Revolution #349, August 24, 2014 (

Voice of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA

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Revolution #349 August 24, 2014

Ferguson is Everywhere
Police Brutality and Murder MUST STOP!

Updated February 3, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


Day — And Still the Killer Cop Walks Free

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Wilson Has Walked

by Carl Dix

November 24, 2014

Read more | Download PDF for print


November 27, 2014

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The Grand Jury: A Sick Hustle, An Obscene Farce

November 25, 2014

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Grand Jury Decision: Protests Around the World

Updated November 30, 2014

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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

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» Assaulted by Police, Threatened, and Facing 11 Charges For Leading Resistance:
Defend Noche Diaz of the NYC Revolution Club!

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» 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!

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» Chicago: Ferguson Protesters Face Vicious Repression by Police and Court 

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» Hundreds of Arrests in LA Met With “Free the protesters, jail killer cops!”

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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...

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Berkeley Law Faculty Statement Expresses "Despair and Outrage" About the Police Killings of Michael Brown and Eric Garner

January 27, 2015

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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.

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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.

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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.

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A Reader Shares Some Thoughts on the Revolution Clubs and the slogan "Get Organized for an Actual Revolution"

December 11, 2014

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East Oakland: Week of Outrage in the 'Hood

December 11, 2014

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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.

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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.

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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....

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Cheers to Ariyana Smith: “I could not play that game”

December 5, 2014

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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

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“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 #349 August 24, 2014

Points of Orientation on Righteous Rebellions

August 16, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


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.





Revolution #349 August 24, 2014

Sunday August 17, Editorial

One week into the struggle for justice for Michael Brown and everything has changed—and nothing has changed.

August 17, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


Everything has changed: people stood up and fought back and refused to back down in the face of bullets and tanks, scolding and phony sympathy, and everything else. Fighting back and simply demanding justice for Michael Brown and that these pigs stop murdering young Black men. Simply demanding that the humanity of millions of youth be recognized. And when they did—when they went right up against the dogs and the gas and the bullets—they got sympathy from all over the world, they inspired others to stand up, and they put this question squarely on the agenda and changed the terms in which everybody thought and talked about it. People stood up and showed that the people who run this are NOT all-powerful, and that the force they use against the people is NOT legitimate. This is real progress, and it is solely due to determined struggle.

At the same time, nothing has changed. There is no justice at all—whatsoever. The pig who murdered Michael Brown still walks around uncharged. In fact, we don’t even know the number of bullets that he fired into Michael! We don’t even know why these pigs let Michael lie in the street like a dog for FOUR HOURS after he was shot and who made that ugly, horrible decision. And that damn chief of pigs who released the video designed to assassinate Michael’s character still has his job. There is not even a whisper of consequence for any of these pigs. God DAMN this shit!

Right now is no time to stop the struggle, or try to turn it into some bullshit voting thing or some demands on some lying politicians somewhere else. Right now is time to redouble the struggle, to take it to a HIGHER level. These righteous demands—to indict and jail this pig, to fire the pig chief, to give a full accounting ASAP—these have to be met now, not next week or next year.

Don’t tell us that “it takes time to charge someone”—it doesn’t take time to charge and indict a Black or Latino youth who they think might have done something. Hell, it doesn’t take time to kill them, when they don’t get onto the sidewalk fast enough or stop selling cigarettes or just look the wrong way.

We don’t need promises about how the Department of Justice is gonna take care of it—the Department of Justice is the Department of IN-justice. The only thing it takes care of is protecting this goddamn system.

Let’s be real clear: if people had listened to those at the middle of the week who said “trust in Ron Johnson”... if people had listened to those who said “okay, be angry but don’t be too angry”... if people had stayed out of the streets when the pigs told them to... then none of any of the progress that HAS been made would have been made. This struggle has to keep going and it has to go higher and broader, involving more people.

And as we keep on struggling, ask yourself this: WHY does this keep happening? WHY, after all the years of voting, of trying to get an education, of “doing all the right things” and all that... WHY? Because it’s a system—and right now this system has no more use for millions of Black and Latino youth and they are penning them in, locking them down, and killing them off. They are demonizing and dogging these youth to justify all that. We need a revolution to deal with this—one that dismantles all their state power and brings in new power, which really does serve the people in getting emancipated, and contributing to emancipation all over the world.

We don’t need people telling people to vote, to trust in the Justice Department, and all that mess. We don’t need people saying that they’re militant, then acting like deputies and junior cops. We need unity, demanding justice—NOW!








Revolution #349 August 24, 2014

Flash: Savage Police Attack Sunday Night in Ferguson—ACT NOW

August 18, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


As we go live late Sunday night, August 18, the streets of Ferguson, Missouri look like Iraq or Gaza. Thick poisonous smoke fills the air, and live TV coverage shows fascist pigs blasting away at protesters with tear gas and other weapons.

And, as we go to press, network news is reporting that protesters are STILL IN THE STREETS. STILL demanding justice.

Everyone's true colors are on display right now—those who stand with those heroic, courageous freedom fighters in the streets demanding indictment and jail for the murdering police... and the VIOLENT ENFORCERS OF THIS SYSTEM who are wildly attacking the people demanding JUSTICE.

The whole world is watching!

When you read this:

  1. Call, text, tweet everyone to get to to follow what's going on and what to do about it.
  2. Make a sign – get slogans at and put on the bottom. Call a protest, demonstrate at 4 PM – pick a location, spread the word. Protest this outrageous repression! Justice for Michael Brown!





Revolution #349 August 24, 2014

Dispatch from Ferguson, Sunday, 11 P.M.

by Li Onesto | August 18, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


As I send this dispatch from the streets of Ferguson at 11 p.m., people are being hit with rubber bullets. People are being hit with tear gas. Police are blocking the ends of the street to keep people from escaping, running their hippos—which is what people call the armored vehicles they use to attack people from—on the street. There are helicopters overhead.

Here's what happened tonight: Police attacked people far before the announced midnight curfew. I was not there when the initial attack came, but other reporters who I am talking to, who were there, are insistent that all that was going on was that people were peacefully marching when the police started shooting tear gas.

And since then, police have been progressively pushing people up and down the street. People have been resisting, while retreating, because of the intensity of police attacks.

I was gassed while attempting to photograph and report on the events.

I'm with a group right now of a few dozen people, journalists and protesters. I just spoke with an older woman had come out tonight to be part of a peaceful protest. She had planned to go home at curfew time. But when the march was attacked hours before the curfew was supposed to begin, for no reason, this woman who had not planned to stay past the curfew remained in the streets. She has been shot by a rubber bullet and is injured.

People are especially furious because the march was attacked hours before the unjust curfew was to go into effect. They are still in the streets.

And still no justice for Michael Brown.







Revolution #349 August 24, 2014

Dispatch from Ferguson, Saturday, Sunday, August 17

by Li Onesto | August 17, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


It is 3 a.m., Sunday morning, August 17, 2014. I just made it back after covering an amazing, beautiful night on the streets with hundreds determined to get justice for Michael Brown—to demand that the killer cop who shot him down in cold blood be indicted, convicted and sent to jail. Yesterday, the governor announced a state of emergency and a curfew from 12 midnight to 5 a.m.—a vicious attack on the people, to try and suppress their anger. But tonight people weren’t having it.

All photos Li Onesto, Saturday-Sunday August 17, Ferguson



As I reported earlier, in the afternoon at the Governor Nixon/Captain Johnson press conference, there was a lot of anger that what the governor was talking about was more repression and nothing about the indictment of the police who executed Michael Brown. 

I got down to Florissant Street around 9:30 p.m. For a week now hundreds of people have been gathering on this major street, close to where Michael Brown was killed—lining the streets, holding their hands up and chanting “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot!”—a steady stream of cars honking in unity. Again, the scene this night had an edge of defiance and celebration. But the rain that came and went was not the only storm brewing.

Hundreds lined up along the street and on one corner, and lots of others were standing in groups, some engaged in intense discussions. The crowd was overwhelming Black and from Ferguson. But there were lots and lots of others—from around the country—and tons of journalists, including international press. There were also many white people from other cities as well as surrounding neighborhoods who wanted to stand with the people of Ferguson.

There is still shock and seething outrage over the military style repression unleashed against the protestors earlier in the week. The authorities have put considerable effort into a cosmetic change in the image of the police while still not charging the murdering pig or removing the chief of police and while still using SWAT teams, tear gas and military vehicles to break up peaceful protests. And along with this they have also actively worked to create “peace police”—enlisting various social forces and confused people (some of whom claim to be radical) to enforce the authorities decrees on the people, like the curfew. 

I went through the crowd and talked to people. Some said they were getting ready to leave. But others were very clear—they had come to defy the curfew. I walked up to one group of men who basically said, “Fuck the curfew, there’s no justice, we’re not going home. They got bullets but we aren’t scared of that.”

At one point a guy, who was clearly a provocateur started going among people saying the he had just come from the police command center and that there had been some kind of information that the police were not going to use tear gas or rubber bullets—they were going to use live ammunition against anyone who stayed past the curfew. This was meant to scare people and get them to go home.

I walked down to the main intersection where most people were gathered—it was about 11:30. Here the scene was intense—mainly because at this point the people who wanted to go home had pretty much left. The hundreds gathered now were those who were standing up for justice for Mike Brown and facing an illegitimate curfew—in the face of tear gas and rubber bullets and maybe more. Looking way down the street you could already see the forces of the state arrayed, the police cars with their flashing lights and MRAPs (“mine-resistant ambush protected vehicles”).

The peace police were going around, at this point not asking but demanding that people leave.

The multi-national crew of revolutionaries—who have been out in the streets with the people all week—were standing with the people. Among the protestors there was a clear sense that this curfew is illegitimate. It has been seven days, and the killer cop has not been charged—they want to suppress the people’s anger while they “investigate”—when, in fact, it has been the rebellion of the people that has put this out in the world and forced the system to even respond to this murder. People took up chants including: “Indict. Convict. Send the Killer Cop to Jail. The Whole Damn System Is Guilty as Hell!” “The curfew is illegitimate. We refuse to live like this!”

It was less than 10 minutes til midnight and people weren’t leaving when these political firemen attacked the revolutionaries, trying to drive a wedge between them and the masses. They got on their bullhorn and started calling on the people to reject the “cracker communists.” They thought this would help to get people to heed the curfew. But again, the masses weren’t having this. Some were saying, “If you want to go home, then go home. But we’re staying!”

Then in the middle of all this, a woman stepped up and started calling out to people: “No Justice! No Curfew!” In response to the call to “go home and get some rest” she said—“Michael Brown can’t get no rest, he can’t go home. We’re not going home!” She was unstoppable in calling on people to go up against the curfew. This really helped to strengthen people’s resolve as the minutes ticked down to midnight.

Another guy was going through the crowd saying, “Get these white journalists out of here!” A tall Black man in a hoodie responded, repeatedly shouting, “This ain’t about Black and white—this is about the system. This is about the system!”

Then right at midnight people surged into the street—“Hands Up! Don’t Shoot!” The defiance was palpable. The police all the while were blasting over their sound system that people were going to be arrested for violation of the curfew. The rain, which had been pretty much coming down all night, actually stopped for a while. People came up against a line of cars that had been placed as a barricade across the street. The rain began to pour down, but again, people were undeterred—it seemed to only bolster people’s fierce determination. It was like they were saying: NOTHING is going to stop us!!

Then as people continued to march, the smoke grenades and tear gas began. People started to run, then some turned around and ran back toward the police. I heard someone yell, “Throw them back! Throw them back!” and people hurled back the tear gas canisters towards the police lines.

Then, only seconds later, we heard people behind us shouting, “The police are coming,” and people started running.

It was close to 1 a.m. now. Bravely, the people had defied the curfew for almost a full hour. 

Along Florissant, one woman had carried a sign that read, “Making History.” Indeed, this is what people did tonight. Again, people sent a message around the country and the world that they demand justice and refuse to live this way!

Tonight the curfew is in effect again. And there is still no justice for Mike Brown.




Revolution #349 August 24, 2014

Dispatch from Ferguson Saturday, August 16

by Li Onesto | August 17, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


Saturday August 16: It’s raining pretty steady today in Ferguson but this has not dampened the anger and impatience of the people here who continue to come into the streets to demand justice for Michael Brown. There was a march from the site where Michael was killed by the police down Florissant Street where hundreds have been protesting for a week now—where people were attacked by the police with tear gas and rubber bullets.

Early Saturday morning in Ferguson, Missouri. Photo: Reuters.

At a church in the afternoon the powers that be had a big press conference—they assembled everyone there, major political figures and national and international media to make their new announcement: yet another attack and insult to the people. The Governor of Missouri got up with some bullshit honey-eyed words about maintaining the rights of people to protest. He even talked about how people around the country are speaking in “one united voice” for justice. But then went on to announce a State of Emergency—that there would be a curfew in the “effected area of Ferguson” starting tonight, from 12 midnight to 5am. He said, “The eyes of the world are on us.” No shit—this is why he is taking this repressive step to try and put a lid on the people’s anger.

Then one reporter shouted out: “Excuse me, Governor, you need to charge that police with murder.” And this was followed with many shouting, “yeah” and “where’s the indictment.” 

From this point on their well-planned, scripted press conference turned into a battle where they had a difficult time maintaining control.

The next speaker—Ron Johnson, chief of the highway patrol in the St. Louis area, now in charge on the streets in Ferguson—was also interrupted after a few minutes with: “Why has it taken so long to indict the killer cop?”

When they opened things up to questions and answers this was when things got heated. Several people asked questions about why there was no indictment and people also wanted to know how they were going to enforce this new curfew—with rubber bullets and tear gas like they had done before? Just about every time such questions were asked people in the crowd would start speaking out, calling for justice.

The Governor and Chief of Police kept bringing things back to “security” and “keeping peace.” But many reporters and others in the crowd persisted in trying to change the whole focus of the Q&A to why there had been no arrest of the killer cop and the brutality that protesters have already faced from the police out in the street.

The room was clearly divided. There were those in the room who were totally with the program of “keeping the calm,” and putting a lid on the people’s anger. There were those who got up and stated that they were fully willing to work with the police to enforce the curfew. But others clearly weren’t having it.

I was sitting directly in front of the podium and at one point I was able to get the floor and ask the Governor a question: “Excuse me, can you explain to us why this whole press conference is focused on controlling the anger of the people when the whole reason the people have been in the streets for a week now is because people are demanding justice and there has been no arrest, there has been no indictment and people know that this poor child, this 18 year old young man was killed in cold blood and there has been no arrest and people are demanding justice, that is why people are in the street and now this whole press conference has been turned into an explanation of why you are controlling people’s anger and suppressing people’s anger and telling people to calm down. Why is that the case?”

The whole time I was saying this, the Governor and Chief of Police were staring at me, looking rather annoyed but also very nervous—especially when lots of people yelled and clapped in agreement at the end. But then they just went on with the press conference as if I hadn’t even asked a question.

There continued to be several more outbursts from the crowd from people—impatience, anger and frustration coming out at the outrage of this whole thing. Then finally, they just ended the whole thing.

One reporter asked if they were going to use tear gas and their hippo tanks against the people again to enforce the curfew. They answered by promising to not use “unnecessary force.” But this just means they’ll use what they see as “necessary force” tonight to clear the streets.

I’ll end now so I can go out and be among those who are standing up. It’s gonna be a long night. Stay tuned.

And there is still no justice for Michael Brown.






Revolution #349 August 24, 2014

Dispatch from Ferguson, Monday, August 18

by Li Onesto | August 18, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


(From my earlier notes)

“Our System Completely Fails Us.”

I talked to one Black man the other night. He told me, “Oh, man, I've had some pretty terrible experiences. I've been profiled and the crazy thing is I have two vehicles.  I have no stops at all in one of them. And then in another one that's a little more flashy, I'm consistently pulled over, consistently badgered, consistently followed, consistently having my license plate ran. And the crazy thing is on the one car, the plates and stuff weren't even right.  Go figure that, right? That's the one they don't stop me in. That—I was never bothered, never followed.  I don't have tinted windows. I don't have rims on that one. It's just a plain vehicle with some hail damage. No issues at all in that one.

I ask—was he basically being stopped for being a black man with a nice car?

“That's what it seems like to me. I'll put it like this, the last eight tickets I've had all came in my new vehicle. I haven't been pulled over one time in my old one. And I've had it for three years longer. The new one I've only had for about a year and a half. I never got pulled over in three years in that car. And then in my new truck, like I've had about 10 tickets in the last year and a half.”

How does he feel about no arrest yet of the cop who murdered Michael Brown?

“I think that that is a representation of a system that is in despair. I mean I don't know what to say. But when it comes to justice for African-Americans for things like this, our system completely fails us. And that's why people—that's why people are taking to the streets. That's why they're looting and things like that. Although I don't agree with it, I understand the anger. I understand the frustration behind it.

* * *

“It’s Like a Modern Day Lynching”

I spoke with a woman who has been in the streets. She told me, “I've been out there supporting the struggle and you know, getting justice for Michael Brown, and not just for Michael Brown, for any young African-American male that has been killed by the police unjustly.”

Like others, she has a lot on her mind. “My thoughts are for Mr. [Eric] Garner and his family, for Michael Brown and his family, I think that some justice that needs to be served. From my opinion, it's just been an up rage in the youth, in the people in this world on what is going on with cops killing black people, Black men, unjustly. So I'm concerned about that. It's almost modern-day lynching that's done by the police officers.”

How did she feel about the curfew? “People are not going in. They're not turning in. They're not leaving.  It's going to be people that are locked up. Tear gas is going to be just like they did the other night. It's just going to be more chaotic. I think that the people should be able to protest peacefully as long as they want to.”

What is her take on the mood on the street?

“Well, I think that it's mixed. I think that they feel that it's in correlation with the piece that was released on Michael Brown regarding the incident at the Mart and the actual killing that took place. I think that it's doing something that the police wanted it to do. It's creating dissention amongst the supporters. And it's also created another level of issues. The focus needs to be on Michael Brown, the injustice that was served and the way that he was executed. The police officer, Charles Wilson, has not been indicted. He hasn't been brought up on charges.  His face hasn't been seen. Allegedly, he's out of town. There's no current information. And this has been over a week now, or just about—just at a week that this child has been killed. It's ridiculous! Because it sums it all up... from beginning to end. Indict, convict him, send him to jail and this whole system needs to be redone. It's just this is set up. This is an old system. They need to go back and redo all these laws. They need to get all these people that's targeting people.

“I feel like if people would look at everything that happens and put a loved one in the place, think about your child and think about your child lying in the middle of the street with a bullet hole through their head. And then I think you would probably see where those parents are coming from.

“You know, it's just—it's crazy. I think it's absurd that we even have to stand here and ask them to do what's right, you know? To indict the cop. To let him go to court. That's the whole point of the court system, of the system that they have in place, is so that someone can determine did he do something wrong? And you won't even allow that system, you won't even, you know, indict him so that it can be determined whether he did something wrong. The fact that you won't deny it—that they won't even indict him says something about the system. Something is wrong. You don't trust the system that you put in place to make a determination as to whether or not this man has done something wrong? That's the question.”

And there is still not justice for Michael Brown.







Revolution #349 August 24, 2014

Dispatch from Ferguson, Monday, August 18

by Li Onesto | August 18, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |



Let me just start with this. The curfew has been lifted here in Ferguson. But now, in effect they have a 24-hour curfew on the people because they have essentially outlawed anyone “congregating in groups.”

This became apparent right away when Carl Dix tried to go up to Florissant Street to hold a press conference Monday at noon. I was there to cover this for Revolution/ and saw firsthand how the new level of repression against the people is being put into effect. For all their talk—from Obama on down—about the people’s right to peacefully protest, now people are not even being allowed to stand on the street! And the press is being contained and bullied by the police as well.

I started walking up the street toward the Quick Trip—the convenience store that was burned down right after Michael Brown was killed and has since become a gathering points for protesters. Other media also been set up on this corner. But as I got closer I saw lines of police who started moving on the few dozen people gathered around. They moved on people saying, “you have to move, leave or you will be arrested.” There was even some kind of press conference already going on but the cops didn’t care, they just had their orders to clear the whole area and they were quickly moving on people, including the press who were all breaking down their tents and leaving.

Other media were re-assembling at the Target store parking lot much further down the street and we stopped by there where there was also a group of National Guardsmen.

