by Bob Avakian, Revolutionary Leader, Author of the New Communism
January 8, 2024
Looking ahead, over the course of this year—and specifically as things are very likely to be focused, to a very great extent, in relation to the 2024 election—the following are (not the only possible but are realistically possible) scenarios that need to be anticipated, not in some abstract sense but specifically in terms of the necessity and challenges we will face as things unfold, from the standpoint of the urgently needed repolarization for revolution.
* The Democrats win the presidential election—and the Republicans refuse to accept the results, with everything that would imply.
* The Republicans win—“legitimately,” or at least in a way that is ruled “legal.” This is probably the worst-case scenario. In one important dimension, it would pose very sharply the need for overcoming the spontaneity, among significant numbers of people opposed to the Republi-fascists that “nothing can be done” (“what can you do?”). At the same time, along with mass discontent, there would very likely be “spontaneous” mass outpouring of opposition, and the phenomenon spoken to in Revolution—Building Up The Basis To Go For The Whole Thing, With A Real Chance To Win: Strategic Orientation And Practical Approach (and cited shortly below here) of different organized forces in the field, seeking to take things in different directions.
* There is no election—with all the tumult, chaos, etc., that would accompany this scenario.
Once again, in relation to all of these (and other possible) scenarios, the challenge will be repolarization—for revolution. (In this regard, it is important to cast away illusions and keep in mind that, especially if the Republi-fascists do win the election, there would be people whom you might expect to be opposed to the fascists who would instead actually rally to their camp—including some basic oppressed people—and this emphasizes from yet another angle the crucial importance of repolarization, for revolution, through ferocious ideological struggle, as well as concrete action, all along the way, as well as specifically in those particular circumstances.)
This gives particular focus and emphasis to the following (from point 2) in Revolution—Building Up The Basis To Go For The Whole Thing, With A Real Chance To Win: Strategic Orientation And Practical Approach:
In the circumstances of all-out crisis, when the whole direction of society is being called into question, there would be different trends and organized forces seeking to take things in different directions. There would be the fascist Republicans, aiming to seize (or consolidate) power, in order to bring about a more blatant form of oppressive and murderous rule, without the usual disguise of “democracy, with liberty and justice for all.” There would be those, like the leaders of the Democratic Party, trying to maintain (or restore) this monstrous system of oppression in its more “traditional” form. There would be masses of people in favor of some kind of basic change in a positive direction, but with different ideas about what that would mean. And there would likely be some organized forces claiming to be aiming for some kind of “progressive” change—even some calling themselves “revolutionaries” or “socialists”—when in fact their programs would only reinforce, and keep people locked into, the existing system.
The people who are won to revolution, in increasingly greater numbers, must be led to have a clear understanding of the need, and be in position, to wage a powerful struggle to determine the whole direction of things in the midst of such an acute crisis, in order to carry things forward toward the only real positive solution: an actual, truly emancipating revolution.
EVERYTHING THAT IS DONE, FROM HERE FORWARD, MUST BE ORIENTED TO CREATING THE BASIS FOR THIS.
This also underscores the crucial importance of the following:
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.
It does need to be understood that, even if at the beginning of a crisis represented by one of the above scenarios (and/or possibly some others), there is not yet a revolutionary people in the millions, the challenge and responsibility we must strive to meet in those circumstances is to bring such a revolutionary people into being, through the “intense swirl” of the crisis: to take responsibility precisely to repolarize—for revolution—in such intense circumstances. And the following statement from Lenin (part of fuller observations by Lenin cited below) not only applies overall to the kind of situation we are in now, but would especially apply when everything is coming to a head: “people learn in a week more than they do in a year of ordinary, somnolent [sleepy] life.”
This speaks to the possibility of winning masses, yes even millions, of people to revolution in a very “telescoped” way, in the circumstances of rapidly intensifying contradictions, when the whole direction of society is being immediately and sharply contested—even when, in immediate terms, the defining contestation is among forces none of which is revolutionary—and even when winning masses of people to revolution had seemed like a remote possibility, or even outright impossibility, shortly before that.
However, this—it needs to be firmly understood and constantly kept in mind—does not in any way reduce the great need and urgent importance of bringing forward a revolutionary people, in the millions, as soon as possible, in order to be in the best possible position to influence the course of events as things continue to intensify, and likely make leap after leap in the intensification of the crisis. In more blunt terms, this is NOT an “invitation” to the rationalization: “Well, if we don’t bring forward a revolutionary people, first in the thousands and then in the millions, leading into a situation where the whole direction of society is ‘up,’ at least we can try to do so once there is that situation.” NO! and again NO! There is an urgent need to be making the breakthroughs that can result in bringing forward such a revolutionary people before and leading into a situation where “everything is on the line”—or the chances of being able to “determine the whole direction of things” toward a positive, revolutionary resolution, will be greatly diminished.
The point is that everything, from here forward, must be oriented toward actually achieving this (bringing forward such a revolutionary people, first in the thousands and then in the millions, in a very “telescoped” period, before and leading into a situation where “everything is on the line”). If, despite all our efforts, we do not succeed in meeting this crucial objective, then—and only then—the emphasis must shift to doing so as everything is “on the line,” all with the orientation of getting into position to go for the whole thing, with a real chance to win.
The following from Lenin, in Lessons Of The Revolution (summer, 1917) has important bearing on this, and more generally with regard to the understanding of—and the challenges, and possibilities posed by—“rare time”:
Every revolution means a sharp turn in the lives of a vast number of people. Unless the time is ripe for such a turn, no real revolution can take place. And just as any turn in the life of an individual teaches him a great deal and brings rich experience and great emotional stress, so a revolution teaches an entire people very rich and valuable lessons in a short space of time.
During a revolution, millions and tens of millions of people learn in a week more than they do in a year of ordinary, somnolent [sleepy] life. For at the time of a sharp turn in the life of an entire people it becomes particularly clear what aims the various classes of the people are pursuing, what strength they possess, and what methods they use.
As important and definitely relevant as these statements by Lenin are, they must not be understood in mechanical terms. For example, the revolution in China followed a significantly different path than the one in Russia. At the same time, with regard to that revolution in China there is applicability to what Lenin writes here, including the basic point that “Every revolution means a sharp turn in the lives of a vast number of people.” Notably, the invasion and occupation of China by Japanese imperialism was certainly “a sharp turn in the lives of a vast number of people.” Again, the point is to understand this in a living, and not a mechanical, way.
This also applies to the last part of this statement by Lenin: As a point of general understanding, and one of particular and acute relevance to our situation now, this part of this statement by Lenin should not be interpreted to mean that “the aims the various classes of the people are pursuing,” etc., will become clear spontaneously, but rather that there is far more basis than in “normal times” to make this clear through scientific analysis—and agitation as well as propaganda based on this scientific analysis—which especially in such times (times, in fact, like these) must be penetrating and compelling, and increasingly accessible to broad masses of people.
With those caveats, however, this statement by Lenin remains very important and highly relevant.