Draft Programme of the RCP, USA
Draft Programme Part 2
Without state power all is illusion. Here and around the world, the masses need state power. The masses need to rise up and make armed proletarian revolution and build a whole new society on the ashes of the old. The Revolutionary Communist Party, USA exists to lead the people to do exactly this, at the soonest possible time.
Hastening While Awaiting
How would you get to the moment when mass armed revolution is the order of the day? A revolutionary situation emerges through a combination of huge shocks and changes in society overall (brought on by events like economic crises, wars, and revolutionary struggles in other countries) in combination with the work of revolutionaries all through the period leading up to it.
The Party cannot create a revolutionary situation; it must, in one sense, await favorable developments. But it can and must hasten the arrival of the conditions for the armed struggle for power. The Party does not overall determine the political challenges that it faces, but how it meets those challenges can have a huge effect on the political terrain itself. In other words, the Party must play a very dynamic role at all times, and that role will greatly influence when, how, and even if a revolutionary crisis actually does emerge.
The Party’s orientation must be to strain against and strive to transform the limits imposed by the objective situation. The Party must be working at all times to push things closer to, and to prepare for, the conditions where the armed struggle can be launched. “How does what we are doing today prepare us for and get us into position to be able to actually launch and win the revolutionary war, when the time is ripe?”—this is the yardstick with which our Party measures its work for revolution in the U.S.
The Party’s Central Task
The Party does this through carrying out its Central Task: Create Public Opinion, Seize Power! Prepare Minds and Organize Forces for Revolution. The Party Chairman, Bob Avakian, has described this as “an all-around process and all-around struggle through which the consciousness, and also the organization and fighting capacity of the masses is raised in preparation for going over to the armed struggle to seize power when the revolutionary crisis breaks out.”
This process and this struggle has a definite aim—simply put, we are working to bring the masses to the position where they are willing and determined to put everything on the line for revolution, where they grasp both the necessity and the possibility for this. This, in essence, is the “public opinion” we are creating.
This should not be understood as a process of “patient education.” It is an all-around process with different dimensions—it encompasses mass struggles in various forms and building organization, both the Party itself and mass organizations of various kinds, as well as exposing the system, bringing to light its ugly features, its utter worthlessness, and the necessity of overthrowing it. And all this goes into preparing the masses and the Party itself for the all-out struggle to seize power.
The Pivotal Role of the Party’s Press
Within this whole process, the Party’s newspaper plays a pivotal role. Through its exposures, it reveals the different and conflicting class interests and class forces involved in all such events, and gives people a sense of the thoroughly reactionary nature of the system and the need for revolution. It battles the bourgeoisie in the realm of public opinion on the biggest issues and questions of the day.
The paper not only exposes the enemy and its crimes, it rouses the people in struggle and supports the outbreaks of protest and rebellion that repeatedly erupt among the masses.
Beyond the work of the Party to build mass resistance to the imperialist system, this system itself and its endless abuses and outrages all over the world, awaken people to political life and draw them into struggle. Especially through its newspaper, the Party can “stretch a line” into these protests and rebellions, supporting these outbreaks, helping those involved to draw the links between particular injustices and the overall oppressive nature of the system and how all this is rooted in the fundamental nature of this system, helping fighters on one front to become fighters on all fronts against the system, and influencing them in a revolutionary direction.
In an overall way, the paper analyzes the key events and struggles in the country and the world as a whole, using the method of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism and the line of the Party. As experience has repeatedly shown, those who regularly read the Party’s newspaper and are trained in (or at least significantly influenced by) this line and outlook are better able to grasp the essence and importance of these questions and generally to act in a more conscious and determined way around them.
During the all-out struggle for power, the class-conscious section of the working class will form the backbone of the revolutionary army of the proletariat. At the core of that must be the vanguard party and those systematically trained in the party’s line. That core won’t suddenly spring into being—it needs to be forged and developed now, as a seed of the future of revolution. And the newspaper plays a critical role in developing it.