After this I went to the Ferguson Market where I heard media and protesters had gathered. When I arrived on the scene there were a lot of cops controlling the area but there was a real defiant edge going on in the crowd. As I walked up I saw the police moving on a crowd of people, forcing them down the street. People were chanting and holding signs: “Indict, Convict, Send the Killer Cop to Jail. The Whole Damn System is Guilty as Hell!” Signs: “Indict the Killer Cop!” “Fire the Police Chief!” “Full Accounting of What Happened Immediately” “Fight the Power and Transform the People, For Revolution” and “People are standing up in Ferguson. Its Right to Rebel!” Also: “No Justice! No Peace” “Protect Our Children” “Please don’t shoot me. My Hands Are Up.”

When Carl Dix was speaking to the press he made the point that he was had come from New York to stand with the people of Ferguson and then later, a woman came up to him and thanked him for coming.

One young Black man was heard saying, “This is not a racial thing, this is about justice”—a sentiment I have heard many other times out here in the streets.

Some people were getting right up in the face of the police each time the cops tried to force people to move, voicing their anger at the murder of Michael Brown as well as the whole way that the people’s protests are being suppressed—how now people are not even being allowed, literally to stand on the street. One guy said, “What about if I want to wait for the bus? I can’t even do that now.” The police moved people down the street and then when people turned around and tried to come back they moved on the crowd again.

At one point an older Black woman who was being pushed by the police down the street along with everyone and she challenged them saying, “I have the right to protest out here. I know my constitutional rights.” A group of cops came up on her and the crowd gathered around this scene and she said, “I’m ready to be arrested.” Some white-shirt cop quickly tried to diffuse the situation, trying to cool things out because people were so outraged that the police were messing with this elderly Black woman. The cop led her away from the crowd.

Soon after this the cops moved on two people—at least one of who was wearing a revolutionary t-shirt. A whole group of cops forced one person down on the ground, got on top of him and cuffed him. Immediately people yelled, “Someone’s getting busted” and people started running toward the scene. The police blocked people from getting close, the media all rushed in. People were yelling, “Let him go, let him go!” Another person was also dragged away. This all happened in a couple of minutes. And there are reports in the news of a number of other arrests today. At this writing both were released from jail, one is injured. 

Among others arrested this afternoon was Getty Images photographer Scott Olson. His iconic photos have provided the world with a picture of what is going on in Ferguson, and his arrest has been an international scandal and is an outrage! One online story on him shows a bunch of his photos with the headline “What a Getty Photographer Captured Before He Was Arrested in Ferguson.”

Before his arrest he had taken photos of the people with revolutionary t-shirts being arrested.

I see on Twitter Scott Olsen was released this evening, and issued a statement “I want to be able to do my job as a member of the media and not be arrested for just doing my job.”

Tonight the National Guard will be in town.

And there is still no justice for Michael Brown.







Revolution #349 August 24, 2014

Dispatch from Ferguson, Monday Night, August 18, 2014

by Li Onesto | August 20, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


I ran into something of a “people’s press conference” tonight. Here’s the story.

Way before it got dark lots of people gathered on Florissant street Monday night. The police presence was heavy and more right up in the face of people than in nights past. About a quarter mile of the street was blocked off and the police were letting people in, but they were tightly controlling people’s movement. Lots of press tents were set up along the sidewalk at the corner of the Ferguson Market—where several people had been arrested in the afternoon.

It was just getting dark when I arrived, around 8 pm. I saw a big line of police already set up across the intersection in full riot gear. The MRAPs [mine-resistant ambush protected vehicles]. On one corner there was a large crowd of people gathered and many were people lining the streets. Lots of cops were in the street at this point but they were letting people cross back and forth.

The so-called Black radicals who had tried to enforce the curfew the night before, together with religious forces, had organized a march of a couple hundred people. Ministers had been mobilized to come out and participate. At the front of this was the rap star Nelly marching with a t-shirt that said “#MikeBrown.” People kept pushing their way through the wall of press to shake his hand and thank him for coming to Ferguson. Earlier in the day at the Target parking lot where the press was setting up, I had briefly talked to Kiki Palmer who had come to Ferguson to express her support for the fight for justice for Michael Brown. I had seen her out in the street with protesters the night before.

A ways down Florrisant I joined a kind of on-the-spot press conference by a young Black man from the neighborhood. Because of this whole week of protests by the people of Ferguson, the life experience and sentiments of the people here is getting a little media coverage—in ways it didn’t before. The man addressed the group of about 8 or so media people:

“You know what they said, you know what type of stuff they put together? They said this man had a gun on him. He didn’t have no gun on him, trust me. It wasn’t right, you know it wasn’t right.

“I’m 21, I got an 8-month-old child.... what do I supposed to tell him, I keep trying to talk to him. I know he not really understanding but I’m telling him like you gotta grow up to watch the police. If they tell you to do something, do it, don’t give them no talk back. I just feel like justice needs to get served, you know what I’m saying.

“And I shout out to all the famous people who heart it touched, for real, cause y’all is coming down here, y’all showing us so much love. They showing us love out there, they protesting in Atlanta. I show them so much love, because this means so much to us, for real. All we want is justice. We want all the crooked cops gone. We don’t just want Darren Wilson, we want all of them gone. You know what I’m saying.

“You know what type of Black people they get the most, us young Black men. Because we don’t know no better sometimes. We don’t know no better. They not going to get a grown Black man who done been through that type of stuff because they know their rights, they been to jail a couple of times, they know their rights. They want to get the young black men, mess up they heads.

“I been getting messed with by the police my whole life and I would not lie. I remember it was the Lakers vs. Celtics playoffs. I was outside, it was me and a couple of my partners, I was outside. We was smoking, I’m on the phone. On the phone, the officers got the guns drawn on my partners. I’m across the street, I’m not knowing that I’m a suspect in any of this, how am I a suspect? So I turn to a gun drawn in my face, he like, 'put your hands up.' I goes to put my phone in my pocket. Do you know what this man almost did to me—this man almost killed me, I swear to god, I would not lie to you. This man said, 'He got a gun! He got a gun!' Man, I said, 'Man, I ain’t got no gun!' And he said, you know what that man said? 'I want you to have something on you because I’m going to beat your ass.' That’s what that man said. I swear to god on my son. He said, 'I’m going to beat your ass if you got something on you....City, county, all of them, they wrong. None of them right, trust me.”

One of the press people asks, “What is your name?”

The speaker says: “My name is Mike Brown.” People crowded around clap and cheer. People start chanting, “Hands up! Don’t Shoot!”

The man talks about other young Black men who have been killed by the police, like Sean Bell and says, “People are tired of this... this shit keep happening, keep happening. The only thing that saving them is this badge that they got on. Fuck that badge though.”

And still no justice for Michael Brown.







Revolution #349 August 24, 2014

Dispatch from Ferguson, Tuesday, August 19

by Li Onesto | August 17, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |



Ferguson, Monday night August 18.
Photo: Li Onesto/

People ask about the youth who have been in the streets. The defiant ones. I’ll share notes of an interview I did with a young Black man – and other people jumped in as well. I haven’t had time to organize these notes but let me share them raw:

Question: What—what have—what has your experience been in this area with the police department?

Young Black man: Oh, this has been a war zone, quite simple. They’re out here with M-16s...

Question: Before—I’m talking about even before...

Young Black man: Oh, you mean before this?

Question: Yes.

Young Black man: The police been over there—they’ve been racist. I’ve been there—I’ve been here for 12 years now. The police, they will follow you. They will harass you. They will—they’ll shine a light on your car as they drivin’, they’ll shine it until they drive by you and then they’ll get behind you. And they’ll pull you over. Then they’ll take you out of your car, want to search your car, want to—they’ll push you on the car. They’ll say oh, I smell weed in your car. I don’t even smoke.

They’ll pull you out, put you in handcuffs, put you on the curb. You’re embarrassed as people driving by. This is a main street. I done have people—I done have one of my professors drive by and see me.

You know what I’m saying, like they don’t care about you. The police, period. It ain’t just Ferguson. That’s what everybody keeps missing. It is not just Ferguson. It’s Florissant, it’s Pagedale, Pine Lawn, Dellwood. It’s all of this—Sabelfeld, all of that. You ain’t—look, every—every municipality here in North County and the surrounding areas is full of racist officers.

Their makeup determines that. Whatever you—how do you assign a—a person outside of the community to police the community? You don’t know me. You don’t know what I go through.

Question: How many times have you been stopped by the police...

Young Black man: I don’t know.

Question: Since you were 12 years old?

Young Black man: I don’t know I can’t even tell you. I would be lying to tell you about how many times I’ve been stopped and harassed or how many vehicles I’ve had illegally searched or ran through.

(A second man): We may be stopped today on the highway leaving here.

Young Black man:  Exactly. On my way down here one night, on Tuesday night when I was coming down here, they tried to stop me. I had to take back roads to get over here. I tell you, they don’t care. Like no matter how much press coverage—this—all this shit is cool. It’s cool. I like. It’s cool. Everybody here. But when you all leave, the cameras cut off, we’ve got to live here.

Ferguson, Monday night August 18.
Photo: Li Onesto/

It is going to be right back to what they’ve been doing, because they don’t care. Any time you’ve got 53 officers in a—in a—in a police department, three of them are black, the 70 something percent of the community is black, how does that work? How do you think that that works?

A person who’s supposed to be smart and a person who’s supposed to care about your community, how do you sit there and say, you look at your police department roster and you say OK, I’ve got 50 white police officers. You look at the community and see, 60 percent of my community is black.

Damn, why—why is it like that? That doesn’t make sense. It is not just Ferguson. If you look at all the departments, there is a—a huge—a huge disparity in black police officers, in actual /like the police department. And then when you get black police officers, you don’t have no black police chiefs.

Question: But then let me ask you this, though, I’m from New York.

Young Black man: Yes.

Question: And we have lots of black police officers. But they still murder people, and do all this.

Young Black man: The NYPD is just racist.

(A third man jumps in): Black officers won’t solve the problem, because the problem is the mentality that we’re judged by. Until that changes, there will be no—no...

 Question: I mean this is racist America.

(Third man): It’s a systemic institutional racism. Like we weren’t designed in the mind of America. When “The Constitution” was drawn up, we were no more than just yard tools. So you don’t—when you make plans for your life, you don’t say, damn, what is my vacuum cleaner going to do tomorrow? I need to write some rights for my lawn mower. He going to want—he going to want to do some boatin’, probably. You don’t think like that.

Young Black man:  Right.

(Third man):  They never created this system with us in mind. We were never factored in. The fact that we got... the whole system needs to be thrown. The whole entire system. People in positions of power is an anomaly. We were never supposed to succeed. They done everything to stop black men from succeeding, everything. You look at prisons, we’re far more incarcerated than any other race. We don’t even make up enough of the population to have that much black people in prison.

Young Black man:  It doesn’t make sense.

Question: Yes. It’s 12 percent of the population and something like over 60 percent...

Young Black man: Is black and brown men.

Question: Yes. Right.

Young Black man: The laws are rigged to make sure we get these Black men locked up.

Question: Well, Michelle—Michelle Alexander has called it the new Jim Crow.

Young Black man: That’s all it is. Like all we doin’ is facilitating their prison systems, which is one of the biggest industries in the—in the country and all of these people who are in power, political power, have prisons—Halliburton, George Bush owning a prison, all these type of things—all these—what’s this guy, the dude—the dude who shot—Dick Cheney owned Halliburton. You know, it’s like all these programs that people are getting paid off of incarcerating black people.

And nobody cares because we’re black. That’s what it boils down to. If reporters didn’t get shot at the other night and didn’t get tear gassed...

You wouldn’t be here. And I’m not saying that is a respectful thing to you at all, but you would not be...

Question: Well, I would be here.

Young Black man:  Yes, yes, not you...

Question: Because I’m with Revolution

Young Black man: Well, yes... most of like all these other media outlets, nobody would be here if we were—if it was still them shooting niggers, they wouldn’t care. I was out here and I seen snipers sitting on top of an armored truck and a police line...

Question: Now how intimidating was that?

Young Black man: To be honest with you, I was scared for probably about 30 seconds, until they started shooting and I realized fuck it, we out here. We here now.

(Woman joins the conversation):  That’s right!

Young Black man:  It is very simple.

Question: It is true, though, you know, like what—I just interviewed Dick Gregory, you know. And one of the things he said was that like...

Young Black man: Here?

Question: Yes, he was here.

Young Black man: Where he at?

Question: He’s over there. He was being interviewed by CNN.

But Dick Gregory, one of the things he pointed out, and I think this is really true, he said the whole world is watching this now.

Young Black man:—that’s why you see Ron Johnson walking through and taking pictures of people.

Question: Yes.

Young Black man: Man, fuck him.

Question: That’s bullshit. Exactly.

Young Black man: Fuck him. You know what’s funny to me, whenever they—whenever they fuck up like this, they throw a black face on it and then expect everybody to be cool. I’m not cool.

Young Black man:—that goes back to the Stockholm Syndrome. That’s where we lose sight of the fact that we—we think that any sense of empathy or any sense of them letting up is empathy, when, in all honesty, it’s not. We’re still being oppressed. We’re still being forced into a position that they want us. But like my brother said, they’ll throw a black face on something just to get multiple black faces. Oh, OK, it’s safe now. When, in all honesty, it’s not, because it’s not even about color, it’s about justice. That’s the main issue. It’s about justice. That’s everything. They’re—they are afraid now because they see when they us unified. and when they shot at us, they unified us.

They made us one. They made us realize, you know what—because I seen, last night when was out here, there was Bloods, Crips, Six Deuces, GDs. It was all type of gangs out here kicking it, drinking, smoking, having a good time, kicking it with each other. People who I’ve seen before shoot at each other are now friends, because of what? Because of this event. You’ve got gangs unifying... We’ve got black people getting together. We’ve got black people sticking together now. And so what’s scary to these police is the fact that now they know they can’t control us no more. We were—we were divided, fighting amongst each other, that was our main issue. We was fighting amongst each other. Now we’re not fighting amongst each other. We’re ready to fight them. That’s why they scared. And that’s the problem. That’s exactly why they scared, because they—now they see, they fucked up when they came over here with that tear gas and they started messing with us. They fucked up when they keep on making these police size and they keep on harassing us...

They’ve harassed us for years and years. Now you want to be peaceful. No, you declare a war, you can’t—you can’t scream for peace after you just started a war. That’s what they did. And now—and now they seeing it, we’re not scared no more. Ain’t nobody out here scared. Nobody is worried, because it’s like they’ve got arms and they’ve got provisions for themselves, so do these people out here. Nobody scared. That’s why they scared, because they see—they—they fucked it up. When they had us scared, they should have left it at that. Once we see, oh tear gas ain’t that bad. It ain’t that bad. You’ll be OK. Tie your shirt around your face, you’ll be all right. You’ll get used to it. You’ll be OK. Rubber bullets? These are just like regular bullets. We’ve been ducking bullets for years here. They’re not surprising nobody.

And they’ve agitated that situation, because now that they’ve—they’ve dis—they’ve stripped the right—the First Amendment right for us to assemble peacefully, they’ve stripped our rights, now they’ve got black people learning about their rights, understanding the First Amendment and the Second Amendment and understanding what they can do to arm themselves, what they can do to protect themselves, not just physically, but intellectually, as well.

Ferguson, Monday night August 18.
Photo: Li Onesto/

Black people are out here sharing knowledge. We’ve had lawyers out here. We’ve had others out here. People are talking. People are out here actually communicating with each other. You’ve got people—you’ve got thugs, criminals, drug dealers talking to lawyers, professors, doctors. Last night we was marching through Canfield, you had a professor standing next to Bloods with tattoos on their face. You see how crazy that is?

But—but that’s the problem. See, they—at a point in time a few years ago, it was all—we was all looking at each other crazy. Now you don’t see that out here. We’ve been out here for two nights straight, no fights, no violence, no gunshots, no nothing.

That’s scary. And they thought they was going to leave us alone and niggers was going to start being niggers, we were going to start hating each other again. They fucked that up.

They messed that up. They messed that up themselves. That’s why they’ve got Ron Johnson out here trying to be the spokesperson and trying to be out here kissing babies and shit. I mean get the fuck on. Nobody trying to hear that. We know what they did. We—the jig is up. The jig is up, America. We know. We smart—we—we read now. Massa gave us books. We read now.


And still no justice for Michael Brown.







Revolution #349 August 24, 2014

Li Onesto interviews Joey Johnson right after his release from jail after being arrested on Monday night, August 18, in Ferguson

August 20, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


On August 18, the Missouri police singled out and arrested RCP members and supporters Carl Dix, Travis Morales, and Joey Johnson (see the RCP statement on their arrests). I talked with Joey Johnson after he was released from jail.


Tell me about the night you were arrested and your conversations with the other protesters in the paddy wagon and in jail.

Left to right, Carl Dix, Joey Johnson with bullhorn and Travis Morales with Indict the Killer Cop sign. Photo: Li Onesto/

Carl Dix, Travis and I were in the paddy wagon with three Black men who were arrested out there. This one guy had a photo of himself throwing back one of those damn tear gas canisters to defend himself and others from that shit. He was an amazing character—kind of like a Houdini because he was able to take his handcuffed hands from his back to the front. So that was very entertaining. For example there was this other guy in there and he wanted to smoke a cigarette in the paddy wagon and so they switched places. The guy who was like a Houdini took the cigarettes out of his pocket for him and then they switched places again—and remember this is in a paddy wagon that is no bigger than this dining table here—so they could get the lighter out of his other pocket. They lighted the cigarette and the guy took a few drags. It was just really funny. People were just laughing at this and people’s spirits in general were high.

Then we got down to the jail and they take us and we were like some of the first arrested that night. They put us in this cell and this pig one came and saw the photo on this guy’s t-shirt and said, hey is that you on there? And the guy said, “What just because he has dreads? You think we all look alike?” And the pig got all defensive and said, “No I’m not saying that, I just saw the dreadlocks.”

Feguson, August 17. Photo: Li Onesto/

I heard from people in jail that the masses had together managed to move the big concrete road dividers that the police had put in the street to block cars and protesters. I also heard about how people put broken pieces of concrete across the street on Florissant to try defend people—to make it more difficult for the big police vehicles to go up the street.

When I got into the main day room, a big open space with benches, these guys waved to me and said, “My man, what’s up?” and I walk over there. I didn’t know these guys. There’s one seat open among them, I just sat down right in the middle of them. I been in jail a lot over the years and lot of times when you go to jail you’re careful about who you sit among, who you talk to. But this was a whole different vibe. It gets back to that thing about when people rise up there’s a whole different mind set, a whole different thinking, openness, where before there might have been a wall there.

So I sat down with these guys and they were so appreciative that we had come from so far to support the rebellion. It was really moving. I just want to say, given all this bullshit being spewed in the media about “outsiders coming to Ferguson” that with these guy that were in jail with me and with virtually everyone else I’ve talked to out in the street, when I tell them I came from Oakland and that other comrades came from Chicago and New York—we got nothing but love back from the masses.

These guys also talked with me about how fucked up things have been for so long as far as what the police do to people, what they get away with. And they really felt a sense of pride over what they had accomplished. They kept talking about the possibility of it spreading.

Did they know about the fact that protests in support of people in Ferguson had gone on all over the country?

Yeah. There were different degrees to which people knew this.

There was a TV in the day room but all they showed was sports and people were joking saying, they ain’t going to show the rebellion in here, that will just set people off in here.

People were also telling me about how the law—the police, courts, prisons are really fucked up in Missouri. They talked about how people get killed in the jails and prisons, how the COs are brutal. This too is not really talked about in the media coverage, there are years and decades of suffering and humiliation by the police and overall oppression of Black people that has been pent up and then unleashed in this rebellion.

One guy reminded me of a cornerback in football because of his athleticism. He came into jail with a glove on one hand because when you pick up tear gas canisters to throw them back to defend yourself, you need protection. And he showed me a big burn on his hand. My favorite part of the evening was sitting talking with these guys for about 4-5 hours about the rebellion in Ferguson and about revolution.

When you told them about the movement for revolution and how revolutionaries have come to Ferguson to stand with “the defiant ones,” what was their response?

Photo: AP

They were really excited. They wanted to know more about it. They were really hungry to hear about this and we were really trying to figure out how to hook up afterwards. We couldn’t get a pencil to write down phone numbers so some guys gave me their Facebook monikers.

The other thing is there was a good number of white people that night who got swooped up and arrested. This is the only jail room I’ve been to that was co-ed so there were Black and white women in there too.

Did you talk to any of the women who were arrested out on Florissant?

Joey Johnson, holding bullhorn for fellow protestors.
Photo: Li Onesto/

Yeah. I talked to this one white woman who worked in a bar and took the night off to come down to Florissant to protest. She and her boyfriend came down and then after the police attacked people they put a whole lot of people in their truck to try and get away and the police stopped them, busted everybody in the truck and then took the truck.

