Making a Difference--Making Revolution

Taking History Into Our Hands

by Carl Dix, May 1, 1999

Revolutionary Worker #1006, May 16, 1999

On May 1, 1999, RCP national spokesperson Carl Dix spoke at a revolutionary celebration of International Workers Day in Los Angeles. The spirited gathering of more than 175 people of all nationalities at the South West College, was mostly young activists, including many who had been involved in the movements against police brutality and to stop the execution of Mumia Abu-Jamal in the Los Angeles area. Following is Carl's talk.

Revolutionary greetings L.A.--home of the '92 rebellion! For me, it's been especially exciting to go from New York City with the recent mass upheaval against the NYPD murder of Amadou Diallo, to the huge Mumia rally in Philly, and then to come here for this revolutionary May Day celebration. Today on May lst, we send love to all our class brothers and sisters, the workers and peasants around the world, many of whom are also celebrating May Day today. Today, we take stock of how far we've come in our fight for revolution all over the world, celebrate our struggles and victories, and make concrete plans to advance our revolution and bring a whole new world into being. In this spirit, we salute the heroic peasants of Chiapas and the rebel youth of Indonesia. We send a revolutionary salute to the Maoist combatants and comrades in Peru, Nepal and the Philippines. To all the Parties of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement, we send a red embrace. On May Day we pledge our firm support to all those fighting the imperialist system all over the world. Most of all, we pledge to do our share for the world revolution by stepping up our work to overthrow the system right here inside the belly of the beast.

Today, NATO, a criminal alliance of Western powers, is raining bombs on Yugoslavia. The U.S. government, the leader of this bloodthirsty wolf pack, is a master at lying and hypocrisy. They say this is a humanitarian mission in Yugoslavia to prevent ethnic cleansing. The entire history of America has been one of ethnic cleansing: the genocide of Native Americans; the ethnic cleansing of Black people from Africa into slavery here; incarcerating Japanese people in U.S. concentration camps during WW2; ripping off the Southwest from Mexico and then trying to cleanse it of Mexican immigrants even today. From the war in Vietnam to the bombing of Yugoslavia, from the colonization of Puerto Rico to the domination of Mexico, their real and only mission, as always, is to extend and defend their world empire. This country has ethnic cleansing going on right now--the criminalization, mass incarceration and rampant police brutality--especially aimed at Black and Latino youth. Tyisha Miller in L.A., Oscar Cordova Velez at the U.S.-Mexico border, Pedro Oregón in Houston, Brennan King in Chicago, Amadou Diallo in New York--the names of the thousands of victims are different but their stories are the same.

I came here straight outta police-state New York, but something different is happening there lately. Since the night when four pigs gunned down Amadou Diallo in a hail of 41 bullets, people have been in the streets non-stop demanding justice. It's been people from different races, ages, economic backgrounds--ranging from youth from the ghettos and barrios tired of being sweated by pigs 24-7 to people from the suburbs who never knew that the police actually did things like this. Many were veteran activists but many more were protesting police brutality for the first time. The powers that be are openly worried about New York 1999 becoming L.A. 1992.

After weeks of mass upheaval, the authorities in New York backed up and indicted the four murdering pigs. You know something is changing across the country when U.S. Attorney Janet Reno has to come out and say "There is no doubt about the feeling that there is distrust of the police. We can't duck the issue." This is an admission by our enemy that people are starting to resist the system's vicious enforcers. Things are becoming more two-sided. The enemy hears the rumbling of the earth under their feet and hope to head off any potential social earthquakes.

A thrilling change for me in recent years is how growing numbers of the new generation have stepped out proud, defiant and determined to fight the power. All eyes have been on this fearless generation who took center stage during the L.A. rebellion. You keep representing with your battle cry of "no justice, no peace" and millions more have taken heart, including among the older generation. Historically, the youth have always been in the forefront of any movement for change, and the proletariat of all nationalities has always been the backbone. In U.S. history, the liberation of Black and other oppressed peoples play a catalytic role.

Another key battle line where some of these changes are happening is in the growing movement to save the life of the only political prisoner on death row today--Mumia. Since the age of 14 when Mumia was minister of information for the Black Panther Party, to his award-winning journalist days in exposing police assaults on the MOVE organization, to his 17 years on death row--Mumia has been a revolutionary without a pause and an inspiration, especially to a new generation of fighters against the system. Mumia's railroad to death row concentrates the whole history and present-day reality for Black people in America. They want to kill his rebel voice to deliver a message to all of us to not stand up and fight back. So it was critical that over 40 thousand people from all walks of life, from every race, and overwhelmingly youth, marched in San Francisco and in Philly this past weekend to free Mumia. One newspaper reported that in the San Francisco march "The vast majority of those...appeared to be younger than Abu-Jamal, including a large contingent of high school and junior high school students from Oakland--few of whom were born when Abu-Jamal was arrested in 1981." In 1995, just 10 days before the system was about to execute him, our struggle put a hold on their plans. This time around, we'll need to take things much higher to back the system off of him.

