from Bob Avakian—revolutionary leader, author and architect of the new communism
July 11, 2022
I have read your book The Life of the Cosmos—and, with more difficulty, your work on the question of time (Time Reborn). I have to say that, with that latter work in particular, I found some of the analysis, and the basic concepts, difficult to grasp. That is, at least in large part, because I lack the necessary background not only with regard to the particular questions of theoretical physics addressed in that book, but with regard to theoretical physics more generally. Nevertheless, it proved to be an enriching experience to engage and attempt to understand questions that are not merely important matters of theoretical abstraction but which ultimately have profound significance for human beings, our relation to the rest of the cosmos, and to each other.
At the same time, having devoted my life to pursuits other than theoretical physics, I recognize how irresponsible it would be for me to make summary judgments or pronouncements about crucial matters in that field without first further pursuing a deeper understanding of what those who have made this their life’s work have to say about this.
Which brings me to the following statements of yours in The Life of the Cosmos: You refer to your years as “a high school student in the early 1970’s, infatuated with rock and roll, what I understood to be revolutionary politics, and my girlfriend” (“Prologue,” p, 7); and about how, years later, you (and your colleagues)
are all trying to make sense of youths lived through the ecstatic utopianism of the 1960s and adulthoods that witnessed the collapse of the very different Marxist utopianism and the revelations of the violence that that dream imposed on its peoples. We are all trying to understand what democracy might mean in a world dominated by consumer capitalism, a growing ecological crisis, a widening gap between rich and poor, and the permanent confrontation of peoples with radically different cultures and expectations about life. (“Epilogue/Evolutions,” p. 295)
I have to say that, as someone who came of age politically in the same general period as you, and who has dedicated his life to an understanding of human society and its historical development, and the potential and active struggle for its emancipating transformation—and more specifically as someone who has taken up and applied Marxism/communism to these fundamental questions, precisely not as utopianism but as a scientific method and approach—I cannot help but be struck by how completely misguided, highly inaccurate and frankly irresponsible is the statement of yours purporting to pass judgment on the experience of what you incorrectly identify as “Marxist utopianism.”
Imagine if someone, such as myself, lacking any serious immersion in the field of theoretical physics, took the same irresponsible approach that you have taken—imagine if I were to make the kinds of facile (and frankly fatuous) “definitive pronouncements” about theoretical physics that you have made about the experience of communism! But, as I have pointed out before, when it comes to communism, people—even those who, in regard to other dimensions of human experience, would not think of making pronouncements in this irresponsible way—have no hesitation in regurgitating what they have been fed about communism, by the powers-that-be of this system of capitalism-imperialism and their intellectual camp followers, without bothering to seriously look into this (or to “consider the source” of the relentless anti-communist offensive with which so many these days have been… yes, I do not hesitate to say it, brainwashed)! And, for this reason, even some of the valid concerns and better sentiments that you express (as evidenced in what I have quoted here) are squandered and led into a dead end of actually utopian hopes that the kinds of contradictions you speak of could be resolved in a positive way under this system.
You speak of “democracy” without the recognition that this “democracy” does not simply exist in the context of “consumer capitalism” but is in fact founded on, and is the extension and superstructural expression of, the underlying economic relations and dynamics (mode of production) of this system of capitalism-imperialism—a worldwide system of vicious exploitation and social relations of brutal oppression. Before you dismiss this as dogmatic rhetoric, let me call your attention to this profoundly outrageous reality:
in the period of slightly more than 75 years since the end of World War 2, because of the way the world is dominated by the system of capitalism-imperialism, at least 350 million children in the Third World have needlessly died because of starvation and preventable disease!
Not less than 350 million! That is a number greater than the entire population of the U.S.
This horror is an expression of the parasitism of this system of capitalism-imperialism, which rests on the extreme exploitation of literally billions of people, particularly in the Third World, including more than 150 million children, and the terrible conditions that are imposed on masses of people there, along with this extreme exploitation.
It is not a matter of mere assertion that this system of capitalism-imperialism is the fundamental cause of these horrors. It is an evidence-based conclusion, a matter of objective fact, which has been concretely and amply demonstrated through work that I, and others, have done—work that is accessible through the website revcom.us.
I do not hesitate to say that whether, and how, scourges and atrocities like this (and many more perpetrated by this system) could be overcome—and, in place of this, there could be a truly emancipatory human society and world, which at the same time has the basis to deal with the increasingly acute environmental crisis and to be a fit caretaker of the earth—is certainly not of less moment and consequence than important questions of theoretical physics. Anyone sincerely concerned with the state and the fate of humanity, and especially anyone with an appreciation of the scientific method, should at least be willing to seriously engage what is asserted to be a scientific method and approach with regard to the challenging problems of human emancipation and the experience of communist revolution—whose declared purpose and goal is precisely to achieve the objectives I have referred to here.
It would be unrealistic and unreasonable to ask someone like yourself, whose efforts are devoted to other important pursuits, to engage the full body of theory and analysis which constitutes and flows from the new communism which has resulted from decades of work I have carried out, and which represents and embodies a qualitative resolution of a critical contradiction that has existed within communism in its development up to this point, between its fundamentally scientific method and approach, and aspects of communism which have run counter to this. But, especially as you have felt free to make sweeping pronouncements about communism, clearly without the necessary foundation for doing so, it seems appropriate to urge you to read the special issue that can be found at revcom.us: You Don’t Know What You Think You “Know” About… The Communist Revolution and the REAL Path to Emancipation: Its History and Our Future, Interview with Raymond Lotta.
Along with that, as you have rightly expressed deep concern about what are truly profound problems confronting humanity, including the continually intensifying environmental crisis, but at the same time are approaching this from within the framework of “democracy,” without recognizing what this “democracy” actually constitutes and what it rests on, I refer you to the article of mine: In Light of the Urgency Spoken to in “Something Terrible, Or Something Truly Emancipating” A RENEWED CHALLENGE: SEARCHING FOR AN HONEST LIBERAL OR PROGRESSIVE.
Should you be inclined to dig further into the substance of what defines and distinguishes the new communism that I have developed, I would refer you to the following:
Breakthroughs: The Historic Breakthrough by Marx, and the Further Breakthrough with the New Communism, A Basic Summary. (Insight Press, 2021—eBook available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc. PDF version available at revcom.us);
Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America. (RCP Publications, 2010; also available as a PDF at revcom.us.)
I hope that you—and, for that matter, others who have not abandoned an appreciation of the importance of intellectual integrity and a scientific approach to actually understanding reality—will seriously engage what I have pointed to here, with a recognition of its profound, and indeed urgent, importance in regard to the prospect of human emancipation and a future worth living for humanity, including a rational and sustainable interaction of human beings and their society with the rest of nature.
I would be very pleased to hear from you in this regard.