Getting Over the Hump
By Bob Avakian
Revolutionary Worker #939, January 11, 1998
I have spoken to a number of important problems confronting the world proletarian revolution--and these contradictions are important material facts. They are a material reality that must be transformed. But the even more powerful material reality is that the capitalist-imperialist system is a colossal failure and is definitely a disaster for the great, great majority of humanity. This is something we should continually put back in the face of the bourgeoisie as well as putting out boldly to the masses.
We should never let the bourgeoisie get away with talking in triumphal terms about what a great thing their system is. We should continually bring out what a disaster it is for the great majority of humanity, how it is completely outmoded and needs to be overthrown as soon as that can actually be done, and how we must go on and eliminate this system from the face of the earth once and for all.
The imperialists can talk about the great achievements of their technology and all that they're doing. And this can have a certain ring of truth. All they have to do in order to be convincing is to blot out 90 percent and more of the people of the world. But once you begin to look at the consequences for the great majority of people of the world--it's a crime and a disaster and a colossal bankruptcy, materially and ideologically. It has long since outlived any positive role in terms of the development of society and the emancipation of the people. And we should never let them get away with saying anything to the contrary.
But they want to continue to blot out the reality the masses of people face. It's like Ralph Ellison wrote that book The Invisible Man, speaking about the experience of Black people in America. And we can apply it in a larger sense. It's like the invisible masses --ninety-plus percent of the people of the world the ruling class tries to render invisible, to the extent they can. And on a daily basis they do this to a very real extent.
We, in opposition to that, have to enable these masses to become more and more visible, and in a more and more class-conscious way.
The basic point I'm stressing is that these imperialists and their ideologues and apologists--all of them, liberal as well as conservative--really do represent the past, and we should never let them get away with portraying themselves in any other way. Obviously, on some objective level, they're going to get away with it, till we overthrow them and then go on with the revolution. But in our work we should never let them get away with this--we should never concede an inch to them on this point. They are committing monstrous crimes and their system is a colossal disaster. And we should continue to hammer at this point: Not only do these colossal disasters exist, but their system is responsible for this--we can show this concretely and we will. We got the case, beyond a reasonable doubt! We can show it, and we should, in our all-around work and in a concentrated way in our work of creating public opinion and being creative and being relentless in our propaganda and agitation. We have to continually come back to, bring to light, the material reality that they are continually trying to blot out, along with the people who experience this reality in the most grotesque and extreme ways, that is--the great majority of humanity.
The imperialist system is a colossal failure and disaster in terms of its effects on the masses of people. It is a monstrous crime in terms of what it subjects the great majority of humanity to. And we should not let them get away with this, even in the realm of public opinion.
At the same time, and along with this, we must never lose sight of the great achievements of our class so far. This is the other side of our strategic double c: strategic contempt for them, strategic confidence in our class and our cause.
This strategic double-c has a profound material-historical basis. It's true we've encountered setbacks and reversals--these have been very real and in certain ways they have been body blows to us, in the short run, tactically. It isn't easy to have to deal with the material reality and the political-ideological fall-out from the loss of China as a socialist country coming on top of the loss of the Soviet Union. But because this is reality--reality that we have to confront and transform--we should not therefore lose sight of the great achievements of our class so far, and really in a very short period historically speaking.
Especially with historical perspective, seeing this in terms of the relatively short period of the world proletarian revolution so far, we shouldn't lose sight of the many world historic transformations that have been carried out and the great transformative potential of the world proletarian revolution that is illuminated by these achievements.
Let's put it this way: What our class has accomplished so far, even though it has been reversed, is a radically different and much better world than what the bourgeoisie is imposing on the mass of humanity--and it is radically different and far better than even the ideals proclaimed by the bourgeoisie. We should never forget this, and we should never fail to boldly bring this forward to the masses of people and enable them to learn and be inspired from this.
Even though, in the short run, these gains have been reversed, still, along with these achievements and the reality of them, so long as they existed, we have also acquired a tremendous store of knowledge about the means and methods for carrying this revolution forward and towards final victory. Through all the twists and turns, with all the reversals and setbacks, we have tremendous achievements both in terms of what we actually did bring into being and also what we have learned. We must and will continue to learn more through the continuing revolutionary struggle, both before and after the seizure of power in particular countries. But, at the same time, we should not lose sight of our achievements and lessons so far or the great prospects ahead, the potential even within the present situation.
In a general sense we could express this point by going back to Mao Tsetung's famous formulation which I have spoken to several times: the "future is bright, the road is tortuous." This reflects material reality, in all its contradictoriness. This captures material reality in a very profound way. This is a truth that we should understand more and more deeply and popularize among the masses. There is a very powerful historical and present-day material basis for our strategic double-c. We must continually come back to this fundamental point of orientation and boldly put this forward and project this double-c in everything we do.
Drawing from the experience of the world revolution so far, on one level we could say everything is not going to work out and has not been working out exactly as Marx and Engels foresaw, and undoubtedly everything is not going to work out as we or anyone else can foresee now. But, on another level--on the grand strategic level--we can and must maintain our confidence that everything will work out just as Marxism-Leninism-Maoism foresees. In other words, the capitalist-imperialist system--and all the relations, institutions, and ideas corresponding to it and corresponding generally to exploitation, oppression and class division and social antagonism--all this will in fact be overthrown, transformed and revolutionized, worldwide. So in that sense we can say that, while everything on one level is not going to work out exactly as anybody in the international communist movement has foreseen or can foresee--including in the original conception of Marx and Engels--on another, more profound and grand strategic level, everything will work out as we foresee it. We have to be able to deal with that unity of opposites, not only in our own understanding, but in terms of how we present things to the masses.
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.)