Also, I talked to this one white guy from Austin, Texas who drove 13 hours to get to Ferguson. With this guy and another white man I talked to one of the things that really attracted them to come was this thing about the militarization of the police. They see this shit as ominous and that it has to be stopped NOW! I’m not saying they weren’t outraged about the murder of Michael Brown but this was really pronounced for them. Black people have been the driving force of this rebellion but the multinational unity has been really important.


And still no justice for Michael Brown.




Revolution #349 August 24, 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 #349 August 24, 2014


August 18, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


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.





Revolution #349 August 24, 2014

To Those Who Voted for Obama: Let's Evaluate the Reality

August 18, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


Listen to Joe Veale: "To Those Who Voted for Obama: Let's Evaluate the Reality"

Play this audio wherever people are talking about Ferguson. Post on web, share.

You had hope that he was going to bring change. We said no, he will not stop the outrages of the system. We said that he would just provide cover for those outrages. We said that’s why he had been chosen to be president. We said we can only get rid of these outrages through revolution—and that a big part of that revolution has to be standing up and fighting back against the outrages that they bring down right now... NOT hoping once again in some savior from on high.

Now, six years later, we have to look at reality. And what conclusions must be drawn?

Maybe you saw the press conference that Obama did on August 14 about the murder of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Dude looked bored, and annoyed, frankly. Here you got people—all kinds of people—righteously outraged over the murder of Michael Brown and the tear gassing of the people who protested. People correctly infuriated. And Obama just tells everyone to “be calm.” Calm?! Come the fuck on, man! A truly genocidal thing is going down, and you’re telling people to be calm?!? Naw.

And Obama only even did that because the rebellion in Ferguson had exposed the system he runs and put them on the defensive. People all over the world saying, “‘champion of human rights,’ my ass!” Then he gets up there to scold the youth who rebelled (and to signal a different tactic for the police).  

Face it. All this pull-up-your-pants, brother’s-keeper, we’ll-investigate-it-in-the-Justice-Department bullshit did nothing for Trayvon... did nothing for Jordan Davis, shot down by a klucker for loud music... did nothing for Eric Garner, strangled to death by New York pigs for selling loose cigarettes... and will do nothing for Michael Brown, shot down with his hands in the air, and now assassinated a second time, by slander. And it will do less than nothing for the millions of other Black and Latino youth who have no future under this rotten capitalist system.

Matter of fact, that’s the whole point of Obama’s thing. To make a phony show of concern to calm things down—while the whole genocidal program of mass incarceration and police harassment and murder of Black and Latino youth just keeps steaming on.

No. HELL NO! Fuck that and fuck anybody else who wants to get up there and act like a fireman for that system and its “commander-in-chief.”

'Cause that’s what it is. A system. From the slavery and genocide that gave rise to this empire and up to now—all it has ever produced is injustice. The form may change, but it ALL comes down to deep-rooted never-has-never-will-and-never-can-change injustice. Horrible attacks on people’s lives and spirits, grinding on day after day, in a thousand different ways, punctuated by the howling outrages like what happened to Michael Brown.

So let’s look at reality again, and let’s draw the conclusions we must. How long are we gonna let all this keep going on? We need nothing less than revolution, and a whole new system. And we need right now to draw inspiration from the people of Ferguson and all over who have stood up, we need to carry this further, and we need to take this into a month of resistance in October against this whole program of mass incarceration and police murder. A month of resistance involving thousands and thousands of different viewpoints, all saying NO.

And right now, you need to check out and get with the Revolutionary Communist Party,USA—we’ve got the strategy... we’ve got the program for a new society... and we’ve got the leadership, in our Party and in our leader, Bob Avakian, who’s brought forward a new understanding of communism. Listen to his statement to the youth on New Year’s 2014 and see what we mean.

To you who voted for Obama: the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting different results.

Let’s get sane.




Revolution #349 August 24, 2014

The Peculiar History of the United States: Slavery, “States’ Rights” and the Federal Government

by Bob Avakian

August 18, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


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.


The Peculiar History of the United States: Slavery, "States' Rights" and the Federal Government

And there is, along with this, the peculiar phenomenon in the history of the U.S. that—especially in the period after the Civil War, and particularly in the period of the New Deal with Roosevelt in the 1930s, and then again with Johnson's Great Society in the 1960s—the federal government has played the role of stepping in not only to, in effect, "save this system from itself" but more specifically to prevent certain local or state governments from carrying out acts which, in the context of the country and the world overall, might be injurious to the interests of the ruling class as a whole. For example, it is the federal government which—even under Eisenhower, a Republican president—sent troops to Little Rock in the 1950s, when there was a revolt on the part of the state government in Arkansas against the integration of the schools. The same thing happened in regard to George Wallace when, as the openly white supremacist governor of Alabama, he tried to prevent integration in that state in the 1960s.

In general, it has been the federal government that has made concessions to oppressed and "marginalized" people in this country. That has been the form in which those concessions have largely been made—the federal government acting to do this, frequently in opposition to local and state governments and the more particular interests they represent.

This is one of the reasons why in the U.S. the fascist movements that have developed have a strong anti-federal government posture—that whole "anti-Washington" thing, and the assertion of "states' rights," in opposition to the federal government as the embodiment of all evil. This, to a large extent, is an expression of the particular role of the federal government in relation to the state governments in the history, and even in the present time, within the U.S. As I'll speak to more fully later, in talking about some of these fascist movements, it is perfectly fine with them for the federal government to spend lots of money, and even to go into great debt, to wage wars and for other purposes which are in line with how these forces see their interests; but to them it is an abomination for the federal government to do anything, spend any money or act in any other way, to make concessions to groups to which these people see themselves in opposition and antagonism. In fact, those drawn to these fascist movements in particular—although, unfortunately, this is a broader phenomenon in American society—have to a large degree defined themselves, in a real sense, in opposition to oppressed people in the U.S., especially Black people. This is essential to their identity as white Americans.

So this is a peculiar phenomenon that we should understand about the history of this country, the exercise of state power by the ruling classes and the conflicts within that—and why it is that many of the oppressed see, and are encouraged to see, the federal government as the recourse of last resort. It is a common occurrence, for example, that when the police murder somebody—and, as we know, the victims of this police murder are overwhelmingly Black people, as well as Latinos—and, as almost always happens, the police get away with this (either they are not charged with a crime at all, and it is simply declared "justifiable homicide," or in the rare cases where they are accused of a crime and tried, the trial is generally a farce, with the judge, openly or at least in the content of legal rulings, siding with the cop or cops on trial, and the prosecution conducting its case on terms and in a way that makes an acquittal more likely, as we saw yet again recently in the case of the cold-blooded murder of Oscar Grant in Oakland) there is then a call for the federal government to step in and prosecute the cop (or cops) involved for violation of the civil rights of the person who was murdered. It is important to understand the particularities, and the complexities, of this in order to be able to correctly "navigate" these contradictions and win people to see the real forces and interests involved, what the fundamental relations are, what the real problem is, and what the real solution is.


Read the entire work, Birds Cannot Give Birth to Crocodiles, But Humanity Can Soar Beyond the Horizon by Bob Avakian online here, or download the e-book here.





Revolution #349 August 24, 2014

The Ruling Class Media in Ferguson: Accomplices to Murder

August 20, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


The ruling class or “mainstream” media is running 24-7 coverage of Ferguson Missouri ever since the murder of Michael Brown, an unarmed Black teenager. They are doing that ONLY because people there stood up. Courageously. Defiantly.

So now they claim—at least for a minute—to care about Michael Brown's death at the hands of the police.

But what is the media ACTUALLY doing? Over and over again diverting attention from the REAL issue—the MURDER of Michael Brown by the police, and the need to charge and arrest the murderer.

Attempting to Slander and Vilify Michael Brown

The major media is contributing to the attempts to slander Michael Brown and divert attention from the real issue: his murder by police. Here’s how:

Protest in Atlanta against Michael Brown murder and CNN coverage

August 14 hundreds rallied against the murder of Michael Brown, demonstrating at CNN headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia, to protest CNN coverage. Photo: AP

Replaying the Trayvon Martin Script

CNN and the rest of the system’s media are already beginning to repeat, yet again, the "script" we are all too familiar with, which was in full effect around Trayvon Martin:

Claiming to Be About Truth, While Covering Up and Distorting It

The media claiming to be all about being truthful and “objective,” while they are actually working to cover up and distort the truth. Some of the ways this is done include: 

Think about all this? What is the effect of it? What does it add up to—in Ferguson, and time, after time, after time?

Accessories to Murder! 


Don’t tell us you are fair, “democratic,” and independent when in reality you censor voices and refuse to allow the truth to be heard! All this shows that the media is an essential part of the whole machinery and system of oppression. They are just as much a part of this system as the police and the armed forces of the state, and government officials on all levels: from the local prosecutors and officials up to the major politicians and functionaries of the political power structure, including Obama, Holder, and all the rest, whether Republicans or Democrats. This is why it will take revolution—nothing less—to end these lies, and these crimes!

Hundreds protested in Atlanta denouncing this on August 18. It has been very righteous that people have not allowed this lying bullshit to stop the protests. The media manipulation should be relentlessly exposed, as part of strengthening and building the over all battle for “Justice for Mike Brown” and to “Fight the Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution.  

Does all this mean we should not talk to the ruling class’s media? No. There is actually a moment here to seize to try to get some truth on the air. Right now the media has to make some pretense of "airing all sides," including what some of those outraged and protesting have to say. OK, then people who have been victims of police brutality and terror should get to tell their stories. Revolutionaries and fighters against the whole system of mass incarceration and police murder should be interviewed. The media claims to be airing all sides—well then, include voices of those standing with the people, exposing the root cause of these murders after murders after murders, and who have a real way out of this madness. 

But let’s not get fooled by their nature.






Revolution #349 August 24, 2014

What Do You Need to Do to Be a Reporter for the Ruling Class' Media in Ferguson?

August 20, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


Here’s what you need to be able to do to be a reporter for the ruling class’ media in Ferguson, MO:

Now why do you need to be able to do this?

Because the ruling class for whom you speak has a fear—deep in their bones—that those who they have enslaved, exploited, brutalized, and oppressed, have a justified anger at the way things are, and those who you serve have some sense that these people can be part of a bedrock force that will lead millions and millions to bring about an end to your rule.




Revolution #349 August 24, 2014

From the Streets of Ferguson:

A Message from the Month of Resistance to Mass Incarceration, Police Terror, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation

August 18, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


Big props to the people of Ferguson! They are doing things that haven’t been done in a long time! The whole country is watching. They have been standing up firmly in the face of both the occupying army of police rumbling through the streets with their armored personnel carriers, firing tear gas and rubber bullets, and the attempts by various “advisors” to control and channel their just rage. Because they have stood firm, people in Ferguson have focused the attention of the world on the horrific injustice and outrages that are put on millions of people day in and day out. No one would even be talking about Michael Brown if the youth of Ferguson had not poured into the streets. This has brought forward support from all over the country and even worldwide. We can all learn profound lessons from this courage and determination.

Protesting the curfew imposed by Missouri Gov. Nixon.
Photo: Li Onesto/Revolution

This battle for Justice for Michael Brown is far from over. They have named the killer cop, but he hasn’t been charged and isn’t in jail. Now they are dragging Michael Brown’s reputation through the mud by claiming he stole something from a store, all in order to justify his murder. Even if this were true, when did the punishment for shoplifting become execution!? The people of Ferguson are still in the streets and people around the country need to be there too, protesting all this and linking it to the brutality and murder the criminal “injustice” system continues to inflict on people on an all too regular basis in every part of the country.

All of these incidents, and the whole New Jim Crow of mass incarceration, are part of the genocidal program that we are dedicated to expose, resist, and STOP. We need to join with battles like this all around the country and call on everyone to join with us in making October 2014 a powerful Month of Resistance against Mass Incarceration, Police Terror, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation. Everyone who has stepped out in vigils and protest around Michael Brown should get with the Month of Resistance. From now forward this must be a time where from the prisons to the streets, from the universities to the ’hoods, in cities and towns across the country, where those most affected directly are joined by all those who refuse to live in a society where this is the reality. Everyone must step in and step up and take this fight against mass incarceration to a whole other level. THIS MUST STOP NOW!


Juanita Young, Travis Morales, Cephus “Uncle Bobby” Johnson, Joey Johnson, Dionne Smith-Downs, Carey Downs, and Carl Dix—people working on the October Month of Resistance who have come to Ferguson





Revolution #349 August 24, 2014

From the Streets of Ferguson:

Governor Declares State of Emergency and Imposes Curfew in Ferguson

August 16, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


Missouri Governor Jay Nixon held a press conference in a Black church in Ferguson, Missouri, one week to the day after Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson shot unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown to death. He did not announce the indictment of the cop who killed Michael Brown.  He did not announce the jailing of Darren Wilson.  He did not apologize for the local police demonizing Michael Brown and attempting to justify his murder by alleging he had stolen cigars from a store minutes before his murder.

No! He announced that he was declaring a state of emergency in Ferguson and putting a midnight to 5 AM curfew into effect. The governor said, “We must first have and maintain peace.”  Where is the peace for Michael Brown?  Where is the peace for those that refuse to accept the cold-blooded murder of Michael Brown?  NO!  This is another attack on the people of Ferguson who had been in the streets every day and night since Michael’s murder demanding Justice For Michael Brown.  Michael Brown would have been just one more of the many Black men killed by the police if the young people had not filled the streets day after day. 

The Governor surrounded himself with local Black politicians and ministers for this announcement, but none of that disguised a very basic fact. The authorities refuse to indict the cop who murdered Michael Brown.  Instead, they are working overtime to control and suppress the anger of the people who have been fighting for justice. He even trotted out the Black state police officer who had presided over the “officer friendly” approach they had taken to policing the protests after the armored personnel carriers, tear gas and rubber bullets they unleashed on protesters had exposed the U.S. before people across the country and around the world. This cop promised that no unnecessary force would be used to enforce the curfew, which means they will consider any force they use to be necessary.

A few days ago, Obama, this governor and the Black state police officer talked of this being a time for healing, peace and calm in Ferguson.  The announcement of this curfew makes clear that the foundation of that healing, peace and calm is to be based on trying to drive the masses angered by Michael Brown’s murder out of the streets and force people to accept the murder of Michael Brown.

Carl Dix, Travis Morales and Juanita Young, some of the people working on the October Month of Resistance, who have come to Ferguson





Revolution #349 August 24, 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 #349 August 24, 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 #349 August 24, 2014

We Stand With the Defiant Ones

August 18, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |




We Stand With the Defiant Ones

We stand with the defiant ones.  We stand with the angry ones, the rebellious ones, the ones who will not take it, the ones who tell the truth—and the ones they lie about.  Without defiance, without rage, without righteous rebellion, without people insisting on their rights and defending those rights in the street—very few people would even know about Michael Brown and how he was shot over and over with his hands up, murdered by pigs and then left to lie there in the streets, as if he were an animal.  Very few people would have shared the grief of his parents for the terrible loss of this young man, at the very beginning of his life.  Without the rebellion, this terrible state-done murder would just be another rerun of the same old all-too-familiar story, the same murderous stuff that happens to Black and Latino youth over and over again. 

But because of the defiance and rebellion, the whole world knows the story.  Now everybody has to deal with this.  And people all over the country and all over the world support this fight.  You, the defiant ones, are changing the thinking of millions and millions of people... you are calling out to everyone NOT TO TAKE IT... you are making history—in the way it badly needs to be made.

So, yes we stand with the defiant ones—and we will defend them and stand with them in deed as well as word.

But now the authorities bring in the National Guard.  This just shows how SCARED those on top are of the people that they oppress and dog, from day one down to today...  The National Guard is just another part of their whole ILLEGITIMATE use of force and violence against people expressing their rights.  And any illegal, unconstitutional and illegitimate actions of the National Guard can—and must—be defied too.  The people’s righteous demands have not been met: this cop, this murdering pig, must be charged and taken into custody.  NOW!  This pig chief must be fired.  And right now, the people must be allowed to stay in the streets and express themselves in no uncertain terms. 

Sunday night, as the tear gas hung in the air and the time ticked down to the midnight curfew, a woman stepped up and started calling out to people: “No Justice! No Curfew!” In response to the call to “go home and get some rest” she said—“Michael Brown can’t get no rest, he can’t go home. We’re not going home!”  This is the spirit of Ferguson—this is the spirit we need to support and spread.

To everyone who really wants liberation, who wants a better day for our youth—don’t let them tamp this down.  To the “leaders” who attack the angry ones and tell us to trust in the system—NO.  If you can’t do any better than that, get out of the way. 

And to any so-called militants who shamefully take up the role of the police and decide who can protest and when, who attack and slander the “agitators” and the communists as “provocateurs,” you need to cut that COINTELPRO shit out and if you can’t stand with the people when they stand up...then just get on home.

Stand together and demand REAL JUSTICE!!  The time is NOW! 





Revolution #349 August 24, 2014

A Call to Action: Come to Ferguson this Weekend!

August 20, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


If the police murder of Michael Brown, and now the second assassination of his character in the media, is just too much for you to take...

If the illegitimate police state response to the protests infuriates and alarms you and you don’t want to just accept this as “the way it is”...

If you are inspired that those who have been demonized and despised for years have now stood up and begun to raise their sights, and along with many, many people from all walks of life, have courageously stood their ground...

If you want a world without the endless chain of murders of Black and Brown youth by a system which has no place, no future for them...

If you want to see the cop who killed Michael Brown charged NOW...

Then come to Ferguson this weekend.

Be there to witness!

Be there to protest!

Be there to stand in solidarity with those who have stood up!

We say NO MORE!

* And as we fight for justice in the case of Michael Brown, get ready for the October Month of Resistance to Mass Incarceration, Police Terror, Repression, and the Criminalization of a Generation.


Issued by:


*for identification purposes only




Revolution #349 August 24, 2014

Anti-War Activist Cindy Sheehan Supports Courageous Rebellion in Ferguson

August 20, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


Noted anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan, whose son, a U.S. solider, was killed in Iraq in 2004, sent this message that was read at August 18 protests in the San Francisco Bay Area supporting the struggle in Ferguson for justice for Michael Brown.


Dear Friends,

Thank you so much for standing and rallying in support of Michael Brown and his family and all victims of out of control police brutality. I wish I could be there with you, but my heart is there and my heart is with Michael Brown and his family at this very tragic and unnecessary time.

I wanted to also express my solidarity with the people who are courageously rebelling in Ferguson against the police state. With the growing collaboration of the militarization of law enforcement with government and media, it is important that we the people provide the lacking checks and balances to the police state.

As in Ferguson, all over the world we denounce and protest police state, imperial violence.

With revolutionary regards,
Cindy Sheehan




Revolution #349 August 24, 2014

Antonio French—Bootlicker Supreme

August 20, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


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!!





Revolution #349 August 24, 2014

Being Black, Being Palestinian

by Amer Zahr* (reprinted by permission)

August 18, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


It is hard for me to see Ferguson through anything other than Palestinian eyes.

The killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown, as he was unarmed and reportedly surrendering, has triggered protests in Missouri against aggressive police action. The protests have been met, quite expectedly, with aggressive police action. This aggressive police action will be met with more protests, and on and on we go. Sound familiar?

The similarities between Ferguson and Palestine are stark. Shared experiences, sentiments, and anger abound. As it turns out, being black here and being Palestinian over there aren't really that different.

As black Americans filled the streets of Ferguson to decry what they saw as the unjustified killing of one of their young men, they were met by an over-militarized police presence looking to crush them. Sound familiar?

Their protests were welcomed with tear gas and rubber bullets. Sound familiar?

Well, it sounds familiar to us, so familiar that many Palestinians took to Twitter to advise their American counterparts in Ferguson on how to deal with such attacks. We saw tweets like, "Remember to not touch your face when tear-gassed or put water on it." And, "Always make sure to run against the wind /to keep calm when you're teargassed, the pain will pass, don't rub your eyes!" And my personal favorite, "Don't keep much distance from the police, if you're close to them they can't tear gas." Yes, we Palestinians are very creative when it comes to anti-anti-protesting. We are professional protestors.

Something interesting happened on CNN on Friday. As Don Lemon was reporting from a crowd of Ferguson's black citizens (who make up 67% of the city's population), he went from individual to individual, taking opinions and testimony. As the mic was being passed around, the overwhelming sentiments expressed were those of suspicion, mistrust, and skepticism of the police. Citizen after citizen expressed anger at how the police pointed to Brown's alleged criminal activity, dehumanizing him in a way that seemed like it was tailored to somehow justify the actions of a police officer who shot an unarmed citizen who was reportedly surrendering, with his hands up. It got even more bizarre when, a few hours later, the police then announced that Darren Wilson, the police officer who shot Brown, had no idea that the young black man he had stopped had any possible connection to a crime. Blaming the victim, justifying excessive force, and outright lying are things a Palestinian sees from the Israeli government on a daily basis.

