Delivering the NO! at the RNC

The Battle for a Revolutionary Summation

by Philip Watts

Revolutionary Worker #1252, September 19, 2004, posted at

As we sum up the week of protest at the RNC and look to the struggles ahead, we should think about those who will be cracking history books in the future. We need to think about this today as we run the streets and struggle to win hearts and minds, fighting for a whole different world. As we rise up to say NO! to this rolling juggernaut of imperialist destruction, we need to think about all those future people who will be learning about the historic struggles that took place in the early part of the 21st century. When the world was crackling with both danger and did history unfold?

There are two futures before us and we have a tremendous responsibility to help determine who tells the story of that future, which class and in whose interests. Will this history be written in the language of deception, repression, deceit and despair by the same class of rulers, the same vultures who are pecking apart the people of the world, grinding them under in their insatiable hunger for empire?

Or will the people's story be written by and influenced by the dreamers and fighters, those who have nothing to lose, those who come from longing for something profoundly different, something profoundly better. Will the future be shaped by those who come from daring to lift their sights to a world free of oppression and full of life, vibrancy and struggle?

This moment, as Chairman Avakian has emphasized, is filled with both danger and opportunity.

More and more people are coming to understand the depths of the danger. People are angry and frustrated. Many are terrified at the thought of what the future holds if the current juggernaut is not derailed. Many are feeling the oxygen being sucked out of the air, the climate becoming more and more polarized. The atmosphere more repressive with imperial wars and talk of more war guiding the debate among the rulers.Some hold out hopes and still carry illusions about the electoral process in the U.S, placing all their cards in this basket while telling others not to rock the boat. Others still fail to see the gas coming in, thinking, "They wouldn't, they couldn't." So we must continue to tell the truth about the dangers of these times. We must continue to bring to light the extent of the domestic repression -- the police spying, rounding up of immigrants, the eroding and gutting of civil liberties. We must continue to bring to light the deadly serious nature of this moment in history. We must continue to expose those responsible and build resistance.

But there is opportunity within this danger, opportunity that holds the potential for a radical transformation of society. These very dangerous times are also witnessing the coming together of millions who desire something different. We see long-held beliefs being challenged and the mental shifts and big changes in thinking that such times can bring about. We see people jarred from their normal way of looking at things, beginning to search for something different. Many are searching for a way out of this madness. Some, and potentially many more, are giving the idea of a revolution serious consideration, for the first time.

In such times, notions of what was once seen as legitimate, including the nature of the very system, can be ripped to shreds-- minds open, things become much clearer. Millions begin to search for answers, for the truth and for leadership. This is what is happening at this moment in history for many millions within the U.S.

During the week of the Republican National Convention in New York City hundreds of thousands of people were compelled to take to the streets. On August 29, the sentiment of huge sections of people in this country who are frustrated and angry at the whole Bush agenda was expressed by over half a million in the streets.

How do we view this massive protest that jammed the streets of New York? For sure, many of those folks who came out still believe that John Kerry is the lesser of two evils, and hold out hope that he will be less evil. This is a section of society, however, in transition.

On the one hand the bourgeoisie has been fighting to change the terms of debate. They have been fighting to corral the populace into blind patriotism and imbue the American people with a constant fear of another terrorist attack. In their New Rome, they want to legitimize domestic repression, a necessary component for their unending wars. The rulers want and need a public mandate for their whole juggernaut of war and repression.

But they have not gotten this. They did not get this leading up to and when they went to war with Iraq. And they do not have this now with the occupation of Iraq and their continuing threats on the world. This was clearly demonstrated on August 29 when broad sections of people, mainly from the middle classes, took to the streets to declare "NO" to the whole Bush agenda. It was extremely important that the people did this. And it is critical that we continue to deny the ruling class a "popular mandate" -- including not letting either party use the elections as a platform to declare this mandate.

The resistance in New York was critical to the whole movement against the U.S. drive for empire. Expressed in the tremendous breadth and diversity there was a beautiful outpouring of the people, clearly and broadly supported by people in New York and watched by the world. It was a week of determined resistance--from defying police orders on Sunday night as thousands poured into Central Park, right up to the big NO! delivered on Thursday, the day Bush gave his acceptance speech at Madison Square Garden.

There was a flowering of debate, discussion and resolve as tens of thousands of protesters joined together to manifest their opposition to the Bush agenda. Throughout the days and into the nights, people talked, argued and shared their dreams--discussing the stakes before us...and the future before us.

The whole city, country and the people of the world could see this determined resistance. The voices of resistance right here in the belly of the beast reached the cafes of Iraq, the streets of Palestine, and the living rooms of people throughout the world.

The international impact of the resistance at the RNC is not entirely known. We do know there was intense international focus on this convention. And it was crucial for people who are resisting U.S. occupation, suffering from U.S. bombs, to know that there are so many here who hate what the U.S is doing and are actively opposing it. That we here in the belly of the beast are standing with the people of the world.

On Democracy Now!, a correspondent from Al Jazeera, the Arab TV news network talked about how many people are extremely interested to learn about the protests and resistance in the U.S.--remembering how massive protests helped end the Vietnam War. He said, "There is a lot of hope that goes with a lot of anti-American sentiment in the region at the moment. There is a lot of hope that these demonstrations, in addition to poking the Bush administration in the eye, that they may bring a positive outcome from their point of view to the Iraq case." This is all part of the mix in how we should be understanding the significance of the opposition to the RNC and the whole Bush agenda.

