There’s been a lot of important things we’ve been learning in leading the Revolution Club in Los Angeles and some important things that are part of some of this breaking with being “movement activists,” and really fighting to be strategic commanders of the revolution.
This year we’ve said: We are going to put revolution on the map; that May 1st has to be a step towards that; that we have to bring forward forces now, and build networks of people who are learning more about, and contributing in different ways to, this revolution; and that an important step in all of this is that there have to be growing numbers of people watching the Bob Avakian (BA) Interviews (we’ve seen and continue to see the difference it makes when people engage these interviews!).
First, I think it's important to think about and wrestle more with what it means to be working back from seizure of power. I returned to the Why We Need an Actual Revolution and How We Can Really Make Revolution (“Why/How”) speech from Bob Avakian, and in the second part of this he walks through the strategy for that future situation (when the all-out struggle to seize power is the immediate task). One thing that stood out is how all the work we should be doing now impacts that future situation. He poses different contradictions, such as the “encirclement and suppression” of those who most need this revolution, or the approach of “decapitation” that the counter-revolution would attempt. Without getting into all that here, what I’m wanting to say is that we need to more grapple with this doctrine and really think about what this means in relation to what we are doing now. We are obviously not at that stage yet, but it shouldn’t be seen as something we get to think about at some other time.
He says in the beginning of this section of part 2 of Why/How:
I will speak more fully to how we need to be actively preparing now for a revolutionary situation. But first, in order to have the fullest sense of this, we need to work back from that situation and what would be required then—how the all-out fight would need to be waged—to have a real chance to defeat the powerful violent forces of this system.
I think this is really important and a different approach, it is a struggle to get out of the narrowness of everyday work, including, and I will speak to in this paper, looking at and working on the world as it is moving and changing.
One thing that has been really different and helpful and very exciting, is that I’ve been studying important articles from the revcom.us website and segments on The RNL—Revolution, Nothing Less!—Show. I’ve been doing this together with Organizing for an Actual Revolution: 7 Key Points, including beginning to wrestle collectively with what these points are saying, how are we constantly returning to them ourselves and in training new people in our strategy (not as words to be repeated but as something to constantly critically evaluate our work and how are we applying this). So, I think two examples here will be very helpful to illustrate what I’m talking about.
The Clash in Tennessee, Living Examples of Something Terrible OR Something Truly Emancipating
This week’s article on the website “Clash in Tennessee: Fascists Expel Black Legislators for Protesting a Mass Shooting of Schoolchildren,” was really helpful in really getting a living sense of, as it says in the 7 Key Points:
The deepening divisions within this country now, from top to bottom, mean that those who have ruled in this country for so long (the capitalist-imperialist ruling class) can no longer rule, as a “unified force,” in the “normal” way that people have been conditioned to accept—with a system of government that has an outer shell of “democracy” to cover over the fact that it is an actual capitalist dictatorship at its core, relying fundamentally on the armed force of the institutions of “official violence,” the police and the military. Because of big changes in this country and the world overall, one part of the ruling class, represented by the Republican Party, has become fascist: they no longer believe in or feel bound by what have been the “norms” of “democratic” capitalist rule in this country. And the other section of the ruling class, represented by the Democratic Party, has no real answer to this—except trying to maintain the “normal way” that the oppressive rule of this system has been enforced for hundreds of years, while the fascists are determined to tear up those “norms” and rule through more openly and aggressively oppressive means, without the traditional disguise of supposed “democracy for all.”
This is what the article shows through evidence, how there are these youth who walked out of school and protested and demanded answers, while the fascists basically were like “fuck you.” Then when Jones, Pearson and Johnson addressed them, the fascists cut their mics off. Then Jones and Pearson picked up a bullhorn and chanted with the protesters, and the fascists moved to expel them. This point in the article stood out to me: “What came to be known as ‘the Tennessee Three’ were expelled by the Republi-fascist majority and the protesters were cleared out of the State House by state troopers. The protesters went from appealing to ‘their elected officials’ to chanting ‘fascist, fascist!’ Watch the videos and see the stunned, furious and determined looks on the faces of these youths who are seeing the norms they've been told to rely on shredded in front of their eyes.”
This made me think about this part from Something Terrible, Or Something Truly Emancipating: Profound Crisis, Deepening Divisions, The Looming Possibility Of Civil War—And The Revolution That Is Urgently Needed, A Necessary Foundation, A Basic Roadmap For This Revolution from BA:
As this situation develops, and the ruling class is more and more unable to rule in the old way, society and daily life for masses of people, from different parts of society, can become increasingly unsettled and chaotic, with frequent “disruptions” of the “normal” way things have been.
And as “the normal way” society has been ruled is failing to hold things together—and society is increasingly being ripped apart—this can shake people’s belief that “the way things have always been” is the only way things can be. It can make people more open to questioning—in a real sense it can force people to question—the way things have been, and whether they have to stay that way. And this is all the more likely to happen if the revolutionary forces are out among the people shining a light on the deeper reality of what is happening, and why, and bringing out that there IS an alternative to living this way.
