Part 1: We Are Serious
by Bob Avakian
July 31, 2023
Some people have argued that an attempt to make an actual revolution, to overthrow the ruling system of capitalism-imperialism in this country, up against the powerful armed forces of this system, would be suicidal. This is something I spoke to, a number of years ago now, in the talk Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution:
Many people, including many who say they would like to see a radical change in society, insist that revolution is not possible because “they” are too powerful, and “people are too messed up.” Well, it is true that, shaped as they are by this system, the masses of people, in any part of society, don’t know shit and have their heads up their asses, when it comes to an understanding of how things really are, why they are the way they are, and what could and should be done about this. But this stands in sharp contradiction to another important truth—that millions of people really do care about one or more, and many care about all, of the “5 STOPS.” This is a contradiction that we have to go to work on, to move masses of people in the direction of the revolution that is needed to finally put a stop to those “5 STOPS” and the horrific conditions to which the masses of humanity are constantly subjected. [The 5 STOPS refers to five major social contradictions and forms of oppression and devastation that are built into this system of capitalism-imperialism and which can only be eliminated through a revolution to overthrow this system.]1
It is also true that the ruling powers of this system, with the machinery of death and destruction they wield to enforce this system, are indeed very powerful. But a big part of people’s difficulty in imagining that we could actually defeat them is the inability to conceive of a situation that is radically different than the “normal” functioning of this system, a situation where, for large parts of society, the “hold” of the ruling class over people—its ability to control, manipulate, and intimidate them—is broken, or greatly weakened. Fundamentally, people cannot imagine this because they are not approaching things with a scientific outlook and method.2 (Emphasis added.)
This series of five articles speaks more fully to why such a revolution is not only urgently necessary now but why, with the right scientific approach, such a revolution could in fact have a real chance to succeed—and why anyone who really wants to see a radically different world, without all the horrors that are continually brought about, and the even greater horrors for humanity that are now threatened by this system of capitalism-imperialism needs to be actively involved in working tirelessly, with scientifically based determination, for this revolution.
The following is the first in a series of selections from my talks and writings speaking to how to go about carrying out a revolution in this country, mobilizing millions of people, with the goal of actually defeating the violent enforcers of this system of capitalism-imperialism, abolishing this system altogether, and bringing into being a radically different, emancipating system based on the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America.3
This part one contains an excerpt from “Something Terrible, Or Something Truly Emancipating” (which is available at revcom.us); and then an excerpt from a presentation to a gathering of revcoms (revolutionary communists) in 2022.
Everything depends on bringing forward a revolutionary people, from among the most bitterly oppressed, and all parts of society, first in the thousands and then in the millions, as a powerful revolutionary force, organized from the start and consistently with a country-wide perspective, impacting all of society and changing the terms of how masses of people see things and how every institution has to respond. Everything must be focused now on actually bringing forward and organizing this revolutionary force.
And then, once this revolutionary force is brought into being, everything would be focused on how to actually fight to win.
At that point, this force of millions would need to be mobilized and wielded in such a way as to make clear that it is going for a complete, revolutionary change—that it will not back down from this goal and accept anything less. In this way, it would constitute a powerful pole attracting and drawing forward even broader numbers of people from all parts of society—and it would pose a definite challenge and call to people everywhere in society, including in all the existing institutions of this system, to come over to the side of this revolution.
As I said in the Dialogue with Cornel West: It is important that we are right, and righteous—it is important that we stand with the wretched of the Earth and stand up against their oppression—but we have to win.4
We have to actually shatter the rule of this monstrous system, and bring something radically different and much better into being. Or else, we will at best “fight the good fight” but the horrors will continue, and get even worse.
The sixth point of the Points of Attention for the Revolution says this: “We are going for an actual overthrow of this system and a whole better way beyond the destructive, vicious conflicts of today between the people. Because we are serious, at this stage we do not initiate violence and we oppose all violence against the people and among the people.”5
I have highlighted the words “Because we are serious” in order to emphasize that this Point of Attention is not a declaration of some idealist pacifist notion that the struggle against this system can and must always remain nonviolent. First of all, while we are against all violence against the people and among the people, and at this stage we do not initiate (and we do not encourage others to initiate) violence, at the same time we strongly recognize and uphold the right of people to defend themselves against unjust attacks. And, more strategically, we scientifically understand that: the fundamental source of violence in the world is this system of capitalism-imperialism, that by far the greatest perpetrators of unjust violence are the ruling classes of the capitalist-imperialist powers, most of all this country—and that the fundamental reason why the abolition of this system cannot be achieved peacefully is, once again, because of the nature of this system itself, and the fact that those who rule in it would never allow their system to be swept away without attempting to violently suppress and crush any such attempt.
This is what it means that we are serious about all this.
It is with this understanding, and this orientation, that we have to very seriously approach the question of how to actually win—win in the more immediate fight, historically speaking, to seize power—and win in a way that lays the basis for winning in the largest sense, with the goal of uprooting all oppression and exploitation, all over the world, bringing into being a communist world in which human beings can truly thrive with the fullest expression of their humanity.
1. The 5 STOPS are:
STOP Genocidal Persecution, Mass Incarceration, Police Brutality and Murder of Black and Brown People!
STOP The Patriarchal Degradation, Dehumanization, and Subjugation of All Women Everywhere, and All Oppression Based on Gender and Sexual Orientation!
STOP Wars of Empire, Armies of Occupation, and Crimes Against Humanity!
STOP The Demonization, Criminalization and Deportations of Immigrants and the Militarization of the Border!
STOP Capitalism-Imperialism from Destroying Our Planet! [back]
2. A film and the text of Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Actually Make Revolution are available at revcom.us/BA’s Collected Works. [back]
3. The Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America is available at revcom.us. [back]
4. REVOLUTION AND RELIGION: The Fight for Emancipation and the Role of Religion; A Dialogue Between CORNEL WEST & BOB AVAKIAN. This film of the Dialogue is also available at revcom.us/BA’s Collected Works. [back]