Revolutionary Communist Party, USA
|Revolutionary Communist Party, USA|
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the United States
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The Revolutionary Communist Party, USA (RCP,USA) is a political party in the United States. Bob Avakian is the Chairman of the RCP, USA and has led the party since its founding in 1975. Avakian's body of work is taken by the RCP as its ideological and political foundation and framework.
The organization releases a weekly newspaper Revolution (formerly called Revolutionary Worker, 1979-2005) which is published in English and Spanish, and has been published continuously since 1979.
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Bob Avakian was one of many activists in 1960s who turned to communist ideas and began organizing in the Bay Area of California. H. Bruce Franklin, Stephen Charles Hamilton, and Bob Avakian together formed the Bay Area Revolutionary Union (BARU), which was subsequently able to absorb a series of similar local collectives which had developed out of Students for a Democratic Society. The new nationwide structure allowed BARU to change its name to simply the Revolutionary Union.
The RCP claims that of the various groups coming out of SDS, it was the first to seriously attempt to develop itself both at the theoretical level, with the publication of "Red Papers 1",. This turn to 1970s "point of production" organizing was a broader phenomenon which was expanded throughout the Midwest and into the Appalachian coal fields during the wildcat upsurges[unreliable source?] through 1980[original research?].
Such rapid expansion was not without its problems, however, and in 1971 H. Bruce and Jane Franklin led a section of the RU to fuse with the Venceremos Organization, advocating immediate urban guerrilla warfare and then dissolving shortly thereafter.
Tensions over this "workerist" tendency came to a head within the RCP in 1977 around whether China remained a communist country after the death of Mao Zedong and subsequent leadership struggles in the People's Republic of China between the Gang of Four and Hua Guofeng. Bob Avakian declared that there had been a coup in China following Mao’s death and the new Chinese leadership was taking China on a capitalist road. The RCP's Vice Chairman, Mickey Jarvis, along with an estimated 30–40% of the membership and most of the Revolutionary Student Brigade formally left the RCP to form the Revolutionary Workers Headquarters (RWHq). In subsequent polemics, the RCP has dubbed the RWHq faction "Mensheviks" after Lenin's opponents in the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party.
The RCP was controversial for being one of the few groups in the American Left that held a position that homosexuality constituted a conscious "ideological statement" and was a byproduct of capitalism. Within the last decade, with the publication of the New Draft Program of the RCP USA, they have repudiated that position, criticizing it as incorrect, unscientific and not "thoroughly Marxist". The RCP now holds that all sexual and intimate relations in bourgeois society are largely dominated by the ideology of male supremacy and exist within a framework of social relations where the oppression of women is an integral and fundamental part.
Following the re-election of George W. Bush, the RCP released a statement called "The Battle for the Future". It called Bush a Christian Fascist and calls on the masses to resist. The document also puts forward Bob Avakian as the party's leader. Several supporters of the RCP initiated a campaign entitled World Can't Wait: Drive Out the Bush Regime to facilitate a political "re-polarization" around the current right-wing shift in U.S. government. Hundreds of protests and rallies, as well as disruption of prominent governmental speakers has ensued. Most recently, World Can't Wait organized a series of nationwide protests on October 5, 2006.
In 2005, the RCP changed the name of its newspaper from Revolutionary Worker to Revolution. According to their website, the May 1, 2005 issue of RW newspaper signaled the end of 25 years of Revolutionary Worker and the beginning of Revolution. "[W]e believe that the new name more fully reflects our revolutionary communist ideology and politics, and the enriched vision of a tribune of the people that has been pioneered by RCP Chairman Bob Avakian."
In late 2005 and early 2006 the RCP launched the Revolutionary Communist Speaking Tour (RC4) of Black leaders intended to "build a Communist movement among the people locked on the bottom of society in the current era of Bushite Christian-Fascism." The RC4 tour ended quietly with the disassociation of one of the lead speakers, Akil Bomani. Bomani claimed that the RCP had attempted to reach out the African American community through this speaking tour, however there were low turnout rates with most of the audience not African American. Bomani stated that it was difficult to convince the audiences of the necessity of Avakian's leadership to audiences who most likely had never heard of him. He had stated; "(t)he problem was that this tour was too much structured as Avakian’s cult of personality gateway into the Black community. As a result, RC4 members were made out to be Black representatives of Avakian and his party. This approach basically was saying two things: 1) “it’s ok to follow this man because we’re Black like you and we do” and 2) Avakian needs certified Blacks to talk to other Blacks to get them to accept his cult of personality."
