By Bob Avakian
Revolutionary Worker #906, May 11, 1997
This is the fifth in a series of commentaries by Bob Avakian on some features of the imperialist economy and the mood of the people.
To return to the broader question of the objective situation and its relation to our work, one important framework for gauging the development of the objective situation, and in particular the approach of a revolutionary situation in an imperialist country like the U.S., is provided by what is said in "Could We 1" (that is, the original "Could We Really Win?" article*) concerning "some basic conditions, some basic elements that would be key ingredients" of any possibly successful insurrection in such a country.
First, there must be a serious crisis in society and in government. This last part is important to emphasize--a crisis in government and not just in society generally. Such a crisis in government doesn't necessarily mean that the ruling class is literally paralyzed politically and unable to rule at all. But it means that there is intensified infighting within the ruling class and that to a significant degree they've lost the political and, we could say, the moral initiative--they've lost a significant amount of political and moral authority.
In other words, one of the main features of a revolutionary crisis is that, in a fundamentally and qualitatively different way than in "normal times," the masses of people--the masses of proletarians but also people broadly in other strata--have begun to call into question the right and the ability of the ruling class to rule. And one of the key manifestations of this is the degree to which this crisis in government also carries over into the very pillar of state power of the ruling class, namely their armed forces. You can't rely on that, and of course not all of the polarization within their armed forces will be favorable for us. Some sections of it will almost certainly go in the direction of extreme reaction while some will gravitate more toward the revolutionary position. But, overall, the more that crisis is reflected within the enemy's armed forces, in terms of the breakdown of the morale and the unity and "cohesion" of those armed forces, the more favorable will the conditions become for revolution.
Besides a serious crisis in society and in the government, there must also be mass upheaval and rebellion, among the basic proletariat and other oppressed people in society, including among the middle strata. And there must be a vanguard party capable of turning the mass upheaval and rebellion into an organized insurrection and giving it overall leadership and direction; there must be a backbone force of proletarians and other oppressed masses who have been systematically trained in the line of the party and in work carried out according to this line.
The overall orientation and task of the vanguard party in a country like the U.S., in carrying out its work of revolutionary preparation before a revolutionary situation develops and a revolutionary crisis erupts, must be to apply the principle of "hastening while awaiting" changes in the objective situation. This means contributing everything we can to bringing these conditions for revolution, for insurrection, into existence--operating on the objective terrain at any given time but in turn doing the most to affect and transform this objective terrain. This is a matter of persevering in this orientation and work of "hastening while awaiting," but also, all along the way, seizing on and maximizing gains from any sudden turn in the situation--any major jolt in society, any kind of "mini-crisis" that erupts in society--even before the development of a revolutionary situation.
Returning to the question of a crisis in government as a necessary element of a revolutionary situation and the approach of the conditions in which it would be possible to wage the all-out struggle for power, the following point emphasized by Lenin has great relevance: "the self-interest of squabbling bourgeois groups" which "unmask themselves" is "indispensable material" for exposing their nature and bringing the masses to believe in the worthlessness of the system and winning them to revolution. (Lenin, Collected Works, v. 31, p. 132) This goes back to the point that one of the key ingredients of a revolutionary situation is that among broad and growing sections of the people, there is a fundamental shaking of their belief not only in the right of the ruling class to rule, but in its very ability to rule. This comes out more sharply the more the ruling class gets enmeshed in this squabbling and fighting among itself.
This has great relevance in strategic terms, but we can also see aspects of this today in U.S. society. Think about this phrase in relation to present reality-- whether electoral campaigns or other aspects of political and social life in the U.S.--the "self-interest of squabbling bourgeois groups," which "unmask themselves" and how this is "indispensable material" for exposing their nature and bringing the masses to believe in the worthlessness of the system and winning them to revolution. This will have great importance, in a very concentrated and magnified way, with the direct approach of the revolutionary crisis; but it also has importance before that, and particularly when there is the eruption of "mini-crises," during the overall period of preparation for the revolutionary situation.
*"Could We Really Win? The Possibility of Revolutionary War" by Bob Avakian was originally published in RW No. 431, November 16, 1987. It is reprinted in the collection "In the Aftermath of the Persian Gulf War, More on Could We Really Win?"--available from RCP Publications, P.O. Box 3486 Merchandise Mart, Chicago, IL 60654 or from Revolution Books stores and outlets.
This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online
Write: Box 3486, Merchandise Mart, Chicago, IL 60654
Phone: 773-227-4066 Fax: 773-227-4497
(The RW Online does not currently communicate via email.)