Clayton or West County.

Read more

A Reader Shares Some Thoughts on the Revolution Clubs and the slogan "Get Organized for an Actual Revolution"

December 11, 2014

Read more

East Oakland: Week of Outrage in the 'Hood

December 11, 2014

Read more

1,000 Berkeley High Students Walk Out

December 11, 2014

Read more

St. Louis-Ferguson, December 10: Actions at the Federal Court and Washington U Med School

December 10, 2014

Read more

Berkeley: More than 1,500 Stop Train, Interstate 80 in Third Night of Protests
"Unless we're free, we will prevent the system from operating."

December 10, 2014

December 8—After facing the clubs of riot police, tear gas, and rubber bullets on the two previous nights, more than 1,500 took to the streets in Berkeley on Monday night, marching for hours, blocking freeways, lying on railroad tracks to stop an Amtrak train, and facing off with police to demand justice for Eric Garner, Michael Brown and other Black and Latino people murdered by the cops.

Read more

Berkeley, December 6: "It is our duty to fight for our freedom"
Police Repeatedly Stop, Corral and Attack Student Protesters in the Home of "Free Speech"—but the People Stay in the Streets

December 10, 2014

Several hundred protesters gathered in Sproul Plaza on the University of California Berkeley campus on Saturday night to join with the massive nationwide outcry against the decisions not to indict the police who killed Michael Brown and Eric Garner. Shouts of “Black Lives Matter!” filled Berkeley as the march took off down Telegraph Ave, soon growing to around 1,000. The march followed an action on Thursday by the Black Student Union on campus shutting down the Golden Bear Cafe on the campus.

Read more

Denver High School Students Walk Out, December 3

December 6, 2014

On Wednesday, December 3, hundreds of high school students in Denver, Colorado, walked out of school in protest of the grand jury decision in Ferguson that let the cop who killed Michael Brown walk free.

Read more

Tuesday, December 2, Ferguson, MO:
Hundreds of High School Students Walk Out:
“Turn up, don’t turn down!  We do this for Mike Brown!”

Hundreds of high school students from Ferguson and St. Louis County walked out on December 2 in response to the #HandsUpWalkOut call for nationwide school walkouts....

Read more

Cheers to Ariyana Smith: “I could not play that game”

December 5, 2014

Read more

Monday: "Hands Up Walk Out" Actions Coast to Coast and Worldwide

December 1, 2014

Read more and view pix from around the country

NYC High School students.


St. Louis Rams Football Players: "Hands Up" in Support of Ferguson Struggle

November 30, 2014

St. Louis, November 30—While taking the field for their Sunday National Football League home game against Oakland, several players on the St. Louis Rams did the "Hands up, don't shoot!" gesture in solidarity with the struggle in Ferguson.

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Courageous Speakout Denounces NYPD Crimes, Demands Justice for Mike Brown

November 29, 2014

Read more

“Black Lives Matter” Day Around the Country - November 28, 2014

Entertainers, Artists, and Athletes Speak Out on the Grand Jury Letting Killer Cop Walk Free

Updated December 2, 2014

Read more

Students from Coast to Coast Protest Grand Jury Decision to Let Mike Brown's Killer Go Free

November 28, 2014

Read more

"Nothing To Be Thankful For"
Protesters Disrupt Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

November 28, 2014

Read more

Cleveland: Determined to Have No Business as Usual

November 28, 2014

Read more

Kent State Black United Students Stage a Walkout and Protest

November 28, 2014

Read more

Detroit: Marching and Blocking Traffic to Demand Justice for Mike Brown

November 28, 2014

Read more

Rage in the Streets of Ferguson - report by Larry Everest

November 24, midnight

Read more

People Around the Country Join the Struggle

November 25, 2014

Read more


On the Battle for Justice for Mike Brown

Which Side Are You On?