But what seemed most familiar to me was how the black residents there lacked a particular emotion regarding a white police officer killing a young black citizen, leaving his body laying in the street for hours. They weren't shocked, not even a little bit. They clearly felt sad, angry, and disenfranchised. But they weren't shocked or surprised. I know how that feels. Or how it doesn't feel.

Above all, the most obvious and discernible resemblance between Palestine and Ferguson is the one that is the most chilling of all. On the night after Brown's death, black protesters filled the streets of Ferguson. A local officer was caught on tape, bellowing at the citizens flowing onto the streets, "Bring it... all you f---ing animals, bring it." Similarly, Israeli soldiers have been known to pass time by placing Palestinian children in their crosshairs and boast about how many more they have killed. In Ferguson, there is at least one too many officers who sees black protestors as animals, and in Israel, there are least two too many soldiers who see Palestinians in the same way.

As one Palestinian put it on Twitter, "The Palestinian people know what it means to be shot while unarmed because of your ethnicity."

It's bad enough when someone sees you as a creature unworthy of the most basic of human protections. It's infinitely worse when that someone is also pointing a gun at you. There is nothing scarier than that. If you're wondering what that might feel like, ask a black American... or a Palestinian. Either way, you'll get the same answer.


* Amer Zahr is a Palestinian American comedian, writer, and speaker living in Michigan. He is also the editor of "The Civil Arab."





Revolution #349 August 24, 2014

For Immediate Release - August 19, 2014

Carl Dix, Arrested in Ferguson, Called “Outside Criminal Element,” Says Systematic Police Brutality & Murder is Criminal, Not Peoples' Protest

August 19, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


For Immediate Release - August 19, 2014,
Contact: (Stop Mass Incarceration Network) 47-979-SMIN (347-9797646)
Revolution Books (NYC) 212 691 3345  

Carl Dix, Arrested in Ferguson, Called “Outside Criminal Element,” Says Systematic Police Brutality & Murder is Criminal, Not Peoples' Protest

“There are no 'outsiders' in the struggle for justice and liberation,” said Carl Dix on his release from St. Louis County Jail this morning.

“The criminal actions in Ferguson come from the police who brutalize and murder people, not from people who have stood up and refused to accept that subjugation, or from people like myself who came from other cities to support them.”

Dix, of New York City, is a member of the Revolutionary Communist Party, and is the co-founder, with Dr. Cornel West, of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network.

“I came to Ferguson to stand with people who had poured into the streets after the murder of Michael Brown, and were demanding justice and refusing to silently suffer this abuse any longer. We want the cop who shot Michael indicted, Police Chief Jackson fired, and the authorities to stop hiding the information about Michael's murder. Because people defiantly refused to be stopped by curfews, National Guard deployment, and states of emergency, the whole world now knows about the unjust murder of Michael Brown.”

Dix, who says that he was extracted for arrest from a sidewalk crowd he was speaking to, was among 78 people, including media, arrested Monday as police declared protest “unlawful assembly,” and used tear gas, sound cannons, stun grenades, and pointed assault weapons at protesters holding their hands in the air.

Dix is available for interviews in Ferguson.





Revolution #349 August 24, 2014

Statement from The Revolutionary Communist Party, USA On the Arrests of Carl Dix, Travis Morales and Joey Johnson

Get this statement out everywhere through social media and in print.

August 20, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |



On Monday night, August 18, Missouri police singled out and arrested RCP members and supporters Carl Dix, Travis Morales and Joey Johnson, along with 75 other people during the course of that night.  While some of the people defended them, the “peace police” community leaders worked with the police to get them arrested. Joey Johnson was blindsided and punched in the face by St. Louis politician Antonio French. Police Captain Ron Johnson, head of the operation, personally fingered Carl and Joey to get additional, higher charges.  Carl and Travis were held overnight, and then released.  Joey was also released that same day.

Carl Dix being arrested Monday August 19, 2014

Their sole “crime” was attempting to read the RCP’s statement “To the Defiant Ones” to a crowd that had gathered.  The politicians and news mouthpieces justify their arrests and call them agitators.     Well, since when is “agitating”—which means nothing but speaking and bringing out sharply the facts of injustice—since when is it some kind of horrible crime to speak the truth about what this system does to people, and why people should stand up and fight against it?  In fact, we need MORE agitation like this. As the great fighter against slavery Frederick Douglass said, power concedes nothing without a struggle.  Maybe these people think Frederick Douglass was a “criminal”—in any case, they are definitely acting like modern-day overseers!

This then was followed by a well co-ordinated media barrage—and a media blackout.  The barrage was one where almost every mouthpiece on the media attacked “outsiders” and “agitators,” with some specifying “revolutionary communists.”  Every politician and preacher who would agree to denounce “the outsiders” and “plea for peace” was given a platform.  At the same time, despite tremendous efforts to speak directly to the media, and despite their easy availability, no major press outlet has yet let them tell their side.  And let’s be clear: all three of these so-called “outsiders” have decades between them of standing in the forefront of the fight against police murder and repression, each of them having had to stand up to the threat or reality of prison for their political activity, and each of them active right now in building for a month of resistance to this whole agenda in October—with Carl having initiated the call for that month with Cornel West. (For more on the Month of Resistance and how to get involved go to the Call for the Month of Resistance and

Meanwhile—there has been NO JUSTICE in the police murder of Michael Brown.  There has been no letup in the police intimidation and terror and brutality against people who DO stand up.  And while these bootlickers talk about “organizing” and “making progress,” in reality they are pacifying people and easing the way for yet another sell-out.  These people who are now declared the “responsible leaders” are working to marginalize the rebellious people whose voices are never heard. All their so-called “organizing” is just about gaining favor with those who really run the show, and getting in on the plunder of this system—and opposing anyone who wants to do away with that system... or who just wants justice in the case and knows that it would already be under the rug if people had not fought.

 Just think of it—going to the lengths of not just slandering people who they know will not be given a platform to respond, of not just informing on people to the very police who have answered people’s demands for justice with brutal repression of their basic rights, of not just trying to pacify people with the same old stuff... but actually fingering people for the pigs and going so far as to carry out a cowardly physical assault on the revolutionaries—only, of course, when they are backed up by the armed force of the state!

The repression of Carl, Travis and Joey is part of a bigger picture.  The powers-that-be say that what is going on is criminal activity.  First off, there is nothing criminal about people defending themselves from outrageous police attack, coming on top of years of oppression and repression.  Second, why should ANYONE believe anything these murdering pigs say?  Ron Johnson is just a figurehead, just someone put there to quell the anger.  In fact, for all his wild claims about “crimes” and “looting,” 75 of the 78 people arrested on Monday night were charged with “failure to disperse.”  What does that tell you?

What all these politicians and tools for the rulers really fear is the fact:  one, that people who have been demonized and cast off and consigned to an early grave or a life in prison are raising their heads and standing up, directing their anger where it needs to go; and two, that the people who are doing this, along with many others, are finding out about the Party and its leader Bob Avakian—the leadership that represents their highest interests and aspirations, and that actually has the strategy to LEAD a struggle to make revolution.

We will not back down.  We will not go away. 




To learn more and get involved: go to





Revolution #349 August 24, 2014

Carl Dix Press Conference:

“Stand up, demand justice, don’t be intimidated”

August 19, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


8/19/14. Carl Dix, Joey Johnson, Travis Morales held a press conference today to denounce the police attacks on the protests in Ferguson. They upheld the courageous, heroic uprising of the people and denounced attempts to criminalize the protests. And Carl Dix took on some of the lies, slanders, and back-stabbing attacks on the Revolutionary Communist Party and the people who have stood up in Ferguson.

Carl Dix, Press Conference, August 19, 2014

Carl Dix at Press Conference in Ferguson, August 19, held to denounce police attacks on protestors and to uphold the heroic uprising of the people. Photo: Li Onesto/Revolution

CNN and The Nation, were among the media who attended. After the press conference, Carl Dix was interviewed by Al Jazeera.

Carl Dix and others with him were physically attacked by “peace police”—including a city alderman who punched Joey Johnson. At the time of the attack, Carl Dix was reading from a message from the “We Stand With the Defiant Ones.” That message includes:

“We stand with the defiant ones.  We stand with the angry ones, the rebellious ones, the ones who will not take it, the ones who tell the truth—and the ones they lie about.  Without defiance, without rage, without righteous rebellion, without people insisting on their rights and defending those rights in the street—very few people would even know about Michael Brown and how he was shot over and over with his hands up, murdered by pigs and then left to lie there in the streets, as if he were an animal.”


“To everyone who really wants liberation, who wants a better day for our youth—don’t let them tamp this down.  To the ‘leaders’ who attack the angry ones and tell us to trust in the system—NO.  If you can’t do any better than that, get out of the way.”

Carl said, “There are no outsiders in the struggle against injustice and oppression.” He went on to say that he has gotten this message from the people of Ferguson themselves out in the streets and elsewhere, including when he was in the county jail. He said people have come up to him and hugged him, thanking him for coming. He said, “People are proud of the fact that their resistance has reached and mobilized people around the country and even around the world and welcome others who have come to stand with them.”

Carl was asked about the circumstances of his arrest, and a confrontation that took place before that. He said, “Some people in the protest decided they need to take the responsibility to enforce a certain calm and peacefulness in the protest. People stood up and took to the streets and if they had not done that people around the country and world wouldn’t know who Michael Brown was. So we have a disagreement with the people who are saying we have to keep the protesters calm and peaceful... We were having that discussion and it got heated at times but then people went beyond that and got physical. They wanted to not allow people to make that political statement.”

St. Louis Alderman Antonio French shamefully has been ranting about the protesters being “violent” while they are being gassed, shot at and subjected to nonstop violence from the police. He punched Joey Johnson in the face. Someone else into that whole so-called “peace” agenda pushed Carl in the back and then called out for the police to arrest him.

Carl Dix said “The violence is the brutality and murder that has been heaped on the people for decades and during this past little more than a week it has been the rubber bullets, the tear gas, the arrests – that’s been the violence down here, targeting the people standing up.” He went on to say that all this bullshit is “serving the interests of the same people who are trying to crush these protests, bringing out cops, curfews, unleashing tear gas, sound cannon, and all the rest.”

And, exposing how these agents of the system work hand-in-hand with the forces of repression and brutality, Carl said after that, “The cops came in and waded into the crowd and dragged us out. And Captain Ron Johnson pointed to us and said, ‘These two people will get heavier charges.’ We were taken in, processed. The heavier charges have not yet materialized.”

Carl Dix spoke to what is behind all the attacks on people demanding justice: “They fear what people did here, they know this is part of larger phenomenon, the brutality and murder they bring down on Black people here is part of a nationwide phenomenon of punishment and repression targeting especially Black and Latino—part of what I call a slow genocide that can become a fast one. And they are afraid that people around the country who are suffering just like the people in Ferguson will be infected with the spirit of Ferguson and will rise up too. That’s one thing they don’t want to see happen. They also don’t want to see those who are rising up connecting with the group that I represent, the Revolutionary Communist Party, and its leader Bob Avakian. [They  don’t want people] going up to the website,, and finding out about this party and this leader. They don’t want people to do this because what this party and leader represent is standing with struggles against injustice like this, but even more the way to end this injustice and all the horrors of this system through revolution, nothing less. They don’t want to see that connection made because they fear that could spell the doom for their system.”

And Carl Dix insisted that the real issue is “That people need to stand up, demand justice and not be intimidated. Keep saying and acting on: Indict the killer cop of Michael Brown, fire the police chief and lay out the information of what happened to Michael Brown and stop hiding information as part of trying to cover up the murder.”





Revolution #349 August 24, 2014

Cleveland Protest for Ferguson, August 14

August 18, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


From readers:

The Stop Mass Incarceration Chapter in Cleveland called a protest in downtown at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday. It started with 7 of us and doubled as we agitated. It was a scene in which youth jumped, some spoke out about what happened to Michael Brown and the response of rebellion and not backing on from the people of Ferguson. Youth and others spoke about the police brutality and killings and they kept coming back for leaflets, the statement by Carl Dix and the Call for the October Month of Resistance to Mass Incarceration, Police Terror, Repression and Criminalization of a Generation, and posters to take out to their neighborhoods and to people right there at a busy bus stop. Scores of people signed up to build for a powerful Month of Resistance in October and others wanted to go out on Saturday through the neighborhoods of the oppressed here. Some youth held up the "Three Strikes" and "We Won't Accept Slavery" posters.

Then many people went with us to the national vigil at 6:30 p.m. which drew about 300 people and many youth and students. At the end we chanted, "NO MORE! It Stops Today! We Refuse to Live this way!"

After going out on Saturday, an older Black woman said, "People stood up for Trayvon Martin but this time even more. If people don't step up police will continue to kill Black men. We need to stand up, stand strong, and not let this happen again."

Photo: Special to Revolution





Revolution #349 August 24, 2014

South Central LA:

Defiant Protests Demand Justice for Police Murder of Ezell Ford

August 18, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


From a reader:

August 15—As Ferguson, Missouri, erupted in another night of righteous rebellion, people marched for hours through South Central Los Angeles for a second day, demanding justice for the murder of Ezell Ford, a 25-year-old Black man with mental illness who was shot down August 11 by LAPD’s notorious Newton Division. At the front of the Newton station, which was lined by cops, protesters shouted “Hands up, don’t shoot.” Nine days before Ezell Ford’s murder and just four blocks away, Newton Division police beat to death 37-year-old Omar Abrego.

Photo: Special to Revolution

Ezell Ford was walking down the street in his own neighborhood. Everybody, including the police, knew Ezell was mentally challenged. People who saw what happened say the cops stopped, jumped out of the car, grabbed and beat Ezell, pinned him face down on the ground with a knee—and then shot him in the back three times. They handcuffed him and left him lying in the street for 20-30 minutes to die, before even calling an ambulance. When his mom came to try to find out what had happened, she was pushed to the ground. Ezell Ford was declared dead at the hospital. People in the neighborhood are very angry, saying things like, “Ezell never did anything wrong, he didn’t carry a weapon, he didn’t deserve this.” “They killed him like his life didn’t matter.”




Revolution #349 August 24, 2014

SF Bay Area: People Hit the Streets for Ferguson, August 18

August 19, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


From a reader:

After Sunday’s massive, military-style police attack against the protesters and marchers demanding justice for Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO, overnight two emergency demonstrations were quickly called for Monday afternoon as a “TDA” [The Day After] street protest. World Can’t Wait, Stop Mass Incarceration Network, several antiwar activist networks, and Revolution Books spread the word, inviting everyone to come out to stand with the people in Ferguson.

Less than 24 hours after word went out, people hit the streets in Oakland and in downtown San Francisco. 

San Francisco

In San Francisco people assembled on Market Street equipped with World Can't Wait paper signs, a bullhorn, Revolution’s “Three Strikes” posters and newspapers, and materials about the October 2014 Month of Resistance to Mass Incarceration, Police Terror, Repression and Criminalization of a Generation. Over the bullhorn, punctuated by calls and chants of “Hands Up! Don’t Shoot!” we recounted Michael Brown’s murder and what’s happened in Ferguson every day and every night since that day, as hundreds have stayed in the streets, demanding justice for Michael Brown and really for everyone. Our agitation attracted a lot of people passing by: Spanish and Portuguese-speaking immigrants, European business tourists, young and old people going shopping or leaving work, and Black people (one young family had received a World Can’t Wait email; a former Black Panther Party member had been wanting to find a Ferguson protest when he heard about it on mainstream radio news). A third-grader had made her own handmade sign and held it up high. 

A lot of reporters and cameras showed up, and two nightly TV news channels reported on the SF and Oakland actions.


Here’s a San Francisco photo: protesters chanting “Hands Up!  Don’t Shoot!”  were sending solidarity and love to the people in the streets of Ferguson. Photo: Special to Revolution

Noted anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan sent a message to be read at today’s rallies:

Dear Friends,

Thank you so much for standing and rallying in support of Michael Brown and his family and all victims of out of control police brutality. I wish I could be there with you, but my heart is there and my heart is with Michael Brown and his family at this very tragic and unnecessary time.

I wanted to also express my solidarity with the people who are courageously rebelling in Ferguson against the police state. With the growing collaboration of the militarization of law enforcement with government and media, it is important that we the people provide the lacking checks and balances to the police state.

As in Ferguson, all over the world we denounce and protest police state, imperial violence.

With revolutionary regards,
Cindy Sheehan


For the third time in five days, people gathered at a main corner in downtown Oakland (known by anti-police murder activists as Oscar Grant Plaza), to protest the murder of Michael Brown and other victims of police murder, and to celebrate and stand with the powerful resistance shown by the people of Ferguson MO. About 60 people of all ages and ethnicities came off emails, Twitter announcements, and by word of mouth from their friends. 

For third time in five days people marched in Oakland to protest the murder of Michael Brown and other victims of police brutality. Photo: Special to Revolution

People chanted "Justice for Michael Brown," and added names of many other people that had been killed by law enforcement in the Bay Area and around the country. Different speakers saluted the determined protests of people in Ferguson, and pointed out that this is the reason why the name Michael Brown is known. They are also opening the eyes of many to the illegitimacy of a system that can bring in the National Guard and massive military presence, but cannot even indict the cop who killed Michael. People took up leaflets and "Three Strikes" posters to take out to spread the need for more resistance. 

As part of that, many pledged to be part of building the October Month of Resistance, and in particular, a powerful October 22nd National Day of Protest against police brutality in Oakland. At the end of the rally, about 60 people took to the streets for a loud and spirited march through the streets of downtown




Revolution #349 August 24, 2014

Detroit Protest: Not That Silent!

August 14, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


From a reader:

August 14—About 500-600 people attended Detroit's National Moment of Silence for the murder of Michael Brown. This wasn't your typical gathering in Detroit—no one cautioning people to remain calm and let the system work or urging people to get out the vote. This gathering was organized by young people through social media; many of them part of the cultural scene. And this was reflected in who came out to it. The crowd was overwhelmingly young. While it was largely Black; there were significant numbers of white people in attendance. And they were angry!

The moment of silence quickly turned into a rally. The tone was set early on when the MC read off a long list of people who had been murdered by the police. Speaker after speaker denounced the murder of Mike Brown and the many others who have fallen victim to police violence. Rappers, spoken word artists, and singers performed pieces denouncing police murders and of people who, like Trayvon Martin and Renisha McBride (a 19-year-old Black woman who was shot in the face by a white homeowner when she sought help after a car accident), were killed for the crime of being Black. A militant Black minister spoke angrily about Brown's murder, but then reminded people that this isn't the only thing we have to be angry about. He linked it with the poor schools, the decaying neighborhoods, and all the other horrors that confront Black people.

People's handmade signs gave a sense of their thinking. A young white woman brought a sign with row upon row of small photographs of people who had been murdered by the police over the last 50 years. The first picture was of Michael Brown, the last showed someone who was killed by the cops in 1967. Another woman carried a sign that said "How did protect and serve become terrorize and intimidate?" Another sign stated "We all bleed red, but whose blood is on the STREETS!?" Another person had made a sign with two hands up symbolizing Brown's attempt to give himself up with the words "We will not die slaves." Three friends carried signs that went together: "Eric Garner deserves justice." The next sign read "Mike Brown deserves justice," and the last sign said "We deserve justice." One young Black woman made a sign that said "Don't shoot! My only threat to you is my capacity to be GREAT."

People I talked to were beyond angry at this murder. Many said they felt like they needed to be out here because what happened to Mike Brown was so wrong and they needed to stand against it. One Black man in his early 30s said that he's got four children and he worries about all of them, but especially about his three-year-old son. He said that could be his son in a few years. Others spoke about how Mike Brown could have been anyone, anywhere. One Black man in his early 20s said he was at this gathering because Brown's murder was part of something big that was beginning to happen. He included the murder of Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, and many others as part of it. He said things are bad and they're going to get a lot worse if we don't stop it. Then he declared that there are two ways people can influence things: one is with lots of money and the other is with lots of people—we need lots of people in the street if we're going to stop this.

We spoke with two Black men who lived in Ferguson for many years. They said usually Black people there were docile, but not this time! They were so very proud of them. Then they said as bad as what was done to Michael Brown, it's nothing compared to what's happening in the Gaza. Now that's genocide!

