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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."

Strengthening the Party—Qualitatively as well as Quantitatively

So, with everything I’ve said about the contradictoriness of this Party, there is, in fact, a great need to strengthen this Party, quantitatively and qualitatively—with growing numbers of people, and with people who come into this Party and join the fight to further rupture it onto the revolutionary road, and have it more thoroughly be on the revolutionary road. There’s a need for that—I’m gonna say it straight up—there is a very real and great need for that. There’s a need to wield BAsics as a “handbook” of revolution, communist revolution, in a consistent way. There’s a need to use the film of the Dialogue with Cornel West and REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! There’s a need to consistently use the website, not simply as some sort of “guide” for communists alone, or as a place where you can find interesting information, but as a crucial means to influence and provide leadership for broad masses of people, as well as the Party and the ranks of the revolutionary movement at any given time. The website is being developed with that purpose in mind—to build the revolutionary movement, and to continually draw forward new people toward and into that movement, aiming for an actual revolution and a radically different world. That’s what is said about the website when you look on the website itself. And there is the importance of the print newspaper for those people, prisoners and some others, who don’t have access to the internet—who can’t access the website, as such—but can get the newspaper, even if it’s interfered with a lot. The Ardea Skybreak Interview, as well as the Outline on the new synthesis of communism, and Demarcations66—these are also important resources to go back to repeatedly, for people to really develop as communists, and to popularize and utilize broadly.

I think many of us, if not all of us, have had this experience: One of the ways you most learn, and develop as a communist, is by seeing the contention of opposing lines. A lot of times, things aren’t clear to you—what are these differences about? Then you see them sharply posed in polemics, and you recognize what the issues are, what the contention is all about, and why this matters. This is something Lenin brought out in What Is To Be Done? 67 He recalled a discussion he had with a representative of the economist trend in Russia (the economist trend argued that the way to build the socialist movement was to concentrate on leading the trade union struggle and other everyday struggles of the working class, and somehow out of that you could move toward socialism). Lenin polemicized strongly against that economist trend—making very clear why it was wrong and how it would never lead to a revolution that would go on the road of socialism. In opposition to that, as I spoke to earlier, he insisted that communists have to be tribunes of the people—going among all sections of the people, exposing the system in broad terms, and bringing forward the need for communist revolution. He argued compellingly that the proletarians are never going to come to a position of seeing the need for revolution and communism if this is approached from within the narrow sphere of their own experience and their own immediate struggle. So these were very clearly opposed views—Lenin’s, on the one hand, and the economist trend, on the other. Yet, in that essay (What Is To Be Done?), Lenin recounted how he was talking with this economist and they seemed to be agreeing on everything—but, at a certain point in their discussion, a question came up over which they found themselves in sharp disagreement, and then they realized that they didn’t agree on anything! And this is not a unique experience. You know how it goes—it all sounds good—everybody’s for the same things. But then, at a certain point, it becomes clear, if things are posed sharply, that people do not agree, and are not for the same things, at all.

Now, sometimes disputes are not really about anything important. Especially among various opportunist trends, like the Trotskyites, their disputes are meaningless, or worse, because it’s all idealism, it’s all a contestation of ideas in their head which don’t really deal with or correctly reflect the real world. Therefore, there’s a constant tendency among them to split and split and split, because if the test of your ideas is not the real world, then you can always find something to disagree over—and, believe me, intellectuals are very good at doing that, especially if they don’t get back to the actual reality. Now, let me emphasize again, I’m not anti-intellectual, but I do recognize the contradictions that exist in the world, including among the intellectuals. In fact, I count myself as an intellectual, and, as I have emphasized, the masses need revolutionary and communist intellectuals. But, if you’re divorced from the real world, if your ideas are not in correspondence with the real world, and if the real world is not the ultimate test of your ideas, you can always find things to disagree about that you can never resolve, and therefore you split and split again. Well, those kinds of polemics and splits are useless, and worse.

But struggles and polemics that are waged over substantive things that have to do with the real world are very important, because you discover whether people actually agree, or whether they’re really talking about completely different things and completely different means for arriving at them, and you can see more clearly what difference this makes in terms of changing—or not changing—the world. This happens over and over again. This is why Demarcations is so important. The different polemics against Ajith are very important. Ajith wrote a whole long thing, about 100 pages, with the title Against Avakianism.68 Well, a number of different people, including communists from different countries, wrote substantial answers to that, and much of this has been published in Demarcations. It’s very important to get into these things: What is being said by way of opposing the new synthesis of communism? What is correct in opposition to that attack on the new synthesis? And why is this new synthesis correct? We shouldn’t act as if we are what people accuse us of being. People say we’re a cult. Well, if you don’t have any substance underneath what you’re talking about, that’s what you’re going to be. You go around talking about this new synthesis, and so on, but what if somebody asks: “Well, what is this new synthesis?” “Oh, well, that’s a different story—I don’t know what it is, I just know I’m supposed to talk about it.” That, to say the least, is not very convincing; that is not going to get us where we need to go.