So it's right on time for me to issue this challenge to the youth in the house today: take the battle to save Mumia's life into the 'hood and make our oppressor's worst nightmares come true. This is something many more people who hate the way things are could get involved in, whether or not they've yet come to the conclusion that revolution is the solution. Let's take Mumia to the young brothers and sisters in the 'hoods and the schools. People who are too often caught up in fighting and killing each other, and let them know that Mumia's whole life, and the fight for his life, means we don't have to go out like that. The system pounds it into your head every day that you shouldn't expect to live too long and you will never amount to nothing. That is all too true under this system. But it doesn't have to be like that. When those on the bottom of society who have nothing to lose take up this battle, it will strike fear into the hearts of our enemy, bring hope and inspiration to our allies and ourselves, and increase our chances to free Mumia. Backing the system off Mumia will strengthen the people's side and weaken the enemy.

Things Don't Have to Be This Way

Sisters and brothers, today as we celebrate this May 1st at the cusp of the new millennium, we have to soberly assess where things are at and where they need to go. To be blunt, for millions here and around the world, daily life is nothing short of hell on earth. They tell us the economy is booming and it's the best economy in 30 years, but one out of five children in the U.S., and almost two out of five Black and Latino children, live in poverty. Five million people are now homeless. Manpower Inc., a temporary job agency, is the largest private employer in the U.S. Some communities in the U.S. have less health care than some extremely poor countries. For example, in Nicaragua there's one doctor to care for every 1200 people but in Bell Gardens there's one doctor to every 27,000.

Along with this, they are criminalizing a whole generation, using weapons like the three strikes law. A third of young Black men in the country are in jail or under the control of the criminal justice system. The New York police department collects high school yearbooks to use for photo ID of crime suspects to show witnesses. This country has the highest incarceration rate on the planet. Almost two million people are in jail, most of them people of color, most of them young and most of them locked down for nonviolent crimes like marijuana possession or petty parole violations. Cops are going into classrooms in Washington, DC and other places conducting drills on how to get arrested. They're not holding college recruitment days or job fairs, but sessions on how to be sweated and arrested by the cops and live through it. It's estimated that 70 percent of the 100,000 poorest three-year-olds--3-year-olds!--will be in jail by the time they reach 18. Just what kind of society would commit such madness?! Just what kind of hell are they preparing for this generation!?

There's been a fierce campaign pumping a return to traditional morality and values as the answer to every problem in society. This last year it's been non-stop. They've even spied on their president and put him on trial for lying about sex. Talking about the killings in Colorado, Bill Clinton says we need to teach the youth to use words instead of violence to settle disputes, as he orders more bombs dropped on Yugoslavia and 50,000 more cops to hit the streets here. Their answer to everything is more cops, more jails, more repression. Besides cracking down on the youth, they even want to crack down on parents, bring them to court, fine them, and jail them if the kids get busted.

They tell us that if things went back to the way they were in the good old days of traditional family values, we'd all be better off. When was those days anyway? Was it the 1950s, when Jim Crow segregation was the law of the land and the Klan and cops had a freer hand to suppress Black people? Was it before 1972, when abortion was illegal and thousands of women bled to death each year just trying to end an unwanted pregnancy? Was it before the mid 1980s when women could be legally raped by their husbands in most states in this country? In fact, most violence against women and children in this country happens in the home at the hands of the "man of the house."

Racism, the oppression of women, mindless patriotism are exactly what traditional family values are about, and all are as American as apple pie. They attack the rebel youth culture of the '60s because our generation challenged and began to break down a lot of those rotten moral values and ways of relating. Today they attack rap music, graffiti, and other forms of radical youth culture.

It's 1999 and we don't want to or need to go backwards. What we need and want, and are determined to bring into being, is a new, liberating, communist morality that goes with a new, liberating world. Our Party Chairman's new book, Preaching from a Pulpit of Bones, is about this battle between the old and the new morality. Check it out and use it to fight for the new.

The cold and liberating truth is that all the misery around us is from a dinosaur system. A whole new and far better world is not only necessary but possible. There is a deep reality behind our May Day message that: We are human beings. We demand a better world. We refuse to accept slavery in any form. This message is the outlook of the proletariat, the have-nots around the world, and we represent the interest of 90 percent of the world's population. Today, our class working in common all over the world could produce more than enough food, shelter, clothing, medicine and everything else people need to survive. This could be done, but the capitalists can't and won't do it because there's no profit for them in meeting the needs of the people. They control the factories, the mines, the corporate farms, and they only produce what will make them the most profit. The very nature of capitalism is why people are starving in so many parts of the world. Once we overthrow the capitalist suckers and their system based on exploiting and oppressing people, we can put the power in the hands of the common people to organize and run all of society for the good of all. This will take a communist revolution.