The article makes the point that we don’t know where this is all going to go, I think today one of the two legislators were sworn back in. But as the article points out, we don’t know then how the fascists will respond. We can see how these youth are responding, feeling outraged, and I can see how very quickly this can be co-opted back to “but this is why we need to put our efforts into voting, into taking those seats from those fascists and bringing in more people like Pearson, Jones and Johnson.” Without the analysis above, this shit won't go anywhere good!
This made me think of something BA says about how everywhere we are going, whether to students or in a neighborhood, we cannot be proceeding from, or just narrowly speaking to, what is happening in their campus or their corner but lifting people’s sights and understanding to this larger analysis.
Tennessee is a helpful example we should be wielding with people, speaking to those outraged youth in Tennessee, but also all those who feel just like them because this isn’t only happening in Tennessee. My point in all of this is having our eyes on the big stage, understanding what is happening, how these things are sharpening up, and seizing on situations where people are open to questioning these things. What can change if people like these youth in Tennessee who are questioning have a real scientific understanding brought to them, a real alternative pointing out how this is an opening, and getting them organized for a real revolution (actively winning these people to revolution), breaking the hold this system has over them?
What Is It Like to Be in the Revolution Club? What Kind of Struggle?
The second example is related to how we are beginning to lead a different process. I used this example on The RNL Show, but it’s worth bringing in here. A new member of the club raised that they didn’t think they would come to the April 2nd protest because they weren’t sure they agreed with what position we are taking on this war in Ukraine. They thought “what about the Ukrainians, they want the U.S to intervene, so we should do that” and “if we stay out of it” wouldn’t that just let Putin do whatever he wants? So, there were different things that happened that made me read a bunch of the articles on the website to try to understand what is happening with this war. The piece that struck me was from last week, “Nuclear-Armed Imperialist Powers Face Off Worldwide – Three Ways the World Just Got More Dangerous.” At the Revolution Club meeting, we got into this person’s question, and rather than just trying to “give them the answer,” we just got into it, how do we understand what is happening, what has the role of the U.S been throughout history in all these different parts of the world.
This person had gone with us to watch the documentary Coup 53 that week, which shows the role of the U.S. in the coup in Iran, how horrific this was and how this led to coup after coup led by the U.S in different parts of the world. We wrestled with some of this as well. At one point, when they asked, “Well, why don’t we just appeal to the U.S. to intervene with a peace plan, so this ends peacefully?”—I pulled up this article from the website and just read from the section on Xi Jinping going to Russia where it walks through how China released a 12-point plan for ending the war in Ukraine, and how did the U.S. respond? Dismissing it, and claiming this is a distraction, alleging intentions of China selling “lethal weapons” to Russia. This made the club member confront the reality and further evidence of what the U.S. role in all of this is.
They were really glad that they can pose their disagreement and that we have the kind of space where we can come together and thrash out these questions, not made to feel bad for having these questions, or dumb, or an antagonistic argument because we disagree, but let’s just talk about reality, what is happening, let's sort it out together, and then let's go act on this reality. The very next day on April 2nd, we marched together, shredded the American and Russian flags, and held up a picture of the globe and the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, acting on the interests of all humanity.
What enables us to wage this kind of struggle is returning to the leadership and analysis being given through the revcom.us website and The RNL Show. We should be studying these pieces ourselves and training new people to do that as well. People in all areas can use The RNL Show as a key tool to introduce new people to this revolution, watching it together and discussing it. We are starting to learn deeper how to do this, like when we went to a campus and stirred some things up by standing on the American and Russian flags, and then came back the following week wielding the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America and inviting new people to come on the Zoom watch party to learn more about this revolution, which some people did!
My point in all of this is what it means to be oriented towards a countrywide perspective. Acting on that big stage and really fighting to put revolution on the map this year, not just saying it. This is part of how we will bring forward revolutionary forces. The Revolution Clubs are an important way for people to get organized, to learn more about this revolution and to powerfully represent for this revolution.
The Spring Offensive: Many Initiatives, One Goal
This brings me to the spring offensive, and I think will tie some things together. I had a discussion with someone on the Organizing for an Actual Revolution Tour a few nights ago where they asked who from the Revolution Club should be brought into work on this initiative that’s taking on “woke” lunacy. As we talked about this, I could feel the pull to proceeding too much from within the initiative. I raised a question about how are we not doing the same thing we’ve done, where we just bring Revolution Club people in on the schedule we made or just turn all the focus to one part of what we are doing. Instead, how do we bring people in and around the club in from the vantage point of seizure of power, what are we working on, why taking on this woke framework and repolarizing for revolution, how this is part of a whole spring offensive to put revolution on the map and bring forward forces for revolution.
There are different initiatives we are working on which are all an important part of putting revolution on the map this year. In everything we are doing it has to be working towards making revolution, and in everything we should be working on building the Revolution Clubs. The people in the Revolution Clubs are continuing to go through a process, in what I described above, wrestling with big questions, getting out in the world to impact. This should be where people are deepening their understanding on the contrast of this woke framework versus the revolution humanity needs, and learning how to wage the struggle by going frontally at this, on the campus, winning people who should be with this revolution now. May 1st ties all this together where, from the campuses to the neighborhoods, the Revolution Clubs are growing and coming together to manifest this on May 1st.
We will be going forward from there. We will be creating new freedom and new necessity. The world will continue to present us with new opportunity and challenges!