Draft Programme of the RCP, USA
Draft Programme Part 2
Revolution Means Waging People’s War
The RCP,USA bases itself on the fundamental truth that this system cannot be reformed, and that revolution in the U.S. will mean revolutionary war! Mao Tsetung teaches us: “The revolutionary war is a war of the masses, it can be waged only by mobilizing the masses and relying on them.”
Today, more and more, the oppressed people, especially those among the younger generation, hate the world they are forced to live in and recognize the system will never change. They say “the oppressors will never stop doing what they are doing—it only gets worse. If they want war, let’s give them war!” We say, “Yes! Let’s give them war, BUT let’s do it for real and let’s do it to win!” Let’s do it with the orientation, strategy and doctrine that will provide the means for the masses to go up against and actually defeat the powerful armed forces of the imperialists.
Only a revolutionary people’s war, led by a Marxist-Leninist-Maoist party, will lead to the seizure of power by the proletariat, and enable it to establish its dictatorship and bring into being a new society that will serve the interests of the masses of people and, above all, will serve as a base area for the world proletarian revolution. Mao Tsetung said, “The people, and the people alone, are the motive force in the making of world history.”
Throughout history the rising classes were forced to mobilize the masses in order to overthrow the old ruling class. But they did not have the need, interest, or capability of enabling the masses to consciously grasp the essence of the revolutionary process and their own role in it and to consciously take hold of and transform society in their own interests. In fact, this was impossible in those earlier periods of human history. But the proletarian revolution of this era is impossible without this.
The proletarian revolution is unlike any previous revolution in human history. Its aim is not to establish the rule of a new set of exploiters and oppressors dictating in the interests of a few, but the complete emancipation of humanity and a society where the people are working in common for the common good of all. It is of fundamental importance that the way in which this revolution is fought must serve these goals.
Mao Tsetung said that all military logic could be reduced to “you fight your way and I’ll fight my way.” Our way means relying on the voluntary, determined action and support of the masses of people, led by the proletariat and its vanguard, and translating that into strategies and tactics that, through the course of the war, give the people’s army the maximum amount of initiative, exposing and seizing on the strategic weaknesses of the enemy and bringing forward the strengths of the revolutionary forces. And doing all this in a way so that, as the masses of people wage war, they are developing their ability to become masters of society and to transform it in their interests. But how this principle gets applied, in the form of a strategy for revolutionary war, depends on the concrete situation and conditions the war is being carried out in.
One World Revolution—Two Basic Paths
In the oppressed nations the basic path to power is protracted people’s war, a path forged by Mao Tsetung in leading the Chinese revolution to victory. Mao recognized it was possible in the oppressed nations for the revolutionary forces to take up the task of armed struggle as the main form of struggle from the beginning. Through a protracted period of armed struggle, the revolutionaries could gradually build up their armed forces and establish revolutionary base areas where the masses begin to exercise power. As the balance of forces shifts in favor of the revolutionary forces, and when the revolutionary forces have in large part encircled the cities, then war can be waged to seize the cities, deliver the decisive defeat to the counter-revolutionary forces and liberate the whole country.
This is possible because generally, in the oppressed nations, the development of the economy, under the domination of imperialism, is highly uneven—with only a few “enclaves” characterized by “advanced technology,” while the general character of the economy is backward, semi-feudal and not well integrated and articulated. The masses of people are in desperate conditions all the time, and in the countryside there are large numbers of brutally exploited peasants who can be the main force in waging and supporting the revolutionary war. And the backward and isolated state of much of the countryside can actually be turned into a strength of the revolution—the basis for relatively self-sufficient base areas serving as the backbone of the protracted people’s war.
Further, in these oppressed nations generally the central government’s authority and ability to “impose order” does not extend in a uniform and powerful way throughout the country. In addition, the roads, means of communication, etc., are unevenly developed. For these reasons, the ruling classes are not able to quickly concentrate and coordinate massive forces in all parts of the country and crush the people’s war.
In imperialist countries, the revolutionary road is, of necessity, different. The conditions in the imperialist states are generally ones where the grip of the ruling class on society is centralized in a strong national government and at the same time is powerfully and fairly uniformly extended throughout the country. The level of technology, including means of transportation and communication, is highly developed. Except in situations of serious crisis, the ruling class can concentrate massive armed force in any particular place—or even in a number of places—within a short period of time.
