Revolution and the fight to stop police brutality

A World of Hurt Must be Ended
Once and For All

By Carl Dix

Revolutionary Worker #990, January 17, 1999

In December Carl Dix, national spokesperson for the Revolutionary Communist Party, gave a talk at Revolution Books in New York City. The following is from that speech.

This past October 22, the third National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality, struck a powerful blow against the nationwide epidemic of police brutality. The thousands who took to the streets in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, Houston, Atlanta, Chicago, New York City and elsewhere delivered a message that they weren't going to let the authorities get away with giving a green light to cops who kill and brutalize. These actions provided a platform for victims of police brutality to tell of the official brutality that has devastated their lives. Allies from all sections of society came forward to stand with the victims. Many different kinds of people were together in the streets on Oct. 22--working class people, gang truce activists, lawyers, teachers and other professionals, gay rights activists, revolutionaries, ministers, immigrants, communists, union members, people of all races and nationalities. This kind of diversity shows the potential power this movement can have as it grows.

This had a big impact in society. The power of Oct. 22 brought forward others who have been victimized to join in the fight. The exposure in the Stolen Lives Project book opened the eyes of people who don't usually suffer this kind of brutality to what's going on, and won many of them to oppose it. The way in which Oct. 22 got out in the media this year let more people know there's a movement out there fighting against police brutality.

But for all the power of this year's Oct. 22, many involved in this fight wonder: Is that good enough? Do mass mobilizations like Oct. 22 lessen the problems we're up against--and even if they do, is it enough to aim to put murdering, brutalizing cops, and the authorities who unleash them, on notice that we're going to resist what they're doing to us? Or do we need to set our sights on getting rid of this shit? And if we do set our sights that high, how could we ever possibly reach that goal?

We in the RCP have answers for these questions. We say people fighting for justice is necessary today. If we don't fight back, the rulers' plan to beat us down, lock us up, and even kill us off will steamroll ahead with no opposition. We in the RCP are determined to organize those the system has declared war on, to stand together with all of them against the system's attacks. We want justice NOW for every single person victimized by police violence and murder. It was sweet when pig Livoti (who murdered Anthony Baez) was convicted and sent to jail. We believe in fighting tooth and nail to get our brother Mumia off death row and free. We supported the people getting a taste of justice in the 1992 L.A. Rebellion. These tastes of justice are satisfying, but we don't want some satisfaction. We believe in, we need and we want complete satisfaction.

To get that complete satisfaction, mass resistance by itself, no matter how powerful, isn't enough. If mass resistance was enough to end the hell this system brings down on the people, it would've been done away with a long time ago. The powerful slave rebellions before the Civil War, the massive unionization drives of the 1930s, the movement of Black people during the 1960s and the opposition to Vietnam War--all this powerful resistance has rocked this system. But it's still in effect, still raining brutality and degradation down on the people.

That's why for us in the RCP, Oct. 22 assumes a dimension beyond the righteous resistance to police brutality, repression and the criminalization of a generation. We join this struggle as part of getting ourselves and the people ready for revolution. We look at this struggle--as we do all the struggles and resistance of every section of people against the many outrages of this system--in relation to being able to get to the point where we can make revolution to really free all of humanity from the root of all this needless misery and suffering. For us this is linked to what kind of society we want to live in and to pass on to future generations.

Setting Our Sights on a Whole New World

It's necessary and possible to set our sights on eliminating police brutality and everything else foul about the world today. And we got a plan for doing that--through all-the-way liberating proletarian revolution. Through leading millions in rising up in armed struggle to put this blood-sucking system in its grave once and for all--and then going on to build a whole new world on the ashes of this messed up one. A world where there's no rich class sitting on the backs of the poor, squeezing us to get even richer. A world where men don't dominate and suppress women, where whites don't lord it over people of color, where one country doesn't rule the whole damn globe. The world I'm talking about has a name, sisters and brothers--it's a classless, communist world.

Now when I talk about communist revolution, there are people who say that's too extreme. But we're dealing with an extreme situation. Look at what's going down today. Society devotes its resources to locking up its youth rather than nourishing and educating them. In New York City the Mayor's latest fascist proposal is to take DNA samples from everyone who is arrested. Just being Black or Latino can get you killed by some racist cop, or make it more likely that you spend your life in poverty. Very powerful forces are moving to strip women of the right to have an abortion. Companies downsize and throw out of work people who thought they had a job for life. Millions of people around the world starve to death every year because there's no profit for the capitalists in producing the food they need to survive. Bill Clinton is raining death and destruction down on the Iraqi people. This government is trying to use its legal system to murder Mumia Abu-Jamal. The U.S. brutalizes and murders immigrants at the border, then uses them as low-paid workers and subjects them to terror if they make it into this country. The great majority of the world's people endure unspeakable brutality and degradation day in and day out.