An RW editorial just after the events of 9/11 titled "WANTED: A Powerful Antiwar Movement," quotes Chairman Bob Avakian:

We must bring forward the vision of a movement against the war acts and repression of "our own" U.S. government that is so powerful that it cannot be hidden from the masses of people all over the world-- including in the countries and areas that are targets of U.S. imperialist aggression and are, justifiably, "hotbeds" of hatred "against America."
Imagine, what it would (and will) mean to those millions and millions of people when they see hundreds of thousands and ultimately millions of people in America itself , taking on the aggression (and repression) of their own government and standing with the people of the world against all that this government stands for and is doing and enforcing in the world. Imagine the questions that will raise in those people's minds, the "dialogue" (even if indirect) it will give rise to, among people all over the world with people in the U.S. itself. Imagine the inspiration it will provide and the potential realignment it will contribute to--with ordinary people worldwide finding common cause against the oppressors and bullies of the world, first and above all the rulers of America--who, it will be more and more clear, do not speak and act in the interests, or in the name of large, and growing, numbers of American people themselves....

Bob Avakian, quoted in "Wanted: A Powerful Anti-War Movement,"
RW #1129, December 2, 2001.

The two poles presented for the world have been "McWorld" or "Jihad." The present juggernaut of war and repression has been painted as a "clash of civilizations." But where is the future for the people?

A big part of what was accomplished during this week of resistance was contributing to the realignment Chairman Avakian is speaking of, the impact on many millions around the world who saw what happened in New York City. We must step off from this point and further take responsibility to help set the terms of struggle for the whole planet. To help bring about a situation where people all over the globe can see their common interests, to see that much more is possible and desirable than the dead ends of "McWorld" or "Jihad" -- and to act together to fight for a better world.


Going into this week there were huge questions and anxious anticipation of how things would look. Many wondered if the people would rise to the occasion, overcome obstacles and send a message of resistance for all to hear. There were many comparisons made to the 1968 Democratic Convention, which captured both the historicalness as well as the level of resistance many hoped for.

There was also a wrong summation still in the air about our very movement against the war. Many were thrown off track when the U.S. rulers went to war in Iraq in the face of the huge opposition expressed, both here and around the world. Many were unclear of where things needed to go next. They asked was it worth it, can we really stop the warmongers' drive? Many questioned if our movement made a difference, since the U.S. went to war anyway.

The protests at the RNC profoundly answered the question of where this movement is and what kind of broad support it has in society. This week the people did deliver the big NO! that was so urgently needed. And it did and continues to resound and have a critical impact on the political terrain.

Now there is an election coming up and there are no guarantees a second election won't be stolen. But what can be guaranteed is that no matter who wins, the U.S. ruling class will be in power, with their necessity for war and repression. And the elections will be used to try and legitimize and give a popular mandate for the U.S. juggernaut.

Moments like this in history, these critical junctures for humanity, are fundamentally decided by the conscious initiative, actions and activities of the people. The future is waiting to see how well we do.

We need to grasp the tremendous platform this week of resistance provides for dreamers and resisters all over the country to jump off from, the joy and determination it will give to people of the world.

But also, if we don't grasp this crucial point, we will not be able to see the opportunity for advancing our struggle, including the prospects for bringing about the whole different world so many of us desire.

This is a critical point for our movement to understand and sum up correctly.


In New York City I ran into some folks I had met a couple years ago while organizing against the war. We hugged, told each other how good it was to see one another. These folks, older progressive middle class women who had really wanted Kucinich to be the Democratic candidate, had come to New York from the West Coast. These women had firmly believed in the system, fighting for that process to work. But now they were overcome by the clarity of the moment. One woman said, "I just don't know, what we are going to do if Bush is re-elected?"

Our discussion got deeper. We talked about the stakes. I asked them if they had seen the video of the historic talk by Chairman Avakian, Revolution: Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About . They said they had seen advertisements for it all around but hadn't seen it yet.

One woman cleared her voice and said, "Well, how is a revolution made? What would we need to do? I don't want to have to make a revolution. I don't know if we could win, but how would you do it."

These sisters, like many I spoke with, saw the dangers, but had a hard time seeing the opportunities of this moment, not just from the standpoint of making a revolution, but radically transforming all of society.

It made me think back to the Chairman's historic talk they had not yet seen and really need to see. How liberating it would it be for these sisters and many others at this moment to be getting with and traveling with Chairman Avakian. Starting from those future horizons, that vision of a communist world, free of all the horrors of this one. How liberating it would be for the millions who dread the horror of the next U.S. aggression, to be crossing this bridge that Chairman Avakian is providing--between this moment crackling with all its dangers and the possibility of a whole new world.

People are looking for leadership. In the more than a decade I have been a revolutionary communist, I have never seen such open and frank discussion over the need for leadership and the direction in which things need to go. We have that leadership in our Party and profoundly so in our Chairman, Bob Avakian. And many, many more need to find out why that is so. For all those who hate the horror upon horrors this system rains down on the people of the world, for all those who dream of a better world, Chairman Bob Avakian is there, providing answers, deeper questions and real hope for the future.