And, generally, while in these countries there are large numbers of proletarians and others whose daily conditions cry out for a radical change, there are also significant sections of the people, particularly in the middle class, who face such conditions only in times of extreme crisis. In ordinary times in the imperialist countries, the conditions for launching a revolutionary war do not exist.
In these countries, the launching of the revolutionary war depends on the eruption of a revolutionary crisis in society as a whole, including serious dissension and contention within the ranks of the ruling class over how to rule and “maintain control.” Further, revolutionary war must rely on a revolutionary people—proletarians, and other oppressed people, in a combative mood, busting loose in massive upheaval, where increasing numbers of them are ready to “put it on the line” for a different future. And there must be large sections of middle strata no longer willing to accept the ruling class’ program, and who could potentially be won over as allies to the revolutionary cause.
Building on all the political organizing and the struggle of the masses that has taken place during the entire period preceding the development of the revolutionary situation, the party can lead the masses to seize on the eruption of such a revolutionary crisis: to forge a revolutionary army and to wage a revolutionary war. This war must take the form of mass armed insurrections—in a number of major cities, at relatively the same time—leading to the establishment of a revolutionary regime in as much of the territory as possible, and then the waging of civil war to finally and completely defeat the old ruling class and its counterrevolutionary forces and consolidate the new revolutionary power over a much greater territory.
Serious About Winning!
In their typical arrogant contempt, the ruling classes think of, and portray, uprisings against them in terms of “unruly mobs,” without political consciousness and disciplined organization, or as the actions of small bands of “terrorists” cut off from the masses of oppressed people and having no support among them. But an actual armed uprising—one that has a real chance at winning—cannot be either of these: it would have to be firmly based among the masses of the oppressed, and would have to draw in thousands, tens of thousands, and ultimately millions of them in various forms of combat and support activity.
Revolutionary war in a country like the U.S. would mean going up against a power structure that has a large, well-equipped military, with an advanced communication and support system and massive amounts of technology and weaponry at their disposal. It would mean defeating an army that would be prepared and willing to bring down mass destruction and suffering on the people. Winning would require waging an all-out struggle to defeat and shatter the armed forces of the enemy, smash and dismantle their apparatus of repression, and consolidate power.
When the revolutionary opening comes the people’s army would need to strike, launching the armed insurrection and holding nothing back, going on the offensive in an all-out battle for the seizure of power. It would need to “hit them” in such a way that the whole power structure could be “cracked” and be dealt paralyzing and decisive blows. It would need to bring to bear the strength of millions of the oppressed, leaping at the chance, at long last, to bring down their heartless oppressors—and organized into actual military formations and effective fighting forces, under the leadership of the proletarian vanguard.
This revolutionary armed force of thousands and millions would need to be wielded to strike concentrated and coordinated blows at the enemy forces—so massively and decisively that they are immediately set back, with some of their key units and formations overwhelmed and shattered. It would be crucial then to maintain and step up the revolutionary offensive, giving the enemy no breathing room but instead continuing to overwhelm, defeat and disintegrate its armed forces.
It would mean continually forging more battle-tested troops and more powerful military formations among the revolutionary armed forces. It would require relying on the masses for intelligence, logistical support, etc., while also making use of weapons and other equipment captured from the enemy, as well as enemy troops who come over to the people’s side, integrating them into the developing fighting forces of the proletarian revolution.
It would be necessary to quickly link up the territories ripped away from the counter-revolutionary forces, consolidating these territories into a new revolutionary regime. This would serve as the base for waging the civil war to finally defeat the remaining forces of the imperialists and their allies. The more the revolutionary war of the masses advanced in this way, the more people, including intermediate forces, would be won to the side of the revolution and away from supporting the imperialists and their counter-revolutionary war.
Proletarian revolution cannot be conceived of as an “armed general strike” or as a mass movement that gradually builds, draws in the majority of society, and eventually overwhelms the enemy. An actual armed insurrection would likely begin with a minority, made up of the most advanced forces in society, although this insurrection would actively involve millions.
