Unite All Who Can Be United --
A Matter of Win or Lose for the Revolution

By Bob Avakian

Revolutionary Worker #884, December 1, 1996

The orientation of uniting all who can be united--at every point, and in every struggle, but with strategic interests uppermost, has crucial application. This is true not only politically, and not only in carrying out our work in this period. But if we do approach all our work, as we should, as preparation for the future seizure of power--and even looking forward to the transformation of society beyond that--we can see more clearly how carrying out our work among all strata, in accordance with our strategy of United Front Under the Leadership of the Proletariat (UFuLP), has very strategic implications.

As I wrote in the "Ask the Chairman" series, talking about the whole process of preparing for and waging revolutionary war when the time becomes right: "At all times the people should resist their oppression and defend themselves against the attacks of the oppressors and enforcers of this system--the Party should lead them in this and work to make this serve the overall preparation for revolution, developing the places where the masses live and work into strongholds for revolution. But, in the U.S. and other imperialist countries, it is only right to get into a `war situation' and engage in actual acts of warfare against the system when the conditions exist for carrying that war forward toward victory. As Mao said, revolutionary war is a war of the masses--only if masses of people are prepared and determined to support and to actively take part in this war can it have a chance of success. The objective of Maoist people's war is not just to militantly challenge the system but to actually overthrow this system--not just to fight but to win."

And as I discussed in Could We Really Win?--"When the time is right for launching revolutionary warfare, it must take the form of mass insurrections, centered in the urban areas, leading to the establishment of a revolutionary regime in as much of the territory as possible, and then the waging of a civil war to finally and completely defeat the old ruling class and its counterrevolutionary armed forces."

Now, if you think in very practical terms about what it would take to win in a country like the U.S., then again you can see the crucial importance of this strategy of United Front under the Leadership of the Proletariat.

What forces would actually have to be brought into the field and united under the revolutionary banner? And how would this express itself--not only politically through the whole process of preparation, and not only politically at the time when you actually go over to this struggle for the seizure of power, but also in terms of the military aspects and military implications at that time? You can see that it's really a "make or break" question whether all along you've been carrying out this UFuLP strategy, or something else, and how well you've been carrying out this strategy.

This has been expressed in a number of my writings in terms of the concept of "breaking out of the encirclement." In other words, the future armed insurrection and then the civil war would, in one sense, be an overall process, but with two distinct and relatively discrete phases. And both in terms of the very initial phase of the insurrection itself, and then later in terms of linking up areas won by the revolutionary forces through the insurrection to form a revolutionary regime and be prepared to fight the civil war, it would be necessary to take into account and deal with a very important characteristic--and a very pronounced contradiction--in a society like the U.S. That is--the main bedrock base for the armed insurrection and civil war would be in the urban cores, among millions of masses there, and at the same time there are also broader sections of even the real proletariat that are not all concentrated in the urban cores. There are some who live in suburbs, proletarians who work in some of these shit jobs in the suburbs, who live in this lousy housing, even, right within the suburbs. And there are other sections of the people--other sections of the working class, broadly defined, as well as others in the general category of the middle strata--who live outside the urban cores and who must be won (at least won to "friendly neutrality") in order for the future armed insurrection to succeed and even get to the stage of a revolutionary civil war.

Learning from the L.A. Rebellion

One of the things the ruling class already tries to do in the context of urban rebellions is more or less immediately confine them to an area within the urban cores. And one of the really great things about the '92 Rebellion in Los Angeles was that it took them quite a while to get on top of it; and initially they were unsuccessful in containing this by the methods they used in previous rebellions.

Now, it's been pointed out that there was a certain amount of conscious policy by Darryl Gates (who was then LAPD Chief) to let things happen for awhile when the '92 Rebellion broke out so that then Gates could say, "See, now you can quit bugging me about how all my forces go out and brutalize everybody and spy on everybody and fuck with everybody, because you see how much you need me to keep this shit in line--so let my boys do the thing they gotta do." There might have been a certain element of this for awhile, when the '92 Rebellion broke out--some conscious policy like that on the part of Gates might have contributed, in a secondary, tactical way, to the Rebellion getting more out of control. But mainly the Rebellion was just such a powerful force, beyond what they'd anticipated--that's the principal thing that happened.

Well, if you imagine something that is not just a spontaneous rebellion--however great the '92 L.A. Rebellion was and however much it gave rise to things in other places, even internationally--if you think of something that's on a whole other level, an armed insurrection that would be organized and coordinated in a certain strategic sense, then certainly the other side would have prepared itself to try to contain and suppress this. They have studied (and they are studying) all the previous experience of other people's wars of various kinds, including previous insurrections.

They very definitely have summed up this recent experience of the L.A. Rebellion as well as other similar experiences. And, if confronted with an armed insurrection, even if they are partially caught by surprise at the start, they would put a tremendous amount of emphasis--politically, but in immediate terms and most significantly, militarily--on containing and then suppressing this within the urban cores, where such an armed insurrection would largely begin and where its most bedrock basis would be. It comes right down to this: the other side will even say, "Fuck it! we'll pay a political price for smashing this now but we gotta pay that price. We'll do what we have to do--we'll commit the most horrendous and outrageous crimes in slaughtering the masses in order to stop this right here, and then we'll clean up the political mess afterwards." We shouldn't have any illusions about that. People got to be prepared to deal with that, too.

