In the Wake of the Election, a Basic Point of Orientation: To the Masses...With Revolution

by Bob Avakian

The more that life—and specifically the contradictions marking the world under the domination of this imperialist system—assert themselves (within the U.S. and internationally) and things unfold with Obama's presidency (and even now with his "transition" to the presidency), the more there will be a basis for further exposing what he is, and is not, all about and for demonstrating the kind of radical, fundamental change that is really needed…once again provided that we consistently approach all this in the way and on the basis emphasized here.

This underscores again a basic point of orientation: In the circumstances that have come into being with Obama’s election, it is all the more important to persevere—boldly and in a determined and focused way—in not only putting forward in an overall sense but in going to the masses (basic masses but also masses of other strata) with our basic revolutionary line. And, besides the need for continuing exposure of what Obama represents (and does not represent), a significant (even if overall secondary) aspect of propagating our revolutionary line should be doing so directly and explicitly in opposition to what is being rallied, politically and ideologically, by and around Obama. In particular we need to be waging sharp—and at the same time substantive and really compelling—struggle against the ceaseless propagation, in relation to Obama's winning the presidential election, that: “Anything is possible”…“Black people finally have a real place in America and should now, finally, be proud of America and proud to be Americans”…“Martin Luther King, Jr.’s ‘dream’ has finally been realized”…and all the syrupy crap being put forward by a number of Black bourgeois figures—along with Obama in particular, and the ruling class and its representatives and mouthpieces more generally—about how Black people can be anything they strive to be in this great American society. While there is a need for a certain “finesse” (or “souplesse”) in how this struggle is carried out, it is very important to wage this struggle—to wage it wisely and well, but sharply—and to point sharply to the corollary to the purveying of these seemingly “positive” but actually very poisonous illusions, a corollary which was voiced with undisguised menace by William Bennett on the night of the election, once the outcome had become clear:  Now there is no more basis for claiming that the way of opportunity is blocked for Black people...and there should be no more excuses.1

Besides the need to sharply expose how Obama, and others parroting this stuff, are attempting to draw Black people into being consciously complicit in the crimes of “their country”—i.e., U.S. imperialism—against the oppressed masses of the world,2 it needs to be recognized and pointed out that these syrupy bromides being given voice by Obama, and by many bourgeois Black figures, on the basis of Obama's winning the presidential race, not only make the ground more favorable for, but can very quickly turn into, the menace voiced by William Bennett as things unfold, as this system continues to operate according to its essential nature and underlying dynamics, including—as we have stressed in the special issue on the Black national question3 —the ways in which it functions, and is bound to function, to keep masses of Black people, in particular youth in the inner cities, from “being whatever they strive to be,” and these youth and other basic Black masses are increasingly seen, and treated, by many of these Black bourgeois forces as dragging them down and posing an obstacle to their being what they are striving to be—more prominent functionaries and lackeys of the imperialist system. 

The present role of Black bourgeois forces (as well as that of Obama), who spread this poison now must be very sharply confronted and called out for what is; and this should include directly making the analogy between some of these Black bourgeois forces and the Judenrat during the Nazi rule in Germany.4 That is, it is important to point to the potential “Judenrat role” of such Black bourgeois forces. But here let me stress potential, because it is important to be consistently scientific, and not to overstate things or engage in hyperbole—and specifically not act as if even those Black bourgeois forces who are purveying the poison referred to here are in fact already playing the role of insisting on more draconian measures (or even genocidal measures) against the masses of Black youth and others in the inner cities—except, of course, where there may be certain individuals (or forces) who are already doing that (or at least calling for more draconian measures, if not outright genocidal measures at this time), which definitely does need to be sharply called out now, and in an ongoing way.