Our Chairman says about revolution in the U.S.:

Let's do this in unity with our class and with all oppressed people, all over the world, who are waging revolutionary struggles and revolutionary wars against the same system. Let's do it as part of the world proletarian revolution.

May Day is all about our liberation being an international thing. Capitalism is a worldwide system, and it has created its own gravediggers everywhere in the world. These gravediggers are the proletarians, who are part of an international class. All around the world, millions of us share a burning hatred for the way things are and we share a dream to put an end to capitalism and build a communist world on the ashes of this one.

A Revolutionary Strategy

So this is what we're setting out to do, to carry out the historic mission of our class to liberate ourselves and all of humanity. Our Party has developed a strategy for getting from where we are today to the point when we could launch the all-out assault on the system in a country like the U.S. and have a real chance at winning. Our Chairman Bob Avakian says:

Let's get prepared for this. Whenever the time comes--and it will come--we must be ready. We have work to do to get ready. And the work we do can make this time come sooner.

Everything we do today is putting into effect a strategy to unite the key forces to win a revolution in this country under the leadership of the proletariat. We're working to unite all who can be united against the system's attacks, and helping people get a sense of their own strengths and the enemy's weaknesses as we fight back. This unity of people from different backgrounds and different nationalities is part of how people learn why the system is our common enemy and why it has to be overthrown. We're also bringing the strength and determination of the have-nots, the proletarians, into the mix as a revolutionary force. For example it made a big difference all across the country when the fierce Watts contingent was in the house on October 22nd here in L.A. It gives heart to others in society when they see those on the bottom of society stand up and resist. We call this strategy the united front under the leadership of the proletariat. We especially work to build what we call the solid core of this united front--which is the revolutionary alliance of proletarians of all nationalities fighting against ALL oppression and exploitation, and the struggles of Black people and other people of color to end their oppression. A winning strategy also means building strong organization among the people, with the Revolutionary Communist Youth Brigade and our vanguard Party, the RCP, at the core.

Right now, the line-up of forces in this country is not yet favorable to revolution. Our enemy, the capitalist class, works to build up its own united front--against revolution. They don't just use brute force to keep control, they also use lies and bribes. They work overtime to get large sections of middle class folks to identify with the system and blame the people on the bottom for all of society's problems like poverty, violence, or drugs. Changing this line-up and winning sections of the middle class to identify with and support the people on the bottom, and oppose the system, is part of what our united front aims to do. It is the kind of line-up that would greatly improve our chances of winning a revolution.

A lot of people who'd like to see revolution in the U.S. think that it's not possible, or if it is, it's a long ways off. But I'll tell ya, the people who rule over us every day ain't so sure of that. Look at how they're building up their right-wing militias and carrying out military exercises called "Urban Warrior."

In countries dominated by imperialism--such as Nepal, India or El Salvador--it's possible to start the armed struggle right away and carry out protracted people's war with the aim of surrounding the cities from the countryside. We revolutionary communists are as impatient as anybody to get it on with the enemy, but this kind of approach wouldn't work in a country like this one. In a highly developed country like the U.S., the way to make revolution would be through launching coordinated armed insurrections in the major cities across the U.S. when the time is right, and following that with moving quickly to link up the cities where the uprisings succeed through a revolutionary civil war to crush the enemy's forces. We'd have to fight in ways that cancel their advantages, like high-tech weaponry, while bringing to bear our great advantage--the fact that our cause is in the interest of the majority of people. They'll fight their way by relying on their high-tech shit as they have in every war they've ever fought. We would have to fight our way by relying on the creativity and determination of the masses of people. Despite all the high-tech stuff they used in the Vietnam war, the U.S. got its ass kicked by a less trained and less equipped liberation army. And all their high tech hasn't been able to stop the Maoist revolutions in Peru, Nepal and the Philippines.

Right now in this country, it's not yet time to go all out to bring the system down through mass armed revolution. But it is time to get busy and prepare for such a time whenever it does come. And it could come suddenly and may not be as far off as some people think.

Our Party Chairman says "The thousands who are reached and moved now will be the backbone and the force to lead millions when `all of a sudden' millions are starting to bust loose. When there is great upheaval throughout society, when the victims on the bottom just won't take it any more, when those on top are in real trouble and are fighting among themselves, when many of those in the middle support us, or at least don't feel like fighting to defend this system, then it is time to strike--and to hold back nothing--time to take power by force of arms."