The paper not only shows the masses, especially those awakened to political life and activity, why and how to support the many protests and rebellions of different sections of the people; it also enables them to see both the strengths and the limitations of all the different class forces that fight against the system. In this way people can come to understand that it is only the proletariat—the class whose exploitation is the foundation of the capitalist system, and which has nothing to lose but its chains—that can be the backbone of a struggle to actually overthrow this system and revolutionize all of society.
The Party’s paper also brings out how the different sections of the working class are part of the single multinational proletariat in the U.S. and, further, how the proletariat in this country is one with the proletariat worldwide. It gives people a vision of the communist future and a sense of the experience of the proletariat worldwide in making revolution and carrying out the socialist transformation of society toward the final aim of communism.
It plays a key role in educating the masses with the internationalist stand of the proletariat and training them to actively apply this in supporting the revolutionary struggles of the proletariat and oppressed masses throughout the world. It takes on the dog-eat-dog ideology of the enemy in many different ways and explains the communist outlook and method for understanding, and changing, the world.
In this way, the paper plays a particularly important role in developing the class-consciousness of the proletariat—its sense of itself as a class that is antagonistically opposed to the bourgeoisie and the capitalist system, and that has the potential power to lead the people to remake the world through revolution.
The paper shows people that such a revolutionary struggle is possible—and it shows that there is a political party that can lead such a struggle, a political party that speaks and acts for those with nothing to lose but their chains: The Revolutionary Communist Party, USA.
In short, the newspaper is pivotal in carrying out our Central Task as an all-around process, an active process of exposing the system and of engaging the enemy in struggle, and building up the revolutionary organization of the proletariat and its allies—all as preparation for waging the revolutionary war, with the prospect of winning, when the time is ripe.
The role of the newspaper will assume even greater importance as the revolutionary situation develops, when events clatter with machine-gun speed and public opinion goes through rapid shifts and turns, when masses in their millions will be looking for guidance on how to live and how to die, and when the changing shape of public opinion will have very direct implications for the timing of a revolutionary uprising.
“Schools of War” and the War Itself
Our Party’s Central Task is also a means for dealing with a major contradiction we face in making revolution in a country like the U.S. The insurrection should not be started, as Chairman Avakian has put it, “until the system has gotten into deep crisis and the ruling powers are weakened and fighting among themselves, while growing numbers of the oppressed people are more and more refusing to put up with the system and more and more ready to put everything on the line to bring it down. But before you reach that point, you definitely cannot let the system and its enforcers just keep on beating the people down and robbing them without resistance.”
As Chairman Avakian goes on to say, “You have to lead the people to fight back, you have to move masses of people to battle the system in a way that is guided by revolutionary ideology and serves revolutionary aims. And through all this you have to build up the revolutionary consciousness and organization of the masses, with the Maoist vanguard party at the very core, and prepare the revolutionary people to wage people’s war when the conditions for that are ripe.”
The Party must support the masses when they fight back and often must take responsibility for initiating and organizing such struggles when the people face especially sharp attacks. In relation to these struggles, and in regard to all the major questions in society and world events, the Party must expose the real source of the problem, which is not just this or that politician, boss, or cop, but the whole imperialist system. The Party must promote the real solution—proletarian revolution.
These struggles are not the war itself. Armed insurrection and civil war is something qualitatively different than even the hardest fought and most militant mass struggle, way beyond even a massive rebellion. But, viewed from the vantage point of preparing for such a revolutionary war, today’s mass struggles are immensely important.
Especially as the Party influences mass struggles and helps develop them “in a way that is guided by revolutionary ideology and serves revolutionary aims,” they can be schools of war, contributing to the development of the masses’ fighting capacity and sense of organization, stiffening their determination in the face of the enemy’s attempts to crush them, and helping them to see the need to build resistance as part of a revolutionary movement. This resistance can awaken and inspire others, dramatically revealing the injustice of the system to thousands and even millions more, and thereby helping to create public opinion for revolution.