Do we want to live in a world like this? Or do we want to live in a world where all this hell the system puts the great majority of people through here and worldwide has been wiped away once and for all? I know my answer is: I want to live in a world where the madness of today has been done away with. And I know that's your answer, too. This kind of world is possible, brothers and sisters. To bring it into being is going to take an all-the-way, proletarian revolution.

A Million and One Reasons to Rise Up

Let me step back a minute. We all know shit is real bad out there today. But are the problems so built into this system that nothing short of revolution can fundamentally change them? Hell yeah! Look at the execution-style killing of Brennan King in Chicago's Cabrini Green housing projects. The pigs claimed Brennan King was armed with a box cutter and shot him five times in the back. Just this past week, undercover cops snatched up one of Brennan's friends, put a hood over his head, a noose around his neck and played Russian roulette with him before letting him go. These are just two examples. I could run down cases like this all night. And it ain't just that the cops and jail guards and La Migra kill and brutalize people. The whole system is set up to unleash these pigs to do this--and then cover up for them if they get caught. That's why the RCP says police brutality is built into the very fabric of capitalist society. It ain't just a few bad cops. It's brutal, murdering police forces being unleashed to keep a foul status quo in effect.

If there was nothing else foul about the system we're living under except for the way they unleash law enforcement against the people, that would be reason enough to want to get rid of it through revolution. But there's a whole world of hurt that these capitalists bring down on the people. So there's a million and one reasons to rise up in revolution and do them in once and for all.

A cold truth this system has taught us over and over again is that nothing short of revolution can end all this brutality, misery, degradation. If it was possible to vote this mess out of existence or to get rid of it by passing laws, this would have been done a long time ago. Black people would've been freed after the Civil War. Or after civil rights laws got passed in the 1960s, or by all the Black officials and Democrats we've put into office. All the civilian complaint review boards that people fought to get in cities across the country would've ended police brutality by now.

No, ending this madness once and for all is going to take a revolution. Because if our goal is just to get some temporary or partial relief by wringing concessions from the system, as long as the system stands they'll snatch back our victories--like they're doing with welfare, affirmative action, health and child care services, abortion, and many more things we had forced from them. Even in the so-called "best of times" (when was that anyway--the '50s?), this system was hellish for millions around the world--and not so good for many, many people right here in the belly of the beast.

Our party, the RCP, has a battle plan, a programme, that links our struggles today to our revolutionary dreams. And we have a concrete plan for the new society we could build after revolution. This plan is run down in our Programme and Constitution. Let me give you a taste of what we say in that Programme.

To uproot the oppression of Black and other oppressed people: "Discrimination, for example, will be immediately and forcefully banned in employment, housing and all other spheres. As part of this general process in society, the army of police which enforces all this through systematic terror in the ghettos and barrios and other areas where oppressed nationalities are concentrated will have been destroyed, just punishment handed out to its hired thugs, and in its place will be armed and organized militia made up of the masses in these neighborhoods and areas. Segregation in neighborhoods, schools and the like will be banned and integration promoted."

This system criminalizes people who cross borders to work and survive. In our Programme we say the proletariat in power will gladly welcome all our class brothers and sisters. We will treasure their experience in fighting imperialist domination of their homelands. And together with them, we will set out to rid the world of imperialism. Our Programme also has sections on how proletarian revolution will deal with unemployment, the housing crisis, end the oppression of women, and more. We urge everybody who wants to see the madness of today ended to check out the RCP's Programme and Constitution.

100 Percent Realistic

These are not pipe dreams or pie in the sky promises. It's 100 percent realistic. It's the program of our class, the working class, and it reflects the kind of society our class could build if it ran things. A society run by the proletariat would be based on fulfilling the people's needs, not lining the pockets of a few rich capitalists. We are the class worldwide whose sweat and blood goes into producing everything. Our class has no interest in keeping the exploitation and oppression characteristic of capitalism in effect. Our class has a historic mission--to free ourselves and all humanity by uprooting the system based on exploiting our labor. Things don't have to be like this--downsizing, police brutality, discrimination, homelessness, people starving in different parts of the world. All this only happens because of the capitalists and their dog-eat-dog, profit-above-all-else system. All this is irrational given what is possible to produce and distribute in today's world.