Points of Orientation on Righteous Rebellions

People in Ferguson have repeatedly stood up and righteously rebelled. They have refused to back down in the face of dogs, tear gas, guns, and tanks. At a time when the powers counterattack through absolutely irrelevant slanders against Michael Brown and honeyed words from Ron Johnson, this struggle must not die down. 

Two guidelines on going forward:

1) If people do not rebel against such oppression and repression, they can only expect things to get worse and their lives to become more unbearable. When people in positions of power tell you not to protest and rebel, they are part of the problem, not the solution.

2) Any action should be evaluated by what it contributes to the righteous rebellion against injustice. That is the standard. Telling people to stop rebelling does not contribute to ending such outrages and injustices, it undermines the fight against them.

Click here to print, post or tweet.

Read Call to Act


18-year-old Michael Brown was walking down a street with a friend when he was fatally shot multiple times by a cop. Photo: Justice for Michael Brown Facebook page.


There is one issue, and one issue alone, regarding the murder of Michael Brown: once again, some racist pig has taken the life of an unarmed Black youth—in this case, trying to surrender. Don't let them fucking change the subject! 

This other shit they're running about some unrelated incident is nothing but demonization, nothing but brainwash. This is nothing but a strategy to derail the righteous, long-overdue and much much needed fight, of many people in many different ways, from Ferguson to the whole world, against this horrific injustice and the whole larger agenda it's part of.

Click here to print, post or tweet.

A Call to Act Against the Killing of Michael Brown

GET OUT IN THE STREETS—in the downtowns and barrios and ghettoes across the country—to make it known that people are standing with and acting in unity with the people who have stood up in Ferguson, Missouri to protest the police killing of Michael Brown.

Bring, distribute and blow whistles. Bring many copies of the Three Strikes posters and also posters of “We Refuse to Accept Slavery in Any Form” with prominently displayed. Spread the posters among everyone to get out widely.

Get out REVOLUTION! Raise your arms and raise your fists. March. ACT, ACT, ACT!!!



The Peculiar History of the United States: Slavery, "States' Rights" and the Federal Government

by Bob Avakian

Editor’s note: Attorney General Eric Holder has been deployed to Ferguson, MO to try to dampen the courageous uprising against the police murder of Michael Brown. Both in relation to that, but because it reveals essential truth behind illusions about the Federal Government’s role in relation to the oppression of Black people, we are sharing the following excerpt from Birds Cannot Give Birth to Crocodiles, But Humanity Can Soar Beyond the Horizon by Bob Avakian.

Tweet these....

Black figurehead dnt change the slave ship. NO to slow genocide. We need Revolution–Nothing Less! #Ferguson #Michael Brown

[retweet from] Obama says Now is time 4 healing, peace and calm in #Ferguson. I say, this is time 2 step up struggle . Name, Indict & Jail killer cop.

Stop slandering the victim and send the killer to jail. #Ferguson #MichaelBrown

Cosmetics don't mean shit.  A pig is still a pig. #Ferguson #MichaelBrown

Black, white or Latino: once you put on the blue, you gonna serve the system and come down on the people. #Ferguson

The heart of the problem is not the color of the skin of the pig. #Ferguson

Wolf or fox, just a different way to eat you. #Ferguson #MichaelBrown

Calm Down?  Hell No!  The pig is still walking the streets... and the whole genocidal program is still in full effect #Ferguson #MichaelBrown

Time to heal?  Hell No!  Time to step it up!  The dogs are still in the street! #Ferguson #MichaelBrown [to Gil Scott Heron: Jose Campos Torres]

Earlier Posts

Statement from The Revolutionary Communist Party, USA On the Arrests of Carl Dix, Travis Morales and Joey Johnson

August 20, 2014

We Urge You to Come to Ferguson, Missouri, October 10-13

September 24, 2014

For immediate release August 23, 2014
Revolutionary Leader Carl Dix Says Peoples' Defiance of Police Murder of Michael Brown is not the Problem: Keep Fighting What Needs to Be Fought 

Carl Dix Press Conference:
“Stand up, demand justice, don’t be intimidated”

August 19, 2014

To all revolutionaries and fighters for emancipation:

August 21, 2014

Sunday, August 17, Editorial
One week into the struggle for justice for Michael Brown and everything has changed—and nothing has changed.