In fact, one of the distinguishing features of the insurrection—and still more of the civil war—would be that, to a large degree, the reserves for the revolutionary side are found among people who are at first not actively involved, or who might be in the camp of the enemy at the start. The “drawing in” of many of the previously neutral or inactive forces, or those who were originally on the other side, to actively join and/or support the revolutionary armed struggle will be vital to the success of the revolution.
And the winning over of troops from the other side—through the combination of fighting and defeating them on the battlefield, as the main and decisive thing, and at the same time appealing to their basic interests as part of the oppressed masses —is also a vital part of revolutionary warfare. These characteristics are factors that give an insurrection a chance of winning when it may well appear on the surface that there is no such chance at all.
Our Strategic Strengths, and the Enemy’s Strategic Weaknesses
To defeat the enemy on the battlefield while trying to preserve oneself in battle is the goal of any army. The revolutionary army must be able to rely on its own strengths, while depriving the bourgeois armed forces of the ability to fight in the way they want to fight. Being able to do this will mean the difference between victory and defeat.
Wars are never decided by weapons alone, and in the case of revolution versus counter-revolution this is all the more the case. The characteristics of a revolutionary army, fighting a genuine people’s war, are very different from those of a bourgeois army. The revolutionary army is guided by the ideology of the proletariat, including its internationalist stance of fighting in unity with the oppressed people of the world. It relies on the conscious activism of the masses of its soldiers, serving the people and fighting for their liberation, not for personal power or power for any small group or clique.
The imperialists do have real military strength, BUT they also have real and strategic weaknesses. And an overriding weakness of theirs is that they fundamentally CAN’T rely on the masses of people, and overwhelmingly must rely on the technology they have.
The imperialist army depends on utilizing their powerful arsenal and weaponry, intimidating and overpowering any force it goes up against. But when this gets neutralized, when their army is deprived of the ability to “fight their way,” then the content and class nature of their army stands out for all to see: it is a blood-soaked imperialist army of plunder and exploitation that represents the interests of only a small part of society—a relative handful of exploiters.
With the first powerful blows of the insurrection, and then the continuing offensive, the revolutionary forces would aim to begin a process of warfare through which the revolutionary army can increasingly reveal and exploit the strategic weaknesses of the enemy, while bringing forward and relying on its own strategic strengths.
It is also very important to note that a revolutionary war to overthrow U.S. imperialism—a superpower whose role in the world has involved the extreme oppression of literally billions of people and the outright slaughter of millions—would send shockwaves of upheaval and rebellion all around the globe. And it is likely that a revolutionary war in the U.S. would mutually aid and be closely intertwined with mass upheavals and revolutionary struggle in Mexico, including the possibility of the revolutionary struggle in each country “spilling over” into the other. Obviously, the revolutionary proletariat and its army would welcome such a scenario.
The Party Must Lead
Revolutionary people’s war must be led by a vanguard party that consciously and actively applies the revolutionary science of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism (MLM) to prepare for and then carry out this revolutionary war. In a country like the U.S., where the people’s war—the armed insurrections followed by civil war—should be launched only when there is a revolutionary crisis in society, the vanguard party must view and approach all work prior to that time as all-around preparation for this.
It must maintain its revolutionary tenseness in order to do all it can to contribute to the hastening of such a crisis and to be in the strongest possible position to recognize and to seize on such a crisis. It must continue to develop its strategic military doctrine at the same time as it works to develop the revolutionary movement of the people, even before the conditions emerge that make possible the launching of the revolutionary war. And it must prepare so that, when the time is ripe, it is in the strongest position to transform the revolutionary organization that has been built among the masses into organization on a military footing, capable of incorporating millions and of leading them in fighting in accordance with the military doctrine that has been developed.
The profound truth that people not weapons are decisive in warfare has to find expression in military strategy and doctrine and, more than that, in the actual waging—and winning—of revolutionary war when the time comes. It is not enough to be “braver” than the imperialist forces. The courage and daring, the capacity for self-sacrifice, of people fighting consciously for their emancipation and the emancipation of all humanity, the illumination and inspiration provided by MLM—all this will be a tremendously important factor for the revolutionary army of the proletariat. But, when the time comes, this must be given the fullest, most effective expression in military doctrine, actual military operational principles, actual military fighting forces and formations, and concrete ways of fighting that can actually DEFEAT the enemy on the battlefield.
