Know thy enemy
Basic Principles of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA:
— To emancipate humanity, the world needs revolution and communism
— The world today cries out for radical, fundamental change.
We live on a planet where tens of millions of people died in the two world wars in the 20th century, and in other wars since then…and where large parts of humanity today continue to be caught up in brutal and destructive wars, resulting in massive loss of life and incalculable agony.
We live in a world where millions die from easily preventable diseases…and still more face hunger as a daily fact of life. We are locked inside a worldwide economic system that dispenses crumbs and extends privileges to a relatively small number, while forcing billions to seek desperately for work that more often than not numbs the mind, crushes the spirit and destroys the body…an economic system which has devastated and despoiled nature itself and now has put the future of human life into question.
We walk through our days in a world where the lives of countless children are ground up and destroyed, some as child laborers and even outright slaves, others as the victims of poverty and humiliation…their potential crushed, or their lives cut short. And everywhere, women—one half of humanity!—still face the gauntlet of rape and abuse, and the continual oppression and hostility that comes in forms both traditional and “modern.”
People whose sexual orientation or identity is different from the dominant norms in society—and this is particularly and acutely so where this in some significant way conflicts with the prevailing patriarchal sexual relations—are discriminated against and persecuted, and many are subjected to brutal, even murderous attacks.
Tens of millions of people in this country face a life of grinding exploitation and bitter desperation. Many have been driven here from countries which have been plundered by U.S. capital, only to find themselves dubbed “illegal” and forced into the shadows by Gestapo-like persecution. Especially among Black people, as well as other peoples of color and oppressed nationalities, great masses of people have been cast aside because they can no longer be profitably exploited. Instead of recognizing their humanity and unleashing their potential, this system has criminalized them—with one in nine young Black men locked down in prison, and with Black and Latino youth having to face harassment, brutality, and the constant threat of death at the hands of the police whenever they walk out the door. Meanwhile the apple-pie racism of America festers and often boils over, in forms old and new.
On top of all that, this economic and social system forces everyone to look at, and to treat, everyone else as potential competitors and antagonists. “Dog eat dog” and “look out for number one” are the true commandments of this society. Those who try to make things better, within the confines of this system, find their efforts constantly frustrated, unable to get at the underlying problems.
As a result of all this, alienation and despair run rampant, and people feel as if their lives are empty and meaningless. And for relief? Either the mindless chase after ever more commodities, or the false fantasies and consolation of religion.
But the cruelest fact of all is this: IT DOES NOT HAVE TO BE THIS WAY! For here is the glaring contradiction: in today’s world the production of things, and the distribution of the things produced, is overwhelmingly carried out by large numbers of people who work collectively and are organized in highly coordinated networks. At the foundation of this whole process is the proletariat, an international class which owns nothing, yet has created and works these massive socialized productive forces. These tremendous productive powers could enable humanity to not only meet the basic needs of every person on the planet, but to build a new society, with a whole different set of social relations and values…a society where all people could truly and fully flourish together.
Yet this cannot and does not happen; instead, for the great majority of humanity, and for large numbers of people in this country, things get worse, and seem ever more hopeless.
Why? Because these productive forces are socially created and worked, through the labor of vast numbers of people, but they are owned and controlled by a relative handful: the capitalist-imperialist class. And the imperialists’ private appropriation of socially produced wealth is backed up by law, by custom…and by the armed force of the state. All these imperialists care about—and all that they can care about, given the rules of their capitalist system—is the endless drive to accumulate profit and more profit, and the violent expansion and defense of the empires built to ensure that accumulation.
This burning contradiction—between the socialized character of production, and the private appropriation and control of it—is what fundamentally determines the character and direction of society and the world as a whole. It is the root reason we continue to suffer these horrors. Upon these basic economic relations arises the whole structure of the state, of politics and culture, of ideas and morality. And no matter what reforms and/or cosmetic changes may be carried out, so long as the same system is in effect and the same class rules, the outrages that people suffer throughout the world will continue to be reproduced and will become ever more grotesque.