Carl Dix, Arrested in Ferguson, Called “Outside Criminal Element,” Says Systematic Police Brutality & Murder is Criminal, Not Peoples' Protest

August 19, 2014

Flash: Savage Police Attack Sunday Night in Ferguson—ACT NOW

August 17, 2014

Ferguson, Missouri:
No Time to “Calm Down”—Time to Step Up the Struggle

August 15, 2014

Statement from Carl Dix on the People Standing Up in Ferguson

August 14, 2014

The brave people who are standing up in Ferguson, Missouri, are changing the way everybody in this country is looking at what's going on.

The demands are clear: this murdering cop must be named, indicted and put in prison!

One more thing: these Uncle Toms need to get the hell out of the way of the people who are daring to stand up and fight back!

Black Man Murdered by Cops! Again!! This Must Stop!!!

by Carl Dix | August 11, 2014

People Take to the Streets After Police Kill 18-Year-Old Michael Brown

August 10, 2014


August 11. Photo: AP

From an online comment thread in the Washington Post, August 13:

Heavily armed, white protesters force authorities into retreat at Cliven Bundy Ranch despite allegations of the theft of over $1 million in fees from use of federal land. The police and FBI do nothing.

Unarmed, black protesters are gassed, shot, and beaten by authorities in their own backyards as they peacefully rally to expose a crime committed by a police officer witnessed by many. The police bring armored cars, helicopters, attack dogs, and riot weapons to use against the citizens.




Antonio French—Bootlicker Supreme

August 20, 2014

What do you say about someone who not only attacks people who are standing up, who not only goes on TV to run slanders against the revolutionaries who are standing with those people, but who goes so far as to physically assault one of the revolutionaries (only of course when he has the backing of the armed pigs!)?  And all while posing, and being promoted as, the “champion” of the people.

Antonio French - Bootlicker Supreme

“Bootlicker” hardly captures the shame and low-life character of such a person.  Better to call him “Supreme Bootlicker.”

Such a title goes to Antonio French, an alderman from the city of St. Louis.  After getting arrested early in the protests—and getting notice and “credibility” for it—he became one of the “go-to spokespeople” for the media.  Yesterday, after police carried out yet another killing, this time in St. Louis, this bootlicker actually claimed credit for keeping things calm.  First off, why the hell is THAT—keeping people under the boot of the system—something to claim credit for?  Then he made out like this shows what you can do when you have Black people in the power structure.  Does this fool really want to claim that life is good, or even getting better, for the masses of Black people in St. Louis?  No, in fact, life is getting worse, with police repression serving to defend a system of high unemployment and no decent jobs, horrible education, bad health care, evictions and homelessness, and all the rest that is life for the Black masses in 2014 America. 

Antonio French, do the people a favor.  SHUT THE FUCK UP!!

LZ Granderson

August 12, 2014

Fury and righteous outrage are sweeping the country after the wanton murder of Michael Brown in Ferguson by police.

Photo: AP

On CNN—LZ Granderson says he’s tired of the murder of unarmed Black men. But then says:

“I hate black looters at peaceful rallies the way I hate the KKK.”


“Number one, it’s very important that the community down in Ferguson identify the people who were involved with looting and make sure those people were apprehended and arrested.” 

You beg the vicious oppressors to stop killing Black people. But when those who this system considers less-than-human rise up and demand to be treated as human beings, you say they are as bad as the murderous white-supremacist KKK lynch mobs.

And you direct your real venom at those courageous people who refuse to beg the oppressor for mercy and insist on standing up strong when the oppressor is brutalizing and killing people.

That is the definition of a bootlicker.


