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The Harm it can do to think that Solutions based on illusions will solve the problems of Capitalism-Imperialism

Updated on June 25, 2016

solutions based on illusions

Many Revolutionaries- especially those who have been around long enough- have heard of many common solutions to the problems of Capitalism-Imperialism, and how/why they lead to dead-ends. I want to write about one in particular because it is one I strongly considered before meeting the revolution. In doing so, I hope I can respond to many of the opposition to making revolution from the people I know in this field. But I also think is important to know why people enter certain fields in the first place.

I took a class on Permaculture because I was looking for solutions to the problems of the world. I thought about revolution at a time that the U.S was in competition with Russia over Ukraine and other countries. But of course my idea of revolution at the time was very vague: tailored to mass protests only. And I continued to look for different solutions, including diverting war tax. Through this experience, I realized the strong hold the government has, and how this takes the power away from protesting (of course this has a very different connotation for me now, by coming to understand the necessity of fighting the power while transforming the people for an actual revolution). But at that time, even that vague notion of revolution (protests) went flying out the window without this understanding (though I took it up again when I continued hearing about the genocide of black & brown people in the U.S through police terror & mass incarceration- and this is how I met the revolution). But I held on to the possibility of changing the system (a time I thought it was possible to do so).

Watching a documentary on the Pentagon allowed me to rationalize on the real complexity of changing a system that is so much intact, so much in place. And so I got attracted to the popular notion of not feeding into 'the machine': I almost entered the field of autonomy and teaching the next generation how to live in off-grid/communes. I even entertained myself with the idea of turning such a complex city, like NYC, into something like that- as funny as it sounds- because I didn’t want anyone living in the U.S to feed into the ‘corrupt’ state. Revolutionaries know that I put quotations in the word corrupt because only stating the nature of the state does not point to the underlying cause of it.

This leads many people into thinking about solutions tailored into changing the system rather than uprooting and overthrowing it. And of course, this is not something that people will innately understand. This is why the movement for revolution is so important. Because without it, we will only have a mainstream education, that despite its best intentions, cannot solve the problems without looking much closer to the problem, in understanding how capitalism works.

The state makes so much money into feeding these type of feel-good solutions to people who want a change in the world, as much as it makes money in wall street. Therefore the notion of off-grid communities, for example, is an extremely popular believe in how to make real change, even among those who call themselves Communists. The beauty of this particular solution is that it will make you feel good if you do want to be free from corruption. Don’t get me wrong, there are definite challenges to doing this, and a long time revolutionary has stated the impossibility of being successful in doing this in today’s time- when capitalism keeps making advances. I mean even if you could do this based on skills that you picked up, money you have raised, and being surrounded by others who share other skills you don’t have- that can attribute to other necessities for survival- the truth is that many off-grid communities are tightly controlled by the government.

The reason for this is that we are living in a system where the government needs to profit from others and the environment, and will therefore make sure that things like that either don’t happen (people being ‘free’ from the state), or happen to the lesser degree as possible. And the documentary, "Farmageddon", is an example of this. But the point I’m trying to make is that this solution feels right compare to other solutions like changing policy or voting. There are many people who might understand that voting and changing the system through reforms, lobbying and other means itself, will have you running in circles- However, people then discover other avenues that are still dead-ends.

And living in off-grid communities is almost like a luxury toward not having to deal with the power of the state. And I think this is one of the reasons Communism is not such an attractive solution- mainly because it involves having to take state power in order to go to work on the changes that must take place (and phrasing it that way, you can see how much of a beautiful thing this can be for the masses of people to actually be able to do). But this idea can infuriate many who have learned about Communism through this mainstream education and media.

Learning about these misconceptions is what allowed me to look into this movement, but I was still suaded into other means of solutions. I thought that if is not necessary to have state power, then why fight and even die for it? Is not until someone in the revolution spoke to me about it. For one, he stated a source (which I use to have notes on) that referred back to someone who tried to do what I was proposing at that moment: creating communes for people and then persuading them that we need a revolution (at least I made the rupture in realizing that we needed a revolution, but my method & approach wasn't very realistic). And I know some readers might be realizing the impossibility of persuading the masses that we need a revolution, because people are already living a good life and will therefore not feel like they need a revolution. However, the reality would remain that other empires can attack and force people into submission or just wipe them out in order to profit out of the land and the people. But the point is that this person, in his experiment, was unsuccessful and wrote about this experience.

The reason I was persuaded by this, was not because I feared that other states/empires would come after me (this would be out of touch with reality- though I'm stating an unrealistic & hypothetical situation- but the point is that I won't be living that long anyways, so this whole idea is not about me). But the point I'm trying to make is that most people make decisions that are more convenient for them, even if they are thinking about humanity. Not necessarily because the masses are egocentric, selfish, etc (I mean simply thinking about other people in the planet shows the opposite). But we are trained that we can liberate the masses while moving up the social ladder (such as changing a system by working in the system), which is simply not the way it works.