Here once again the Party’s newspaper plays a critical role. Its exposures of the enemy propel the masses into battle. It popularizes those battles and other important struggles throughout society, galvanizing mass support and sparking others to rise up. It shows the real source of the problem and the real solution. It lays out guidance for the broad masses involved in these battles, helping them to firm up their ranks, keep the spearhead pointed at the main enemy, and unite all who can be united—at times waging polemics with other forces involved over whether and how best to do all that.
What is the importance of the orientation that “through all this you have to build up the revolutionary consciousness and organization of the masses, with the Maoist vanguard party at the very core”?
The seizure of power cannot be carried out by people just coming together on the spot when a revolutionary situation erupts. While millions will then suddenly flood into motion, with the potential to be organized and forged into an army, there will need to be a very cohesive force with an effective division of labor already in the field to seize on and lead this—to act as the backbone of that army and to enable it to launch the insurrection with the massive and concentrated force of tens of thousands, quickly incorporating millions, to defeat the counterattack by the armed forces of the ruling class, to maintain and strengthen the cohesion and fighting capacity of the revolutionary armed forces, and to successfully stay on the offensive.
To be able to seize on a revolutionary situation, the Party will need tens of thousands of organized ties in the major cities—masses trained in its line and under its leadership. These tens of thousands would be called on to lead millions when “all of a sudden”—that is, with the eruption of a severe crisis—millions start to bust loose. While the onset of a revolutionary crisis would enable the Party to recruit and forge organized ties on a far greater scale than during ordinary times, the Party cannot wait until the last minute to get started. The Party must urgently build this organization now in order to be able to make those greater leaps when the opportunity does develop.
The tens of thousands of organized ties must be painstakingly, consciously, and systematically built in the whole period of preparation leading up to the time of a revolutionary crisis. These organized ties must be built with the strategic objectives of the proletarian revolution in mind—they must be built so wisely and so well that the enemy cannot know where the lines of the organization run and cannot destroy or fundamentally disrupt this organization.
A vanguard party would face a tremendous amount of responsibility in a revolutionary situation in a country like the U.S. In order to determine exactly when to launch the insurrection, the party would need ties that were both firm and wide-ranging enough to enable the party to keep pace with the rapidly changing sentiments of different sections of the people in the midst of a ripening revolutionary situation. The party’s organized ties would also enable it to divert and direct mass outpourings into a growing revolutionary torrent and bring broader ranks of the proletariat and oppressed masses to the revolutionary position as the crisis further developed.
The vanguard party would have to be widespread and well organized enough to be able to coordinate the insurrection in the major cities and continually strengthen and lead the revolutionary army in waging people’s war to defeat and shatter the armed forces of counter-revolution. Only in this way will the outpouring of millions demanding a better world not be misdirected and dissipated—or crushed and broken. Only in this way will the revolutionary opportunity not be missed—or thrown away.
Building the Party Itself Is a Crucial Part of Revolutionary Preparation
Many different kinds of organization will
play an important role in the period of preparation for revolution, and
then with the eruption of the revolutionary crisis there would be the need
to rapidly bring into being many new organized forces of revolutionary
masses, most especially the revolutionary army of the proletariat. But
the one force at the core of all this, through both the period of
revolutionary preparation and all through the seizure of power itself,
must be the vanguard party of the proletariat.
The Party is made up of the most dedicated fighters for revolution, those who devote their lives to this cause and who struggle wholeheartedly to grasp and apply the revolutionary ideology of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism (MLM). Building and strengthening the Party is essential to making revolution. This is a crucial aspect of carrying out the Central Task.
The Party must continually bring in and train fresh forces, particularly from the proletariat as well as the revolutionary youth, training all members to constantly deepen their grasp and application of MLM. Here, too, the newspaper is pivotal—both in ideologically and politically leading and training the masses and the Party members, and in its ability to serve as one important organizational connection between the Party and masses. The paper is a key link not only in creating public opinion very broadly, not only in “preparing minds,” but also in “organizing forces.”