To this problem, there is only one solution: a revolution that overthrows this system and the capitalist-imperialist class that embodies and runs it—a revolution that will immediately establish a new power.
This new revolutionary power must, and would, immediately strip the capitalist-imperialist class of its property and power. It would immediately set about meeting the most pressing needs of the people and solving what up to now have seemed the most “intractable” problems. And it would do all this to serve, and as part of, something larger: a world revolution, leading to the all-around emancipation of humanity. This new power, a socialist state rooted in the conscious activity of tens of millions of people, would embark on a series of further struggles to dig up the very roots of exploitation and oppression in every sphere, from production to social institutions to ideas, in a process full of monumental challenges and real vitality and diversity.
This revolution would be a process of people transforming conditions and, as they do so, transforming themselves—and again, doing this as part of and in conjunction with revolution all over the world. The goal would be, and must be, nothing less than a society in which people would finally know what it would mean to be free: a truly communist society, a global society that has uprooted and moved beyond class divisions and all other oppressive social relations and the corresponding ideas and culture.
This does not and cannot mean freedom from all constraints; people would still have to work together to produce the necessities of life and deal with nature and our obligations to each other. But it would mean that people will be free to do that in a way that does NOT divide us into hostile competing forces…free of the enforced ignorance that is so integral to today’s world…and free, finally, to continually develop a true world society of human beings who increasingly flourish, not only as individuals but most fundamentally in their mutual relations and interactions with each other.
This is the course, and the final goal, of the communist revolution.
The Revolutionary Communist Party, USA exists for this reason, and no other: to lead the masses to make this necessary communist revolution, as part of the worldwide struggle for a truly liberated world.
Communism can only be achieved through proletarian revolution
People today are told to “be realistic”: to confine their aims to getting governments to reform, and to “realize the true ideals of democracy.”
THIS CAN’T WORK! Putting your hopes and efforts into that can only make things worse. Such a course is, in fact, not “realistic”; it is a dead end.
Why? Bob Avakian, the founding Chair of the RCP, has put it this way: “In a world marked by profound class divisions and social inequality, to talk about ‘democracy’—without talking about the class nature of that democracy and which class it serves—is meaningless, and worse. So long as society is divided into classes, there can be no ‘democracy for all’; one class or another will rule, and it will uphold and promote that kind of democracy which serves its interests and goals. The question is: which class will rule and whether its rule, and its system of democracy, will serve the continuation, or the eventual abolition, of class divisions and the corresponding relations of exploitation, oppression and inequality.”
The monstrous armies and brutal police forces at the core of today’s state were built up over centuries to protect and serve the interests and goals of the class of capitalist-imperialists. This class alone determines when, how and against whom the army and police will be used, and to what ends. Their monopoly on “legitimate force” reveals American democracy (like all democracies) to be, in essence, a dictatorship of one class over another—in this case, a dictatorship of the imperialists. And the whole history of this country—from the genocidal dispossession of the Native American Indians to the scores of wars and military actions this country has fought…from the horrendous founding crime of slavery to the violent repression directed against every radical movement that has arisen in this country to fight for a better world—has proven this point over and over again.
The revolution would have to overthrow the state machinery of these capitalist-imperialists and bring into being a new state power that serves the revolutionary interests of the formerly exploited class, the proletariat, in emancipating all of humanity—in moving society, and the world, toward the abolition of class divisions and oppressive and exploitative relations as a whole. This revolutionary state would be the dictatorship of the proletariat—a state that would be radically different from all previous forms of states.
All previous states have served the extension and defense of relations of exploitation; they have enforced the domination of exploiting classes, and have fortified themselves against any fundamental changes in these relations. The dictatorship of the proletariat, by contrast, aims at the eventual abolition of the state itself, with the abolition of class distinctions and of all antagonistic social relations leading to exploitation, oppression, and the constant regeneration of destructive conflicts among people. And, in order to continue advancing toward that objective, the dictatorship of the proletariat must increasingly draw the masses of people, from many different sections of society, into meaningful involvement in the process of running society and carrying forward the advance toward the ultimate goal of communism throughout the world.
