Not Being Jerry Rubin, Or Even Dimitrov, But Actually Being Revolutionary Communists:


by Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party,USA

Revolution Online, June 27, 2005, only available at

EDITORS' NOTE: This is part of a series of excerpts on various subjects—drawn from conversations and discussions, as well as more formal talks, by Bob Avakian—which we will be running in this newspaper over the next period of time. This has been edited for publication.

As I have emphasized many times, it is very important to understand the complexity that's involved in the current situation and its development. Bush doesn't do nuance, but we have to. That's the difference between the solid core that exists now within the ruling class -- the group now at the core of its power -- and our solid core, which must be combined with, which must involve, a lot of elasticity. We have to understand the complexity of things and not see them in oversimplified dogmatic terms.

If the current polarization in U.S. society continues, and if the "center does not hold" in the old way, and a new form of rule in society is brought into being -- as a continuation of the current trajectory -- that will not be a good thing, it will be a very bad thing. The task of repolarization in society, ideologically and politically, not only poses itself acutely now, but it will be an ongoing challenge and task in terms of all the political, and ideological, work we do to prepare for and then to seize on the direct approach and then the full ripening of a revolutionary situation and a revolutionary crisis, when a revolutionary people, of millions, has been brought forward. And in the way this is acutely posed now we can see not only its immediate but also its strategic dimension.

To get into one important aspect of this, there is the whole prospect of our having to lead the struggle to defeat attempts to trample on and abolish bourgeois-democratic rights -- and perhaps even bourgeois democracy (the bourgeois-democratic form of capitalist rule) itself. This could have arisen in relation to the recent (2004) election -- particularly if there had actually been an attempt by those currently at the core of power (those grouped around Bush, in a general sense) to suspend that election, or some other attempt to suppress what people understand to be fundamental rights. But what we have emphasized -- and what I want to emphasize again here -- is the need for us to do this from our communist perspective and with the goal of proletarian revolution and ultimately communism -- and nothing else and nothing less. The point is that we must not degenerate into bourgeois democrats ourselves in taking up the challenge of defeating attempts to trample on and abolish bourgeois-democratic rights.

One way to put this -- taking as a point of reference the history of the international communist movement, and in particular its experience in relation to the fascist danger, in the period leading into World War 2 -- is that we must defeat attempts to trample on and abolish bourgeois-democratic rights without falling into being Dimitrov** -- not attempting to build a united front against fascism whose essential objective is just to preserve bourgeois rule in the form of bourgeois democracy.

Or another way to get at this is to say that we must not fall into being Jerry Rubin. What I mean by this is that at one point, back in the '60s, Jerry Rubin, a well-known rebel of those days, ran for mayor of Berkeley. He was sort of running as a radical alternative candidate, and I remember one time seeing him on the Cal campus in Berkeley, and he exclaimed: "Hey, I just realized, there's no Democrat running for mayor, the only opponent I have is a Republican. I could actually win!" Well, he didn't win. But that's the less important point. The main and essential point is that he was already becoming like the Democrats in order to "win." So, this is another way of encapsulating the challenge (or another metaphor for the challenge) of dealing with the complexity of the situation we have to deal with. It is another dimension of why and how we have to act -- and to think -- like communists, like real communists, and not like the cardboard caricature of the stereotypical dogmatic "commie." How else are we going to be able to handle the contradiction of not only taking up but actually leading the struggle against attempts and outright moves to trample on and abolish bourgeois-democratic rights -- or very possibly even the whole bourgeois-democratic form and framework -- and yet not become mere bourgeois democrats ourselves. How do we do this from the communist perspective and with the goal of proletarian revolution and ultimately communism -- and nothing else and nothing less?

Not only in immediate terms, but thinking in terms of everything that will be involved, all the way between here and the development of a revolutionary situation, whenever that comes, this is going to be a challenge which, with all its complexity, we are going to have to take up and handle correctly.

** Georgi Dimitrov was a leader of the Comintern (the Communist International, which was founded by Lenin shortly after the victory of the Soviet Revolution and played a major role in the development of the international communist movement, until the Comintern was abolished during World War 2). After the seizure and consolidation of power by Hitler and the NAZIs in Germany in the early 1930s, Dimitrov put forward the thesis, adopted by the Comintern, that the pressing task, to which everything else should be subordinated, was the defeat of fascism; this amounted to arguing that the goal of communists, at least for a period of time, should be reduced to simply defending and preserving the bourgeois-democratic form of capitalist rule and not to overthrow capitalism and replace it with the rule of the proletariat and socialism.