But the rally didn't end with a moment of silence and a prayer as planned. An organization called By Any Means Necessary organized a people's speak out. People from the crowd stepped forward and spoke bitterness. Then the people took to the streets, marching through downtown Detroit. About 300 people, mainly Black youth, marched right past groups of cops and blocked traffic on the two main downtown streets. With hands raised in the air and militant chants of "Hands Up; Don't Shoot," angry people marched for over an hour. In an act of defiance, people marched through Greektown, a showcase entertainment area in downtown that is filled with restaurants and bars and is the home to one of the city's fancy Casinos. This area is heavily patrolled by the cops and attracts affluent people from the suburbs. As the crowd marched by with chants ringing through the air, patrons stepped out of the restaurants and bars to check out the scene. Their reactions were varied, some looked on at this large, angry crowd of Black people with fear and disgust, many videotaped the march, and some white suburbanites grinned from ear to ear and threw their fists in the air in support. At times there were cacophonies of honking horns as people in cars honked and raised their fists out their window in support.

From there we marched to the street where the county sheriff's office and county jail is on one side and the juvenile detention center is on the other. Police gathered at the front door and watched the march go by, but didn't come out. As the chants of "Hands Up; Don't Shoot" echoed off the walls, one person kept excitedly shouting to the marchers, "They can hear you inside." This only encouraged the marchers to increase the volume of their chants.

On August 14 people had a sense of making history. We saw the beginnings of something new and powerful in Detroit.





Revolution #349 August 24, 2014

From Michael Brown in Ferguson to Ezell Ford in LA—Jail the Killer Cops!

by Michael Slate | August 20, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


Ezell Ford liked to walk. Once he even walked from his South Central LA neighborhood to Long Beach, a distance of at least 20 miles. He liked to walk the streets of his neighborhood, the streets he grew up on, the streets where he played as a young child. His mom said he loved to play basketball when he was a kid. She said he was a “free spirit.” As he grew up, Ezell got sick, he was diagnosed with depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. But still he walked through his neighborhood and everybody knew him and knew that he had “mental complications.” Everybody in the neighborhood knew about Ezell. He never hurt anybody; he’d just ask them for cigarettes. But Ezell Ford was a 25-year-old Black man and that was enough to get him a death sentence from the system. On August 11, sometime around 8 pm, Ezell’s body was laid out at the corner of 65th and Broadway, shot three times by two LAPD cops. They handcuffed him as he lay dying on the ground. Ezell’s mom saw him lying there, his blood staining the ground around him. She tried to reach him, to hold him. She tried to find out what happened. The LAPD threw her to the ground. Ezell was pronounced dead a short time later in the hospital.

Images from protests against the murders of Ezell Ford and Michael Brown by police. Photos: special to Revolution

The LAPD immediately started the whitewash. They said they stopped Ezell in an “investigative stop.” In other words, a young Black man walking down a street in his neighborhood is more than enough cause for a police investigation; in fact, it’s a crime. The police claim that Ezell started walking weird, hiding his hands in a suspicious manner. If you want to know what that means, just imagine being a young, mentally ill Black man, alone on a street with two goons from the LAPD Gang Squad coming at you. Of course you’re walking weird—maybe scared to death is a better description. And then they claim that he attacked one cop and tried to get that cop’s gun. Both cops opened fire, three LAPD bullets smashed into Ezell’s body.

Trouble is, people saw it all. Ezell’s neighbors yelled that he had “mental problems,” hoping that would rein in the cops. Eyewitnesses tell a whole different story than the cops. One childhood friend of Ezell’s saw two cops, both towering over Ezell, get out of the car and approach him. This friend said Ezell looked frightened and confused and within minutes the cops had wrestled him to the ground and shot him three times. A woman who was sitting across the street saw the cops jump out of their car and push him into a corner where they beat him. She said that she saw Ezell on the ground and then heard a shot. She saw one cop with his knee on Ezell and then heard another shot, and then a third. This woman also says that before the shooting happened she heard one cop say, “Shoot him.” Ezell’s mother says she was told that he was lying on the ground obeying the cops' orders when they shot him. The LAPD dismisses all of the eyewitness accounts with the comment, “There’s a lot of disinformation out there.”

The LAPD murdered Ezell Ford, an unarmed, scared and mentally ill young Black man, for walking down the street. And then they murdered him again as they dug up his “criminal record"—Ezell had been convicted of marijuana possession and illegal possession of a loaded firearm. He had also been put on probation for trespassing. None of this has anything at all to do with why two cops from the local gang division of the LAPD stopped Ezell Ford and then murdered him. The LAPD has also announced that it is putting an “investigative hold” on Ezell’s autopsy report. The cops say that they don’t want the information in the autopsy report to be public yet because they don’t want people to use that information to color their testimony about what happened. An LAPD Commander told one reporter that they didn’t want people to be able to use information from the autopsy to “give credibility to their story.” And once again, the LAPD refuses to release the names of the assassins, citing possible threats against the killers.

Ezell was murdered on August 11. A little more than a week earlier, in the same neighborhood, the cops beat a Latino man, Omar Abrego, to death outside of his home for supposedly driving erratically and being “on cocaine.” Two days before Ezell was killed, Michael Brown was assassinated in Ferguson, Missouri, sparking off an inspiring, righteous and defiant rebellion.

Ezell’s family has refused to drown their grief in tears alone. Ezell’s family, friends and others have organized people in the neighborhood and from all over LA and Southern California to bring their anger to the streets, marching and confronting the authorities wherever they can, demanding Justice. Thousands have taken to the streets in the week since Ezell was killed. And as they fight, one thing will always be clear: Ezell was murdered for one reason, being Black in America. And that one fact alone demands justice.

This has to end now! The brave defiance of the people in Ferguson, Missouri is inspiring people all across the country and these are the moments when people everywhere are learning a lot. People in LA have been taking to the streets, but this needs to grow by leaps and bounds, spreading the fight and the demands for justice.

Justice for Michael Brown!
Justice for Ezell Ford!
Release the Autopsy Report!
Name, Indict and Jail the Killer Cops!


From readers: South Central LA, August 18:

Marching Against Police Murders from Ferguson to LA

Here in LA, there have been almost daily protests in support of Ferguson and against the murder of Ezell Ford and Omar Abrego—both killed by Newton Division's notorious gang unit, called “the shootin' Newton” by people in the neighborhood. One person even told us this murdering pig unit have this on a banner up in their precinct.

We'll be writing more about this, but Ezell Ford was a 25-year-old Black man with a mental illness. Everyone in the neighborhood knew him, including the police. He was shot in the back three times as he was face down. This happened Monday night, August 11.

Omar Abrego was a father of three, savagely beaten to death a week earlier, on August 2, just four blocks from where Ezell Ford was murdered.

On Monday night, August 18, there was a march from where Ezell Ford was murdered to the site of Omar Abrego's murder. The march then continued around the neighborhood.

People are learning more about what's happening in Ferguson, and this added a whole other level of defiance to the march. Especially from among the Black and Latino youth—who are most cast off by this system, and most often feel the hard edge of brutality—there was a feeling of tremendous defiance and joy... even dancing in the streets. When they saw the pigs driving around in their cars, they would point them out, including pointing out undercovers who are well known in the neighborhood. They would chant at them with a feeling of right on their side—finally. And a feeling that they had some social backing. They were standing up and it felt right to stand up.

People who were driving by in their cars parked and joined. Cars that drove with the march had their radios blasting, “fuck the police.”

One woman from the neighborhood talked about how important the protests have been—to really fight for justice for these innocent lives taken. Also, that for the first time in a long time there is unity among the people who are finally pointing their political aim in the right direction—at the system causing all this mayhem and misery. The “normal situation” is the pigs “doing this to us all the time”—killing and dogging the youth and the “normal situation” is the way people far too often are set against each other. This is part of what has changed—and has to be maintained and carried forward while we fight to make real the demands from Ferguson to LA:

INDICT and JAIL the COP who killed Michael Brown!
Release the autopsy of Ezell Ford! Indict and Jail the Killer Cops!





Revolution #349 August 24, 2014

Holocaust Survivor Hedy Epstein Arrested in Protest Against Deploying National Guard

August 18, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


Hedy Epstein—a 90-year-old survivor of the Holocaust and an activist in protesting Israel's crimes against the Palestinian people—was arrested with eight others in St. Louis, MO today. They were among about 125 protesters who marched to the office of Missouri Governor Nixon and demanded that he cancel his order to deploy the National Guard to suppress protests in Ferguson. Watch local TV news coverage coverage.

90-year-old Holocaust survivor Hedy Epstein—an activist in protesting Israel's crimes against the Palestinian people—was arrested Monday with eight others in St. Louis, MO protesting presence of National Guard. Photo: Steven Hsieh




Revolution #349 August 24, 2014

Important Lesson on Political Piggery:

How FBI COINTELPRO Targeted Radical Groups

August 20, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


One feature of recent developments in the struggle against police murder in Ferguson and in the fight against the assaults on abortion rights has been the role of so-called "militants" who shamefully take up the role of police—declaring they are the ones to decide who can protest, where and when, and slandering communists and others as "outside agitators" and "provocateurs." As the statement "We Stand with the Defiant Ones" says: "You need to cut that COINTELPRO shit out and if you can't stand with the people when they stand up...then just get on home." In this light, it is important for people to learn about, or recall once again, what COINTELPRO was.

In the course of the 1960s and early 1970s the FBI—working closely with the "red squads" of local police departments—conducted a massive super-secret campaign to undermine political opposition through its COINTELPRO (short for counter-intelligence programs) operations. The program targeted groups and individuals who were generally resisting the U.S. government’s various and many crimes, in this country and around the world. It especially targeted those who opposed the oppression of Black people. A major focus of COINTELPRO was harassing, jailing, and outright murdering leaders in the Black Liberation movement, and one of their main targets was the Black Panther Party.

J. Edgar Hoover, the infamous long-time head of the FBI, said that he aimed to prevent “the rise of a Black messiah.” The FBI and other police agencies sent infiltrators into groups, recruited informers, broke into office of groups and homes of activists to gather information, and fomented antagonisms within and between different groups. They specialized in spreading personal rumors about people and making other ad hominem (personal) attacks.

This program of political piggery was not only extremely vicious but utterly illegal. Hundreds or perhaps thousands of people in the government knew about COINTELPRO for many years. But it only came to light in the early 1970s, after some activists managed to break into an FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania, and publicized the internal FBI documents that they obtained, including ones that mentioned COINTELPRO—which eventually led to widespread exposure about this secret political police operation. (The story of this break-in, the context of the times, and the big changes this contributed to is told in an important book that was published earlier this year—The Burglary, by Betty Medsger.)

One example of how COINTELPRO operated was the targeting of Malcolm X, who first became known to many people through the Nation of Islam (NOI). Malcolm came to increasingly disagree with, and eventually break with, the NOI, whose program was profoundly conservative. The NOI launched a campaign of vicious personal slander and threats against him, including Louis Farrakhan, who later became the head of NOI, directly saying that Malcolm was "worthy of death." In early 1965, his house, the location of which was publicly known, was firebombed, and his family barely escaped death. Finally, on February 21, 1965, Malcolm was assassinated. On that day, the regular police suddenly left the scene—while at the same time, as it came out later, five FBI informants were in the room when Malcolm was gunned down and Malcolm's main bodyguard was an agent of the New York Police Department. To this day, the exact role of those running the campaign of slander against Malcolm and their relationship with COINTELPRO is unclear. But what is very clear is that the ruling class schemes to prevent the "rise" of Black leaders, while hiding their own role, was greatly aided by that campaign of slander and threats against Malcolm.

In 1968, FBI head Hoover called the Black Panther Party (BPP) the "greatest threat to the internal security of this country"—and he sent a secret order to his field agents saying that "recipient offices are instructed to submit imaginative and hard-hitting counterintelligence measures aimed at crippling the BPP [Black Panther Party]." Given the orders from the top, FBI agents organized murderous armed assaults on Panther offices and leaders around the country. They attempted to infiltrate snitches into the Party. They framed Panther leaders and carried out "disinformation" campaigns. These included forging letters and starting rumors to create splits in the Panthers and other organizations, and disunity between revolutionaries and other sympathetic forces.

Within two months of Hoover's secret memo, agents of the FBI and the Los Angeles Police Department had instigated members of the non-revolutionary "cultural nationalist" organization US (led by Ron Karenga) to assassinate two leaders of the L.A. Panthers—Bunchy Carter and John Huggins. When a new leader, 21-year-old Geronimo Pratt, stepped up to fill their shoes, Geronimo in turn was targeted to be "neutralized." He was wiretapped, targeted with surveillance and arrested constantly. Behind the scenes, police agents worked overtime to cook up some way of setting him up for prison or assassination. In 1970, Pratt was arrested and falsely charged with a murder that took place 400 miles away from where he actually was. He was railroaded—and ended up spending 27 years in prison.

Another BPP leader who was targeted by COINTELPRO was Fred Hampton, the 21-year-old Chairman of the Illinois Black Panther Party, who was inspiring all kinds of people to take up revolution. On December 4, 1969, the Chicago police led by the Cook County prosecutor, as part of a COINTELPRO operation, stormed into Hampton's apartment. They relied on a floor plan of the apartment provided by an FBI informant. Armed with shotguns, handguns and a .45 caliber machine gun, the police gunned their way through the apartment to the bedroom where he lay sleeping, having been drugged earlier by an informant. The police stood over him and shot two bullets into his brain at close range. After this murderous assault, in which the police fired nearly 100 bullets while being completely uninjured themselves, the authorities brazenly lied that the police were under heavy fire from the Panthers.

While the key focus was on Black revolutionary organizations and leaders, COINTELPRO was also directed at radical and revolutionary groups more generally. Among the targets of the FBI's dirty work was the Revolutionary Union, the forerunner of the Revolutionary Communist Party. FBI head J. Edgar Hoover himself noted that "The Revolutionary Union has been successful in attracting both high school and college activists." And the FBI extended its range far and wide, going after groups like the Quaker American Friends Service Committee, antiwar activists like Dr. Benjamin Spock, and artists like Leonard Bernstein. Jean Seberg, an actor who supported the Black Panther Party, was the target of an FBI campaign so vicious that it ultimately drove her to take her own life. The FBI threatened to reveal secrets about Martin Luther King's private life and sent a note to him saying "there is only one thing left for you to do"—essentially encouraging King to kill himself.

As a result of much exposure and struggle—and in an effort to stabilize the situation in the wake of the 1960s—the U.S. government put some official limits on this kind of FBI activity in the '70s. But the activity of the political police in the U.S. never stopped—and continues today.

The Revolution/ article "A Reflection on Piggery—Then and Now" makes an important point about the context of the times—the 1960s and early '70s—that COINTELPRO was in effect, which also has relevance today:

Black people in the U.S. were relentlessly defying the system in many different forms, taking mass political action and outright rebelling—and this won the sympathy and support from literally hundreds of millions of people all over the world. This put the U.S. ruling class on the political defensive and challenged their pose as the “great defenders of people’s rights.” If they had to openly crush this movement, they certainly would; and the hundreds of times that they directly used police, federal agencies, the National Guard and even the Army to go after people proves this. But they much preferred to conceal their role. Why? Because they were really worried about losing their democratic cover in the eyes of the world, as well as losing legitimacy within the U.S. To put it differently: one reason they need to use underhanded programs like COINTELPRO is precisely to keep people blinded to the fact that this democracy that they preach about is essentially a dictatorship of the capitalist-imperialist class.




Revolution #349 August 24, 2014

To all revolutionaries and fighters for emancipation:


Prepare the Ground, Prepare the People and Prepare the Vanguard—Get Ready for the Time When Millions Can Be Led to Go for Revolution, All-out, With A Real Chance to Win.

August 21, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


Right now people everywhere are, as the RCP statement on strategy puts it, “searching for answers and open to considering radical change.”  Many people are going to Ferguson right this weekend to protest the murder of Michael Brown and commemorate his death and revolutionaries should definitely be there as well.  This is the key front of struggle, right now.  At the same time, people have also gone and will be going to Texas, in the urgently important battle to defend abortion rights there, and acting in the “week of defiance” there set to begin on August 25.

But to do what?  To carry out the orientation of the “three prepares” in the title.

Prepare the Ground—that is, aim to be part of influencing millions of people and society as a whole in a positive direction... toward revolution, toward fighting against the outrages of this system, toward a new world.  What people have already done in Ferguson has had a tremendous positive impact in this regard.  Their courageous resistance has broken new ground.  They have influenced the thinking of all of society.  What people in their millions now see as just, what they see as tolerable, and whether they think you can fight and win allies as you do—all this has changed in people’s thinking.  But it must go much further.

Revolutionaries need to be in the thick of pushing that further, in Ferguson and elsewhere.  They need to be acting in accordance with the orientation that we have laid out at  The most basic demands for justice in this outrageous murder have not been met.  Instead of justice, they are bringing down on outrageous police-state repression and they are right now preparing public opinion for a sellout, slandering Michael Brown and “planting doubt” when things are really quite clear.  Hell No!  There must be resistance to this, and this must continue and intensify now.

Associated Press distributed this photo on its image news service of a march in Oakland August 20 and it showed up in stories such as a Guardian/UK article about protests against the police murder of Michael Brown and others. Photo: Noah Berger/AP

As revolutionaries act in accordance with this point, they need to be spreading revolution.  Wear the “Revolution–Nothing Less” tee-shirt, or the BA image tee-shirt, and have extra shirts in your knapsack to sell or give out.  Have large banners and signs. Whatever signs and banners you make, put a big REVCOM.US at the top of it.  Get the “3 strikes” poster out to people and encourage them to use it as a sign. All this, right in the thick of things and in one of those rare moments when the media is compelled to pay attention, spreads the message very broadly that a movement for revolution exists... that this movement is about fighting the power, and transforming the people, for revolution...  and that there is a way to hook up with it.  This is a point that the vast vast majority of people don’t yet know... and need to know!

Prepare the people – and this has three dimensions.  First, right among the masses as they are struggling, raise people’s sights to the different world that is possible and to the leadership that exists, in BA and the Party that he leads, to get to that different world.  Get out tons of QR cards that link people up to BA’s New Year’s message and, where possible, listen to it with people right on the spot.  Fight for the right standards as we go forward with people in struggle.  Have with you, and give out and engage people with, the sampler edition of “Break ALL the Chains.”  Tell them about the campaign to raise big money to get BA Everywhere.  Bring your copy of BAsics yourself, as your basic handbook, but get into it with people too.  Get as many people as you can to go to on the spot, thru their phones.  And in all this—let people know that there is a Party that is following the leadership of BA, that this party has a strategy for revolution and is actively working and fighting make all this real, that there is a place for them in this Party and supporting it, and that they need to really find out about it.

Second, give people a way to get organized.  This means directly with the revolution itself – making sure they get e-subs to, finding ways to contact them, letting them know about the Revolution Club, etc. In the midst of this people need to learn about and get  involved in making the October 2014  Month of Resistance to Mass Incarceration the most powerful statement of thousands—we say NO MORE, THIS MUST END (see—and the fight against the degradation and enslavement of women and  If people are interested, get ways to contact them.

Third, develop direct support among the people FOR the activities of the movement for revolution right now.  If you are going to Ferguson, or Texas, and if you are active in social media, post this and ask people to financially or otherwise support you and others in doing this.  If you ride the bus there—and “riding the ‘hound” is a great way to go!—let people on the bus know what you are doing, introduce them to the revolution, and see if they can help you with places to stay or people to contact.  There are many many people who are not themselves ready or able to go down, but who would support others who are doing so.

In all this, talk with people... listen to them... what do they aspire to and how do they see things and where do they feel stymied... go back and forth with people on different questions and learn more deeply HOW they are thinking, and the texture and contradictions of that. This should include those who have been “on the front lines” as well as those who are stepping forward to support them.  All this should be guided by what is in the Invitation from BA.    Reflect on and report what you’re learning to the website.

Prepare the vanguard—this has two dimensions: first, among people who are interested in the vanguard or already working with it... isn’t now the time to grapple more deeply with why such a vanguard is needed... and with what their role in relation to it needs to be?  This kind of discussion needs to go on all the time, but it is definitely—in the middle of big battles like this—NOT something to “bookmark for later.”  It is something for now—what is one’s life going to be about, when the opportunity to fundamentally change the direction of a planet hurtling to disaster actually exists?

Second, further develop our collectivities as revolutionary collectivities.  Get together, consciously apply BAsics, the Statement on Strategy, and the guidance at, constantly ask ourselves are we taking as much initiative as we can, within those guidelines and with the right discipline.  Remember this point from BA at all times—and fight to apply it—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...” (Making Revolution And Emancipating Humanity, Part 2: "Everything We're Doing Is About Revolution"). Evaluate, as you go, how we are doing at having societal impact, what is the character of that impact, and how we can amplify or sharpen it?





Revolution #349 August 24, 2014

Emergency in Texas!
WEEK OF DEFIANCE: Abortion on Demand and Without Apology!