Strongholds and “Stretching a Line”
As a key aspect of revolutionary preparation, the Party must build organized strongholds of revolutionary activity in key proletarian neighborhoods and workplaces. In these strongholds the Party and the advanced masses set revolutionary standards and strive to command political leadership and authority.
The Party develops its “political authority” in such areas through a combination of leading the masses in struggle in a way that is guided by revolutionary aims, widely distributing its press, popularizing and struggling broadly for the communist way of looking at the world, helping the masses forge collective solutions to the problems they face, etc. These strongholds should also be hubs of internationalist activity, where masses know about and support Maoist people’s wars and other revolutionary struggles around the world.
These strongholds serve to create public opinion very broadly and play a key role in preparing the minds and organizing the forces who will lead the millions when a revolutionary opening emerges. Strongholds like this would be crucial, in the future, in forging the revolutionary army of the proletariat to seize that revolutionary opening.
At the same time, the Party must also extend its influence and build organized ties throughout suburban and rural areas. Organized ties in such areas are important as part of all-around preparation for revolution. And organization there would also be essential in preventing the imperialists from isolating and crushing the proletariat in the urban cores when the revolutionary situation arises and the insurrection is launched.
As spoken to earlier, one way the Party builds organized ties is by using its paper to “stretch a line” to the movements that arise among different strata in various places. This means bringing the Party’s analysis to these struggles and, where possible, forging organizational links to the people and organizations involved.
“Stretching a line” serves a dual purpose: in addition to helping forge the key organizational links described above, it can also strengthen the struggles that arise among various sections of the people, helping them to focus their outrage and resistance against the enemy and maximizing their positive impact on public opinion and the political terrain overall.
Nurturing the Seeds of the Future Today
Our Party has struggled hard, over many years, to develop this understanding of how to carry out revolutionary work in a citadel of imperialism. This orientation involves carrying out revolutionary work from the “armed insurrection and civil war back”—that is, grasping first of all what is needed to begin a revolutionary struggle for power, and drawing the links between that and the work we do at every point in the process that precedes the development of the revolutionary situation and the all-out struggle for power.
This means doing our work—our exposure of the system, our support for outbreaks of protest and rebellion among the masses, our initiation and leadership of mass struggles, our building of organization, and all the other aspects of our Central Task—in such a way that the seeds of seizing power are nurtured and developed even in circumstances where the ongoing focus rests on creating public opinion in an all-around way for proletarian revolution.
The Party’s orientation of evaluating all its work in terms of how it serves the strategic objective of seizing power and contributing as fully as possible to revolution worldwide must be popularized among the masses. This will help the people to view all major world events—and to take part in major struggles in society—from the standpoint of influencing and moving things toward the eventual armed insurrection. Raising and popularizing this, now and in an ongoing way, is a necessary and crucial part of overall preparation for the armed struggle—for the shift in emphasis to the “seize power” aspect of our Central Task when the situation ripens.
As Chairman Avakian has written, “Such political preparation is the most important way to influence the political terrain now, to plant and nurture the seeds and shoots of a future armed uprising, to learn more fully the features of the enemy and all classes and strata in society, and to develop—especially among the advanced, with the party at the core—the political ability and ‘maturity’ to handle the extremely complex, tortuous, and magnified character of the revolutionary situation, when it does ripen, and of the actual revolutionary armed struggle for power.”
One aspect of this is the need to seize on crises, even “mini-crises”—such as military encounters and wars in which the imperialists are engaged, particularly where important blows are struck against them; or a financial panic, internationally and/or within the U.S. itself; or situations where serious conflict and even bitter contention among different factions within the ruling class bursts into the open.