Again, all this must be done while bringing forward, in contrast to this poison, our revolutionary line--our revolutionary-communist objectives and strategic orientation, approach and method. To a considerable extent, this can and should be done through the continuing dissemination—particularly among the Black masses but also among other sections of the people—of the special issue/statement “The Oppression of Black People, The Crimes of This System and the Revolution We Need”; this should mainly be disseminated for its overall powerful content, while there is also a more specific aspect of its polemics against the kind of poison I have referred to here. (It is noteworthy that this “now, no excuses” threat is exactly what we indicated in the statement on the Black national question would accompany all this seemingly “uplifting” talk about how Black youth can now dream and strive higher because of Obama.) But there will also be a need to do this in relation to more particular ways in which this stuff comes up—in which this poison is purveyed—in an ongoing way now, particularly in the context where Obama has been elected president (and commander-in-chief).

In connection with all this—and again as a basic point of orientation—I think we should boldly popularize the following:

Do Black people need to “take responsibility”? Responsibility for what? RESPONSIBILITY FOR REVOLUTION—DEFINITELY! WE ALL NEED TO TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR MAKING REVOLUTION—TO EMANCIPATE HUMANITY FROM THIS WHOLE SYSTEM OF OPPRESSION.

Now, to be very clear, in speaking of the very bad present role—and the potentially far more horrendous role—of more than a few of these bourgeois Black forces, and of the need to sharply combat this ideologically and politically now, the point is not to make this the main focus of our work (or our exposure) overall, and certainly not to place the Black bourgeoisie as a whole—and still less the Black petty bourgeoisie, some of whom will also, spontaneously and left to their own devices, play a bad role in relation to what is being raised here—in the camp of the enemy. (I am not suggesting that there should be some blanket condemnation of the Black bourgeoisie—and certainly not of petty bourgeois Black people—but rather a sharp rebuke, with substance, especially with regard to egregious examples of particular bourgeois—and, yes, petty bourgeois—Blacks purveying the kind of poison I am speaking of here.) And, in our own thinking as well as in how we speak to things publicly, we must clearly distinguish between the spontaneous enthusiasm of very large numbers of Black people in the petty bourgeoisie, and among the basic masses as well, in regard to election of the “first Black President,” on the one hand, and on the other hand the more worked out and conscious purveying of the idea that there are now no societal obstacles to Black people—with the stated or unstated (or now unstated but later to be stated) corollary that if they do not “succeed” it is their own fault, and if they cause trouble (and get in the way of the advance of bourgeois Blacks) then they must be ruthlessly suppressed. Overall, we must continue to adhere to the correct understanding and application of our United Front under the Leadership of the Proletariat strategy5 —including a recognition that overwhelmingly the Black petty bourgeoisie can be and must be won to the cause of revolution, and that this also applies to at least some parts of the Black bourgeoisie. But, even in order to effect this—as well as to counter the very bad role that a number of Black bourgeois (and even some Black petty bourgeois) types will play, especially if they are not called out and the role they are now inclined to play is not struggled against sharply—we must not pull punches in opposing this poison and pointing to the disastrous dimensions it can assume if it is not defeated.

In boldly putting this forward, there is a particular role for Black comrades who have responsibilities for representing for the Party in various ways (and more generally for other Black comrades); but this is by no means something that can, or should, be done only by these comrades—it is a responsibility and a challenge that must be met by the Party as a whole and all comrades (and, as I have put it previously, I don't care if you are as white as a snowstorm in New Hampshire—it is your responsibility to put forward this line, and to struggle with masses, including Black masses, on the basis of this line).

At the same time, we do need to be keeping up on the foaming-at-the-mouth fascism, directed toward Obama, on the part of the right-wing talk shows and generally that fascist section of the ruling class and the rabid social base they are working to rally—with Obama a particular target of theirs (a phenomenon which was very marked during the campaign and has not, and almost certainly will not, be lessened, but on the contrary very likely increased, from here forward). We will need to reckon with this, both in how we carry out our propaganda and agitation—and specifically our exposure around Obama (and our struggle against the poison being purveyed by Black bourgeois forces in particular, as discussed above)—and in terms of our method and approach to the overall struggle and work of building the movement for revolution in the new circumstances where Obama has been elected (and will soon take office). We need to have, and to continue to develop, a very good sense of tactics in all this, flowing from our fundamental revolutionary-communist strategic orientation, combining once again firmness of principles6 and flexibility on the basis of those principles (solid core and elasticity, as applied to this).