Revolution Books distributes materials related to the RCP, and the revolutionary movement in general. They operate stores nationally, with a large store in New York City and a Spanish-language store, Libros Revolucion, in Los Angeles.
After many years of self-imposed exile, Bob Avakian released a four-disk DVD set of speeches called Revolution given on the East Coast and the West Coast.
The RCP had recently undergone a split in its ranks.
Avakian's "promotion and popularization"
The RCP has said that there are two mainstays of its work: the role of the party press and building a culture of "appreciation, promotion and popularization" of Bob Avakian and his body of work, method, and approach, "along with a whole ensemble of Communist work which is necessary to the bringing forward of a revolutionary people—including building “massive political resistance to the main ways in which, at any given time, the exploitative and oppressive nature of this system is concentrated in the policies and actions of the ruling class and its institutions and agencies” and solving the problems of how to involve the masses in “meaningful revolutionary work”". Others have charged that the RCP has created a cult of personality around Avakian, with dissenting voices driven from the organization. The RCP has countered that over the period of the 1980s and 1990s two parties developed within the organization, representing two fundamentally opposed roads. One, represented by the “official” line of the Party and concentrated in the new synthesis Bob Avakian was championing, and expressed in the Party’s newspaper (the Revolutionary Worker, now Revolution). The other, opposed the new synthesis and revolutionary-communist line, was becoming predominant on all levels of the Party, and "objectively, [this] amounted to abandoning the outlook and aims of the communist revolution, accommodating to the system of imperialism and settling for, at most, reforms within this horrific system." ”".
As the RCP evolved as an organization, they came to reject electoral politics, a position they continue to uphold. According to Max Elbaum's Revolution in the Air they contrasted themselves with other self-identified Marxist-Leninst parties in the 1980s who advocated working within or alongside Jesse Jackson's Rainbow Coalition, with the RCP summarizing their position in the slogan, "The right to vote has been won ... Now we need the political awareness and sophistication not to use it." In the years of the Jackson presidential campaigns in 1984 and 1988 the RCP's Carl Dix ran as an "anti-candidate [...]running against the notion that oppressed people could rely on the election arena to accomplish positive change."
The RCP holds that its line against electoral politics has been vindicated by the dissolution of several of the Marxist-Leninist groups in the Jackson Campaigns, and others' perceived shifts of line away from open advocacy of revolution with "ultra-leftism." The RCP's critique of what they call the "voting trap" has led many other socialist groups to label them "sectarian" and "abstentionist".
Other critics[who?] have claimed its organization of mass rallies amounts to engaging in lesser-evil politics, particularly with their World Can't Wait campaign. The RCP rejects these criticisms, its partisans pointing out that while it has shared stages with Democratic Party office-holders, it has never once, anywhere, endorsed Democratic Party candidates in elections or bourgeois democracy in general. The RCP sees the social base of the Democratic Party as distinct and in contradiction.
- Hamilton, Steve. "On the History of the Revolutionary Union". Theoretical Review No. 13, November–December 1979.
- "Red Papers 1". Originally published by the Bay Area Revolutionary Union, now available online thanks to Marxists.org's Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line project. Spring 1969.
- Ely, Mike. "Ambush at Keystone: Inside the Coalminers’ Gas Protest". Kasama Project.
- Avakian, Bob (August 24, 2003). "Materialism and Romanticism: Can We Do Without Myth?". Revolutionary Worker #1211,. rwor.org.
- Revolutionary Communist Party,USA. "On the Position on Homosexuality in the New Draft Programme". rwor.org.
- Bomani, Akil. "Revolutionary Communist 4 Tour: What the Heck Was That?". Kasama Project.
- Oppenheimer, Mark (January 27, 2008). "Free Bob Avakian!". The Boston Globe.
- "Observations by a Reader on the RCP’s Response to Mike Ely’s Nine Letters". Revolution #135,. revcom.us. July 13, 2008.
- "COMMUNISM:THE BEGINNING OF A NEW STAGE A Manifesto from the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA". ,. revcom.us. September 2008.
- Dix, Carl. "What Carl Dix Stands For". National Spokesperson for the RCP, USA. www.revcom.us/.
- Ely, Mike. 9 Letters to Our Comrades: Getting Beyond Avakian's New Synthesis. December 2007.
- Wright, Liam On the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA: Criticizing a Residue of the Past November 2010.
- H., Scott. "The RCP and the Mass Line". Massline.info.
- Gordon, Eric (September 2005). "The Maoist cultism of the RCP is anti-Marxist". Communist Voice Organization.
- Seattle, Ben (January 2005). "Hysteria about "fascism" serves to hide the essential role of the Democratic Party in the political and economic system of imperialism".