So, things like Demarcations, the Ardea Skybreak Interview, the Outline on the new synthesis of communism—these are very important and substantial things that people should go back to repeatedly. I happen to enjoy reading polemics, because I like to see the lines sharply posed, and opposed. But even if at first it’s difficult, you have to fight your way through these things, because it really is a matter of life and death, ultimately. It really does have everything to do with whether the masses are actually going to get out of this nightmare or not.

At the same time—this is another important point to emphasize, and it is emphasized in the Interview with Ardea Skybreak: While we want, and we need, to struggle to win people to be communists, this is not “all or nothing, all at once,” and it shouldn’t be approached that way. The point is made in that Interview: There is a place for everyone who can’t stand this world as it is and wants to work for a radically different world—there’s a place, and there needs to be a place, to be a part of and contribute to this movement for revolution, while you are learning more about it. As it is put in that Interview: You don’t have to go from zero to 60 right away, and we shouldn’t insist that people do that. We shouldn’t be putting those demands on people, and we shouldn’t be running them around, keeping them busy all the time, while never engaging in any discussion and struggle with them over what this is all about—which, unfortunately, is all too common a tendency. It’s not that there aren’t many pressing things—as Mao said, so many deeds do cry out to be done. We have far too few forces and there’s so much we need to do. But it’s not the correct approach, and you won’t solve the problem and make breakthroughs, if you just run people around and run them into the ground, or expect them to be 24/7 revolutionaries the first week that they’re getting involved. There has to be a process, and we have to lead people through this process—which, yes, involves struggle, sometimes very sharp struggle, but it has to make allowance for the fact that it is a process, and that people need to work their way through contradictions. We have to lead them in this process of working through contradictions, and not expect them to zoom forward at breakneck speed, in a straight line—and we definitely should not just fill them up with busy work, without any time to really get into what this is all about. That’s one of the reasons why people will not stick around—if you just get them to do, do, do, do, do, and you never go into the deeper questions of what this is about, why there’s a basis for this, and how we’re proceeding strategically, and why therefore we shouldn’t get thrown off by temporary twists and turns, or ebbs and flows in the struggle, because we have a deeper grounding and a deeper understanding of what the basis is for all this, and here’s how we’re going to work on this. If you don’t take the time to go into that, and struggle with people over that, people are going to continually fall away, because you’re putting incessant demands on them, and they’re running up against obstacles and they don’t understand the larger—and, yes, complex—process, so they expect things to go forward in a straight line, and they don’t have a basis for dealing with it when that doesn’t happen.

We have to have the right combination, the right synthesis. We used to have that formulation of struggling all day against the powers-that-be, and talking about big things all night. Maybe today, as some people have suggested, it might be the opposite: maybe the night’s when the resistance (the “fight the power”) goes on, in the main, and it’s during the day that you talk about big things of theory, and strategy, and so on. But even there, there has to be some rhythm and pacing, in the sense that you have to allow for people to go through a process, even while you’re struggling with them to keep going forward in that process, but not expecting them to just come zooming along, zero to 60, in a straight line.

So, that point in the Interview with Ardea Skybreak—and, again, the whole Interview—is a really important resource for Party members, and those close to the Party at any given time, but also for people who are newly coming around, and even people in society much more broadly who don’t even know anything about communism—and what they do “know” is all wrong. That’s also why the special issue of Revolution on communism, its history, and how this relates to the future of humanity, the special issue with the Interview with Raymond Lotta (“You Don’t Know What You Think You ‘Know’ About... The Communist Revolution and the REAL Path to Emancipation: Its History and Our Future”) is so important. It’s very important to be steeped in that, and to popularize and use it broadly with people.


66. As indicated on its website, Demarcations: A Journal of Communist Theory and Polemic “seeks to set forth, defend, and further advance the theoretical framework for the beginning of a new stage of communist revolution in the contemporary world.” This journal promotes the perspectives of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA. It is available at and also [back]

67. V.I. Lenin, What Is To Be Done?, 1902. [back]

68. In July 2013, Ajith, the Secretary of what was then the CPI (M-L) Naxalbari, a Maoist party in India, published a polemic entitled “Against Avakianism.” It appeared in Naxalbari, the theoretical journal of that party. [back]



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