Tuesday, May 02, 2006
Proclaim Our Vision, Celebrate Our Achievements, Intensify Our Struggle
May 1 is the revolutionary holiday. Red flags flying, we proclaim our vision:
A world free of the rule of capital; a world, instead, in which the needs and wants of the people--and NOT the never-ending search for ever more profit--determines what and how things get produced and distributed; a world where the planet is cherished, rather than plundered and even destroyed...
A world free of the social relations that divide people into exploiter and exploited, oppressor and oppressed... a world free of the prisons, the torturers and cops, and the armies that march over the planet to extend and enforce those social relations; a world, instead, in which people confront each other as freely interacting human beings...
A world free of the thinking that flows out of and reinforces the division into classes and the institutions of oppression--free of the fear and ignorance spread by religion; free of the bigotry that can imagine nothing higher than lording it over someone else; free of the constant me-first calculations imposed by daily life under capitalism... a world, instead, where people come together to confront and understand reality with open inquisitive minds, taking joy in the search for truth ...
A world free of the division between those who work with their minds and those who must work with their backs, free of borders, free of the domination of women by men ...a world, instead, where people come together cooperatively and voluntarily, working with both hand and mind, to transform the world. . . and to transform themselves in the process...
In short, a COMMUNIST world.
The Dream Can Be Realized
Humanity can do this. The class divisions and oppressive institutions and ideas that weigh on people today have NOT been here forever. Nor are they part of “human nature.” They came into being at a certain point in history--and they can also go out of existence and be replaced with something far better.
For tens of thousands of years people lived in small, communal societies, unable to produce much beyond their immediate needs. But as people’s knowledge developed over generations, it became possible to create a surplus over and above what was needed for survival. With that, the basis arose for one part of society to compel the majority to work for it, and to control the wealth they created. And that’s what happened, in several different parts of the world--humanity divided into antagonistic classes: master and slave, exploiter and exploited.
The new ruling classes monopolized knowledge for themselves, and generated new oppressive institutions--from the subordination of women in the family, to the rise of armies and prisons, high priests and kings. And they generated new oppressive ideas to justify those institutions. Through all the history which followed--as capitalism replaced slavery and feudalism as the dominant mode of production, and as presidents and parliaments took command of the instruments of repression from kings and emperors--people have never stopped fighting to get free, and never stopped dreaming of a better world.
Today, we can do more than dream--and the freedom we dream of and fight for can be something very different, and on a far higher level, than even the loftiest aspirations of the past. Today’s forces of production--which include the technology and the knowledge that people have, and people themselves--could produce abundance for everyone. Moreover, these productive forces are, for the first time, highly socialized. That is, many people must work together to utilize and even create these means of production. But these productive forces, though now socialized, are still privately owned and dominated by capitalists, and this fetters, distorts and perverts their great potential.
Confronting these capitalists is the proletariat--the new exploited class whose members work together on the huge, globally integrated productive forces, but own nothing. Before the proletariat arose the oppressed classes of earlier times could fight heroically, but their victories ultimately resulted--and due to the relatively crude and small-scale nature of the productive forces, could only result--in new forms of exploitation. But the proletariat can only achieve its emancipation by seizing today’s highly socialized productive forces for all of society, and by leading society to put an end to all forms of exploitation and all forms of oppression and all the ideas that correspond to and reinforce them: a revolution to emancipate all of humanity.
May 1 is a day to renew and deepen and proclaim everywhere that vision--that this communist world IS the other world that is possible, the new world straining to be born within the death-agonies of the old, the red flower pushing up through the concrete.
Revolution--And A Radically Different State Power
To do all this requires a revolution, led by the proletariat and involving tens of millions of people, to establish socialism. That revolution would be a great and liberating leap in and of itself, and an opening of the pathway to full emancipation. And that revolution--and the whole historical epoch of transformation which it begins--in turn requires a Party, drawing in people from all parts of society who take up and dedicate themselves to the communist outlook and cause. The exploiters and oppressors of centuries must be overthrown: their instruments of dictatorship--their armies, their prisons, and so on--must be shattered, and their grip over the people broken. And all this must be led.
Surrounded by imperialist countries and contending with overthrown exploiters, dealing with the “birthmarks” of the old society, the victorious proletariat will still need a state and instruments of suppression, or dictatorship. But this must be a state of a radically different kind--a state that serves the masses and suppresses the exploiters, one that fosters the elimination of exploitation and exploitative relations, and the elimination of all oppressive divisions, institutions and ideas, and NOT their fortification and extension. A state that meets the basic needs of the people for housing, healthcare, education etc, and doing this in a way that builds up the material and the social and ideological foundations for communism. A state that not only defends itself against attack, but also supports revolution all around the world, aiming for a global society of freely cooperating people. It must hold firmly onto power--and it must go as far as it can, at every point, to involve the broadest numbers of people in wrangling over and running things, as part of getting toward communist society, where neither state nor party will any longer be required. But until communism is reached, there must be a state: and this state must be the dictatorship of the proletariat. It means democracy for the masses on an unprecedented scale in conjunction with the suppression of exploiters, old and new.