Some people listening to this ask: Aren't people too selfish and too fucked up to do the kind of things we're talking about? No we aren't. We're forced to exist in a dog-eat-dog setup, and some of that rubs off on us. But we can get beyond that once we get out from under capitalism. Brothers and sisters, the Programme of the RCP is based on something. It's based on what our class was able to do when it ran society in Russia from 1917-56, and in China from 1949-76. When the proletariat had power in Russia and China, everybody had a job, guaranteed housing and health care, the right to strike. In 1949 China had 70 million drug addicts. But three years after Liberation, they eradicated drugs and prostitution. They did this not by criminalizing addicts and prostitutes or locking them up like this system does, but by giving them a life with a purpose--helping build socialism--and through rehabilitation programs and education. Women had the right to things like abortion and child care, and could walk down the street any time of the day or night without fear. Imagine that!

Capitalist elements inside the communist parties in Russia and China were able to overthrow working class rule. But that doesn't wipe out what our class was able to accomplish when it was in power. Our Party learned from this experience, made an analysis of U.S. society, and forged a plan based on the concrete conditions in the U.S.

Now to have a shot at pulling off a revolution when the time is right, we'll need some things, sisters and brothers. We need a lot of people who have a sense of their own strength and the enemy's weakness. We need organization, including a revolutionary vanguard Party like the RCP, that's rooted deep among the people--so deep that the government can't easily target and smash it. People from many different background must be clear that the system is the source of their problems. And if they aren't clear revolution is the solution, they at least have to figure that a revolutionary society would have to be better than what we're forced to deal with now. The proletarians, the people on the bottom of society, must understand who are allies and how to win these allies to take part in destroying this sick system and in constructing a new society.

The United Front Strategy

We're going to need all this and more to have a shot at rising up and winning. What I'm describing here is the strategy for revolution, what we in the RCP call the United Front Against Imperialism Under the Leadership of the Proletariat. It is our strategy to unite everybody who's got problems with the setup today to oppose and ultimately overthrow this system. We see the solid core of this united front as the revolutionary alliance of the proletarians of all nationalities against oppression and exploitation, together with the struggles of Black people and other oppressed peoples to end their oppression. And we apply this strategy in everything we take up.

Let me show you what doing that looks like. I was one of the initiators of the October 22nd Coalition in 1996 and have been a national organizer of this resistance movement. When I work in this effort, I'm accomplishing a couple of things. I'm uniting with people to build resistance to a very serious assault coming from the system and its enforcers. If we don't fight back and put their vicious moves in check, we may not have the strength or the organization to do anything about anything else they're doing to the people.

As I'm organizing people to fight back, I'm helping people get a sense of their own strength when they fight together. I'm helping build the people's organization and unity. This organization, this unity of people from different backgrounds and different nationalities, is very precious--because it's part of people discovering who their friends and allies are and that the system is our common enemy. It's part of developing our fight against this common enemy--and learning why the system needs to be overthrown and how to do that.

As we do this, we bring the revolutionary viewpoint, the strength and determination of our class, into the mix. This year on Oct. 22, there was a large and fierce contingent of proletarians from Watts that had a radical impact on the demonstration in L.A. In New York, Chicago, Houston and other cities, there were large numbers of proletarian youth and immigrants who took part. Through this and many other battles, our Party is concretely forging the United Front and the solid core of the United Front that is needed for a successful revolution. Young people and others who are serious enough about revolution to be scientific about it and who really want to get down on this revolutionary strategy need to check out a series by our Chairman Bob Avakian titled "Uniting All Who Can Be United." Discuss this with us and compare it with other strategies that are out there, so you can get busy with the one that will lead to revolution.

What It Will Take to Win

Now let me touch on winning--an important component of revolutionary strategy! Making revolution in the belly of this mighty imperialist beast won't be easy. It's going to take a strategic approach that can, as George Jackson said, engage the young people who have it pounded into their heads by the system that they shouldn't expect to live too long. Right now, the system has many of them trapped into fighting and killing each other. That means a lot of them have developed soldierly courage. But what's needed to get rid of this system is revolutionary courage. We need to unleash them as front line fighters for revolution. At the same time, we have to be able to meet the enemy and defeat them in revolutionary war without becoming like them. In a country like this one, the way to make revolution would be through launching coordinated armed insurrections in the major cities across the U.S., and following that up by moving quickly to link up the cities where the uprisings succeeded through a revolutionary civil war. We'd have to fight in ways that would negate their advantages, like high-tech weaponry, while bringing to bear our great advantage--that what we stand for is in the interests of the majority of people.

