Resisting the Heightened Repression--Building the Movement of Opposition
Revolutionary Worker #1206, July 6, 2003, posted at rwor.org
This is an excerpt from a tape-recorded talk by Bob Avakian, Chairman of the RCP, USA, in the aftermath of September 11 and in the context of the war launched by the U.S. government, focused initially against Afghanistan. Major excerpts of this talk are available in a special magazine-- "The New Situation and the Great Challenges." The magazine, featured in RW #1143, is available online at rwor.org and at Revolution Books stores and outlets.
In building resistance to the whole imperialist juggernaut, we are going to be facing a very complex situation and very great challenges even as compared with the Vietnam War or the Gulf War. The movement of opposition will have to be built in a situation and conditions which are going to be highly repressive, in a more extreme way than has been experienced for some time (if ever) in the U.S. This will be a situation in which it may become outlawed not only to call for the overthrow of the present system, for example, but even to actively oppose what the imperialists are doing, even to mobilize demonstrations against the war, even to speak out against the war, may be things that become banned or things for which you'll be thrown in jail--perhaps even put before a military tribunal and shot summarily. These are the conditions which could very well develop. Those who are determined to resist will likely face the combination of a politically more difficult and complex situation than even the Gulf War, and at the same time qualitatively more repressive conditions in which it will be increasingly difficult to be openly manifesting opposition and to organize opposition in any form.
This is also something around which it is extremely important to do exposure and create public opinion. People need to understand what the movement of resistance is likely to be in for--and this must be done without spreading pessimism and defeatism. Here the point from Lenin's Collapse of the Second International --written at the start of World War 1, when in the combatant countries the repression against socialist and revolutionary forces became much more intense and sweeping and many of the socialist parties caved in, or collapsed into opportunism, in the face of this--is very relevant. To use Lenin's metaphor, when faced with both greatly intensified repression and at the same time potentially greater opportunities for advance, we need not thin-soled shoes but strongly constructed boots for the political terrain on which this struggle must be waged. We need to be able to rise to the challenges, and we need to help other people to understand the stakes involved and to be able to rise to the challenges as well, even with ideological and political differences that will still remain throughout the whole course of this. This is the level of challenge that we're going to be facing, and we need to prepare people for this.
It's Right to Protect the Movement Against This!
We need to be waging a vigorous battle of public opinion around all this, because the terms that the imperialists are attempting to set--and they have made gains in this--involve the notion that if you take any measures to prepare and protect against the repression of the government, then you are a terrorist. These are the terms that they're trying to create. They try to put everybody on the defensive by aggressively posing things this way: Why else would anybody do this--if you don't have anything to hide, why do you need to keep anything secret? And the whole history of the repressive nature of this government needs to be brought to light in its full dimension. There is a whole store of historical experience that graphically, and often tragically, illustrates this--and there is very recent experience too.
For example, in dealing with the movement against capitalist globalization, various governments have tried to take preventive measures to stop people from carrying out demonstrations, including lawful and non-violent manifestations (and even where they have included more militant and determined resistance, these demonstrations have been overwhelmingly lawful--according to what are declared to be the principles of bourgeois-democratic law and Constitutionality). And yet, the police, the FBI and other arms of the political police and state institutions of political suppression have surveilled, infiltrated, harassed, made preventive arrests (often seizing things like puppets, claiming they were weapons) and brutalized people on a mass scale. In Genoa, Italy, last year they not only shot and killed one demonstrator, they brutalized a whole group of people who were in a building, many of whom were sleeping when the police assault began--an assault which left numerous people seriously wounded, with the walls of the building splattered with the people's blood. In the Italian press before 9/11 there were vivid descriptions about the blood caking the walls where the Italian police had come in and brutalized these people who were sleeping or who were meeting at the time when the police came crashing in. And the same kind of thing, if not on quite as dramatic a scale, has happened everywhere these "anti-globalization" protests have gone on, including in the U.S. (See also "From Seattle to Genoa: Spies and Billy Clubs Against the Resisters," RW 1147 or rwor.org)
It is very important that this kind of thing be brought out and highlighted and that public opinion be created around the fact that experience historically has shown--the very words, as well as the actions, of the ruling class itself show--the brutal nature of their rule, their bourgeois dictatorship, over the masses of people. There is the whole experience, the monumental atrocity, of police brutality--the widespread terror by the police and their wanton murder of people, especially the youth and particularly in the ghettos and barrios throughout the U.S., with thousands killed just in the past decade; and repeatedly, with very, very rare exception, this is declared "justifiable homicide." There has been the whole Rampart scandal involving the L.A. police and everything it revealed (and verified about the experience of the masses of people under the police guns) and similar scandals in police departments all across the U.S. And this ongoing outrage is in addition to what is done when people rise up in rebellion, or even serious political protest, against the powers-that-be.
All this shows very dramatically that if you want to protest against something and the bourgeoisie regards this as a hindrance to what they've set out to do--an obstacle to something important on their agenda--you have to be prepared to not only be surveilled and infiltrated, but also brutalized and attacked without any provocation. So, in order to continue to protest and dissent, and to build more powerful opposition to the imperialist juggernaut of war and repression, it is going to be necessary to be prepared to meet all the suppression that will be directed against this, and when people take measures to protect the movement against that repression and suppression, they are perfectly justified in doing so. It is absolutely necessary to do so. And for people not to want the police to know everybody who is involved, who is or- ganizing what, who is on the mailing lists of organizations, who communicates with whom--to protect all this is perfectly justified, and absolutely necessary if people are serious about building a powerful movement of opposition and resistance. And, again, it is extremely important that a political offensive, a public opinion counter-offensive, be waged against this whole way in which the bourgeoisie is trying to paint things to say that if you have any way in which you're trying to keep them from knowing everything about what you're doing, you must be involved in criminal, and in particular terrorist, enterprises.
It's like the old Salem witch trials: they throw you in the water and if you drown, then you're not a witch; but if you survive, you're a witch so you have to be burned at the stake. We can't let them set the terms and apply a "logic" where if you try to protect yourself against their repression, that proves that you're a terrorist and deserve to be repressed.
This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online