Part 2: Is Talk About Revolution Real--How Could Revolution Come About in the U.S.?

Bob Avakian Speaks Out, Interviewed by Carl Dix

On War and Revolution, On Being a Revolutionary and Changing the World

Revolutionary Worker #1156, June 23, 2002, posted at

In heavy times like these, the people require extraordinary things to help prepare them for the challenges we face. What follows is truly extraordinary, something that will help arm those who want to take on the U.S. rulers' juggernaut of war and repression with the kind of understanding they need to deal with these times--the immediate challenges in front of us and a whole lot more involved in changing the world. The Revolutionary Worker is beginning the publication of an important interview with Bob Avakian, the leader of the Revolutionary Communist Party..

I had the honor of doing this interview with him in early 2002. Going into it, I knew there were burning questions many people would've wanted to put to him if they had the chance. They had been putting those kinds of questions to me when I went out there around the Party's Draft Programme or got down with people around the "war without limits" the U.S. imperialist ruling class has unleashed on the world. I was going to have the responsibility, and the opportunity, to put these questions to him for them.

Doing this was intense. It was hard, and it was fun. I hadn't had a chance to get into it with Bob Avakian like this for quite a while. He was the same "fired man" (to borrow a term from Peter Tosh) who had provided crucial leadership for the revolutionary movement at key junctures so many times in the past. He was right on top of what was going down in the U.S. and around the world. And he had the same boundless enthusiasm to dig into world historic questions concerning the process of proletarian revolution. We spent the several days doing the interview, getting into everything from the current situation to the role of religion to what sustains him as a veteran revolutionary leader. And then, when we finished our work, we went deep into the night talking about basketball, movies and more.

I hope those who read this interview get as much out of it, and enjoy it as much, as I did in the process of doing it.

Carl Dix

The Revolutionary Worker is very excited to present to our readers this interview and exchange between Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, and Carl Dix, national spokesman of the RCP.

In coming weeks, the many different subjects covered in this important and wide-ranging interview will be made available. This week is Part 2. Part 1--"The New Situation--The `War on Terrorism'"--appeared in last week's issue and is available online at A number of additional segments will be coming soon in the RW. In the future, the complete interview will also be published, made available online, etc.

The transcript has been slightly edited for publication.


Carl Dix: Okay, I think you've opened up a very big and important topic and one that when you raise it to people--and I'm talking about a lot of different kinds of people, I'm talking about proletarians, people in the ghettos and barrios, I'm talking about people in more privileged positions in the middle class in society who see all this coming down and understand that there's something very fundamental wrong. And some of them approach this with a more hopeful approach, some with a more pessimistic approach, but across the board it's pretty much questioning like, revolution, how could something like that come about? How could a situation within which you could really make a try for revolution come down? I wonder if you could speak to that some?

Bob Avakian: Well, I think we've always recognized that there are two essential factors or elements that go into making a revolutionary situation. This is one way to understand it anyway. One, there have to be the objective conditions. There have to be things happening in society and in the world and in the way in which things all over the world are impacting within a particular society that ripens the conditions which call into question the right and ability of the ruling class to continue ruling--things which call forth massive resistance and opposition and turmoil and upheaval and volatility throughout the society and which raise, as I said, fundamental questions about the whole direction of society. That's one thing that has to happen, and this can come out of many different places. Obviously, it can come out of the warfare that's waged by the imperialists internationally and the repercussions of that. It can come out of economic crisis. It can come out of internal conflicts within the ruling class, although generally those arise sharply in response to more fundamental things and more fundamental difficulties that their system is running into in pursuing its interests through warfare or other means, in the U.S. itself or in other countries, but particularly on an international scale. All these things can interact to create the kind of volatile conditions where the ruling class begins to experience more splits in its own ranks because the things they're prosecuting and the things they're attempting to carry out are not going well--like for example, in Vietnam or even on a deeper level--and then they're faced with acute contradictions that they begin to develop sharp differences over. And all this--besides the resistance that has already been called forth, the conflicts even within the ruling class create more cracks and openings for all the boiling discontent and anger at the daily abuses and outrages of the system to come bursting forth on a more powerful level.

So that's kind of the objective conditions that can arise out of and can combine together to create kind of a very volatile situation in which the right and the ability of the ruling class to rule and the whole direction of society gets fundamentally called into question--not just for the revolutionaries, not just for a small number of advanced forces, numbering in the thousands or tens of thousands, as is already the case today, but for millions of people, maybe even tens of millions, these questions become sharply and acutely posed and the whole question is posed: Should we follow this banner or that banner? What's the resolution to these acute conflicts and contradictions that are more and more sharply expressing themselves in society?

