One year ago May 25, a gang of Minnesota pigs squeezed the life out of George Floyd over nine agonizing minutes, ignoring the protests and desperate pleas of bystanders.
In the 401 years that Black people have lived in North America, that was not unusual. In speaking about another murder of an unarmed Black person by a pig—in this case, 18-year-old Ramarley Graham, who was murdered inside his own house, Bob Avakian—the architect of a whole new framework for human emancipation, said:
in the way this country has been built, and for the powers-that-be in this country, the humanity of Black people has never counted for anything—they have never been valued as human beings, but only as things to be exploited, oppressed, and repressed.
But what happened next was unusual—and powerful, welcome, long overdue, and with profound implication for the potential for an actual revolution in this country. Thousands of people in cities all over surged into the streets to protest. When they were met with arrests and brutal violence by police and reactionary fascists, they refused to back down; and thousands grew to tens of thousands and spread around the world. By the time the wave of struggle, debate and rebellion finally crested in September, millions of people had taken part, thousands had been arrested and some had lost their lives to pigs or fascists.
There are three crucial lessons to draw from that struggle.
One: The System Must Be Overthrown
Many people learned that the white supremacy on such ugly display during the murder of George Floyd is knit into every fiber of U.S. society. And even those who experienced and knew the racist history of this country learned more—how intractable it is and how the capitalist-imperialist system itself gave birth to white supremacy.
But to go still deeper, where we need to go, we must recognize that this system that birthed white supremacy cannot be reformed. Bob Avakian has put it this way:
White supremacy and capitalism—they have been completely interwoven and tightly “stitched together” through the whole development of this country, down to today; to attempt to really put an end to white supremacy while maintaining the system of capitalism would tear the entire fabric of the country apart. White supremacy and capitalism—it is not possible to overcome and finally abolish the one without overthrowing and finally abolishing the other.
It must be overthrown—and a whole new system put in its place—the New Socialist Republic in North America—a radically different and better society that will enable us to uproot all forms of oppression.
This was powerfully and scientifically argued by Bob Avakian in a series of articles that we are reposting here on the anniversary of the uprising. This is a much more difficult road than reform—but it is the only road that can actually end this horror and it IS possible.
Two: The Need for Leadership
Many people began to sense that to overcome and go beyond white supremacy—and to go beyond a whole system that degrades, oppresses and exploits people in so many ways, and is now bent on destroying the natural world itself—requires leadership.
But what kind of leadership is needed? Is it based on how many different forms of oppression you have experienced? Or how well you have succeeded in fashioning reforms that “leave this system in place and in power, while benefitting only a small number”?1
A DECLARATION, A CALL TO GET ORGANIZED NOW FOR A REAL REVOLUTION puts it like this:
To make this revolution a reality, we need leadership with the scientific method, the strategy and program that can shine a light through the madness and chaos that this system is constantly creating and can lead in carving the path forward out of this madness to the radically new world we need. AND WE HAVE THAT LEADERSHIP—IN BOB AVAKIAN (BA). BA is the architect of a whole new framework for the liberation of all oppressed people and the emancipation of all humanity: the new communism. We are followers of BA. And you need to become followers of BA too. There never has been a leader like this in this country and there is no other leader like this in the world now. We cannot afford not to follow this leadership if we ever want to get free and put an end to this madness.
During the uprising revcom.us published important articles deeply getting into this, which we are reprinting now, along with an important piece we published at the beginning of 2020. Read these, learn about BA, and then think about how the above paragraph we quoted concludes:
We cannot afford not to follow this leadership if we ever want to get free and put an end to this madness.
Three: The Potential Forces for Revolution Exist
The uprising showed that there is a force in this country that could potentially be marshaled for revolution. The Declaration and Call makes the point that:
[L]ast summer, when millions of us, of all races and genders, rose up all over this country in righteous rebellion in response to the vicious murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor by police, this powerfully demonstrated the potential for revolution. We were supported and joined by millions more in countries all over the world. And, at the height of this, the whole country, the whole world was compelled to recognize and to talk about the long and continuing chain of these racist murders and big questions about the whole history and nature of this country. Yes, this powerful rising was, in the short run, misled into dead-ends by people working for meaningless petty reforms and seeking funds for themselves and positions within the structures of this system. But that does not change the fact that what was demonstrated was the possibility and potential for something much greater and far better—an actual revolution.
This is not the only force for revolution—there are people concerned about and acting to stop the destruction of the environment, the oppression and degradation of women and LGBT people, the persecution of immigrants, wars of empire, and other things built into this system.
At the same time, the way in which this hit so hard at white supremacy further widened the divisions among those who rule society; divisions between those who want to mask the white supremacy and those who want to hammer it down even harder and more blatantly. The fascists—Trump and those who support him, including the vast majority of the pig forces—lashed back and carried out extreme violence. They remain a powerful threat.
The Declaration and Call gets into how this should be understood:
All this is very likely to become more and more intense, tearing apart the bonds that have held things together under this system and further deepening the divisions throughout society, including within the institutions of power. This could lead to something very bad—or something very good, IF we act in the way we need to in these rare circumstances and fight to take things where they need to go.
And it explains what “acting in the way we need” consists of and how—through organizing in the way called for in that pamphlet—we can actually make a revolution. Then and only then the vision and goal that emerged in the beautiful rising of getting beyond a world of white supremacy, a world where billions all over are treated as less than human, can finally be realized.
Organizing people into this revolution means reaching out to all sorts of people—not just where there are protests and rebellions against oppression and injustice, but everywhere throughout society—spreading the word about revolution and getting people together (in real life and online) to grapple with why an actual revolution is necessary, what such a revolution involves, and what kind of society this is aiming for. This will enable people who are new to the revolution to themselves become organizers for this revolution and to recruit more and more people to do the same. On this basis, and through the growing ranks of the revolution acting together as an increasingly powerful force, it will be possible to attract and organize the necessary numbers, and build up the necessary strength, to be in the position to do what needs to be done.
— Declaration from the revcoms:
A Call to Get Organized Now For a Real Revolution
If YOU Marched...
If you marched, if you fought, if you were inspired—then you are needed now. One year later the real work remains to be done. Making revolution—and getting organized now to do that. This revolution IS possible. In fact, the conditions of today—dangerous as they are—could be ripened into a situation in which this system whose knee is on the neck of billions every day could finally be ended.
To quote BA, in his statement at the end of the first week of the beautiful rising:
Revolution, why should we settle for anything less?