Even where a particular crisis is not immediately accompanied by an outpouring of mass struggle, there may be potential for such struggle to erupt. And in such crises (or “mini-crises”), there is the basis for important revolutionary work, including further exposure of the system and the ruling class.
And especially when many different political forces come into motion and society is in an uproar of debate and controversy, it is crucial to maximize the gains for the revolutionary movement. These are times when many features appear in embryo that can school the Party and the masses and provide them with aspects of a “rehearsal” for the major crisis ahead.
When tens of thousands of mainly middle class youth militantly take to the streets to oppose the conditions of the masses in sweatshops around the planet and other effects of imperialist “globalization,” we can see not only the irrepressible desire of the youth to fight for a more just world but also how the “normal routines” of millions could be disrupted as they are suddenly drawn into active debate about world affairs.
Or when upsurges in Mexico inspire and activate people with ties to Mexico, immigrants, youth, and others within the U.S., we can see the potential for revolutionary struggles in Mexico to even more powerfully reverberate into the U.S., and vice versa.
It is important in this light to recall the 1992 rebellion that erupted in Los Angeles. Proletarians and other basic masses of all nationalities powerfully rose up against the oppression of Black people and other oppressed nationalities. People in other cities followed suit, both with rebellions and other forms of struggle, including armed self-defense. Broad sections of the middle class got a big wake-up call, and many were won to sympathy and support for the resistance. At the same time, the police and then the National Guard had big problems enforcing “law and order” for several days.
In the events of that L.A. rebellion—and other great rebellions, too—we can see, again, outlines of what could happen on an even greater scale in a major social crisis: where the middle strata could be realigned in support of a fighting proletariat; where the authority and power of the ruling class would no longer be capable of intimidating and bludgeoning the masses into submission; where all the suppressed outrage would not only explode but be channeled and directed toward its source and toward the solution—the capitalist system and its overthrow.
This country has never seen a revolutionary struggle for power led by the proletariat. That’s true. But it did witness during the 1960s a revolutionary mass movement that shook it to its foundations.
The Vietnam War reverberated throughout U.S. society…and the whole world. The Black liberation struggle raged in hundreds of cities, large and small, and other oppressed peoples rose in widespread militant resistance. Youth very broadly, in the middle class but also among lower sections of the masses, rebelled against the suffocating and repressive “culture,” conventions, rules and regulations of the established order. The revolt of women against their subjugated position developed to a whole new and powerful dimension.
And increasingly, all these different streams of revolt began to find common cause and to support and unite with each other. People in their millions, including in the middle class, began to question the very legitimacy of the government’s rule. A “revolutionary people” was emerging on the scene.
Sharp divisions developed within the ruling class over how to deal with their losing war in Vietnam and the social upheaval in the U.S.
And both the internal conflicts within the ruling class and the struggle of millions of people against the system reverberated in Vietnam itself, where the U.S. bourgeoisie’s main pillar of power—its own armed forces—began to crack and rebel, with not only individual soldiers but at times whole units challenging military authority to the point of attacking their officers and battling other units sent to quell them.
Since that time as well, in many parts of the world—in Iran in 1979, the Philippines in 1986, Eastern and Central Europe in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and elsewhere—there have been major political crises and mass outpourings and uprisings that have played a key part in the fall of certain regimes which had previously been very powerfully entrenched.
It is true that in many of these countries the revolutionary road has features significantly different from a country like the U.S. And it is also true that those movements have generally been dominated by opportunist forces opposed to proletarian revolution and working to keep things under the control of the bourgeoisie and the imperialists. But they offer important lessons, even for proletarian revolution in a country like the U.S.
Events like these provide a glimpse of how a mass uprising of the people, in which the class-conscious proletariat is able to successfully contend for and win leadership, might be developed into an actual revolutionary war to overthrow bourgeois rule altogether.
All this gives a sense of what would go into a crisis severe enough to create an opening for a revolutionary struggle to seize power in a country like the U.S. Of course, no one can predict the exact makeup of such a crisis; when it comes it will, no doubt, have many totally unanticipated features.