Because this system exists by exploiting and oppressing people, there's bound to be resistance, big and small, here and there. There are bound to be major flashpoints of struggle between the people and the enemy. All these hold the potential for quick and major changes in the situation. For example, you all recall April 29, 1992, right? Well, on April 27 or 28, many of you probably were just going about your business and it was just another routine day at school or work and then blam! A rebellion that was started by Black people against police brutality drew in active support from largely Latino immigrants, some Asians and whites, and sympathy from much of the middle class. Or what if there were an uprising in Mexico where the U.S. decides to send troops to put it down? How would this affect the situation inside the U.S.? Asia was considered an economic miracle and an island of stability but blew up overnight in economic and political crisis such as in Indonesia. These kinds of things, or some combination of them, could suddenly create a drastically different situation. In developments like these, you could imagine an actual revolutionary situation which could come about rapidly. When things break open by the very workings of the system itself, whether we've prepared the people and ourselves to seize those openings could decide whether revolution gets made or if order gets restored by the authorities.

As the Party Chairman has said many times, our orientation must be to gear everything we do to preparing for the eruption of situations like these where the right and the ability of the ruling class to rule are called into question. It's in such situations that launching a revolutionary war with a real chance of victory could become a real possibility. This is what we're working to be ready and in position for. And our work can help to bring these kinds of situations about sooner.

Now I know a lot of people are told communism means dictatorship and are told to be scared of it. It is true that an immediate step after our class takes power is to put the dictatorship of the proletariat into effect. You heard me right, we openly say we're gonna establish a dictatorship of our class over the old and newborn exploiters. Who would want to make revolution and then let the suckers who rule over us now just run amuck and bring back all the hell of capitalism? THAT doesn't make any sense! Besides, we live in a dictatorship right now, the dictatorship of the capitalist class which they call a democracy. Anytime you hear that word, ask the question--democracy for who? As long as we live in a world where there are have and have-nots, you have to ask who is gonna dictate to who and about what?

The dictatorship of the proletariat which was in effect in Mao's China was nothing scary to us but everything liberating. The highest point in our dictatorship was the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. Check it out in the concrete: 15 years after our class took power in China, some top people in the Communist Party, the pigs who rule China today, wanted to bring back capitalism, running out the line that "to get rich is glorious." Some high school students rebelled against how this came down on them--the kind of rich get richer and poor get poorer education we're all familiar with here. Mao heard about this and sent these youth a message saying "it's right to rebel." A million youth held a rally and Mao put on an armband that said "red guard" to show his support for them. He called on these young red guards to play a vanguard role to bust down old institutions and ideas that continued to keep inequalities in effect. Millions of young people were given free trainfare, food and lodging to go to the countryside and the factories--to hook up with the common people and learn from them, as well as to bring revolutionary politics, culture and medical care to the people.

It was an exciting 10 years when the youth fought to reject the capitalists' morality of serve yourself, and instead took up the communist morality of "Serve the people." They overturned education that cranked out people who had book learning but didn't know anything about solving real problems in real life for the workers and peasants. For the first time, workers and peasants were let into colleges and universities to study, but also to teach their life and revolutionary experiences to the youth. This helped break down one of the divisions perpetrated by capitalism--between those who work with their heads and those who work with their hands. This was proletarian dictatorship in practice--with the ultimate aim of getting to the point where there are no more divisions of haves and have-nots, rich and poor, domination of men over women, whites over people of color, or one nation over another. When we get to that point, communism, we won't need any more dictatorships.

What went down in Mao's China was horrifying for our oppressors. But for those of us who want to build a liberated world, it was a beautiful sight. We saw the proletariat and the broad masses of people taking charge of history and moving society forward. For proletarians and people from all corners of society, young and old, it gave a glimpse of a future worth living and dying for. Young people today who hate the way things are under this system need to play the same vanguard role that the red guards of China played then. Step to the forefront of fighting for a different future with fierce determination by giving your hearts to the people all the way through.

This is our pledge: "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." This is what it means to be the vanguard. And for us to do what has to be done, the Party must grow. People who are serious about revolution should study the line of the Party and distribute the Revolutionary Worker--our main weapon that links up our fight against the system today with the goal of revolution. They should run with the Party and the RCYB, rallying the people and together with them making big trouble for the capitalist rulers and their rotten system. Our enemy has their vision of the future, the world order they are carving out of Iraq and Yugoslavia right now with their bombs and tanks. And here in this country with their brutal pig clampdown, welfare cuts and prison building. There is a different future and it's up to us to take history into our hands. Together with all those who hate this system and the misery and brutality it forces so many to endure and together with the other Maoist parties in the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement--we will wrench a bright future out of the jaws of the imperialist beast.




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