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NOTES

1. William Bennett, a top right-wing ruling class figure, said on CNN on Election Night, speaking of Obama’s election: “Well, I’ll tell you one thing it means, as a former Secretary of Education: You don’t take any excuses anymore from anybody who says, ‘The deck is stacked, I can’t do anything, there’s so much in-built this and that.’”[back]

2. [Footnote by Bob Avakian] One dimension of this is that the military—which already preys upon basic masses, including Black masses—will in some significant aspects be strengthened in its efforts to recruit among Black youth, and others, in the inner cities (this will be related to the sense of—very misplaced—pride in having a “Black commander-in-chief”). And this will likely have some effect not only among Black people, but among others as well who have gotten sucked into the “Obamaphilia” (in this regard, I took note of the comment by one person [not Black, I believe] out on the streets celebrating Obama's win, on the night of the election, who in response to some agitation by one of our people about Obama and Afghanistan, answered by saying something to the effect that “Obama might be right about that, and I might enlist to help with that”). And, beyond the military, there could definitely be a spontaneous phenomenon of especially younger people—including many whites—getting drawn into other dimensions of Obama’s plans to involve them in “service to the country.” In relation to this, along with the overall struggle that needs to be waged, compellingly—sharply and with substance and science—this emphasizes the particular importance of broadly propagating “STOP THINKING LIKE AMERICANS! START THINKING ABOUT HUMANITY! (as it is put in one of the subheads in our post-election statement) and of fighting vigorously—and in a real sense relentlessly—for this orientation. [“The Morning After the Elections: The Promise of Change…And the Change We Need,” Revolution #147 (November 16, 2008), available online at revcom.us][back]

3. “The Oppression of Black People, the Crimes of This System, and the Revolution We Need,” Revolution #144 (October 5, 2008), available online at http://revcom.us/a/144/BNQ-en.html.[back]

4. The Judenrat were Jewish councils in the ghettos where Jews were confined by the Nazis. The Nazis rounded up and later killed millions of Jews in Germany and Nazi-occupied countries in Europe. The Jews of the Judenrat convinced themselves that things would go better for everyone if they carried out things in the ghettos like providing forced slave labor for the German war factories and deciding which Jews should be sent to the concentration camps first, instead of the Nazis doing these actions directly. But this kind of thinking—and the actions the Judenrat took on that basis—contributed to the horrific slaughter of millions. The Judenrat were given special privileges and power by the Nazis, in return for telling people not to resist—and working against and even snitching on those who did. The Judenrat were strung along till near the end of Nazi rule, when they too were exterminated.[back]

5. A discussion of the strategy of United Front under the Leadership of the Proletariat can be found in the Constitution of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, pages 11-15, available online at revcom.us/Constitution/constitution.html.[back]

6. [Footnote by Bob Avakian] Particularly in this context, let me strongly emphasize the point that, while flexibility is indeed very important, firmness of principles is definitely the principal aspect in this relationship (contradiction) and it is this (firmness of principles) which must set the overall foundation, framework and context for the necessary flexibility. As one important particular expression of this, this is a time and situation—precisely given the spontaneous tendencies of masses of Black people (and others) in regard to Obama—to have that basic stance that Malcolm X often articulated to his (Black) audiences, when he declared (specifically in relation to things he knew were very controversial with them): “I know you don’t like me telling you these things—but I didn't come here to tell you what you like, I came here to tell you the truth, whether you like it or not.” Now, again, there does need to be flexibility—and not inflexibility and dogmato crap—in relation to this…but, once more, precisely flexibility on the basis of the necessary firmness of principles (or elasticity on the basis of the necessary solid core).[back]