Moreover, no one can predict exactly which crisis will actually mature into a revolutionary situation. So not only must the Party use such crises as “rehearsals” or “testing grounds,” it must also push every opening to the maximum, always looking for the possibility of transforming something that begins as a “mini-crisis” into a full-blown revolutionary situation.
The Final Aim Must Guide All Our Work
As noted, this whole orientation—of focusing on the seizure of power and working back from there—has had to be fought for. The greatest danger for parties in imperialist countries has been the tendency to divorce the situation and the work of the party at any given time from the revolutionary goal—to put all one’s emphasis on building the struggles of today in a way that does NOT nurture the seeds of tomorrow, and, for all intents and purposes, to put revolution off into a never-never land.
To the extent that a party gets so immersed in today’s situation and struggles that it fails to concretely forge the links to the future armed uprising, it will promote illusions among the masses, help to restrain the struggle of the masses within limits acceptable to and easily contained by the bourgeoisie, and set the masses up for a devastating defeat when a revolutionary situation does emerge.
Lenin criticized this orientation as “the movement is everything, the final aim is nothing.” As we have said, the question is not whether to relate to today’s struggles, but how and with what aim. The Party works to win the masses to see that every major outrage in society, all the howling injustices throughout the world, are rooted in the capitalist-imperialist system and the rule of the bourgeoisie, and that there is only one solution to all this—proletarian revolution. And, through all its work, it forges in the masses the ability to carry through that revolution to victory.
The Party must carry out political work wherever the masses are found in significant numbers—in neighborhoods, workplaces, schools, and important mass organizations.
In recent years one significant development among the working class is that immigrant workers and lower-paid proletarians have begun to wage major struggles to organize unions. Other kinds of progressive political ferment (for instance, taking up struggles against police brutality) have also gone on among unionized workers. This has created further openings for revolutionary work in relation to the unions.
At the same time, in carrying out such work, as in all the Party’s work, it is necessary to resist the pulls to restrict things to the terms and limits of the immediate struggle and to put to the side the revolutionary line of the Party. This would amount to pitching things to the political level of the intermediate or even the more backward masses, rather than bringing forward the revolutionary mission of the proletariat, drawing the links between the particular struggle and that larger, strategic objective, and drawing forward the advanced to the revolutionary banner.
In general, it does not help the masses, and in fact it actually holds them back, to come to them with anything less than the whole truth of what is fundamentally required for humanity’s liberation. Our highest goal and the greatest way to serve the people is to lead them to make proletarian revolution and move forward towards communism. Communists must be bold in this work and bold in representing this whole vision and historic mission to the masses.
Having gone into many different elements of the Party’s Central Task, it is important to return to the overall character and objective of this Central Task. Chairman Avakian has summed up the whole process encompassed in our Central Task in a very concentrated way:
“You have to lead the people to fight back, you have to move masses of people to battle the system in a way that is guided by revolutionary ideology and serves revolutionary aims. And through all this you have to build up the revolutionary consciousness and organization of the masses, with the Maoist vanguard party at the very core, and prepare the revolutionary people to wage people’s war when the conditions for that are ripe.
“Build the places where we live and work as strong bases of support for proletarian revolution, with a deep and firm Party organization as the bedrock foundation. Spread our influence throughout society, especially where people are protesting and rebelling. Use the Party’s newspaper as the hub and the guide in all this, in doing everything to help bring about, as quickly as possible, the conditions where we can begin the highest form of struggle—the fight for power over society.
“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 a great upheaval throughout society; when the victims on the bottom just won’t take it anymore; 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 nothing back—time to take power by force and arms. That time is coming, and we must get ourselves and others ready for it.”
CREATE PUBLIC OPINION, SEIZE POWER! Prepare Minds and Organize Forces for Revolution. This is the bridge from the present to the future; fulfilling this whole process is the Central Task of the Party.
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