On August 19, St. Louis police shot and killed Kajieme Powell, a 25-year-old Black man, just a few miles from where Michael Brown was gunned down by Ferguson police. We will have more on this soon. Watch this video, which shows that this was yet another cold-blooded murder by the police.

Editor’s note: Tyisha Miller was a 19-year-old African-American woman shot dead by Riverside, California police in 1998. Miller had been passed out in her car, resulting from a seizure, when police claimed that she suddenly awoke and had a gun; they fired 23 times at her, hitting her at least 12 times, and murdering her. Bob Avakian addressed this.

If you can’t handle this situation differently than this, then get the fuck out of the way. Not only out of the way of this situation, but get off the earth. Get out of the way of the masses of people. Because, you know, we could have handled this situation any number of ways that would have resulted in a much better outcome. And frankly, if we had state power and we were faced with a similar situation, we would sooner have one of our own people’s police killed than go wantonly murder one of the masses. That’s what you’re supposed to do if you’re actually trying to be a servant of the people. You go there and you put your own life on the line, rather than just wantonly murder one of the people. Fuck all this “serve and protect” bullshit! If they were there to serve and protect, they would have found any way but the way they did it to handle this scene. They could have and would have found a solution that was much better than this. This is the way the proletariat, when it’s been in power has handled—and would again handle—this kind of thing, valuing the lives of the masses of people. As opposed to the bourgeoisie in power, where the role of their police is to terrorize the masses, including wantonly murdering them, murdering them without provocation, without necessity, because exactly the more arbitrary the terror is, the more broadly it affects the masses. And that’s one of the reasons why they like to engage in, and have as one of their main functions to engage in, wanton and arbitrary terror against the masses of people.

BAsics 2:16


Photo: Reuters

From Ferguson, Around the Country and Around the World

Send announcements and plans for protests to

From on the ground in Ferguson...

Support for the people in Ferguson from around the country and around the world...


Entertainers, Artists & Activists Speak Out on Ferguson


Jon Stewart Goes After Fox in Ferguson Monologue


Cheers to Illustrator Mary Engelbreit for "In the USA"
August 28, 2014

Mumia Abu Jamal "Outside Agitators"


Reverend Jeff Hood—"The Violence of Demanding Peaceful Protest: The Missteps of Clergy in Ferguson"
August 23, 2014

Anti-War Activist Cindy Sheehan Supports Courageous Rebellion in Ferguson
August 20, 2014

Read: “Why the Climate Movement Must Stand with Ferguson” Posted at By Deirdre Smith, Strategic Partnership Coordinator
August 23, 2014

Holocaust Survivor Hedy Epstein arrested in protest Against Deploying National Guard
August 18, 2014

Ferguson Protests: Where Do We Stand? Russell Brand The Trews


Jesse Williams and the depiction of Michael Brown (on CNN)


Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Ferguson, MO and Police Militarization (HBO)


Cornel West on Missouri: "Obama reeks of political calculation not moral conviction"—BBC Newsnight




Revolution #348 August 10, 2014

Michael Brown to Eric Garner
This has to stop NOW!

August 10, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


Tweet these slogans!




Revolution #348 August 10, 2014

An Open Letter to Jon Voight:
Shut up you Fucking Ignoramus

August 8, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


When Javier Bardem, Penélope Cruz, Pedro Almodóvar and many other actors and theater people from Spain courageously spoke out publicly against Israel’s massacre in Gaza, you lashed back, saying they were “ignorant of the whole story of Israel’s birth.”

You were a cheerleader for the U.S. invasion of Iraq—that set the stage for the horrors that inflict that country today. You continued to promote the absurd and obscene LIE that Iraq had “weapons of mass destruction.”

You are ignorant of the facts of “Israel’s birth” based on the violent, terrorist ethnic cleansing of Palestine.

And now you cannot see that what Israel is doing to the Palestinian people in Gaza—massacring people including children, starving and terrorizing a whole population—is genocide.

How much more ignorant can anyone be?

So shut up Jon Voight, you fucking ignoramus.