by Bob Avakian
January 17, 2022
It is extremely important for growing numbers of people to deeply dig into, actively spread, and boldly act to carry out what is contained in the major work of mine that is featured prominently on revcom.us, “SOMETHING TERRIBLE, OR SOMETHING TRULY EMANCIPATING: Profound Crisis, Deepening Divisions, The Looming Possibility Of Civil War—And The Revolution That Is Urgently Needed, A Necessary Foundation, A Basic Roadmap For This Revolution.” Here is some crucial scientific understanding that concentrates key points in that work.
This System Is Not “Democracy”—It’s Capitalism-Imperialism. We Need to Get Rid of This Whole System.
These days there is a lot of increasingly urgent concern expressed by “mainstream” media commentators and politicians about “saving our democracy,” in the face of the attacks by the supporters of Donald Trump and the overall forces of fascism. I’ll come back to that. But, first, here is something very relevant to this whole situation.
In law there is a basic principle which is captured in the formulation: “fruit of the poison tree.” (This refers to the fact that evidence gathered against someone by unlawful means is not supposed to be used in legal proceedings against that person.) And, extending this understanding:
The much-proclaimed “democracy” in this country is the “fruit of this poisonous system” of capitalism-imperialism. This “democracy” is fundamentally shaped by and serves the economic system, the mode of production, of this system, which is based on vicious exploitation of people, here and throughout the world; is bound up with brutal and murderous oppression; and is enforced with continual, often massive violence.
In reality, this “democracy” is part of and serves the exercise of dictatorship—the domination of political power and the monopoly of “legitimate” armed force and violence—by the capitalist-imperialist ruling class of this system. And what is constantly advertised as the heart of this “democracy”—“the right of the people to choose their leaders, through elections”—is, in reality, the “right” to choose which section of this ruling class will play the main role in enforcing this dictatorship and pursuing the interests of the capitalist-imperialists of this country, in their exploitation and oppression of literally billions of people throughout the world, and in their rivalry with the ruling classes of other capitalist-imperialist countries, such as China and Russia.
None of this is in the interests of the masses of people, in this country and in the world as a whole.
It is true: There is now the situation where one section of this ruling class, represented by the Republican Party, is aiming to discard “democracy” and institute fascism—an undisguised capitalist dictatorship, crudely defying what have been the “normal procedures” of this system (such as the “peaceful transfer of power” from one section of the ruling class to another through elections), making a mockery of the “rule of law,” openly trampling on what are supposed to be basic rights and aggressively promoting and working to enforce white supremacy, male supremacy, and other oppressive relations.
This fascism must be thoroughly defeated. But this must be done not by seeking to preserve the “democratic” form of this system of worldwide exploitation and oppression—a system which has bred this fascism and which, through its “normal democratic functioning,” involves systematic brutality and violence to enforce its rule. Instead, this system must be overthrown, through an actual revolution, and replaced with a radically different, emancipating system. And, as I have analyzed in depth in “Something Terrible, Or Something Truly Emancipating,” this very situation—with its deep divisions within the ruling class, where the fascist section is openly abandoning and attacking the “democratic norms” of this system, and the society is being torn apart—this is one of those rare times when, even in a powerful country like this, revolution can become possible (or more possible). This situation is precisely one where the outcome could be something terrible, or something truly emancipating. This rare situation must not be wasted, thrown away—leaving the initiative with forces driving things toward a terrible outcome—it must be seized on to actively work to bring about the emancipating revolution that is possible, and urgently needed.
