Recently a “a coalition of grassroots pro-abortion organizers” published a “Statement Against RiseUp4AbortionRights.” Just one day after the right to abortion was overturned, these self-styled “pro-abortion organizers” engaged in the incredibly divisive act of demonizing and campaigning to drive out of the “movement” the organization that took the responsibility to organize people to OPPOSE overturning Roe—just when Rise Up was leading massive struggle against the criminal Supreme Court decision!
What makes it even worse is the character of the attack. It is not a principled statement of political differences, but rather a collection of lies and distortions—and it is extremely dangerous.
Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights (RU4AR) has answered this from their point of view and we strongly suggest anyone who cares about the truth and the future of women, and all humanity, to read their statement. We Revcoms, who from our revolutionary perspective support the mission and goals of Rise Up, intend to refute the specific attacks made against us.
Outright Lies, Invented Charges, and Dangerous Libel
To begin with, these attacks make outrageous, utterly false, and extremely irresponsible and dangerous claims that the Revcoms are using moneys raised by RU4AR. The Revcoms have never, ever received or used funds raised from the people for struggles we are involved in for any other purposes than the movements such funds were raised for. To accuse otherwise is, again, a blatant lie. These false claims smack strongly of the tactics of the right wing fascist forces in this country and the political police (the FBI, etc.) who create pretexts to go after revolutionary groups. Moreover, the ad hominem attacks on Bob Avakian, as well as Rise Up co-initiator and revcom Sunsara Taylor, paint targets on the backs of specific individuals for government harassment and worse.
Extremely ugly things were done to genuine revolutionaries and people fighting for civil rights and other just causes in the 1960s and ’70s on the basis of just this kind of slander. But either you “grassroots organizers” are ignorant of those lessons or you know them and are acting in concert with the forces of repression. Whatever the case, you must withdraw and repudiate these absolutely false libels—immediately!
Bullshit Charges of “Homophobia”
These “grassroots organizers” further attack Rise Up for “focusing on women and girls.” We can’t speak for Rise Up, but we Revcoms will gladly plead “innocent as charged” to that charge! Why? Because the attack on abortion rights is indeed focused on women and girls. It is part of a Christian-fascist offensive to restore male supremacy.
It is also true that these Christian fascists have, in addition, launched an entire offensive against LGBTQ people, which at this time is largely focused on trans people (though Clarence Thomas in his “concurring opinion” signaled the intent to now go after marriage equality and the right to intimacy). Indeed, the viciousness of these attacks on LGBTQ people and their links to the attack on abortion is pointed to in Rise Up’s founding statement.
As for the actual position of the Revcoms, and not the fantasy distortions of the “grassroots organizers,” here is what Bob Avakian (or BA) wrote on this on February 1, 2022, as part of an article going deeply into the relationship of the right to abortion to the emancipation of women:
Of course, in the case of the extremely small number of females who have transitioned (or are transitioning) to males but who retain female reproductive organs and might get pregnant, they should have the right to abortion, and to decent health care overall, without any stigma or discrimination—and in general attacks directed against trans people must be actively, vigorously opposed. But, in terms of its essential purpose and objective, the attack on the right to abortion is not aimed at trans people....The attack on the right to abortion is a move to further intensify the already horrific oppression of women, denying them control of their lives and their very bodies, reducing them to breeders of children, cruelly subordinated to men and a patriarchal male-supremacist society. (from “On the Fight for Abortion Rights and the Emancipation of Women”)
Citing the fact that we had an incorrect understanding of the oppression of LGBTQ people over two decades ago, the “grassroots organizers” make the claim that “RevCom also has a homophobic past,” and that “they have yet to apologize for this past or issue a statement or position in defense LGBTQ+ rights.” They must hope that their audience is so gullible and foolish, so lacking in basic integrity or a desire for the actual truth, that they will not consult the revcom website to find out the facts of the matter. For if those who read this attack did go to the revcom website, they would find “On the Position on Homosexuality in the New Draft Programme” that not only deeply criticizes our previous position, but goes into the source of why we took this position and how we came to change our views. They could also read at that same revcom website Bob Avakian’s Unresolved Contradictions, Driving Forces For Revolution, in which BA revisits this mistake as part of a larger reckoning with the communist movement’s historic understanding of the whole question of gender oppression and the need to further rupture with some elements of that understanding and get to a fuller, more correct understanding. And since these “grassroots organizers” also throw around the term “transphobic,” they must hope that their readers are so lacking in critical thinking that they will not take the trouble to see if that slander is true by going to the revcom website, where people could easily find articles specifically exposing and opposing attacks on trans people, as recently as March and June 2022,1 as well as earlier.
Leadership for What?
This “coalition” traffics in the ignorant and irresponsible label of cult. In support of this, they write that “RevCom’s own website claims the only effective way to achieve social change is to follow Avakian’s leadership and teachings.”
No. Revcom’s website makes the claim that Bob Avakian’s leadership, and the new communism he has brought forward is absolutely essential for making revolution and emancipating humanity, for breaking all the chains of this capitalist-imperialist empire and its system, with its horrific division of the globe and its oppressive social relations and antagonistic conflicts. These attackers talk about some vague “social change,” but what we are talking about—and working toward—is an actual revolution. In the course of that, we unite with and, yes, learn from many people who may not agree with us on that goal but who want to work together in struggles and projects that are essential in our view to getting to that goal. One such struggle is the struggle which still goes on to defend—and now reinstate—the nationwide right to abortion. It is for that reason that Sunsara Taylor reached out to and united with others to initiate Rise Up.