That's the objective factor. And then you have to have a force, a revolutionary force, a vanguard party, which has the correct outlook and methodology and the correct program and political line and policies to be able to lead and unite the masses of people in an actual revolutionary direction around a program that will actually lead to the resolution of these contradictions or open the road to resolving these contradictions--all the different ways that have brought people forward in resistance in many different ways, whether it's the oppression of Black people and other oppressed nationalities or whether it's the oppression of women or the exploitation of the different sections of the proletariat, whether it's the international marauding and war, and the repression carried out in the U.S. (or other societies) by the ruling class. You have to have a party that can recognize and develop the means for uniting people broadly in a way that brings them to the revolutionary position and then, when the revolutionary situation actually fully emerges, unites and organizes people in a powerful way to actually wage the revolutionary struggle for the seizure of power.

So that's how a revolutionary situation comes into being and how it's seized on by the advanced vanguard forces to lead the masses of people who are erupting in protest and rebellion in different ways, to unite them around a revolutionary program. Because at that point when you have a revolutionary situation, it becomes clear, or the basis becomes more firmly established to make clear, to millions of people that only a revolutionary program represents the way out of all this madness.

So, if you sit here and look at things now when there's still relative stability--even with all these things that U.S. imperialists are doing and have on their agenda and have as their ambitions, it's still relative stability, even though there's a lot of uncertainty and people feeling insecure and so on, and there are also things that are shaking people up economically and in other ways besides just the war and repression--but there's still relative stability and there are not millions of people out in the streets and on the stage politically questioning and challenging the way things are run. So if you just look at it right now and judge things only by this standard, and don't or can't envision any other set of conditions, well then it would seem that revolution would be impossible.

But if you see bringing those objective conditions and the conflicts and eruptions and revolts and protests that they call forth together with the work of revolutionary forces, then a whole change where then the question of the whole direction of society and the resolution of acute conflicts and contradictions is posed sharply--then you can envision how a revolutionary struggle could in fact come forth and actually succeed in seizing power from these imperialists. And the key element, or certainly one of the key elements, within that is the bringing forward of what we call a revolutionary people, masses of people, millions of people, in upheaval and determined struggle against the powers-that-be, and in a revolutionary mood--willing and determined to make radical change, even at the cost of great sacrifice.

So all these different sections of people or movements and struggles that are called forth, with the Party working among all of them--working among all the different strata while basing itself fundamentally among the proletarians and people who have the most fundamental interests in overturning and transforming all of society--this enables the party to both know when things are approaching a revolutionary situation, or know it more clearly, have a more clear sense of that and also to rally the people to the revolutionary position when these kind of volatile conditions come together to constitute a revolutionary situation.

No one can say exactly when that's going to happen, but we can say that the possibility of it lies within the very nature of the system itself and also even within the things that are being unleashed now. We can't say the revolutionary situation will definitely emerge out of the things being unleashed now, but we also can't say that it won't, and there is the potential, as I said, for things to get wildly out of their control, to give rise to all kinds of factors and forces in motion that is difficult for these imperialists to stay on top of and to suppress or channel into the directions that they want to. I mean, they want to go ahead, for example right now, with the attack on Saddam Hussein, but the whole situation in Palestine is causing them a lot of difficulties in relation to that. There are a lot of wild cards in the situation, and from the point of view of the ruling class--and also in a certain sense from our standpoint--the masses of people are the big wild card. They're the big force that can change the whole direction of things as these objective contradictions are accentuated and made more acute, including by the things that the imperialists themselves do and pursue.

And this is a very important point that we go back to--the basic point that Mao made--wherever there's oppression, there's resistance. This is the history of any country, any society, including the U.S. Long before September 11 there was all kinds of resistance to different things. There was a developing movement against capitalist globalization that was becoming more and more powerful and posing a very strong challenge politically and even in a certain sense ideologically to the whole capitalist triumphalism that emerged and was propagated by the U.S. imperialists on the basis of their political victory in the Cold War. And no one anticipated that [movement against capitalist globalization] would reach such powerful dimensions very long before it did, in the couple of years right before the September 11 events. There have been powerful struggles against police brutality--and rebellions, spontaneous rebellions as well as organized struggles, whether in Cincinnati or a decade ago in L.A. on an even larger scale. There has been organized resistance, there's been a powerful movement that has been built around preventing the execution and ultimately freeing Mumia Abu-Jamal. There's been struggle around the oppression of women, often sharply focusing around the question of abortion. There are all these forms of oppression, and the program of the imperialists to develop a whole juggernaut, to ram through and intensify a lot of this repression, is gonna call forth resistance in various forms--that's always been the way it is and it's always the way it will be.

Now, they may stifle or suppress dissent, rebellion, resistance, upheaval for a short time, but eventually it will burst forth, and eventually will burst forth all the more powerfully, and all this creates the basis for the work of the vanguard party such as our Party and for revolutionary forces in general to mobilize people and win them increasingly to the revolutionary banner. And when this does come together with the development of these acute objective contradictions, then a revolutionary people emerges on the scene, and if there's a vanguard working among all these different expressions of a revolutionary people, then you have a real chance at revolution.

This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online
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