This process will be characterized by people thinking and acting in diverse and creative ways…it will be full of ferment and dissent and debate, over both the character of society and its course at any given time…with leadership being exercised to both unleash this and, in an overall sense, to guide this toward the ultimate goal of communism. This state corresponds to, and will be necessary throughout, socialist society; but socialism is not an end in itself—it is the critical and necessary transition aiming for the final goal of a communist world—and the socialist state must continually undergo radical transformations that are in line with, and serve, the advance toward that final goal, which will involve the eventual elimination of the division between the state and the rest of society and the abolition of the state itself, with the abolition of class divisions and oppressive relations among people, throughout the world.
This socialist state would lead and support people in making radical transformations in every sphere of society. It would construct a socialist economic system, by first taking over the major means of production (factories, land and mines, machinery and other technology, etc.) that have been owned and controlled by the big capitalists as their private property—converting these into socialist state property and utilizing them to meet the needs of the people, while rendering support to revolutionary struggle throughout the world.
The socialist state would play a decisive role in moving society, through various waves and stages of multi-faceted struggle and social transformations, toward the communist vision of ensuring a common abundance for the people as a whole and overcoming the age-old division between those who work with their minds and those who work with their hands (between mental and physical labor), as well as all other oppressive divisions among people.
It would act to prevent the return of the former exploiters, and resist the attacks of imperialism. It would make possible a different kind of democracy, on a far greater scale and with a much more radical vision and practice of human freedom than anything today, in line with its final goal—a final goal in which democracy itself, as a form of state, is transcended and people together debate and decide the course of things without resort to any kind of apparatus of violent suppression. Finally, this new revolutionary socialist state would be built as a “base area” for the world revolution—a springboard and support base and beacon for revolutionary struggles in other countries, all working together to get to a world without exploitation and oppression.
A new stage of the communist revolution
The revolutionary communist movement began in 1848, when Marx and Engels brought forth the basic theory and vision in the Communist Manifesto. The first stage of this movement included three epic revolutions: the Paris Commune; the Soviet Revolution; and the Chinese Revolution, which included the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution as its high point. These revolutions effected unprecedented and amazing changes; their vision and accomplishments inspired people around the globe. But world imperialism remained dominant, and these were new and beginning efforts; despite heroic struggles, each in turn was finally defeated by the forces of reaction. In the wake of those defeats, these revolutions have been endlessly slandered, and the truth about them suppressed and distorted. In actual fact, these revolutions proved that a better world really is possible, and through these revolutions humanity has accumulated invaluable experience and a whole new point of departure.
But it has now been decades since the revolutionary proletariat held power in any country—whatever the labels, there are no socialist countries today. Humanity urgently needs a new stage of communist revolution, based on upholding and really thoroughly learning from the past achievements and on that basis analyzing shortcomings and mistakes, and carrying things forward in new ways, to new peaks. The challenge of deeply summing up this past experience and charting the path forward has been taken up by Bob Avakian, and in so doing he has further developed the scientific theory and the liberating vision of communism at this decisive crossroads.
If there is to be a revolution, there must be a revolutionary party
Making revolution against a powerful and vicious enemy—and going on from there to bring into being a whole new world, without exploitation and oppression—is an incredibly challenging and complex process! Such a revolution requires leadership; it requires an organization with a sweeping vision, a scientific method to analyze reality and how to go about changing it, and serious discipline. An organization that can awaken and unleash the revolutionary potential of the masses of people, direct their outrage against the real enemy, and loft their sights to the emancipation of all humanity. An organization that can chart the path through extreme ups and downs, and dangerous twists and turns. That organization is the revolutionary vanguard party. Only with an organization such as this can the masses rise to the historic challenges, and win their emancipation.
The Revolutionary Communist Party, USA has taken on that responsibility in the U.S. The members of the RCP, USA are united in their profound desire for a radically different and better world, and their understanding of the need for revolution to get to that world. They have dedicated themselves wholeheartedly to revolution, and on the basis of that they channel their individual abilities and passions to the cause and needs of this revolution.