This military doctrine must take into account not only the strategic strengths of the revolutionary side and the strategic weaknesses and vulnerabilities of the other side, in a general sense. It must also address and indicate the basic solutions to the difficult, vexing problems that will have to be faced, such as: how the revolutionary army of the proletariat would be created, organized, and led on various levels, including how it would continually incorporate broader ranks of the masses; how it would move to encounter the enemy and then fight the enemy while paying due attention to the great destructive power that enemy has; how its fighting units would be organized and coordinated in battle; how and from where its forces would be equipped, trained, supplied, and continually re-supplied with the necessary means to not only survive but to fight—our way.
And once the revolutionary situation is immediately approaching—once it can be determined that the launching of the armed insurrection is something that must be done in the near future, or else the opportunity will be lost (perhaps for a long time)—once that is the situation THEN the overwhelming attention and efforts of the vanguard would have to be concentrated on immediate and concrete preparations for launching the insurrection (and then carrying forward the civil war).
It would also be necessary to be prepared for the possibility that there may be other armies in the field, representing other classes and groups in society who are fighting against the old order, and that it may be necessary to forge alliances with some of these forces. At the same time, the revolutionary army of the proletariat would have to maintain its independence and its crucial role as the most consistent, determined, and powerful force fighting the enemy, the decisive force in defeating the imperialists and counter-revolutionaries. Through all this, the revolutionary proletariat would be able to lead other forces among the people along the path that serves proletarian revolution.
Two Fundamentally Different Armies
Fundamentally, an army is a concentration of the society it is fighting for. The imperialist army and fighting style represent an outdated, dying system, that in no way-shape-or-form is in the interests of the vast majority of the world’s people. Such an army is riddled with sharp class and national contradictions, and male chauvinism runs rampant. These contradictions come powerfully to the surface, and the morale of its troops is dealt heavy blows, whenever such an army is incapable of quickly overwhelming and pulverizing its enemy.
On the other hand, the proletariat’s revolutionary army, with its bedrock among the most exploited sections of the proletariat but drawing in people from different parts of society, will concentrate in important ways the social and political relations of the future society it fights for. It will unleash, organize and coordinate the fighting determination and capacities of people of all nationalities—united in fighting to uproot all oppression.
It will unleash women as a mighty force for revolution in a way reactionary armies never can, enabling them to play a decisive role both on the frontlines and in commanding positions within the army. And the urgent insistence of masses of youth that the world should not be this way—this will have a very important place in the revolutionary army, which will give these youth a purpose and a focus for their outrage, a purpose worth fighting and dying for. The revolutionary army of the proletariat will give concrete expression to the masses’ hatred for the capitalist system and the desire of millions to live in a different world.
The fighting style of such an army is also an expression of what it is fighting for. For example, the ability to continuously fight, as well as to move over large distances and then engage in battle without rest and with no fear of fatigue; and the great courage in battle and no fear of sacrifice that characterizes its troops—all this stems from and reflects the fact that this kind of revolutionary army fights with the lofty mission of liberating the masses of people and ultimately humanity as a whole from all oppression and exploitation.
Only with the leadership of the vanguard party will it be possible, when the time comes, to forge a revolutionary army on this basis and to maintain that orientation through all the twists and turns of battle. War is a continuation of politics by military means, and in revolutionary war the politics and ideology of the revolutionary proletariat must guide the waging of the war. This war must never be divorced from nor fought by methods that run counter to this revolutionary mission, which is represented by the vanguard party and its ideological and political line: the party must command the gun; the gun must never be allowed to command the party.
The party must imbue the masses with the spirit and revolutionary outlook of “Fear Nothing, Be Down for the Whole Thing.” It will instill in the revolutionary army as well as the masses who support it a largeness of mind and selflessness for the cause of proletarian revolution, leading them to make great sacrifices and conquer hardships in fighting for this cause. And it will help them keep their eyes on the prize all the way through so that they can defeat the enemy and win in the fullest sense!
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