August 25 – September 1

August 18, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


On September 1, the state of Texas is on track to close all but six abortion clinics (there were 46 in 2011). Women will be forced to have children against their will. Others will be driven to risk—or lose—their lives through dangerous illegal abortions.

This is a critical turning point in a nationwide emergency.

Now is the time for resistance, for refusing to back down in the face of injustice. Now is the time to defend women's lives and women's rights. Abortion on Demand and Without Apology!

Come to Texas. Take a stand.

If not now, when?




Revolution #349 August 24, 2014

Urgently Needed: A Week of Defiance to Stop the Attacks on Abortion Rights

A letter from the 11 Freedom Riders arrested outside Rick Perry's mansion on August 13, 2014


August 16, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


The attacks on abortion rights have been relentless in recent years: dozens of forced clinic closures, hundreds of restrictions on abortion, flagrantly misogynist court rulings, acts of terrorism and intimidation against doctors, and all in the name of "life" and "religious freedom." This has meant thousands of women turned out and put down, dreams extinguished, futures foreclosed, and lives lost. Millions have been lied to about abortion, and millions more trained and taught to apologize for abortion as a "necessary evil."

It is time to put an end to the madness. This is a question of whether women will be free, or whether they will be enslaved to a vicious patriarchal system that is hell bent on reproductive control, and sees women as nothing but sperm receptacles and baby-making machines. This is a question of whether or not young girls will dare to dream of themselves as leaders, thinkers, fighters, and frankly, full human beings. It is time to tell the truth about abortion, and to defy the powers that seek to enslave women: forced motherhood is female enslavement.

Fetuses are not babies. Fetuses have the potential to be babies. Women are full human beings, with cortexes, consciousness, relationships, memories, feelings, ideas, and plans. Elevating the status of a potential baby inside of a born female is just another way to dehumanize women.

The Abortion Rights Freedom Ride 2014: Ground Zero Texas has connected thousands of people to a national counteroffensive that is refusing to bow down to the terms that have been set by the Right wing. We refuse to wait for courts or politicians to "come around" because we have no reason to think they will, unless the people demand it—unless they are forced to consider that if they continue on in this horrific direction, they will lose their legitimacy in the eyes of millions. We refuse to blindly follow the Democratic leadership on this issue, which has for decades sought "common ground" with patriarchs and anti-abortion fanatics, and led the larger pro-choice movement to apologize for abortion.

Abortion is not murder. Leaving women stranded, like they are in Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi, and growing sections of the country, without any control over their bodies or access to medical care, is murder. Women with complicated pregnancies will die. Women who are driven to self-induce abortions out of desperation will die. When abortion is illegal, women die. This is a fact.  

The Abortion Rights Freedom Ride has been at the courthouse in Austin every single day that court was in session since August 4—abortion providers are challenging provision of HB2 which looms over Texas and threatens to close all but six abortion clinics in this state of 26 million people. Damage has already been done by HB2 and similar laws passed across the country, and the last provision, to go into effect on September 1st, could do even more.

On the day of closing arguments, we left the courthouse and went to the Governor's mansion. Texas Governor Rick Perry has stated the goal of making abortion "a thing of the past." That means no exceptions. That means a nightmare for women and frankly, for society. Rick Perry called a special session to ram HB2 into law last year, in smug disregard for the thousands of people who righteously stood up at the filibuster at the Capitol, and in smug disregard for the millions of women whose lives this will affect.

Women are not incubators. This was our message to the world as we marched out across 11th Street on August 13, holding the pictures of women who have died from illegal abortions, and pointing coat hangers at Perry's mansion. These are the new terms that everyone who cares about the future of women should be fighting for, society-wide. We are sick to death of seeing women mutilated, forced to bear children that are the product of rape, left to die on Catholic hospital beds, and shamed and terrorized outside of clinics. When it comes to abortion, there is only one moral question: Will women be forced to have children against their will or will they be treated as full human beings which means being able to decide for themselves when and whether to be a mother?

So we stood there, uncompromising, we blocked traffic, and we were arrested. A crowd gathered and many people contributed in very positive ways. When the police dragged us off, they lifted a teenager by her nose, suffocating her and causing tears to stream down her face. Another teenager was yanked up and off the street, tearing a ligament in her shoulder. She was then incarcerated and put on suicide watch, in a solitary cell, forced to take off her underwear and wear nothing but a long tank top made of stiff padding and sit on a concrete slab, for hours. Another of us was isolated in a solitary cell, told she would not be allowed to talk to a lawyer, and that she would be in that cell for three days before being shipped off to a penitentiary indefinitely.

Twelve hours later, we had done more time for standing up for the future of women than Rick Perry has, and the blood of women is on his hands. We did more time than the Pope has, and the blood of women is on his hands. We did more time than the cop that killed Michael Brown! But we are undeterred. We chanted in their faces, we supported each other, we defied them repeatedly and refused to answer their hateful, homophobic, loaded questions, and we knew all along we had a movement at our backs working to get us out. We knew all along that what we were doing was exactly what is needed right now, all across this country. Now, for the same reason, we are calling on you.  

Join in a Week of Defiance August 25 – September 1.  Join us in Austin, or claim your own space wherever you live:

Converge daily 4pm-6pm at Gov. Rick Perry's mansion at 1010 Colorado St. in Austin, TX. Bring your body, your art, your voice, your friends, and your determination to reshape the future.

Around the country: go in public and represent for abortion on demand and without apology. Send your messages, art, and donations down to Texas.

Send a message to the Abortion Rights Freedom Riders in Texas.

Contact today with your ideas and your intentions. We will have your back no matter where you are. If you have already reached out, expect a call from us this week. We know this system has never gifted oppressed people with liberation, and you are urgently needed to be part of the kind of mass movement that is the only way that the course of history has ever changed.

Forced Motherhood is Female Enslavement.
Abortion on Demand & Without Apology!




Revolution #349 August 24, 2014

On Bob Avakian: Far-Sighted Revolutionary Leadership vs. Gutter-Level Wrecking and Disregard for the Truth

by Sunsara Taylor | August 18, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


Elsewhere, the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA (RCP) has spoken to the outright capitulationism and destructiveness of the group that claims to be “Texans for Reproductive Justice.” Here, I will only expand on one particularly egregious element of their attack. These haters, and those associated with them, have lashed out at Bob Avakian (BA), Chairman of the RCP, for drawing an analogy between the way postcards that white people used to make of lynchings of Black people concentrated so much about white supremacy and the systematic terror and oppression of Black people, and the way that today’s ever more violent and degrading pornography concentrates so much about male supremacy and the systematic terror and oppression of women. The haters claim that BA is making light of, and “appropriating,” the oppression of Black people. They further claim that BA is acting as some sort of puritanical “bedroom police.”

The RCP has already made the point that all you have to do is read what it is that BA has actually said to see how outrageous and wrong this accusation is.

But, here I must add: It is simply a fact that one of the most striking things about Bob Avakian, both as a revolutionary leader and in his whole personal development—from his childhood friends, to his early and close involvement with the Black Panther Party, to his development as a revolutionary, and later the most radical revolutionary communist on the planet1 —is the profound role that the influence of Black people and the Black liberation struggle had on shaping him, as well as his ever-deepening commitment to and leadership in the fight to end the long centuries of oppression of Black people. Anyone who engages his work seriously... actually, anyone who even dips into his work—from the timeline of his political activism and revolutionary leadership, to the videos of his talks,2 to BAsics, to his countless works over the years—cannot help but be struck by this. Anyone who looks at the timeline, for instance, can see how he fought in the key struggles of the late 1960s and 1970s, including in defense of the Black Panther Party, and how he went on to found the Revolutionary Communist Party with the insistence that “There’s never gonna be a revolution in this country, and there never should be, that doesn’t make [fully unleashing and giving expression to the deeply, deeply felt desire to be rid of these long centuries of oppression of Black people] one key foundation of what it’s all about.” (BAsics 3:19) That these people who insist on brandishing the pro-slavery Texas flag could make these charges against BA demonstrates their utter lack of principle and fundamental disregard for the truth.

It is also simply a fact that one of the great hallmarks of BA over many decades has been his insistence that, “You cannot break all the chains except one. You cannot say you want to be free of exploitation and oppression, except you want to keep the oppression of women by men. You can’t say you want to liberate humanity yet keep one half of the people enslaved to the other half.” (BAsics 3:22)

In fact, Bob Avakian has consistently broken new ground on this question—including with regard to sexual liberation, morality, and the forging of radically new social relations that are both free of oppression as well as filled with ease of mind and space—and how all this is bound up with and interdependent with the all-around fight to make revolution and carry that forward to a truly emancipated world. As part of this, he has scientifically interrogated the whole history of the communist movement—including our Party—on this question, going deeply into both its strengths and shortcomings, as part of breaking this new ground. All this can be seen—and should be gotten into by all who are sincere—in the new compendium which pulls together his decades-long work on this, Break ALL the Chains! Bob Avakian on the Emancipation of Women and the Communist Revolution.

These haters have not succeeded in “exposing BA.” Instead, by striking out at, grossly distorting, and seeking to tear down BA, a revolutionary leader who has given his entire life and made no small amount of sacrifice to not only stay on the revolutionary road, but to advance that road and keep others advancing, these haters have exposed only how their deep investment in keeping the world as it is—while simultaneously posturing as people who care about the oppressed—has led them to abandon all principle and all regard for the truth.

1. To get a fuller picture of this, see Bob Avakian's memoir: From Ike to Mao and Beyond: My Journey from Mainstream America to Revolutionary Communist. [back]

2. Check out the DVD BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! Bob Avakian Live—the film of his powerful 6+ hour talk given in 2012. [back]




Revolution #349 August 24, 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 #349 August 24, 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 #349 August 24, 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 #349 August 24, 2014

Take the BA Everywhere Campaign... to the People... Everywhere

August 18, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


As people raise their heads—jolted and inspired by the people rising up in rebellion in Ferguson, Missouri, against yet another police murder of a young unarmed Black man in America—they need to know that another world is possible. Everyone awakening to the great turmoil all over the world needs to know that there is a way out of the horror and madness of this system. They need to know about the vision and leadership of Bob Avakian (BA) for a radically new society that could be brought about through revolution.

Donate to radically change the world.

DONATE to the
BA Everywhere Campaign!

Click Here

From now through Labor Day weekend, the BA Everywhere campaign is calling on all who are learning about and inspired by Bob Avakian’s work—to go all-out—taking word of Bob Avakian and what he has brought forward and the BA Everywhere campaign wherever people are in struggle, reaching out to people from all walks of life who are agonizing over what kind of world this is and what can be done to change it.

Gather together crews to spread BA Everywhere and raise funds to get his work out on a whole other, major level across the country. Sit down with people to ask for donations; get in touch with everyone who has met the campaign to encourage them to take up the campaign and to follow, where you find news of the BA Everywhere campaign and of the movement for revolution and of the people standing up. Go all-out to make the objectives of the BA Everywhere campaign—to make BA and his work known all over—real.

Now is the time for the film BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! Bob Avakian Live to be seen by many people—a time for resisting together in the streets and getting into this powerful piece of work together that can “change how you see the world and what you do with the rest of your life.” (from one of the filmmakers)

Now is the time for the “REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS!” T-shirts to take off, becoming known and seen all over as a badge of resistance and defiance to everything intolerable and oppressive that this system brings down on the people. Raise funds, get sponsorships for people from Ferguson to New York, from Chicago to the border with Mexico—to wear the T-shirt as they stand up to resist—and as they get together to chill, to play ball, to hang.

Now is the time to sit down with dozens of people who can make significant donations. Introduce them to the BA Everywhere campaign’s objective of raising major funds to make BA and his work known society wide, and challenge them to make a contribution to radically changing this world. People can and should donate to BA Everywhere in general, or to particular projects.

Labor Day picnics, barbecues, gatherings: an opportunity for all kinds of people who are lifting their heads, straightening their backs, starting to see with new eyes—to learn more about Bob Avakian and the BA Everywhere campaign and the difference it can make; an opportunity to get involved, to donate, to JOIN this campaign. A chance to get into the big questions of why things are as they are and how all this can change—the big questions that most people, most of the time, don’t allow themselves to think about—or to hope could be different. A chance to meet up with the Revolutionary Communist Party and the movement for revolution it is leading.

The Labor Day gatherings will be a culmination of the summer and launch to the fall. Simple programs will bring people together—and bring together outrage, defiance, questions, determination to find a different way—with the revolutionary strategy and vision that BA has brought forward—building community and breaking bread—and raising funds.

And the historic announcement being made on on September 1 will be read by the RCP, USA at these events.

Resources and materials for BA Everywhere organizing and fundraising:




Revolution #349 August 24, 2014

Chicago’s Break ALL the Chains Celebration:

"Lofty but Very Real"

August 18, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


On Sunday evening, August 10, almost 50 people came together in Chicago to celebrate the publication of the sampler version of Break ALL the Chains! Bob Avakian on the Emancipation of Women and the Communist Revolution. The group was quite diverse—in terms of both age and nationality—with a significant representation of those who catch hell every day.

Donate to radically change the world.

DONATE to the
BA Everywhere Campaign!

Click Here

One person described the whole evening as “lofty but very real.” BAsics 3:22 and other quotes from the Break ALL the Chains! sampler framed the evening with its revolutionary vision. People got to know BA—some for the first time and others on a deeper level—through a film clip of BA speaking on the epidemic of rape together with various passages from the sampler. There was a video clip from Sunsara Taylor and the heroic Abortion Rights Freedom Riders who are right now on the front lines of this battle in Texas. And people at the celebration were introduced to the idea that “revolutionary state power can be a most liberating thing” when it comes to ending the oppression of women, and emancipating all of humanity. Everyone got an excerpt from the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal) on “Eradicating the Oppression of Women.” The audience was challenged to donate generously to the BA Everywhere campaign, based on imagining the difference it would make if many thousands more Break ALL the Chains! samplers were sent into hellhole prisons of the country (a thousand have already been sent) or were gotten out in neighborhoods of the oppressed.

Throughout the event you could see some of the embryos of a movement for revolution coming into being—one that fully unleashed the fury of women as a mighty force for revolution. People who came from neighborhoods of the oppressed read quotes from BA, told of their experiences, and read poems they had written inspired by BAsics 3:22. People heard letters read from prisoners describing how BA had radically altered their views towards women. One young brother played a beautiful song he had written called “When the Revolution Comes.” Two Chicago Revolution Club members jointly described a recent rally in a South Side park and how they had taken on pimp mentality bullshit and set off a big debate that rolled throughout the park as the Break ALL the Chains! sampler got into people's hands. And as the formal program was ending on August 10, people were treated to slides of the Revolution Contingent which the day before had marched in the Bud Billiken Parade (the largest African-American parade in the country).

The August 10 event challenged people. At one table, controversy broke out over a comment that “if women want to be porn stars, what’s wrong with that?” This generated a lot of back and forth which included one woman telling the guy to stop “thinking like a pimp.” Another guy was wrestling with gender roles and the question of abortion. And, as he left, he had gotten as far as “Well, I still think women should have the babies, but I can now see that they should also have the right to control their own body.”

The event also inspired people. A college student said it had reignited her desire to change the world. “This is beyond me and mine. So many groups are just about working for their own thing. This revolution has an all-encompassing view on how to address all the horrors of the world.” A woman from another country said, “This program is very important,” and she talked about her goal of writing the stories of women from her homeland who face horrible oppression. A woman who has not been active for a while was “very happy to see what has been developing.” A 13-year-old girl, who came with her family, responded to what she liked most about the program with: “I really liked what BA said.  Lots more people need to know about him.” Inspiration for another person took the form of a very generous donation.

Overall, among all kinds of people, we really need to make leaps in raising the big money necessary to project BA Everywhere. People got a taste of a different future—and Break ALL the Chains! Bob Avakian on the Emancipation of Women and the Communist Revolution is critical in ushering that future into being at the earliest possible time.





Revolution #349 August 24, 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 #349 August 24, 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 #349 August 24, 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 #349 August 24, 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 #349 August 24, 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 #349 August 24, 2014

From Gaza—Michael Slate Interview with Dr. Haidar Eid

"...calling a spade a spade... what is happening in Gaza right now is in fact, a genocide"

August 18, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


Dr. Haidar Eid is Associate Professor of Postcolonial and Postmodern Literature at Gaza's al-Aqsa University. He is a member of the steering committee of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI). He spoke with Michael Slate from Gaza on The Michael Slate Show.


Q: Dr. Haider Eid is an assistant professor at the Al Aqsa University in Gaza. I was really moved to talk to Dr. Eid when I read a piece on Aljazeera and it was something that really, really moved me and had a tremendous impact on me. It was kind of a diary of living under the bombs and the attacks, the savage genocidal attacks by Israel on the Palestinian people in Gaza. And so, we were lucky enough to get ahold of Dr. Eid and he’s joining us now. Dr. Eid, welcome to the show.

A: Thank you so much for having me on your show Michael. Thank you so much.

Q: Sure. I’m honored to have you on. Let’s jump into this. I want to start by you giving people a living sense of what’s happening in Gaza; what are the people facing?

A: Thank you again, for having me on your show and it's an honor for me, and I was so pleased to hear you use the word, “genocide.” It’s very encouraging to hear a conscientious American calling a spade a spade. So what is happening in Gaza right now is in fact, a genocide. If you talked to anybody walking on the streets of Gaza and asked them whether they support the resistance movement on the ground in all of its forms, whether it is armed resistance or in the form of Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions, or civil disobedience, you name it, everybody would tell you that they support resistance because people in Gaza are fed up. We are talking about 1.8 million people, 2/3 of whom are refugees who were ethnically cleansed from their towns and villages in 1948 when Israel was established. And I believe that you did interview Ilan Pappé last week and I’m sure he must have talked about the ethnic cleansing of Palestine, etc. So, what you have here, the Gaza Strip has been transformed since 2006 into the largest concentration camp on earth, literally. Literally, it is larger than Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen, etc. And what you have is Israel claiming to have “withdrawn” from the Gaza Strip towards the end of 2005. But Israel had then decided to close the six crossings separating Gaza from Israel. Israel has the key to these crossings and in cahoots with the government of the Egyptian state of Hosni Mubarak who decided to close the only exit Gaza has to the external world, and I'm referring to the Rafah Crossing here, both had decided to besiege the Gaza Strip. Now, that is the context I want you and your listeners to remember, because one of the problems that we have with Western media is that it de-contextualizes what is happening right now in Gaza in particular, and in Palestine, in general. So you have 1.8 million prisoners living in the Gaza Strip in what Amnesty International and B'Tselem, which is a mainstream human rights organization in Israel, call the largest open-air prison on earth. I remember Professor Richard Falk in 2006 writing an article. Professor Richard Falk is the [former] UN (United Nations) Human Rights Special Rapporteur for the Occupied Territories in Palestine. He wrote an article, I remember in 2000, a prophetic article, in which he called the siege then, a prelude to genocide. Now, my friend Ilan Pappé, whom you interviewed, wrote also an article, I think it was in 2008 or 2009, and he called the siege a “slow-motion genocide.” Now, he called it a genocide, and we are talking about people who conscientious, who are at the same time objective. Both are scholars and both, by the way, are Jews. And of course, I’m saying this because I just want to confirm that the problem is not religious. The problem is not religious at all. Actually, the likes of Ilan Pappé, Richard Falk and so many other Jews in the United States of America are our comrades in arms. The real and true solidarity that is being shown to the people of Gaza is coming from leading Jewish figures in the United States of America and the West. So we need to put aside these accusations of anti-semitism, etc.

So, what I wanted to say is since 2006 until today, the people of Gaza have not surrendered. And that is why apartheid Israel decided to launch a massive massacre in late 2008, early 2009. They launched air strikes against the Gaza Strip, and then a ground invasion that lasted 22 days in which it massacred, according to the UN fact-finding mission to Gaza headed by the respected South African judge Richard Goldstone, massacred 1,434 including 434 children. But what was the reaction of the international community? Absolutely nothing. The newly-elected president of the United States of America, then Barack Obama, did not have a single word of sympathy then. And neither did he have in 2012 when Israel decided to carry out another massacre, because the people of Gaza never surrendered. They stayed in Gaza for 8 days, during which it killed 200 people including 64 children. The people of Gaza never surrendered and we went back to the medieval siege under which we have been living since 2006 until today. I'm talking about shortages of essential kinds of medicines; 164 kinds of medicines, Michael. I’m talking about medicines for cancer patients. I’m talking about kidney dialysis. I’m talking about heart diseases, etc. We’re not allowed to have that medicine, Michael. We are not allowed to have milk for our children. We’re not allowed to have clean water. Ninety five percent of Gaza water is polluted, Michael. And that is why people decided to dig tunnels under the border separating Gaza from Egypt.