The communist revolution requires a scientific understanding of society. This science of revolution arose from, and has continued to develop in constant interaction with, all the great streams of society’s intellectual, scientific and cultural life, as well as the class struggle, and the struggle for production itself. [For more on the science of communism, see Appendix.] This science did not and could not arise spontaneously from the immediate conditions of the oppressed, or even from the struggles that erupt against the imperialists; that framework is too narrow, too saturated and imbued with the outlook and ways of approaching things of the very system that dominates the masses. For this reason, along with the fact that the system denies the masses of people training in and access to theory, this science must be brought to the masses from “outside” their direct experience and conditions. That requires a party rooted in a scientific understanding of the system and of the kind of revolution that must replace it.
Without such a party, there can be no revolution. The party leads the masses, through a back-and-forth, wave-like process of raising their understanding and leading them in struggle against the enemy.
In leading the masses to struggle against the bourgeoisie, a vanguard party also has to struggle against the ways in which the prevailing social relations exert an almost gravitational pull on the party to “settle in” and accommodate itself to imperialism and to aiming for nothing more than reforms within this system of exploitation. And, once in the leading position of the new revolutionary state, a party again faces monumental pressures in the form of the persistence of the old relations and ideas in society (which can only be fully uprooted over a protracted period of time), along with open threats and aggression from imperialism. These find concentrated expression in forces within a party who, in the face of that, take up lines and policies which would stop halfway in making revolution, and actually drag society back to capitalism-imperialism. This too has to be combated—even more vigorously.
But the ongoing revolutionary process which the party itself must unleash and lead actually holds the key to resolving this contradiction: through repeatedly waging struggle to stay on the revolutionary road (and bringing the masses into that struggle to the greatest degree possible), and constantly struggling to forge a living link between what it is doing at any given time and the final goal of communism. And only with the actual achievement of communism will the need for such a party—that is, the need for an institutionalized leading group in society—be transcended.
Until that time, the vanguard party is the absolutely necessary and essential instrument for the masses’ liberation—first, in the revolutionary struggle to achieve power, and then all through the extremely complex struggle to maintain power and advance toward communism. As such, it is precious—the most precious thing the masses have.
To seize power, the revolutionary people must meet and defeat the enemy
In a country like the U.S., the revolutionary overthrow of this system can only be achieved once there is a major, qualitative change in the nature of the objective situation, such that society as a whole is in the grip of a profound crisis, owing fundamentally to the nature and workings of the system itself, and along with that there is the emergence of a revolutionary people, numbering in the millions and millions, conscious of the need for revolutionary change and determined to fight for it. In this struggle for revolutionary change, the revolutionary people and those who lead them will be confronted by the violent repressive force of the machinery of the state which embodies and enforces the existing system of exploitation and oppression; and in order for the revolutionary struggle to succeed, it will need to meet and defeat that violent repressive force of the old exploitative and oppressive order.
Before the development of a revolutionary situation—and as the key to working toward the development of a revolutionary people, in a country like the U.S.—those who see the need for and wish to contribute to a revolution must focus their efforts on raising the political and ideological consciousness of masses of people and building massive political resistance to the main ways in which, at any given time, the exploitative and oppressive nature of this system is concentrated in the policies and actions of the ruling class and its institutions and agencies—striving through all this to enable growing numbers of people to grasp both the need and the possibility for revolution when the necessary conditions have been brought into being, as a result of the unfolding of the contradictions of the system itself as well as the political, and ideological, work of revolutionaries.
All the party’s work—everything it does—is aimed at making revolution, and advancing to communism. As noted above, there would need to be a crisis in society and within the government itself for a real chance at revolution to open up. But a real revolutionary vanguard can’t just passively wait for that to happen; it must hasten the development of such a situation through its ideological and political work, “preparing minds and organizing forces for revolution” and working to actively shape the “political terrain” on which a future revolutionary situation might emerge.
