The Death of Reagan-And Why We Need the Death of This System

Revolutionary Worker #1244, June 20, 2004, posted at

We received the following correspondence.

I've been telling people for years that the day Reagan dies I will do a little jig to celebrate. But as I did my happy dance upon hearing the news, I stopped short. Wait a minute, there are some lessons learned from the '80s that might shed some light on what the stakes are for all those who are fighting for a different future RIGHT NOW. And when I looked at the way they were using Reagan's death to back up all the horror the U.S. is doing to the people of the world right now, it underlined that point all the more. I thought about the importance of MLM and the absolute critical role our Chairman plays in helping us navigate our way out of this madness.

The '80s were intense. I came of age in this era of a potential nuclear showdown between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. I was one of those youth who was punked out, pissed off, and driven to act by the nightmares of the very real possibility that we would all die from nuclear war. And Ronald Reagan symbolized everything I hated about the system.

All of us felt that the fate of the earth was at stake--and it was! A lot of us got slapped into political life by the election of Ronald Reagan---this is the guy who cut a swath of blood across Central America by directly and indirectly (Iran/Contra Scandal) funding and politically backing the Contras and the Salvadoran death squads; the guy who we saw giving support to dictators like Marcos and Rios Montt. Asked about the environment, he said "If you've seen one redwood, you've seen them all." This is the guy who joked, "I've signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes."

" And this fucker had his finger on the nuclear trigger!!

I came up in the movements and was heavily influenced by pacifism and identity politics, but I was also inspired by the bold and creative protests brought forth by more advanced sections in the movement--particularly "No Business As Usual," whose posters depicted a happy face melting into a nuclear cloud. Aw hell yeah! I thought their slogan "Stop Nuclear War, No Matter What It Takes!" was great! All this was aimed at taking on the whole program of "Resurgent America" that Reagan came to power on.

One of my favorite actions from that time was when a group of us somehow got tickets to a Republican rally featuring Reagan. (Hard to believe that could happen in this area of Ashcroftian madness, huh?) We wanted to expose Reagan's backing of the Contras by staging some street theater during his talk. Sitting in the audience was like being at a Hitler youth rally. I thought, "Shit, we are gonna get killed here," but the idea of letting Reagan come to town unopposed was more frightening. When he came on stage, we slapped white paint on our faces, threw off our coats (revealing peasant clothes we had on) and stood on our chairs. We had white strips of cloth printed with the names of women disappeared in Central America on them. Women raped, tortured, killed because of what we saw then, as Reagan's policies. We started wailing and calling out their names: "Maria Rodriguez! Anna Salazar! Presente!" The whole place went nuts! The international press swung their cameras on us and the image of these wild, wailing women disrupting the "Great Communicator" went out all over the world. Young Republican boys got in our faces, screaming "B*tch! C*nt!" and threatening to kill us. We were grabbed and thrown out by security to the welcoming arms of the people rallying outside. It was fucking amazing!

Hating Reagan was easy. Understanding that he was fronting for an entire system of imperialism that was really responsible for all this misery, was not something I spontaneously understood. It would take the RCP and Bob Avakian to bring me to that understanding. My first contact with the Party was the RW . People kept urging me to read the RW --read it, read it now! I started to check it out, and got blown away. Things leapt out at me from the pages that I had never really considered before. Things like classes and imperialism. Things like the words of Bob Avakian and Mao, Lenin, Marx.

This whole time I had been an activist I had never seriously considered that this was a systemic thing, that capitalism was the problem, not some fool in the White House. I had never considered the possibility of revolution or a different future under communism. But it was the international proletariat that called forth in me an understanding that what was really going to uproot oppression was a proletarian revolution guided by Marxism, Leninism and Maoism. And it was the words of Bob Avakian that helped set my sights higher than where they were at:

"If you can conceive of a world without America--without everything America stands for and everything it does in the world--then you've already taken great strides and begun to get at least a glimpse of a whole new world. If you can envision a world without any imperialism, exploitation, oppression--and the whole philosophy that rationalizes it--a world without division into classes or even different nations, and all the narrow-minded, selfish, outmoded ideas that uphold this; if you can envision all this, then you have the basis for proletarian internationalism. And once you have raised your sights to all this, how could you not feel compelled to take an active part in the world historic struggle to realize it; why would you want to lower your sights to anything less?"

Bob Avakian, Bullets: from the Writings, Speeches, Interviews of Bob Avakian

Now it's 2004 and Reagan is dead, but the system is not. And once again he's doing them a service by being used as a way to bludgeon the people, even in death. Millions have been slapped in the face by this juggernaut of war and repression. And while it's important to unite with their deep hatred for Bush and all he represents, it's absolutely vital that people come to grips with the fact that regardless of who is in power--Reagan or Clinton, Bush or Kerry--the core instruments of power, the inequality and exploitation, will remain in place, and we need to end it once and for all.

OK, I think it's still alright to do a little jig while you watch "Reagan: Dead Tour 2004." But it's even more critical now for people who want to see a whole different future, for them to understand the nature of this whole system so we can do what's necessary to bury it, by hooking up with the RCP and taking up the politics of our unique and irreplaceable Chairman.