But, the leader of the Egyptian coup, Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, decided to destroy all these tunnels. We dug those tunnels in order to bring milk to our children in Gaza. Most of our children and babies and toddlers in Gaza have malnutrition, Michael. More than 2000 seriously ill people have died as a result of the siege because we do not have medicine for these seriously ill people. So we dug tunnels, but even that was destroyed in addition to the permanent closure of the Rafah crossing. But still the people of Gaza never surrendered, and that’s why this time Israel knows very well that it has a green light from the so-called civilized international community because if you remember, if I take you back to February 2008, Israel wanted to test the waters of the international community and therefore it sent occupation forces go to the town of Beit Hanoun, which is by the way, being obliterated from the face of the earth as I’m speaking to you right now. A massacre is being carried out in the town of Beit Hanoun. We are getting SOS messages from the doctors and the nurses and the medical staff and patients in Beit Hanoun hospital as I’m speaking to you right now, Michael. But when Israel decided to test the waters of the international community, they launched a massive attack against the Beit Hanoun people for one week and we were threatened then if you remember, by Matan Vilnai, the deputy defense minister of the Israel occupation. He threatened us with what he called in Hebrew, a “shoah.” A shoah is the Hebrew word for Holocaust. I mean look, the deputy defense minister using the H-word as they killed 101 people including 34 children and the reaction of the international community was absolutely nothing.

And that is why Israel now has decided—in fact, it has two objectives now by carrying out its genocidal massacre against the Palestinians of Gaza. One:  it wants to get rid of the resistance underground here in the Gaza Strip, and when I say “resistance” I’m referring to all political factions and organizations from right to left, from Hamas to Islamic Jihad, to Fatah, to the popular front Marxists, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Maoist organization, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine who are resisting and who are fighting back.

So Israel has two objectives. One, to keep the Gaza ghetto, the Gaza bantustan. And I really don’t want to call it a bantustan because it is much, much worse than a bantustan. It is literally a concentration camp. But two, Israel is a settler colony, I mean exactly like the United States of America, exactly like Australia. Therefore it has that genocidal tendency in its ideology. The mainstream ideology that is dominant in Israel is Zionism. And for Zionism, the goyim, the other, has to be completely killed and that’s why it has that approach to the other in which it either carries out a process of ethnic cleansing, which it has been carrying out since 1948 until today or genocide, like what happened to Native Americans, for example. And I think this is the second objective of the current Israel massacre against the Palestinians of Gaza. Otherwise, why target Palestinian children in broad daylight? As I’m speaking to you right now Michael, I’m following the news coming from Khan Yunis . The latest massacre is a massacre carried out of the al-Najjar family. Twenty people of this extended family have been killed, including 11 children. The number of those killed since this current massacre has been launched by apartheid Israel has reached 900 people and 6,000 injuries.* And Michael we are talking about a population of 1.8 million. And therefore literally, the definition of genocide actually applies to what Israel has been doing against us in Gaza, yes, Michael.

Q: One of the things you've done is you've described this as the Holocaust of the 21st Century. You talked about, in reality, no matter what people want to think, that Palestinian lives are different. I wanted you to explain that. You talked about the Palestinians in that part of the world today, the Palestinians who, in my view, have been driven from their homeland, and I think that's just plain truth. But you talk about them now, in that area of the world. You say that, “They are the goyim, the unwanted other, the Native American, the nigger of the American South, the kaffir of South Africa.” Let's talk about that a little.

A: This question, Michael, is in fact a question of ideology. As I said to you, two thirds of the Palestinians of Gaza are refugees who were driven out—ethnically cleansed. I mean, let's use the right term here: Ethnically cleansed in 1948. I don't want to be too theoretical and academic. Because it becomes sort of a cold analysis. Let me personalize the whole thing. I am the son of two refugees. My parents come from the village of Zarnouqa, which was ethnically cleansed in 1948. Both parents, Michael, died in 2005, within a five-month period. My mother couldn't bear it to stay alive after my father had passed away.

Both died dreaming of the day when they would go back to their village, Zarnouqa. But, I don't want to sound also romantic. I'm talking about a right. I'm not talking about, you know, a “demand.” I'm talking about a right, which is a right that is guaranteed by international law: United Nations resolution 194 guarantees the right of Palestinian refugees to return and compensation. But at the same time, to contextualize what I'm talking about, two thirds of the Palestinian people are refugees who are entitled to their right of return, most of whom are living under miserable, miserable conditions, in miserable refugee camps in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Egypt.

Therefore, for Zionism, for the white Ashkenazi Zionists, in order for Israel as the state of Jews only, because also we need to remember that Israel does not have a constitution and therefore Israel by definition is an apartheid entity, is an apartheid state. Israel has basic laws. And the first basic law that Israel has in its Knesset, which is the Israeli parliament, defines Israel as the state of Jews all over the world. Therefore, if you are born to a Jewish mother in California, as soon as you are born, you are entitled to your right of “return” to the “promised land.” Of course, god, that entity, has promised Jews Palestine as their promised land. And therefore, if you are born to a Jewish mother—if you define who's a Jew according to Israeli basic laws, it is everyone who is born to a Jewish mother—you are entitled to that right. Whereas I am born to Palestinian parents who are born to my Palestinian grandparents, and I can take you in this lineage hundreds or thousands of years back. I am not entitled to that right of return.

Therefore I have ended up representing the “other” of the Ashkenazi Zionist who believes that he has come back to an empty land without a people for a people without a land. But there are people living in this land.

When the Zionist organization in the 19th Century decided to send two rabbis to Palestine in order to find out whether the land was beautiful or not, and whether it was empty or not, the two rabbis sent back a message to the Zionist organization saying, “The bride is beautiful, but she's married to another man.” I.e., this “other man” is the native Palestinian. Therefore Zionism found out that in order to have their Zionist dream of establishing a state for Jews in Palestine, they had to get rid of the “other,” the Palestinians, either by ethnically cleansing Palestine, which happened in 1948, when they managed to force two thirds of the Palestinians out of Palestine—or by genocide. This is what is happening in Gaza right now.

So that is the ideological dimension of what is happening to us here in Gaza, Michael.

Q: I want to move into the role of the U.S., and the other imperialist powers as well, but especially the role of the U.S. and what it's been doing. You've mentioned in a number of places that you've written, you said there's no way in the world, basically, that Israel could get away with this kind of genocidal attack without a green light from the U.S. I wanted you to talk about what you see as the complicity of the U.S. How does that get expressed?

A: Well, Michael, I always love to make that analogy between, that comparison between apartheid South Africa and the anti-apartheid movement as well, with Zionism and the Palestinian anti-Zionist movement. I want to take you back, Michael, to the mid-80s, when America was ruled by an ultra-conservative president, Ronald Reagan, but also the UK under the Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. If you remember when the anti-apartheid movement in the late 50s, I think it was 1958, it called on the international community to boycott the apartheid system of South Africa until it complies with international law. That call came out in the late 50s, and it took the international community more than thirty years to heed that call.

Now in the mid-80s, Michael, Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, defended what they called “constructive engagement,” with the apartheid system of South Africa, i.e., having ties with the apartheid system of South Africa. They even considered Nelson Mandela—and these are the words of Reagan and Margaret Thatcher—they considered Nelson Mandela a terrorist. Now look at that. That was in the mid-80s. And it was one of the darkest moments of South Africa. And that is by the way, as a note on the side, we are calling the moment we're going through right now in Palestine our “South African Moment,” and I will explain why at a later stage.

But then Nelson Mandela was released in 1990, in spite of what the Americans said about Nelson Mandela. And in 1994, Nelson Mandela became the first black president of multi-racial, multi-cultural, multi-religious South Africa, in spite of American support for the apartheid system, in spite of the complicity of the imperialist powers of the West with the apartheid system of South Africa.

So that is my approach to what we have right now, and the role of the United States of America. But I want to add, Michael, because I don't want people even to start pointing fingers and saying, “Well, you know, the apartheid system was different.” Yes! It was different in the sense that the oppression of Palestinians by apartheid Israel is multi-tiered. When we had visitors coming to visit us from the American South, by the way, and from South Africa, the likes of Desmond Tutu, I'm referring to. The likes of Ronnie Kasrils, for example, the anti-apartheid activist, they said to us, “What you are going through in Palestine is far, far worse than what we had in the worst of apartheid in South Africa.”

Israel has been able to carry out its multi-tiered system of oppression against Palestinians in general because of the complicity and the support of the United States of America. Michael, Israel has the fourth-strongest army in the world—that is a fact—equipped with American-made F-16s that are killing Palestinian children, that killed some of my best colleagues and friends, their sons and daughters. I'm talking to you right now, and I have a mental image of my colleague, whose entire family, eight members of his entire family, were wiped out by an American-made F-16. The Israeli occupation forces have Merkava tanks. They have Apache helicopters.

Then you have the Secretary of State, John Kerry, yesterday, talking about the suffering of both sides. You don't have two equal sides here. You didn't have two equal sides in South Africa. You didn't have two equal sides in the American South under the racist laws of Jim Crow. But because the United States of America itself is a racist, imperialist country, it comes from that background of terrible, terrible, one of the worst genocides against an indigenous population. So you have that affinity between the United States of America and Israel. But also, you need to remember that Israel represents and defends the interests of the United States of America in the Middle East, controlling all those natives that might rise up one day against American imperialism, but also controlling American interests in the Gulf. You know, you have Saudi Arabia, you have Iraq, you have the other countries with the largest oil reservoir in the world. And therefore America wants to keep a clear “aircraft carrier” in the Middle East, and who but Israel can do that for the United States of America?

Q: That's an extremely important point, Dr. Eid. One of the things I keep thinking about in relation to this is when you talked about the idea that they say, “Both sides are to blame. They both hold equal responsibility for this suffering. And everybody's suffering. The Israelis are suffering, the Palestinians are suffering.” And that's what gets run out in the press here. And it paints a very different picture than the reality, and I think it's very important for people to understand that. And in particular, look at Obama. Here's Obama, who, every time he's asked, what does he say? He says, well, I first want to start off by saying, Israel, of course, has the right to defend itself from attack. But then we have to figure out how we're going to settle this in a reasonable way. But he constantly makes the point that Israel has right on its side. To me this is something that is very much tied into what you're saying, especially in the world today and the things that are going on—the way the Middle East is no longer a place that the U.S. can look at as even a very stable place for them to pillage and plunder. It's actually a place that's full of upheaval, all kinds of things are happening, and really, some forces that are really ripping apart U.S. interests, and not always in a good sense for the people, but the U.S. is facing a lot of contradictory things there, and the importance of Israel seems to me to stand out even more, which I think has something to do with why they're actually doing what they do, the complicity they have with Israel—well, put it this way, Israel is the gendarme for the U.S. imperialists in the Middle East. That's something that can never be forgotten.

A: I completely agree. That's why we find it extremely hypocritical when people carry out that “two sides” story. Any comparison of the capabilities of the rockets that are exchanged between Israel and the resistance movement would show that there is no comparison to speak of whatsoever. But also more telling, I would say, is the lack of comparison between the casualties caused by either side.

How many Israeli civilians have been killed by Palestinian rockets launched from Gaza? The answer is none. And let's compare that to six hundred Palestinian civilians killed over the last eighteen days only, with 6000 injuries, Michael. I mean look at that! Isn't that enough for anybody with a very low IQ to start thinking about it?

I wouldn't even say “complicit.” They are directly involved, Michael. Israel is the United States of America, and that is our problem. We are talking about children being butchered in broad daylight, Michael. And those children do not deserve a word of sympathy from a father of two beautiful children in the White House? What do you say about that? When you have the fourth-strongest army, Michael, targeting in broad daylight yesterday in Khuza’a, an extremely peaceful rural village on the eastern border of Gaza. You know when you talk about the “salt of the earth?” The people of Khuza’a are the salt of the earth.

I saw that person, and, you know, a physically and mentally disabled person carrying a white flag, and he is targeted in broad daylight by an artillery shell. What do you call that? You know, sometimes I really find myself short of words in both languages, Arabic and English. How do I describe that? How do you describe when in broad daylight you know that two children playing soccer in Deir al-Balah? Two days ago. An Apache helicopter targeted them. Four children playing soccer on the beach of Gaza. And then the president of the United States of America does not have a word of sympathy with these children? Not a single Israeli civilian has been targeted by the Palestinian resistance since the current massacre, Michael. All the 33 Israelis that have been killed since Israel has launched its ground invasion, these 33 Israelis are soldiers. Now, who has the higher moral ground here? Palestinians have the higher moral ground exactly the same way natives of South Africa under the leadership of the ANC [African National Congress] and the SACP [South African Communist Party] and Nelson Mandela had the higher moral ground. Exactly the same way the civil rights movement in the United States of America had the higher moral ground. At the end of the day we will make the United States of America change its relationship vis-à-vis the Palestinians. We know that official America hates Palestinians. We know that official America hates Palestinian children the same way it hated Vietnamese children, the same way it hated Nicaraguan children, the same way it hated South African children, the same way it hated African Americans. But the anti-apartheid movement, with the support of conscientious people such as yourself in the United States of America, managed actually to make America change in its relationship vis-à-vis apartheid in the late 80s, by following a sustained campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions.

Q: Let me read something you wrote.

The Palestinian Resistance demands that Egypt opens the Rafah crossing permanently. There's a story to tell to our children: Why is the Rafah crossing closed today? Why has it been mostly closed since 2006? Isn't Egypt an Arab country? Aren't Palestinians Arabs or is it that Gazans aren't Arabs? How do we explain this to the children of Gaza?

To the five-year old whose legs are being amputated as I write this: Does she know that the Rafah crossing was closed before she was born? Does she know that she had to lose her legs just because she is Palestinian, and lives in Gaza, and Israel is very, very scared of her? So scared that they had to shell her house 10 times in quick succession? So scared that this amount of fire power is the only thing that will stop her from scaring the Israelis?

Let's talk about that, a very moving and I have a sense, a very accurate portrayal of what's going on.

A: Yeah. Well, you know—you know what really breaks my heart, and breaks everybody's heart here? It is children. I really find it extremely difficult to understand this. Yesterday there was a press conference in Cairo, attended by John Kerry, Nabil Elaraby, Secretary-General of the Arab League, by the Egyptian foreign minister, and by Ban Ki-Moon [Secretary-General of the United Nations]. I was asked by a local reporter about my reaction to the so-called ceasefire, a 12-hour lull that just started one hour ago. And my reaction was this, Michael, which sums up everything.

If John Kerry, and the other leaders, manage to persuade Israel just to stop killing and targeting children, then we would consider that a huge achievement. Just children. Kill me. Kill our women. Kill our elderly. Kill our youngsters. And I need to remind you that more than 55% of the Palestinian casualties are students, Michael. Students. University and some high school, prep school, etc. But we want them to stop targeting children. I mean the horror! The horror! The horror you see in the eyes of Palestinian children is inexplicable, is unfathomable, is something that is indescribable. I really can't understand how a father of two beautiful daughters sitting in the White House fails to see that, how he fails to address something like that. We're talking about 200 children that have been killed. I'm talking about children under the age of ten, that have been killed over the last 18 days.

You are not allowed to play soccer on the beaches of Gaza. You're not allowed to walk on the streets of Gaza if you are a child. Now, I am not a father. But I have nephews and nieces. And when I look at them, I know every single child in the world finds protection in the arms of his parents, of her parents. Now our children don't have that.

I don't have the luxury of a father, because I can't protect my child. I can't protect my 10-year-old nephew. When he asks me questions, such difficult questions—the question is “Why?” If Israel is doing that, why are they doing this? How do you explain something like this to a five-year-old child, a seven-year-old child?

Why doesn't the world do something? Don't they see that they are killing us? How do we explain something like this?

And then we are being asked not to be emotional. Now, how can you avoid being emotional?

Q: Let's talk about that a little more, because actually the one thing that does stand out very much to me is absolutely no one is being held accountable for this. All kinds of things have gone on. There've been all kinds of reports issued. There was the Goldstone report, reporting on suspected war crimes in Gaza in 2008-2009, reports by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch. But nobody has ever been held accountable. Let's talk about that.

A: Absolutely. There is a key word that I have always been saying since I started my activism—accountability. Why does Israel carry out its crimes against the Palestinian people with impunity? Israel is doing that because it knows that it will not be held accountable. I remember writing a piece back in 2008, 2009, when Israel carried out its first massacre against Gaza, and I said that Israel will not stop in 2009. Israel might stop carrying out this current massacre in 2009, but it will come back, and it did come back in 2012. And it is carrying out another massacre now. I don't know how long it will take. Because Israel knows very well that it can carry out its massacre with full impunity because the West is supporting Israel.

Look, this support is not coming from the so-called “Third World,” the developing world. The support is coming from the West because the West has a guilt complex. It was Germany that carried out one of the worst pogroms in the history of humanity, and I'm referring, of course, to the Holocaust and what happened to Jews in the Second World War, when Hitler carried out a pogrom in which he killed more than six million Jews, something that is appalling, that should never, never happen to anybody else.

But it is happening to us. And it is happening to us by the victims of the West. So the West has a guilt complex, and it's trying to compensate for that complex by having us pay for that. We didn't carry out those massacres, the worst pogrom in the history of humanity, of anti-semitism. You have no anti-semitism in the Middle East. In fact, during the Second World War and even in the 19th Century and prior to that the Middle East actually gave a safe haven to the victims of anti-semitism in the West, from Turkey, to Northern Africa, to Palestine, Egypt, etc. And now we are paying the price for the war crimes committed by the West against Jews in the mid-20th Century.

But I also want to say something, Michael. I don't want to give the impression that we are just talking about the world. We have two words. We have “the world,” represented by official bodies: the United States of America, the United Nations, the Security Council, European Union, etc. That's the world that I am criticizing. But we have the other world. And the other world is the world that you, Michael, and your comrades in the United States of America, the anti-apartheid activists, solidarity supporters, this is the world that we are banking on, the world of civil society, solidarity groups, etc. And this is why I would like to seize this opportunity, Michael, and remind your listeners, that actually Palestinian civil society in Gaza issued a statement. We called it an “Urgent call from Gaza civil society” to the international law, and we called on the world to Act Now! [“Urgent call from Gaza civil society: Act now!” can be found at Electronic Intifada]

We issued this statement, Michael, on the 13th of July. We called for three things. We called for arms embargoes on Israel, sanctions that would cut off the supply of weapons and military aid from Europe and the United States, on which Israel depends to commit such war crimes and atrocities. Two, we want a suspension of all free trade and bilateral agreements with Israel. And we have an example. The example was the EU-Israel association agreement. And number three, Palestinian civil society, we did issue a statement, a call in 2005. We called if the Palestinian BDS call. We called for Boycotts Divestment and Sanctions. And this was endorsed by the majority of Palestinian civil society.

Now the question, Michael. How many amputated bodies of Palestinian does the world want to see in order to act? How many more headless bodies of Palestinian women does the international community want to see in order to start acting? Now the figure has risen to 600. Five thousand injuries. Well, doesn't that make a massacre? Doesn't Mr. Barack Obama consider that a massacre? What is the figure that would convince the likes of David Cameron and Barack Obama and Ban Ki-Moon to call it a massacre? 5,000? 10,000?

I was reading an Israeli newspaper last week. I can't remember exactly whether it was Haaretz or not. They were talking about a conversation with one of the aides of Mr. Kerry, and he said the United States of America might seriously start considering intervening and pressuring Israel to have a ceasefire, maybe if the figure rises to 1000. Now, look at that. How many of our lives, really, how many Palestinian lives are dispensable enough until the world decides to take action?

Now, we know very well that Israel will carry out this genocide, and will carry out more and more and more massacres, but we do bank on civil society in the world. Our BDS campaign represents the conscience of the world. And Israel has started feeling the heat of the global BDS campaign. So many actors, so many performers and singers have decided to refrain from singing and performing in the “Sun City” of the Middle East, Tel Aviv. Steven Hawking, the most famous physicist in the world, right now has decided to heed our call for academic boycott of Israel. And I can give you hundreds of achievements the BDS campaign has achieved. But we have not reached the moment where the world will start imposing sanctions against apartheid Israel and say, “Enough is enough!”

Q: You've posed in many of your writings, where is the world? The world needs to stand up to this. I agree with you 100%. I think this is a good message to leave people with. The world needs to step up and speak out against this and act against this.