This work of “hastening while awaiting” requires that the party strain against the limits of the objective political situation it faces—working to transform the situation to the maximum degree possible at any given time and doing so in relation to, and maintaining its tense alertness toward, any possible openings for revolution. To do this, it leads a whole ensemble of revolutionary preparations, with the party’s press and the spreading of communist theory, especially as concentrated in the body of work, method and approach of Bob Avakian, as the mainstays of that activity.
Proceeding on the basis of its revolutionary orientation and objectives, the party must mobilize mass resistance to the system’s outrages; it must engage the masses as broadly as possible on the biggest questions of the revolution; and through all this it must recruit new members as widely as possible (based on the high standards outlined in the Principles of Organization, below). As a key part of this, the party works to mobilize people from all sectors of society, and in particular the backbone of the revolution—those at the bottom of society, with nothing to lose but their chains—around the slogan “Fight the Power, And Transform the People, For Revolution.”
The party comes at everything it does from the standpoint of the international proletariat and the people of the whole world. This basic stand and orientation is proletarian internationalism. It is based on the understanding that the proletariat is an international class; that imperialism is a single integrated world-system, even as it is riven with contradiction and antagonism; and that the communist revolution is a single world process, even as it takes place in many particular countries. This means doing all you can to make revolution in any particular country while politically supporting this same orientation and outlook and working to advance the cause of communism all over the world.
The United Front under the Leadership of the Proletariat: the strategy for making, and continuing, the revolution
In order to win, the party will have to unite millions and tens of millions of people—and a vast array of political and social forces, with diverse viewpoints—to actively take part in and support the revolution. The party’s strategy to do this is the United Front under the Leadership of the Proletariat.
The fundamental interests of most people in this society do NOT lie with the imperialists. This simple but profound truth is an important part of the objective material basis for why revolution in this country is both necessary and possible. Many different sections of people protest and rebel against the things this system does, and these protests should be and can be supported and strengthened; this means diverting them away from the pull to come under the influence of representatives of the system, and instead marshaling them as part of a revolutionary movement. Many different ideas, ultimately representing different classes, will contend for leadership of these struggles; but only the outlook and program of the proletariat—that class which has nothing to lose but its chains—can lead this struggle to revolution and communism.
Those whose conditions of life most correspond to that “nothing to lose” character will, in the main, be the backbone—the most solid social base—of the struggle to actually overthrow this system, and create a new one. At the same time, many people from different classes will also actively join in, or at least support, the revolution. The main thing is that there be a sizable and growing core, rooted in the proletariat but drawing from all strata among the people, that is infused with the outlook, goals and methods of communism, acting as a leading force and “magnetic pole” around which the whole revolutionary people can be galvanized.
At the heart of, and decisive to, the united front is the alliance of two major streams of struggle: the movement to overthrow capitalism and establish the new socialist state, as a transition toward communism (a movement which must be made up of every nationality), uniting with the struggles of the Black, Chicano, Puerto Rican, Native American Indian, and other oppressed nationalities to end their oppression as peoples (i.e., national oppression). The genocide against the Native Americans and the enslavement of Black people lie at the very roots of American society. Not only has this oppression not ended, but—along with the oppression of other minority nationalities—it has assumed new, and in some ways even more twisted, forms. And this is so despite the tremendous and profound struggles waged against this oppression, and the great sacrifices made by the masses in these struggles. The cold, but liberating, truth is this: this oppression can only be—and, in fact, will be—ended through revolution against this system.
These two streams of struggle face a common enemy and have a common solution; the fact that a large section of the proletariat is made up of oppressed nationalities further strengthens the material basis for this unity. At the same time, there are also different programs and outlooks within the movements against national oppression, ultimately representing different class forces, and the actual forging of this key alliance will be a very dynamic process—full of united struggle against the common enemy, and vigorous debate over the road forward, the outlook needed for liberation, and the ultimate goal.