On May 1, we celebrate our achievements in this world-historic struggle and especially the first great milestones on that path: the October Revolution of 1917, where the proletariat for the first time seized and held power for nearly 40 years in what became the Soviet Union; and the Chinese Revolution, and especially the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, in which the proletariat not only seized power but in which the masses themselves, led by Mao and revolutionaries within the Chinese Communist Party, later rose up to prevent the restoration of capitalism by new exploiters who arose within the communist party itself. Both of these revolutions emancipated people in a way never before seen in history, achieving incredible things; but both were eventually defeated by the still-remaining and formidable strength of imperialism.1 We draw inspiration from these revolutions, and we must learn all we can from their amazing achievements under severe fire; that isoverwhelmingly the main thing. At the same time, we must analyze their shortcomings and push further in our thinking, and in our practice.
Today Bob Avakian, Chairman of our Party, has re-envisioned communism and developed a “new synthesis”--that is, a new comprehensive and systematic understanding--of the experience of the whole first wave of proletarian revolutions and of Marxism itself. He’s developed a model of socialism in which the proletariat both holds firmly onto power but also fosters and promotes dissent and critical thought and “struggle from below” as essential elements in the struggle to reach a communist society. The leadership of the new society would encourage and fight for a critical and scientific approach to understanding and getting at the truth--with plenty of room for awe and wonder and imagination. As part of that, this radical new kind of state would embrace scientists, intellectuals, and artists--they would do intellectual and artistic work, raising questions and searching for the truth, even as they were led to contribute to breaking down the barriers with other sections of society, especially the formerly exploited and oppressed.
The new society would forge a new morality, one that rejected the me-first dog-eat-dog ways of capitalism and instead cherished the lives of the people of the world and stood for equality between nations and peoples and between men and women. This new morality would value and encourage struggle against the oppressive relations that would still remain, not resignation and surrender to them. There is a complexity to Chairman Avakian’s thinking on this that we cannot do justice to in a short essay like this. But we can say that engaging deeply with Bob Avakian’s thinking on all this is absolutely essential to getting to a better world, and his crucial, critical contributions are also something to celebrate on this day.
Two Worlds In Struggle
May 1 is, finally, a day to take the next steps in this monumental struggle. To make a revolution, you need millions of people who are willing to put everything on the line, a party with a correct strategy and deep ties among the masses, and a deep crisis in society itself. We don’t have that situation now; but we do have the opportunity and the urgent necessity to do the political preparation that can hasten that time.
Things today are very sharply posed. You could almost see it as “two universes.” Their universe poses a future--and a present--of greatly heightened worldwide exploitation and the destruction of whole peoples in the process; of imperialist war and occupation, with threats of even worse to come; of religious fundamentalism running amok all over the planet, including the real threat of a Christian Fascist theocracy within the U.S. itself, all serving to tighten the chains on women and to clamp the blinders of ignorance on everyone; of intensifying racist oppression, especially within the U.S., as shown by the government response to Katrina and the attacks on the immigrants; and of the destruction of the environment in a profit-driven frenzy to plunder the earth.
But there is another “universe,” one made up of people whose most fundamental interests stand opposed to all this and many of whom already want something different, something better. People who are sick of the lies and brutality and suppression. Who can’t stand the way that this society exploits and dogs and diminishes people, and who want to see--who yearn for--a society where people in their great masses could really flourish. Who have been shaken by the events of the past several years, and hunger for new directions and new thinking. Who are willing to dream of, and critically think about, what a different world might look like and how we might get there. People who say no and, in saying it, say yes very profoundly. People who resist. People who are ready to reach out to and challenge those still in the grip of the system’s madness, or locked in fatalism and paralysis, and win them over.
The stakes in all this are very high. There is the horror that “life as usual” under imperialism means for billions; and there is the intensified horror of all that wedded to a new Dark Ages, as the imperialists move to make radical changes in the ways in which they’ve carried out their domination. But as these imperialists move to radically restructure their rule, there is a real chance to wrench out a revolutionary opening for a different kind of radical change. But only if the people struggle, and only if they do so increasingly conscious of their own interests, reaching out ever more broadly and resisting the pull back to the confines of the system that got us in this situation in the first place.
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It is fitting that May 1 takes place in the heart of spring, when the new and arising defies--and triumphs over--the dead hand of winter. So let us celebrate this occasion as we should--in the streets, banners high, proclaiming our vision, new life surging in our voices as we get the word out far and wide. There is a world to win!
1. Even though China still calls itself socialist, and even though the ruling party there still claims the name of “communist,” they have since a coup in 1976 been a capitalist country with communist trappings. back to article