RADICAL CHANGE IS COMING:
WILL IT BE EMANCIPATING, OR ENSLAVING—
REVOLUTIONARY, OR REACTIONARY?
by Bob Avakian
For those who cannot help but hunger for a “return” to some kind of “normalcy” as an answer to the madness of Trump, Pence and the rest—forget it, it is not going to happen!
And nobody should want a return to the “normalcy” of this system. The “normalcy” of this system has always included the barbaric oppression of Black people and other people of color, with systematic terror, brutality and murder to enforce this oppression. It has always included vicious discrimination, bigotry and violence against immigrants, women, LGBTQ people, and any others regarded as inferior and “alien.” It has always included unjust wars for empire, and continuing crimes against humanity. It now poses a threat to the very existence of humanity through its increasing devastation of the environment and the ever present threat of nuclear war.
The outpouring of protest in response to the cruel, sickening murder of George Floyd—yet another link in the seemingly endless chain of murders of Black people and other oppressed people by police, acting with a smug sense of impunity, without fear of punishment—this powerful outpouring of outrage, bringing together not only Black people but others, of all races and genders and from all parts of the world, has begun to change the whole political landscape and culture, seizing the initiative in a very positive way from the ruling Trump/Pence regime and its fascist “base,” and challenging the whole paralyzing notion that the brutal reality of this system and its “norms” is the only possible reality and everyone just has to find their place within this and “do for self” as best as possible.
Faced with this rapidly changing situation, Trump has reacted with predictable threats, bullying and intensified repression, while others—who represent the same system but feel it is important at times like this to harness, “pacify” and “domesticate” the outrage—speak once again in terms of meaningless “reforms” and advocate a supposedly “softer” but still vicious version of the “law and order” which oppresses masses of people and represses any who dare to stand up against this oppression. Recognizing that it is likely to further inflame things to simply call for a return to the way things were before this outpouring of righteous rebellion broke through the suffocating routine of life under this system, there are voices representing a section of the ruling class, such as CNN’s Chris Cuomo, who are now speaking of the need for “a new normal” that will supposedly be more “just.”
But there is no “normal” of this system that does not involve systematic injustice, continuing outrage and horror, for people here and all over the world.
And the fascist Trump/Pence regime, which now controls key levers of power, and has called forth and cohered a mass base of fanatical followers, will accept no “new normal,” except one that carries the monstrous oppression of this system to even more barbaric extremes. If anyone is looking to the scheduled election in November as the way to solve things—painlessly and without turmoil and upheaval—first of all, it is not even certain that this election will actually be held. There is a definite possibility that Trump will find a way to “postpone” it, seizing on the continuing coronavirus crisis and/or some other pretext. (Yes, using COVID-19 as an excuse for canceling the election would be hypocritical, given the reckless way the Trump/Pence regime has approached this from the beginning—but who should be surprised by hypocrisy on their part?!)
Even if the election is held, there is a real chance that Trump could “legitimately” win, given the character of the “opposition,” from Joe Biden and the Democratic Party.
And anyway, Trump is already preparing the ground to say the election was “rigged” if he is not declared the winner. Remember how, before the last election, he refused to say he would abide by the results if he lost? Now, he is proclaiming that in Michigan, and some other states, preparations for people to vote by mail is massive “fraud”—when, in fact, this is not only legal but highly sensible in the conditions of the coronavirus. At the same time, Trump and the Republican Party are making other moves to suppress votes, especially of people very likely to vote against them. And all this will almost certainly go on, in an even bigger way, as the time for the election approaches.
Further, if the election is held and Trump is not declared the winner but refuses to accept the results and insists he is still president, what about all those fascist followers of Trump, some of whom are already parading around with weapons and threatening people, including elected officials—what do you think they will do if Trump calls “fraud!” and calls on them to rally to his support? Remember how, during the 2016 campaign, Trump threatened his opponent, Hillary Clinton, talking about what “those Second Amendment people” might do to her? Remember how Trump has openly talked about how he has lots of supporters, among the police and the military, and among bikers and other “tough” people? And then, just recently, Trump has threatened to use the military to violently suppress protests against police brutality and murder.