And not only is revolution not some vague “social change,” it is most definitely NOT a fight for “inclusion” in the spoils of this biggest, most violent empire in history: the United States. Genuine revolution goes after all the oppressive social relations and inequalities of the old society, including the biggest inequality of all: between the people in countries like the U.S. and the vast majority of humanity in the areas so viciously exploited and plundered by the imperialist powers. Revolution—if it is a REAL revolution—has to be waged with the emancipation of the nearly 8 billion humans on the planet in mind… ALL of them. THAT is the revolution that Bob Avakian stands for.
As for the criterion for leadership in that revolution, to again quote BA:
What is really of decisive importance is not what “identity” people may be part of, but what is the content of their ideas and programs, and if those ideas are followed and those programs are implemented, what would this lead to? (from “BIPOC LEADERSHIP: THERE IS NO SUCH THING. The Fight Against Oppression and the Leadership That Is Needed”)
The Charge of Cult: Ignorant, Cowardly, and Irresponsible
These writers talk about “cult.” How many of you bandying this charge about, or blindly falling for it, have actually read anything from Bob Avakian? To slander something, or to join in a mob with absolutely no knowledge of what you are attempting to isolate and destroy, is the mark of an utter lack of integrity. Our “grassroots organizers” are clearly past caring about such things—but what about you who have signed on and joined this without any real knowledge or understanding of what you are now trying to cancel?
Ardea Skybreak, a scientist with professional training in ecology and evolutionary biology, and an advocate of the new synthesis of communism brought forward by Bob Avakian, wrote on this question:
We should keep asking such people: “What’s your program? What’s your strategy? What’s your solution to the problem of the recurrent horrors generated by this system?” And, well, if you don’t have much to say about any of that, if you don’t have much serious substance to offer in terms of strategic plans and programs for systemic change, then maybe you should have the decency to shut up for a while and get to doing some serious work yourself to at least more thoroughly explore and engage the substance of the work done over a number of decades by someone who in fact is proposing a substantial, multi-layered, radically different and yet coherent and scientifically grounded in reality, vision and plan for the future.
You don’t have to agree, but it’s unconscionable in my opinion not to seriously delve into this work. Unless, of course, you just don’t care. (From SCIENCE AND REVOLUTION: On the Importance of Science and Application of Science to Society, the New Synthesis of Communism, and the Leadership of Bob Avakian, section on “Leadership: Does It Stifle or Unleash Initiative?”)
Those who truly want a better world should want to engage this work. They may or may not end up agreeing, but there should be a real and authentic confrontation with the ideas. At the end of the day, the horizons of those who wrote these gutter attacks go no further than a piece of the blood-soaked spoils of the current system—and so they oppose the people who are fighting for something different and they especially oppose (and venomously attack) the leader of that struggle, the architect of the new communism. But for those who’ve been taken in by these attacks one way or another, the question is clear: what kind of society do you want to live in?
The Cancel Culture of “Left-Wing McCarthyism”
Back in the 1950s, there was an ugly phenomenon called “McCarthyism,” in which a senator named Joe McCarthy would accuse people of being “communist” and they could be, and often were, driven from public life, hounded, imprisoned and worse. Now in the 2020s these unprincipled pseudo-leftists engage in a new McCarthyism in which the “language police” and self-appointed guardians of holy principles of identity politics “wokeness” not only attempt to cancel those with whom they disagree but now apparently also invite the state in by spreading unsubstantiated and false charges!
A Message to Some Youth
The authors of this statement now seek to “capitalize” on the reality that the struggle to defend the right to abortion was and is difficult, and made all the more so by the fact that these “grassroots organizations” refused to join with RU4AR and mobilize to stop the overturning of Roe v. Wade. They have appealed to some of the youth who did join Rise Up but have now found out that, lo and behold, the enemy is really strong and the struggle is really hard.
To you who are now allowing yourselves to be misled by opportunists and counter-revolutionaries and who are now doing a great deal of harm by spreading these harmful and extremely dangerous lies: STOP IT! NOW! And quit acting like soft crybabies. Yes, the struggle for emancipation is hard and it requires not only sacrifice but taking a really serious look at what is the reason for the misery being imposed on humanity by this system even when it challenges some of what you have held to be true. Again, those truths are hard—but even more, they are profoundly liberating.
And realize what the Roe decision exemplifies: that you are living in a rare time in which either something very terrible—a locked-down fascist form of rule that would be even more vicious and repressive than the current version of capitalism-imperialism… OR something truly emancipating—a revolution!—could emerge. The idea of some middle ground is fantasy. What is NOT fantasy is that out of this madness, we can wrench a whole new world. It is not too late for you to be part of that, if you are determined to make an honest accounting of what you have done, come to grips with what you have gotten caught up in, and fully break with this shit.
A Final Challenge
Any chance at all for not just avoiding the nightmare we are heading toward but bringing forward instead an emancipating future requires all of you who read this to engage what Bob Avakian has written in a serious way. The present situation with all its dangers demand that you come to grips with some challenging, but ultimately very liberating, truths. Whether or not you ultimately come to agree with the heart of what BA says is a process, a “journey” as he himself has called it.2
But it is very, very wrong to refuse to engage it, and it is necessary to stand strongly against these baseless attacks on the human being who has devoted his whole life to making revolution, and to making sure that that revolution is an emancipating one.
Works by Bob Avakian and other articles referred to in this statement:
Unresolved Contradictions, Driving Forces For Revolution
by Bob Avakian
Leadership: Does It Stifle or Unleash Initiative?
by Ardea Skybreak