Further Developing the Strategy for Revolution
by Bob Avakian
In Part II of Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution, as an important application of the new communism I have developed over a number of decades, I speak directly to the fact that everything that we are doing now needs to be aiming for something very definite: a revolutionary situation. In that speech (as well as a number of other works), I have discussed key features of a revolutionary situation, including the crucial element of a revolutionary people in the millions, in the context of a deep crisis for the whole system. Here, I want to focus on the following from the same part (II) of “Why We Need/How We Can”:
we need to work back from that [revolutionary] situation and what would be required then—how the all-out fight would need to be waged—to have a real chance to defeat the powerful violent forces of this system.1
There follows, in Part II, a discussion of key principles that would need to guide the revolutionary forces waging such an all-out fight, when the conditions for that had been brought into being. But, of course, the problem of actually defeating the powerful violent forces of repression of this system (and counter-revolutionary forces allied with them), even in the radically changed and more favorable conditions of a revolutionary situation, represents a difficult and complicated challenge. So, even now—when the conditions required for this all-out fight do not yet exist—it is necessary, and of great importance, to continue to grapple with the theory and the strategic conception and principles involved.
The Struggle Against Fascism Now and the Future All-Out Fight
One important dimension to all this is addressed in the following—speaking to the challenges in going up against the Trump/Pence fascist regime and its “base,” and how this relates to the fundamental goal of revolution to do away with this whole system which has given rise to this fascism:
What is urgently needed is a massive struggle against the fascism of the Trump/Pence regime and determined opposition to the “base” it is mobilizing in its support. This struggle needs to be waged in a serious way, in accordance with the actual stakes involved—not seeking or initiating violence but also not cowed into submission by the actions of the fascists.
And what is needed, in working toward the fundamental solution to all this, is to wage this anti-fascist struggle as part of accelerating—“hastening”—the development of things toward the point where it will be possible to carry out the revolution, the all-out fight, to finally put an end to this whole system of capitalism-imperialism, with all of the horrors it has already brought about for the masses of humanity—and the even worse horrors it will unleash if it is allowed to continue—when all this is completely unnecessary and there is the basis and possibility for a radically different and far better world.2
Hastening and preparing for the revolutionary showdown needs to proceed, and is proceeding, in accordance with the basic principles for the revolution that are concentrated in the 5-2-6, including Point 6 of the Six Points of Attention for the Revolution:
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.3
At the same time, it is noteworthy that the threats of violence, and actual violence, by fascist thugs, often heavily armed, have not succeeded in intimidating people from righteously protesting against institutional racism and police terror, and in fact there have even been instances where disciplined groups of Black people have shown up to make very clear that they will defend protesters from attacks by these fascist thugs. And it is important to keep the following clearly in mind, especially given the threats and inclination to violence of the fascist thugs who have attacked demonstrations and even stormed into government buildings while armed:
To a significant degree now, the conflict between the sections of society upholding this fascism and those opposing it, from various different perspectives, is shaping the terrain on which the struggle for revolution must be carried out; this conflict is likely to intensify, and could erupt further in violent confrontation, and in any case it would be a significant factor in the context of an all-out struggle between revolution and counter-revolution.4
In line with what is said there, it is even possible that this “conflict between the sections of society upholding this fascism and those opposing it” could at some point, in combination with the heightening and intensifying of other key contradictions, lead to (or develop into) the all-out fight. And this conflict would also likely influence where different sections of people, within different institutions, would be inclined to line up (or could be won to line up).
Defeating “Encirclement and Suppression”—Carrying the Revolutionary Fight Forward
With all that, however, it is very likely that, when it comes down to it—when the revolutionary situation has finally emerged and the all-out struggle is underway—the main thing the revolution would then need to confront would be “the institutional forces of the old ruling class,” even while this would almost certainly involve a significant element of “a civil war between two sections of the people,” and this element would interact with (and influence) the conflict between the revolutionary forces and “the institutional forces of the old ruling class.”5
With this in mind, there is the need to take into account the following, even as it is coming from the point of view of the counter-revolutionary forces of the old, oppressive order:
The only way [for the counter-revolution] to gain the necessary control is to garrison troops 24/7 among the civilians; periodic “sweep” or “cordon and search” operations, even when conducted by counterinsurgents as cruel as the Nazis, fail because civilians know the rebels will return the moment the soldiers leave and exact a terrible revenge on anyone who collaborated with them. The populace will embrace the government only if it is less dangerous to do so than to support the insurgency, which is why successful population-centric policies aim to control the people, not to win their love and gratitude. As John Paul Vann, the legendary American adviser in South Vietnam, said, “Security may be ten percent of the problem, or it may be ninety percent, but whichever it is, it’s the first ten percent or the first ninety percent. Without security, nothing else we do will last.”6
This statement presents things in a crudely distorted and upside-down way: It is not the revolutionary forces that would bring down murderous violence against the masses of people; it is the military forces fighting to maintain the oppressive and exploitative system of capitalist imperialism who would do so in the attempt to terrorize people into supporting the counter-revolution. In opposition to that, the revolutionary fighting forces, guided by and proceeding in accordance with the basic principles of the new communism, would work to win the support of the people through applying an approach and methods that flow from and correspond to the emancipating goals of the revolution. Nevertheless, in spite of the reactionary viewpoint and distortion of the author of the above-quoted statement, it raises something very important, whose implications would need to be taken into account in the strategic approach of the revolutionary forces.
