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Editors' note: The following is an excerpt from the new work by Bob Avakian, THE NEW COMMUNISM. In addition to excerpts already posted on, we will be running further excerpts from time to time on both and in Revolution newspaper. These excerpts should serve as encouragement and inspiration for people to get into the work as a whole, which is available as a book from Insight Press. An updated pre-publication PDF of this major work—now including the appendices—is available here.

This excerpt comes from the section titled "IV. The Leadership We Need."

Excerpt 2 from the section:
Another Kind of “Pyramid”

But to return to intellectuals, and their relation to revolution, another contradiction bound up with the role of intellectuals as, in Marx’s formulation, the political and literary representatives of a class, is that in every revolution that has taken place so far, the political and literary representatives of a class are different than that class itself. This has been true in the bourgeois revolution, and not just in the proletarian revolution. Here we get to another important point of Marx’s, about the shopkeeper and the democratic intellectual: Marx points out that, in terms of how they approach the world, in their daily lives, they may be as far apart as heaven and earth; but the democratic intellectuals, much as they may philosophize in lofty realms and talk about the rights of the people and so on, do not, in the world of ideas, get beyond the limits of bourgeois right, any more than the shopkeeper gets beyond this in the realm of practical everyday activity. This same basic principle applies when such intellectuals lead a bourgeois revolution: They are different than the actual class of capitalists that they objectively represent, even as they remain within the same realm, within the same limits of bourgeois relations and the rights that correspond to that.

But this contradiction—between intellectuals and the class they lead in making revolution—becomes much more acute when it comes to the proletarian revolution. In the bourgeois revolution, the masses fight and die, and an exploiting class comes to power, if that revolution is successful—an exploiting class led by its intellectuals, its political and literary representatives. In the proletarian revolution it has to be different—but it isn’t automatically different. So here’s a very sharp contradiction: This revolution, too, is led by people who are different than the masses of people they are leading, even if some of them came, originally, from among those masses. That was my point earlier—they are different. They have developed these intellectual capacities—here again is that other “pyramid point”: you can use those capacities you have developed for one class or another. You can go over to using them for the capitalist system, even if you didn’t start out intending to do that. That’s one of the things about intellectuals: As I pointed out in Ruminations and Wranglings, they can detach themselves, so to speak, from one class and attach themselves to another class, even though their position in society corresponds, more or less, to that of the petite bourgeoisie, the middle class. In other words, they can take up the cause of one class or another, and use the same intellectual skills, more or less—not the same science, but the same basic intellectual skills—on behalf of one class or another.

In the bourgeois revolution, it doesn’t matter that an exploiting class comes to power, and it doesn’t matter that the intellectuals who lead it are in the service, ultimately, of that exploiting class. I’m being deliberately provocative here. By saying “it doesn’t matter,” what I mean is this: that’s the nature of the bourgeois revolution. I don’t literally mean it doesn’t matter—actually it matters a great deal—but that’s the nature of the bourgeois revolution. The proletarian revolution, however, has a whole different character and aim. The proletarian revolution has to lead to the end of exploitation, as its ultimate goal, the end of all oppression. But it still, for a long time, requires a group, even if it’s a growing group, of intellectuals to lead it; and those intellectuals can detach themselves from the proletarian cause and go over to the cause of the bourgeoisie—not just as an act of willfulness—they consciously decide to betray the revolution—but mainly because the material contradictions in the world still provide the basis for the capitalist road to be taken, instead of the socialist road leading to communism. And this will be true for a long time, even in socialist society. So, as opposed to the bourgeois revolution, it matters a great deal whether this revolution, the proletarian revolution, ends up bringing to power (or  bringing back to power), a group of exploiters, or proceeds on the road of communism, with the goal of doing away with all systems and relations of exploitation and oppression.

These are some of the contradictions that have to be confronted, if you’re going to play a leading role, at various levels, in a revolution. It doesn’t matter where you start out: The more you develop and the more responsibility you have, the more these contradictions are going to be part of what you have to deal with, in your own role but beyond that in the larger world, because this is not just a matter of individuals, it’s a social phenomenon—it has to do with the conditions that still exist, and will exist for a long time, even after you’ve overthrown capitalism, even after you establish the dictatorship of the proletariat and embark on the socialist road. It’s going to be a constant struggle for the leadership to stay on the socialist road, and to bring forward more and more people to be leaders on that road, and not some other.


Publisher's Note

Introduction and Orientation

Foolish Victims of Deceit, and Self-Deceit

Part I. Method and Approach, Communism as a Science

Materialism vs. Idealism
Dialectical Materialism
Through Which Mode of Production
The Basic Contradictions and Dynamics of Capitalism
The New Synthesis of Communism
The Basis for Revolution
Epistemology and Morality, Objective Truth and Relativist Nonsense
Self and a “Consumerist” Approach to Ideas
What Is Your Life Going to Be About?—Raising People’s Sights

Part II. Socialism and the Advance to Communism:
            A Radically Different Way the World Could Be, A Road to Real Emancipation

The “4 Alls”
Beyond the Narrow Horizon of Bourgeois Right
Socialism as an Economic System and a Political System—And a Transition to Communism
Abundance, Revolution, and the Advance to Communism—A Dialectical Materialist Understanding
The Importance of the “Parachute Point”—Even Now, and Even More With An Actual Revolution
The Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America
   Solid Core with a Lot of Elasticity on the Basis of the Solid Core
Emancipators of Humanity

Part III. The Strategic Approach to An Actual Revolution

One Overall Strategic Approach
Hastening While Awaiting
Forces For Revolution
Separation of the Communist Movement from the Labor Movement, Driving Forces for Revolution
National Liberation and Proletarian Revolution
The Strategic Importance of the Struggle for the Emancipation of Women
The United Front under the Leadership of the Proletariat
Youth, Students and the Intelligentsia
Struggling Against Petit Bourgeois Modes of Thinking, While Maintaining the Correct Strategic Orientation
The “Two Maximizings”
The “5 Stops”
The Two Mainstays
Returning to "On the Possibility of Revolution"
Internationalism—Revolutionary Defeatism
Internationalism and an International Dimension
Internationalism—Bringing Forward Another Way
Popularizing the Strategy
Fundamental Orientation

Part IV. The Leadership We Need

The Decisive Role of Leadership
A Leading Core of Intellectuals—and the Contradictions Bound Up with This
Another Kind of “Pyramid”
The Cultural Revolution Within the RCP
The Need for Communists to Be Communists
A Fundamentally Antagonistic Relation—and the Crucial Implications of That
Strengthening the Party—Qualitatively as well as Quantitatively
Forms of Revolutionary Organization, and the “Ohio”
Statesmen, and Strategic Commanders
Methods of Leadership, the Science and the “Art” of Leadership
Working Back from “On the Possibility”—
   Another Application of “Solid Core with a Lot of Elasticity on the Basis of the Solid Core”

Appendix 1:
The New Synthesis of Communism:
Fundamental Orientation, Method and Approach,
and Core Elements—An Outline
by Bob Avakian

Appendix 2:
Framework and Guidelines for Study and Discussion


Selected List of Works Cited

About the Author