So how could the revolutionary forces break out of and break through all their efforts to contain and suppress and pulverize this right at the very start? That could not be left to scrambling at the time to deal with that.

If the revolutionary forces haven't carried out work all throughout the period of preparation, in accordance with the strategic orientation of the United Front under the Leadership of the Proletariat, the revolution would be in a much weaker position. Now, whatever position the revolutionary forces are in, if they decide that the time is right to go for it, they would go for it and would learn and fight and create more favorable conditions through struggle. There would be a big element of that anyway. But let me put it in a positive sense: the more that the revolutionaries carry out the UFuLP strategy correctly, it would make a decisive difference, first of all, in whether it would be possible even to get the armed insurrection going in the urban cores. Because what happens with people there is not insulated from or not unaffected by what's happening more broadly, among other strata in society. Even the desire of the basic masses to fight in that kind of all-out way would be conditioned not just by the development of the objective conditions in general but also to a large degree by what they think other strata will do if they do take part in launching an all-out struggle for power.

In other words, if the basic masses got a sense that the other strata would be inclined to be favorable toward and join and support such a struggle (or at least have a posture of friendly neutrality toward it) then the basic masses would be much more inclined to kick this thing off. If they feel they're going to kick it off and everybody is going to be a wall of opposition and it's going to give a free hand to the authorities, plus maybe some vigilante types, to come in and just jump on them and slaughter them, then obviously they would be less inclined themselves to join in such an all-out struggle.

So, all of the political work among all of the "popular strata" and the carrying out of the strategy of the United Front under the Leadership of the Proletariat, through the whole period of preparation, as well as at the moment of launching the armed insurrection, would have a profound influence--and in a certain sense a "make" or "break" influence--on even getting it going.

Historic Problems
of Revolution

Once the revolutionary forces got it going, then the question of breaking out of that encirclement would be a life and death question, literally and politically. It would be a question of survival of the insurrection and whether or not it could really get off the ground beyond the very initial outburst.

So the problem of breaking out of the encirclement, and then the problem of moving through contested areas--this has everything to do with the UFuLP strategy. Moving through contested areas would be one of the very toughest things. Without getting into a whole discussion of military strategy and doctrine--there are two gigantic problems revolutionary forces would have to confront, militarily. I mean, there would be many problems, but these are two gigantic problems. One: learning how to either take, or to bypass and isolate and later deal with, heavily fortified strongholds of the other side--this has been a great historic problem of revolutionary insurgency that the revolutionary forces would have to figure out and to deal with practically when the time comes.

Armies that are characterized by lower levels of technology and are less well organized and experienced than their adversaries have historically done poorly in that particular thing. So revolutionary forces in a country like the U.S. would have to deal with that--it's a big contradiction. At the time the insurrection would be launched it should be the case that the other side is weakened and its apparatus of repression is much more sharply riddled with contradiction and undergoing a certain amount of disintegration. But it would still be a gigantic problem--dealing with the fortified strongholds of a better organized, trained and equipped enemy.

The other gigantic problem would be moving through open space and contested areas, where the people's forces are much more vulnerable to such an enemy than under conditions when they can fight him in close quarters, in various kinds of terrain--including urban terrain, where the enemy gets kind of channeled into certain confined spaces of the urban battlefield and the revolutionary forces can intermingle with the enemy forces to a considerable degree, which makes it more difficult for them to use all their massive military pounding from the air and on the ground. Not that they won't do it to a significant degree, but it makes it more difficult for them, not just politically, but also militarily. But, where the revolutionary forces would have to move through open spaces and where they would have to move through contested areas, a lot of the enemy's advantages in the short run would be magnified. And if the revolutionary forces have not done work correctly among all these other strata, then how would they be able to deal with these problems?

Once an insurrection began, it would make a world of difference whether the people are friendly or hostile in these areas that the revolutionary forces would be moving through and fighting in as they sought to link up--and both spread and consolidate--the areas they have liberated and to prepare to fight the ensuing civil war. Whether the overwhelming thing is that people there are friendly, or at least have a posture of friendly neutrality--or on the other hand, they are hostile toward the revolutionary forces, and perhaps even join the ruling class in its move to suppress the insurrection and smash the revolutionary forces--would make a world of difference. It would have everything to do with whether or not the insurrection would have a real chance of succeeding.

Getting material as well as political support from these strata, as opposed to that support going to the other side, would be a world of difference. This includes such key things as intelligence. The way revolutionary forces have to fight, a tremendous amount of intelligence as well as communication and everything else, depends on the masses. The way revolutionary forces fight--both out of principle and also because of the material resources that you would, and would not, have--cannot depend on technology. You would have to depend on the masses in the sphere of intelligence, both in the sense of informing the revolutionary forces and in the sense of misinforming the other side.

So how would the revolution have a real shot at winning if we don't carry out our UFuLP strategy--if we have not been consistently carrying out this orientation of uniting all who can be united all along?

Just to get right down on the ground, looking even beyond the struggle for power--even if you could win in the short run without correctly working with these other strata, you would have much less of a chance of carrying forward the revolution and transforming society towards where we want to go if the masses of these strata are all against you. But even short of that, you would have much less chance of actually winning the insurrection and even getting into the revolutionary civil war--and you would have much less chance of winning the civil war--if you hadn't carried out this strategy of United Front under the Leadership of the Proletariat and done this work among all strata, for all the reasons I have been speaking to.

Part One of this series appeared in: RW No.881

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