Even if the election takes place and Trump loses, and he is prevailed upon to accept the results, and his MAGA-hatted madmen and women do not “rise up in arms” in the short run, do you really think they are just going to “go away,” or slink off passively, waiting for the next election?
Whatever takes place in relation to the election scheduled for November, nothing good will happen, and really terrible things are bound to happen, if those who cannot stand what is going on now with this regime—and the very real threat of far worse—do not find the ways, even in the conditions of COVID-19, to powerfully manifest that they are determined to drive this regime from power, without waiting for, and regardless of what goes on around, the scheduled November election.1
Digging down even deeper, the basic fact has to be faced that—even while Trump might very well use extra-legal (that is, illegal) means to remain in power—this fascist regime actually came to power in the first place not through a military take-over or some other violation of the principles and functioning of this “great democracy,” but through the “normal workings” of this system. And those “normal workings” will continue to wreak havoc in the world and on the masses of people in the world, through destruction of the environment, wars, massive displacement and desperate migration of people, on top of the ongoing savage inequalities, crushing exploitation and murderous oppression “written into the DNA” of this system and carried out by its brutal enforcers.
Because of all this:
in fundamental terms, this notion of a “return to normalcy” is an illusion that will be exploded by the nature and workings of the system of capitalism-imperialism to which the masses of humanity are subjected.2
For some time now, in speaking to the conditions of women, I have been calling attention to the fact that, with the changes in the U.S. and the world economy:
The whole question of the position and role of women in society is more and more acutely posing itself in today’s extreme circumstances—this is a powderkeg in the U.S. today.
It is not conceivable that all this will find any resolution other than in the most radical terms and through extremely violent means. The question yet to be determined is: will it be a radical reactionary or a radical revolutionary resolution, will it mean the reinforcing of the chains of enslavement or the shattering of the most decisive links in those chains and the opening up of the possibility of realizing the complete elimination of all forms of such enslavement.3
This is true not only with regard to women, as important as that is, but for all those who are oppressed, degraded and brutalized under this system. It is true not just for the U.S., but throughout this highly interconnected but terribly unequal world, dominated as it is by this system of capitalism-imperialism.
In the beautiful outpouring of determined resistance to institutionalized racism and police terror, marked by a growing sense that this is somehow bound up with the very nature of this system and the many other injustices it continually perpetrates, we can see the potential for the revolution that can shatter those chains of oppression and open the way to a radically different and far better world, on an entirely new foundation. What remains to be done is to develop that potential into reality, bringing forward greater and greater numbers of people—through this present upsurge sparked by the murder of George Floyd, and through many diverse spheres of life and many different streams of struggle—who are fired with a determination to put an end to all oppression and are gaining the scientific understanding that this system of capitalism-imperialism is the source of all these inter-connected horrors, and are driven by the need and inspired by the possibility of bringing this system down and bringing that far better world into being.
1. Many of the points spoken to in this article regarding the dangers posed by the Trump/Pence fascist regime, and the possibility of this regime remaining in power regardless of what happens with the election scheduled for November, are spoken to and elaborated on very compellingly in The Worst-Case Scenario is Continuing to Accept a Fascist America by Coco Das, which is available at revcom.us, reposted from RefuseFascism.org. [back]
2. The Deadly Illusion Of “Normalcy” And The Revolutionary Way Forward. This article by Bob Avakian is available at revcom.us. [back]
3. This quote and the one above it are from a statement by Bob Avakian that was first published in 1985 and has been cited in a number of works since then, including Unresolved Contradictions, Driving Forces for Revolution, Part III: “The New Synthesis and the Woman Question: The Emancipation of Women and the Communist Revolution—Further Leaps and Radical Ruptures,” which is also available at revcom.us. Emphasis has been added here to the second quote. [back]