And of great importance in relation to all this is the following profound truth—speaking about the sweeping vision and concrete blueprint for a radically different, emancipating system that is contained in the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, which I have authored:
It is a fact that, nowhere else, in any actual or proposed founding or guiding document of any government, is there anything like not only the protection but the provision for dissent and intellectual and cultural ferment that is embodied in this Constitution, while this has, as its solid core, a grounding in the socialist transformation of the economy, with the goal of abolishing all exploitation, and the corresponding transformation of the social relations and political institutions, to uproot all oppression, and the promotion, through the educational system and in society as a whole, of an approach that will “enable people to pursue the truth wherever it leads, with a spirit of critical thinking and scientific curiosity, and in this way to continually learn about the world and be better able to contribute to changing it in accordance with the fundamental interests of humanity.” All this will unchain and unleash a tremendous productive and social force of human beings enabled and inspired to work and struggle together to meet the fundamental needs of the people—transforming society in a fundamental way and supporting and aiding revolutionary struggle throughout the world—aiming for the final goal of a communist world, free from all exploitation and oppression, while at the same time addressing the truly existential environmental and ecological crisis, in a meaningful and comprehensive way, which is impossible under the system of capitalism-imperialism.
The Fascists Are Not “Radicals,” They Are Reactionaries.
The “mainstream” media in this country (such as CNN) continually refer to the followers of Donald Trump and others who are seeking to institute fascism as “radicals.” But they are not radicals at all. “Radical” has to do with “root”—it involves getting to the root of things—in this case, getting to the root of the system in this country, the system of capitalism-imperialism, which is rooted in the capitalist mode of production, based on ruthless exploitation of billions of people throughout the world, including more than 150 million children.
These fascists are fanatical supporters of this system of exploitation and oppression. They are not radicals but reactionaries: They are reacting, with vicious insanity, against changes that have allowed some measure of “inclusion” for people who, in the history of this country, have been subjected to laws and customs that have treated them as less than fully human—as inferiors, outcasts, and “aliens”—including Black people and other people of color; women; LGBT people; and immigrants, especially from non-European countries. These fascists’ crazed outrage is also directed against others who are not white Christian fundamentalists, including people of different religions and the growing numbers of atheists, agnostics and others who are not followers of traditional religions.
It is true that what these fascists are aiming for is drastic change, in fanatical opposition to the “mainstream” of “democratic” capitalist society today. Some of these fascists may even throw around the word “revolution,” but what they are really about is not revolution but “restoration”—restoring the kinds of openly oppressive racial and gender relations that existed before the 1960s, or even looking back to the situation that existed before the Civil War of 1861-1865, with literal slavery (which is why many of these fascists go around waving the Confederate flag—the flag of the southern slave-owners and white supremacists). In terms of a real revolution in today’s world—a revolution to overthrow this system of capitalism-imperialism and put an end to slavery and oppression, in any form—these fascists are fanatically opposed to this. They are firmly on the side of counter-revolution.
It is those of us who are actual revolutionaries today—the revolutionary communists—who are the true radicals, in the most correct and very best sense: In our scientific approach to understanding why the world is so messed up, we have dug down to the root of this system of worldwide exploitation and oppression, capitalism-imperialism, and identified this as the fundamental cause of the terrible conditions of the masses of humanity and the threat to the very existence of humanity. On this basis, we are determined to overthrow and uproot this whole system, and replace it with the radically different system, on the road to the emancipation of humanity as a whole, which is set forth in the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America.
Mode of Production—Mode of Thinking: We Need a Complete Revolution.
The way people think—the “mode of thinking” of people—in any given society is fundamentally shaped by the mode of production (the economic system)that is the foundation for that society and its functioning.
Waging the necessary struggle to transform the thinking of people is crucial, is pivotal in the process Fight the Power, And Transform the People—for Revolution. In this process, the thinking of masses of people can change, even in profound ways. But, as long as this system remains in power and in force, the powerful pull of this system will again transform the mode of thinking of people in line with the mode of production which is the foundation, and sets the terms, for life under this system.
That is another important dimension of why the goal of the struggle against exploitation and oppression must be to overthrow this system and replace it with a radically different, emancipating system: socialism, with the final goal of a communist world, where all exploitation and oppression, of everyone, everywhere, will be eliminated and uprooted.