What we would need for us to be in a position to launch this kind of all-out revolutionary thrust includes a climate of mass resistance, and the people having developed a solid organization and gained experience in fighting back. Again, Chairman Bob Avakian has addressed this question in the RW series on the United Front, as well as in his book "Could We Really Win?" Prospects for Revolution.

Right now isn't the time to pick up the gun and go out to bring the system down through mass armed struggle. The system isn't in deep enough trouble, with the ruling class all divided up and fighting among themselves enough yet. Related to this, millions of people are not ready to put it all on the line to fight for revolution, yet. But these prospects are not for the far-off future. Things like the in-fighting among the ruling class surrounding Clinton, or the financial crisis in many Asian countries, show how things could unravel for the imperialists. But no matter how bad things get, this system won't fall down by itself. It must be overthrown by force, and a new society built in its place.

There are also flash points in the struggle between the people and the system that hold the potential to erupt into serious crisis in the not too distance future. For example, how would an uprising in Mexico, and the sending of U.S. troops there to help put it down, impact on the situation in this country? And let's not forget the L.A. Rebellion, which was started by Black people and drew in active support from Latino immigrants especially, but also from some Asians and whites and the sympathy of much of the middle class. These kinds of developments, or some combination of them, could suddenly create a drastically different situation. In things like these, you can see the glimmer of an actual revolutionary situation which could seemingly come out of "nowhere."

Get Down with the Vanguard

So the battles that we're engaged in today, everything we do now, can make a difference in getting ready for those times when the future may go up for grabs. They can make a difference in whether we'll be able to seize that precious chance or throw it away. Our Party has repeatedly made and acted on this very solemn pledge to the people: The RCP is prepared and determined to stand with the people in the fight against the system, to find the ways to collectively wage this fight--not to sell out or turn back, no matter what the enemy uses to come at us, whether it be bullets or bribes. We are willing and ready to take full responsibility for building the revolutionary understanding, organization, unity and fighting ability of the people, and to carry this fight all the way through.

That is what it means to be the vanguard. And for the RCP to be able to play its role, it must grow. Everybody who's serious about revolution needs to get down with the Party and its youth group, the Revolutionary Communist Youth Brigade. Help wield the Party's newspaper, the Revolutionary Worker. Check us out, join us and together with us make trouble for the capitalist dogs who fuck over people here and around the world.

For those people who aren't on the revolutionary tip, at least not yet, you still got to be getting busy. You've got to be uniting with the RCP and many others to take on police brutality, fight to stop the execution of Mumia and to free him from jail, fight against the war the system has launched on our immigrant sisters and brothers, fight against the right-wing attempt to take away women's right to abortion, and more. We think that through struggling together and exchanging our different viewpoints, people will come to see that our all-the-way revolutionary stand and approach is correct.

The capitalist suckers who rule over us and those who front for them have their vision of the future. They're working to see any and all resistance crushed, the people on the bottom of society isolated and pinned in or locked up, their fascistic measures unchallenged, and for us to be divided and fighting among ourselves. We have an opposite vision and plan, sisters and brothers. One that is worth living, fighting and dying for. Millions of lives hinge on which future gets made into reality.

As we speak, a life that will help determine which future will get realized is the life of Mumia Abu-Jamal. If the U.S. ruling class didn't think revolution was possible, or thought that it's far off in the future, they wouldn't be as desperate to shut up and murder a revolutionary leader like Mumia.

Liberation is an international thing. Capitalism is a worldwide system, and it has created its own gravediggers everywhere. It has created an international class, the proletarians who live in every country and speak many languages, who own nothing but their ability to slave for the capitalists. In unity with our class brothers and sisters all over the world, we will build a classless, communist world where there will be no more rich over poor, no more men dominating women, no more whites dominating people of color. This is the kind of communist future being fought for by the guerrilla fighters in the mountains and jungles of Peru, Nepal and the Philippines. And it's the kind of future we need right here in that belly of the beast.

We in the RCP pledge that--together with the other Maoist parties in the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement--we will devote all our energy and effort to bringing this kind of world into being.

We Are Human Beings.
We Demand a Better World.
We Refuse to Accept Slavery in Any Form!
The Capitalist System Is the Problem!
Revolution Is the Hope of the Hopeless!

This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online
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