* The death and injury has increased significantly since this was aired.  Reports from various news sources indicate that as of August 6. 2014—the death toll of Palestinians has reached 1800-1900 and nearly 10,000 wounded. [back]




Revolution #349 August 24, 2014

Correspondence from Chicago Revolution Club:

“Women Are Not Bitches, Ho’s, or Punching Bags... Women Are Full Human Beings”

August 12, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


The small inner city park looked pretty empty for such a nice Sunday afternoon. But the Revolution Club had promised to come there and do a scaled down version of the program at our anti-4th of July picnic. So, five of us from the Revolution Club took banners, a table and a sound system and set up in the park. We set out free samplers of Break ALL the Chains! BA on the Emancipation of Women and the Communist Revolution, loaner copies of BAsics, the BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! DVD, Revolution newspapers, invitations to the Break ALL the Chains cultural celebrations and a Proclamation we had issued.

This park is a neighborhood hangout, including for a lot of youth. Members of the Revolution Club have visited the park this summer. Last year, during the BA Everywhere Van Tour, some youth in the park had watched parts of REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS!

We looked strong as we all lined up with our “BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS!” t-shirts on. One of us held a large banner with the "Three Strikes" quote from BA on slavery, Jim Crow and the New Jim Crow. A young woman in the Club, who had gone with Stop Patriarchy and BA Everywhere to the Warped Tour, brought her sign from that event that said:

“Women Are not Bitches, Hos, or punching bags” “Women Are Full Human Beings”

One person from the club, well known in the park, mc’d and kicked off by explaining the revolution with these basic points:

The World Is a Horror
It Doesn’t Have to Be This Way
We Need Revolution and the Revolution Needs You

The MC explained that some people in the park are familiar with the revolution and know we are opposed to police brutality, the murder of Trayvon Martin and mass incarceration, but the revolution is more than that. He said that there was a strategy for revolution and that this summer, as part of carrying out that strategy, we were seeking to make serious advances. There are many ways to be part of the movement for revolution and as the editorial on "Summer 2014: Making Advances...Toward Revolution" made the point, there is "An Ensemble of Initiatives Not a Jumble of Initiatives." He explained that it was like an ensemble (a musical grouping that is made up of several instruments which play separately but together make a fuller richer sound then each instrument can separately). He said that the leading edge of this ensemble was the BA Everywhere campaign.

Two club members read the Proclamation that has been posted throughout the neighborhood and on a nearby newly created Revolution Wall. The MC explained that part of our ensemble is the battle against mass incarceration. The bolded sections of the Call for the October Month of Mass Resistance to Mass Incarceration, Police Terror, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation was read by a young member of the Revolution Club holding up the Three Strikes banner. The MC read BAsics 3:22 and spoke briefly about the struggle to End Pornography and Patriarchy. He introduced the young woman holding up the sign that said “Women Are not Bitches, Ho's, or Punching Bags... Women Are Full Human Beings..." She read a letter from a young woman going on the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride 2014 in Texas. Then a part of a challenge around the 1000 years/$1000 project for BA Everywhere was read along with some excerpts from a prisoner about this.

At first glance, it looked like people were just hanging out and ignoring us. No one came up around us. But the loud sound system caught people’s attention, and we realized that people by cars, on benches and perched on bikes were actually listening intently.

As we ended the rally a few people came up to the table, and what ensued was a wild debate over the sound system , and in other parts of the park, around the slogans “Women Are not Bitches, Ho's, or Punching Bags,” “Women Are Full Human Beings.”

A man from the park stepped up to the mic and, talking down to the revolutionary women and to all the women, proclaimed, “I was born a pimp and I am still a pimp and I will always be a pimp.” Another man stepped up to the mic and said that any woman who dresses like a ho deserves to get treated like a ho. Revolution Club members became furious at this shit. The young woman took this on, arguing that women are queens, we come from kings and queens. She was arguing on the basis of people (in particular Black people) not degrading themselves and a narrative on history that trains people to have self-esteem based on a view of descending from African royalty.

Another revolutionary spoke to how we are not for a world with kings and queens—we are for getting rid of masters and slaves, oppressors and oppressed, and emancipating and liberating all of humanity.

Then a guy stepped up to the mic with a giant squirt gun saying—I will clean the women off. One of the revolutionaries was enraged and said, “I got next” and got on the loudspeaker and took on all this male chauvinist degradation. She exposed that 1 of 3 women worldwide, from the age of very young to very old, will be raped or brutalized in their lifetime, and it had nothing to do with the way they dress, including women who are covered from head to toe.

A guy in a God t-shirt came up and got into a heated exchanged with a Revolution Club member who called out how the Bible was used by those on the slave ships to justify slavery. Someone else from the club took on the Bible’s view of women. Another club member read BAsics 5:18 over the loudspeaker.

What seemed to start to changing things, including really reaching some of the women in the park, was when a male club member read the following from the sampler edition of Break ALL the Chains: Bob Avakian on the Emancipation of Women and the Communist Revolution: “Rebelling Against 'Guy Culture,' Fighting to End All Oppression. Look at what gets promoted in the music industry—what gets supported and promoted, in hip-hop, for example: mysogyny–crude, demeaning and degrading of women; openly promoting the idea of getting yours on the back, or through the blood, of other people, get rich or die trying, I gotta get mine no matter what I gotta do; and often all wrapped up with religious obscurantism and crosses and references to nonsense in a poisonous package. And what do we hear, what’s the excuse, when people are confronted with this: Oh, I’m just...I’m just keeping it real; I’m just telling it the way it really is down here.

"Keeping it real, my ass. You are helping to keep it going the way it is.”

Although none of them got on the microphone, some of the women in the park got mad at how the men who stepped to the mic were not taking seriously what the revolutionaries were talking about. There were women who challenged the people who called women bitches and ho's, saying how would you feel if someone talked about your mother or sister or daughter that way. As this scene wound down a number of women gave us their contact information and got the sampler. A few of the guys, including at least one who had put out ugly shit on the mic, got the sampler too. One young man took a stack of BAsics 3:22 palm cards to distribute and challenged a friend, saying, “You need this!”

Before we left the park we talked on the loudspeaker about the Neighborhood Patrols to Stop Police Brutality. We read the Points of Discipline for the patrols and passed them out to the crowd.

On the way home Revolution Club members grappled with how to sum this up. We all felt that it was good that all this got stirred up even though a lot of ugly stuff came out. One person characterized it as bringing up sludge from the bottom of a river that just sits there all the time and doesn’t get challenged. One of our objectives for our Summer in the City initiative in this community is to bring forward a different and contending morality. We felt that this rally was a small step in that direction. We agreed that it is vitally important that these fundamental questions of what kind of society and what kind of revolution are we talking about and fighting for gets posed and debated out among the masses. As it says in the Summer 2014 editorial:

We cannot build a revolutionary movement off to the side of what is going on in society–that just won’t cut it. Revolutions are built by going in to the heart of the most intense contradictions in society, leading people to stand up and politically battle back against that...putting that resistance in the context of a way and a strategy to change the whole world through revolution...and leading people to change themselves as they change the world.





Revolution #349 August 24, 2014

Points of Discipline for People's Patrols to Stop Illegal and Arbitrary Police Abuse

August 18, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


We represent the highest interests of the people and work wholeheartedly to serve the people.  Therefore while on duty or otherwise representing for the revolution we follow these rules:

1) We don't drink or use drugs

2) We do not carry weapons or illegal substances of any kind

3) We do not raise money for ourselves in the name of the revolution. We do turn in contributions from the people to support the revolutionary movement.

4) Women are equals of men in every respect and should be treated as comrades in the revolutionary struggle and not as property or prizes. Physically or verbally abusing women or treating them as sexual objects are completely opposed to everything we stand for.

5) We are revolutionary internationalists and promote respect for people, cultures and languages  from every part of the world. No insulting, or making jokes or ignorant remarks about a person's race or nationality or language.

6) Patrols are made up of comrades: we unite Black and Latino and all nationalities, men and women, young and old, gay and straight to set an example of the future we intend to bring into being.

 We never call anyone a nigger, bitch, ho, faggot, etc......

7) We never use the respect people have for us for personal or financial gain, or to take sexual advantage. Don't be a big shot—be an example of a different and better world.

8) We do not engage in or allow ourselves to be provoked into violence with the police or their agents and provocateurs.

9) We do not engage in or side with violence among the people ...We do unite people to fight the power, and transform the people, for revolution.

10) We do not steal from or take revenge upon middle class people in the neighborhood, and we do not graffiti or post notices, posters or leaflets on the property of small businesses without their agreement—these people are not the enemy, and many can be won to side with and support the revolution.

11) Very importantly, we listen to and learn from the observations and criticisms of the people—even if they sting or we do not agree.  Criticisms should be listened to and brought to the attention of the movement to evaluate and learn from—when they are right and even when they are wrong.




Revolution #349 August 24, 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 #349 August 24, 2014

Chicago: Revolution Contingent Joins Bud Billiken Parade

August 18, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


From readers:

“When the revolution comes, no more police brutality. When the revolution comes, no more wars for empire. When the revolution comes, no dissing the sisters. When the revolution comes, no more war on immigrants. When the revolution comes, no dissing gays and lesbians. Get down with Bob Avakian, the leader of the revolution. Get down with the revolution—WHAT’S MISSING IS YOU!”

Revolution Books contingent 85th annual Bud Billiken Parade on Chicago's South Side, August 9. 2014
Photo: Special to Revolution

This rang out from the loudspeaker and the participants in the Revolution Books contingent as it passed by large crowds of people lining the street for the 85th annual Bud Billiken Parade on Chicago’s South Side, August 9. This is the largest and oldest African-American parade and the second-largest parade of any kind in the country.

In the contingent were members of the Chicago Revolution Club, veteran revolutionaries, and people new to the movement for revolution. Large banners captured the spirit of the contingent: “We Refuse to Accept Slavery in Any Form” and “Fight the Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution.”

BA Everywhere was manifested by people wearing BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! T-shirts and by a youth carrying a beautiful sign with the “No more generations of our youth...” quote from Bob Avakian (BAsics 1:13). People from the Stop Mass Incarceration Network carried a banner saying “Stop Mass Incarceration and Police Terror! Month of Resistance, October 2014.” A Revolution Club member and a relative of a police murder victim carried a Stolen Lives banner showing names and pics of some of the many people killed by police across the U.S. Stop Patriarchy represented with bold signs saying “Abortion on Demand and Without Apology” and “Women Are Not Female Dogs [we took out the B-word given the child-friendly nature of the parade], Punching Bags or Incubators. Women Are Full Human Beings.” One person in the contingent had a sign calling for an end to Israel’s attacks on Gaza.

Besides the song/chant above, the most popular chants were “Blow the Whistle on Police Brutality” (followed by the entire contingent blowing whistles three times in unison) and “Indict, Convict, Send the Killer Cops to Jail, the Whole Damn System Is Guilty as Hell!” At times a member of the Revolution Club who had his guitar plugged into the sound system played licks with the chants. One person said the contingent was “electric and electrifying!”

People who jumped up in response to the contingent were handed stacks of the Chicago Revolution Club proclamation to circulate in the crowd. At the park, where we set up our tents, a new member of the Revolution Club who recruited two other new people said, “They were wild about the stuff I was telling them. I gave them insight into what the problem was, letting them know that one system has caused all the increments of disaster. They could visualize and understand where I was from and what I explained to them. They took up the palm card, the proclamation, and signed up saying that they were very interested in being active in this movement.” She said about the whole experience: “It was wonderful—being out there, letting people know we exist, that there is a place that they can go to if they want to take action.”

The very next week, some from the Revolution Club were in Ferguson, Missouri, on the front lines of the struggle against the police murder of Michael Brown.




Revolution #349 August 24, 2014

91-year-old courageous protector of Jews from Nazi genocide returns his medal to Israel

August 18, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


In 1943, in Nazi-occupied Netherlands, Henk Zanoli took a dangerous train trip, slipping past Nazi guards and checkpoints to smuggle a Jewish boy from Amsterdam to the Dutch village of Eemnes, where the boy was hidden in Zanoli’s family home for two years. For this, he and his late mother received the “Righteous Among the Nations” award—given by Israel's Yad Vashem memorial to non-Jews who protected Jews during the Nazi Holocaust that killed millions of Jews in Europe.

Zanoli was given the medal in 2011 and returned it to the Israeli embassy in the Netherlands on August 11 with a letter in which he wrote, “After the horror of the holocaust my family strongly supported the Jewish people also with regard to their aspirations to build a national home. Over more than six decades I have however slowly come to realize that the Zionist project had from its beginning a racist element in it in aspiring to build a state exclusively for Jews.” Zanoli, a retired lawyer, wrote of Israel’s recent “Operation Protective Edge” attack/invasion of Gaza that such actions “have already resulted in serious accusations of war crimes and crimes against humanity.”




Revolution #349 August 24, 2014

Cheers to Rapper J. Cole for "Be Free"

August 18, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


All we wanna do is break the chains off
All we wanna do is break the chains off
All we wanna do is be free
All we wanna do is be free...
...Don’t just stand around
Don’t just stand around...

Cheers to rapper J. Cole for his powerful and timely “Be Free.” It’s a strong contribution to the massive protest against the cold-blooded police murder of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

Listen online at





Revolution #349 August 24, 2014

Get This Issue of Revolution Newspaper Out All Over!

August 18, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


We are printing an extra-large run of the new issue of Revolution newspaper (issue #349), featuring the struggle in Ferguson. Get this crucial issue out to many, many people—from protests in the streets in support of Ferguson to the housing projects, students and academics, artists, relatives and friends in prisons...everywhere. And as you do this, get people to donate money to support Revolution, including for continuing coverage of Ferguson.

Get copies and bundles of this issue at a nearby Revolution Book store, or contact:

RCP Publications
Box 3486 Merchandise Mart,
Chicago, IL 60654




Revolution #349 August 24, 2014

Watching Fruitvale Station With Bob Avakian

August 22, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


This article was originally published in 2014.

For those who don’t know, Fruitvale Station is a very powerful, moving, and excruciating film that depicts the last day in the life of Oscar Grant.  Oscar was a 22-year-old, unarmed Black man murdered by Bay Area Rapid Transit police on New Year’s Day, 2009.  He was returning home from celebrating on New Year’s Eve, when police stopped Oscar and the friends he was with, harassed and brutalized them, straddled Oscar as he lay face down on a subway platform, and fatally shot him in the back. 

Not too long ago, I watched Fruitvale Station with Bob Avakian (BA), chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party.  Towards the very end of the film, agonizing, heartbreaking and infuriating scenes are shown: The cop shooting Oscar in the back; Oscar’s girlfriend frantically rushing to the scene, trying to find out what happened; Oscar’s loved ones gathering together and waiting desperately to find out if he would make it, only to find out he was gone forever.

As these scenes unfolded, I looked over at BA.  He was sobbing.  Not just misty-eyed. Sobbing.  And he continued to cry tears of heartbreak and rage for several minutes, as the closing credits rolled.

This made a very big impression on me.  BA did not know Oscar Grant personally. But he felt the sting of his murder in an extremely raw and visceral way. And I think his reaction speaks volumes about who Bob Avakian is, what he represents, and what he is all about. 

BA has literally been fighting against this system for 50 years.  He has been a revolutionary communist for about 45 years.  He has been shouldering the responsibility of leading the Revolutionary Communist Party for almost 40 years. And over the course of the last several decades, he has forged the theory and deepened the science for the revolution humanity needs to get free, while also providing practical leadership to the party and movement working for that revolution.  And all of this has involved not only tremendous work, but also tremendous risk and sacrifice on BA’s part as anyone with a sense of U.S. history, and/or BA’s personal history—specifically, what this reveals about the way the U.S. government viciously goes after revolutionary leaders—should well understand. And over all these decades, and through everything described above, BA has never lost an ounce of his love and feeling for the masses of people, his sense of outrage and hatred for all the ways in which the masses suffer needlessly, and his fire for revolution to emancipate the masses all over the world.  Not one bone in his body has become numb.  

There is a great deal more that could be said about the experience of watching Fruitvale Station with BA. But I want to highlight two points.

First, I think that in BA’s reaction to this movie, there is a lot for revolutionary communists, and anyone with concern for humanity and hatred for oppression and injustice, to reflect on and learn from.  Even with all the work BA has done and continues to do in the realm of theory, in order to forge a deeper understanding of why police murders like the execution of Oscar Grant and countless other outrages keep happening, the larger picture they are connected to, and how these outrages can be ended through revolution; even though BA has been at this for decades; and even with all of the horrors that pile up every single second that this system remains in place, there is absolutely no sense on BA’s part of world-weary detachment or defeatism when something like the murder of Oscar Grant goes down.  His reaction is decidedly not:  “Oh, well of course, this happens all the time, what do you expect?”   Rather, he cries tears of rage and anguish, both because he feels acutely the pain of Oscar’s life being stolen and because he knows that outrages like this are completely unnecessary and that humanity does not have to live this way.

This brings me to the second point I want to make here—and it is one I want to give even greater emphasis to, even while the first point above is very important and very related. The point I want to close this letter with is: We had better fully recognize and appreciate what we have in BA, and act accordingly.

I’ll say it again: We had better fully recognize and appreciate what we have in BA, and act accordingly.

And when I say “we had better,” that “we” is addressed to many different people and audiences.  Yes, I am most definitely speaking to revolutionaries and communists and to all those who are already deeply familiar with and supportive of BA.  But in saying “we,” I am also speaking to those who are just now—or just recently—learning about and getting introduced to this revolutionary leader—including, to quote BA, “Those this system has cast off, those it has treated as less than human” who “can be the backbone and driving force of a fight not only to end their own oppression, but to finally end all oppression, and emancipate all of humanity.”   

To all the masses of people, here and around the world, who suffer brutal oppression minute after minute, day after day... and to all those who may not directly suffer this oppression but ache for a world where this oppression is no more, I want to say this:  If you do not know about Bob Avakian, or just recently learned about him, that is not your fault.  But you, and millions of other people, need to understand how incredibly rare and precious it is for the people of the planet that we have this revolutionary leader and act in accordance with that reality.

BA is not only the leader of the revolution, he is also a best friend to the masses of people.  He is a leader who has done decades of work in the realm of theory to bring forward the scientific method, strategy and vision needed to make revolution and bring into being a radically new world where all the horrors that humanity suffers unnecessarily would be no more. He is continuing to develop the advanced scientific method that he has forged, and apply that method to all of the big questions and obstacles confronting the revolution. He is able to break all of this down for people, without even slightly watering it down, in a way that everyone can understand, take up, and be inspired by. He has taken on the daily responsibility of leading a party and a movement to make revolution right here in the most powerful imperialist country in the world. He has dedicated his life to the emancipation of humanity. And, through all of this, he maintains a deep, visceral connection to and feeling for the masses of people who most desperately need this revolution.

A leader like this comes along very, very rarely.  And when this does happen, the absolute worst thing we could do is fail to recognize this, fail to act in accordance with this, fail to take this seriously, or take this for granted.  Instead, all of us—whether we have known about BA for decades, are just learning about him and what he represents, or anywhere in between, and whether you agree with BA about everything or not—must fully recognize and embrace what BA means for the people of the world.  We must study, and learn all we can from his incredible body of work on the biggest questions of revolution and human emancipation, as well as the lessons of who he is and what he stands for as a revolutionary leader.  We must realize that it is not just us who need to know about BA, his work and vision, and the leadership he is providing to this party and movement for revolution:  millions of people must know about all of this, and this must impact all of society.    

Furthermore, and very crucially, we must fully confront the reality of what it would mean for the people of the world to lose this leader, and take extremely seriously that there are people and forces—those officially part of the powers-that-be, as well as those willing to do the work of the powers-that-be—who hate what BA represents and would like nothing more than to tear him down, silence him, and take him from the masses of people.  And we must be absolutely determined not to let that happen.

This means taking very seriously the need to do everything we can to protect and defend BA. This means denouncing and not giving a millimeter of space to those who slander and personally attack BA, because these attacks and slanders are part of creating the poisonous atmosphere and conditions that would make it easier for the powers-that-be, or those doing their bidding, to take BA from the people of the world.  Protecting and defending BA, and building a wall around him, also means boldly and sharply challenging those who may not be part of the camp of the enemy, but who are wallowing in, or at least being influenced by, arrogance, cynicism and snark, and who seek to dismiss without seriously engaging what BA has brought forward; this arrogance, snark, cynicism, and dismissal, regardless of the intent of those who fall into it, stands in the way of BA and all that he has brought forward having the reach and societal influence that this urgently needs to have.  And this, too, creates easier conditions for those who would try to silence and isolate BA and take him from the masses.

Few things in life are more tragic than a critical lesson learned too late. And it would truly be a tragedy if BA were taken from the people, and then people said: “Wow, I wish I had realized sooner what we had here.”

But the good news is: It is not too late.  We, and the masses of the planet, have BA right now.  We had better realize, and let everyone know, what that means.