This points to the need to include the following in the basic strategic approach that is discussed in Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution, Part II, as the basis for winning (actually defeating them) in the future conditions of a profound revolutionary crisis and with a revolutionary people in the millions:
There would need to be an added emphasis on the need for the all-out revolutionary fight to be country-wide in scope, from the beginning, or very quickly after the start, for the revolutionary forces to have organized strongholds of support in many different parts of the country—and to have the ability to act simultaneously, or in quick succession, in many different parts of the country (to effect a “popcorn” phenomenon of actions breaking out repeatedly and in quick succession all over the country)—in order to effectively counter the “encirclement and suppression” of the revolution by the counter-revolution, and in particular the ability of the counter-revolution to not only concentrate forces against but to actually occupy the areas that constitute the strongholds of support for the revolution (even while those strongholds are not yet being openly controlled and administered by the revolution), particularly in the early stages of this all-out fight.
The above would constitute an important further development of what is spoken to in Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution, Part II, in terms of the strategic approach and principles that would need to be applied in waging the all-out fight in the most effective way, in accordance with the fundamental orientation and goals of the revolution, in order to have a real chance to win, once the conditions that would make that possible had been brought into being.
At the same time, it needs to be strongly emphasized that none of this will be possible—and even the development of a truly profound crisis in society is very likely to be resolved in a negative, or even a very negative and potentially disastrous, way—if there is not “an organized vanguard force with the vision and method, strategy and plan—and deepening ties among masses of people—to actually lead the fight to defeat and dismantle the violent repressive force of the existing system and its power structure, and to bring into being a new revolutionary system that can provide the means for people to radically transform society toward the goal of abolishing oppression and exploitation.”
Bringing forward an organized movement for revolution, numbering not just in the hundreds but in the thousands—growing numbers of people with a basic scientific understanding of the need and possibility for revolution, grounded in the new communism, and concretely working together to apply the strategy laid out in “Why We Need/How We Can” to “hasten” and prepare for, and then lead millions to seize on, the revolutionary situation when it has fully ripened—this is the critical immediate challenge and goal for all those who hunger for the chance to bring a radically different and much better world into being.
1. The text and video of this speech by Bob Avakian (Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution) are available at TheBobAvakianInstitute.com and revcom.us.
Besides what is said in that speech, in terms of key elements of a revolutionary situation, this question is also addressed in a number of other works by Bob Avakian, including the following:
An actual revolution requires two essential factors: a revolutionary situation, and a revolutionary people in their millions. And these two factors are closely interconnected.
A revolutionary situation involves not just a crisis in society in some general sense but a situation where the system and its ruling powers are in a profound and acute crisis and millions and millions of people refuse to be ruled in the old way—and are willing and determined to put everything on the line to bring down this system and bring into being a new society and government. Key components and signs of a revolutionary crisis are that the violence used to enforce this system is seen by large parts of society for what it is—murderous and illegitimate—and that the conflicts among the ruling forces become really deep and sharp, and masses of people respond to this not by falling in behind one side or the other of the oppressive rulers, but by taking advantage of this situation to build up the forces for revolution.*
* Bob Avakian has also characterized a revolutionary situation this way:
What is a Revolutionary Situation? A deep crisis and sharpening conflicts in society and in the government and ruling circles, where they cannot find a way to resolve these conflicts—in society and among their own ranks—which do not make things worse for them and call forth more resistance and further undermine people’s belief in their “right to rule” and in the “legitimacy” of their use of force to maintain their rule; programs of “reforming” the system are shown to be bankrupt, totally unable to deal with what more and more people recognize as profound dysfunction and intolerable injustice of the whole setup; those, in society as well as among the ruling class, who are trying to enforce the existing system are on the political defensive, even if lashing out; millions of people are actively seeking radical change, determined to fight for it, willing to put everything on the line to win it, and searching for a force to lead them in doing so; and a solid core of thousands is united around a leadership, an organized vanguard force with the vision and method, strategy and plan—and deepening ties among masses of people—to actually lead the fight to defeat and dismantle the violent repressive force of the existing system and its power structure, and to bring into being a new revolutionary system that can provide the means for people to radically transform society toward the goal of abolishing oppression and exploitation.
The above is a footnote to the article by Bob Avakian, “Boomers”—”X,Y,Z”: The Problem Is Not “Generations,” It’s the System; this footnote includes a passage from another work, Bob Avakian Responds To Mark Rudd On The Lessons Of The 1960s And The Need For An Actual Revolution. These works are also available at TheBobAvakianInstitute.com and revcom.us. [back]
3. The 5-2-6 refers to the 5 STOPS—five deep and defining contradictions of this system of capitalism-imperialism—5 ways in which this system oppresses people, plunders the environment, wages unjust wars and continually commits massive crimes against humanity; the two choices articulated by Bob Avakian (“we have two choices: either, live with all this—and condemn future generations to the same, or worse, if they have a future at all—or, make revolution!”); and the Six Points of Attention for the Revolution. The full presentation of the 5-2-6 can be found at revcom.us. [back]
4. These statements, cited in Bob Avakian On Civil War And Revolution, are originally from Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution. [back]
5. These statements, cited in Bob Avakian On Civil War And Revolution, are originally from Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution. [back]
6. Max Boot, Invisible Armies, An Epic History of Guerrilla Warfare from Ancient Times to the Present (Liveright Publishing, 2013). The quote here is from the concluding chapter, “Implications” (p. 563), emphasis added. [back]