There are other highly significant social contradictions that feed into—and help drive forward—the revolutionary movement. In particular, the oppression of women is bound up with the division of society into classes, and it is deeply rooted in every sphere of American life, including in the very structure of the family itself, and there is a crying need—right now—to again bring forward a force of women, and men, dedicated to rooting it out. Moreover, this is a “touchstone” question for the revolutionary movement—the revolution must fight against the oppression of women now, wherever it rears its head, and continue to struggle against it in the much more favorable conditions once power has been seized, aiming for nothing less than full emancipation.
Another burning question focuses on immigrants, most of whom have been driven here from nations oppressed by U.S. imperialism. The imperialists constantly stir up anger and hatred against them, using them as scapegoats; in sharp contrast, the revolutionary movement welcomes the immigrants and works to unite them in the struggle to get rid of imperialism and to carry forward the revolution toward the final goal of communism throughout the world.
The strategy of the United Front under the Leadership of the Proletariat also makes it possible to build unity with the vast and varied middle class in the U.S., which includes intellectuals and artists, professionals, many farmers, entrepreneurs, etc. On the basis of strongly putting forward the need for thoroughgoing revolution and setting out its vision of the future society, the party can reach out to and win over many middle class people to the communist revolution, and many more to various levels of support or at least “friendly neutrality.” Key among these sections will be the youth, who are not so wedded to the way things are, and can be more open to radical and fundamental change; and bringing forward a real movement of radical- and revolutionary-minded youth, from every strata of society, is a key part of the party’s strategy and revolutionary work.
The party applies the method of unity-struggle-unity in forging the united front. This involves, at any given stage of the struggle, uniting all who can be united around the immediate and urgent political battles of the day, while at the same time vigorously struggling over both the ultimate goal of the struggle and the outlook and method that should guide it. Through all this the party aims to win as many people as possible to rupture fully to the communist outlook and method, and it attempts as well to increasingly influence the thinking and values of people in society overall in that direction.
Applying this strategy and method through twists and turns, hastening while awaiting the development of a revolutionary situation, bringing forward, through many different avenues, a revolutionary people that would number in the millions and come from all walks of life, while at the same time studying theory and historical experience that is relevant to and required in order to make revolution, and developing a doctrine that could actually defeat the imperialists…through this whole ensemble of revolutionary work, the party does all it can to bring closer, and to prepare the people for, the time when revolution can be made.
At that time, millions will flood into political life, with all sorts of viewpoints—but as the crisis develops, and through the scientific leadership of the vanguard, society will sharply polarize, and two main forces—the ruling class and the reactionary armed forces (and other reactionaries) it is able to marshal, on the one side, and the revolutionary movement of millions, and tens of millions, on the other—will face off. Society will then become more or less “compressed” around one or the other of the contending “poles.”
Most of those who rally to the revolution at that point will do so not so much out of a worked-out belief in the ultimate goal of communism, but because they have come to understand that only the program of the revolutionaries can solve the acute and urgently pressing problems racking society. But this relative and temporary “compression” will “open back out” once the new revolutionary power has been seized and consolidated. The new society will once again be characterized by a wide diversity of social forces that occupy different (if changing) positions with (more or less) correspondingly different and diverse viewpoints regarding what should be done and why, at any given time.
The party must understand this well, and continue applying its strategy of United Front under the Leadership of the Proletariat in the new and more favorable—but different—conditions after the seizure of power. This includes applying the method of unity-struggle-unity, all the way through the transition to communism. Again, this is rooted materially in the differences between people that will still remain, for a whole historical period, after the seizure of power (the legacy of inequality in different forms—for example, the still remaining differences between those who mainly work with ideas and those who mainly do manual labor). In the new socialist society, in carrying forward the transition toward the final aim of communism, the orientation of the socialist state and the vanguard party will be to pursue a long-term policy of “living with” and transforming those whose social position, and world outlook, is characteristic of the middle strata. This means continually working toward the goal of overcoming these remaining material differences among the people, and their ideological effects, while striving to win growing numbers of the people to consciously take up the outlook and aims of the communist revolution.
In all of this, the leadership of the party will be essential.
NOTE: Is this mindset sound familiar to you…BE PREPARED and Read on…What an eyeopener…And we were worried about the tenets of Alinsky~ bah!
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