I'm not saying people shouldn't go up the social ladder, but it is not the means to liberate people. A Communist Revolution is the only way to actually do that. And though there are major contradictions to wrestle with even after a revolution (such as the idea of classes), the simple fact of that being something we can work on (the emancipation of humanity), should really make people look into this movement for revolution more deeply.

I was just being trained into thinking that solutions were simpler than what I was being faced with at the moment: an actual revolution- even more surprisingly, a Communist Revolution. And I think- no matter the reasons for rejecting this movement at first- if people really do want to liberate the masses, they need to start tuning in to this movement for a revolution- because they have actual answers. At times, it does depend who you are speaking with, but the essence of this movement is largely embodied by the work that Bob Avakian has done, along with many members of the RCP through many body of works: articles, books, audios, videos, etc. But I realize that people will not aspire to look into these materials until they have certain questions answered that speaks to the many connotations they have developed throughout the years, not just about Communism, but even about the leadership of Bob Avakian and the movement itself, since there are many leaps that the movement has taken since its founding until its current stage.

It is important to keep an open mind to this development without assuming things like, “oh they changed due to the climate of politics so they can get state power.” And I think this antagonism is a result of what politics in this system is, and therefore there are assumptions that any person or group having (or wanting) state power will lead to corruption because “that’s what happens”. And so these are the things people should really engage with rather than simply taking what others outside of the movement are saying and then leaving with that. Of course people should think critically, and so the point is not to say people should just listen to us (and this is something that Raymond gets into in the special issue on the history of Communism- on the basis of how people can test what is true without just taking in what people say). The point is that people should not just take in what mainstream education or media is portraying, and understand that even activists who have been around for a long time proceed from this mainstream thought rather than the reality of things. This is precisely the reason most activist do not want a revolution anymore, and proceed on the basis of trying to reform capitalism.

I know people who have been activists for a long time who oppose this movement. People I use to have really warm relationships with- and frankly still do. But in observing them & others when I first entered the movement for revolution, I noticed a very different method & approach to the problems and solutions. And this kept me grounded in Revolution, despite I didn’t know much about it at the time- in terms of how much material I have read. But the point in me stating this is that one of the advantages of this New Synthesis of Communism, is its dialectics- not in how it lies in the interest of the party or the leader, but what is in the interest of humanity, which people can grasp more when diving into these materials. And this is how BA has advanced the science of Communism- but most importantly, is still making advances due to the accelerating climate of Capitalism and proceeding toward what will actually liberate people.

This method and approach was also lacking when I took the class on Permaculture. I was proceeding toward being free of the corrupt state (though I was also wrong at that moment in what it will take to liberate people), so I was expecting that the class will proceed on that basis as well. But instead, it was proceeding from the individual and how healthy something is (the air, food, water, etc.) for that individual. And though that is important (in a Communist society, people who are usually on the margins will not be subject to the things they are subjected to in Capitalism, such as the people in flint, michigan or detroit), the point is that helping communities in the U.S under Capitalism, (though as stated before, it is nearly impossible, but even if it is possible) will not automatically liberate people in other countries. We have been trained to think that being conscious consumers, which means we don’t invest in products that contribute to genocide or the catastrophe of the environment, will stop wars from happening. And this is just an illusion.

Seeing things this way, prevents us from seeing the bigger picture and the dynamics of how Capitalism works. And I did get that sense before I met the revolution, but thought I could find answers through research, while advancing in my career. I see now that the likely chance of me finding out that what we needed is a communist revolution would have been very slim- I might have thought of some type of way to change the system, even if I would have been proceeding from a larger picture on how the whole system operates. But even stating it that way, I would have been broken up in different spheres, trying to reform every institution- even going back to the set-backs and realities of proceeding with an approach of making the U.S autonomous, which is simpler than reforming the U.S constitution- it is still not the means of liberating the planet from capitalism-imperialism.

With that said, it is refreshing that BA (Bob Avakian) created the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America because it plainly tells you what the new state would be working towards oppose to our current oppressive Constitution that still promotes slavery, if people read it carefully. Some people might jump and say, “Aha, you want a revolution because is simpler than changing the current system,” which actually would have a lot of irony if some people do respond this way. But even if a revolution would be categorized as practical, the point is that whether it is the most challenging or the most practical is not the point, but what is aligned with reality- in the reality of what it will take to liberate the masses living on this planet.

This touches on the basis of how this system functions and is organized, which makes it unrealistic for people to try to change. The only way to truly change it is to overthrow it and put in place a different state power that will organize and function in a whole different way, working towards a world different world. And this is analyzed more in depth but at the same time summarized (due to the ongoing complexity of the system and the solutions) through the new piece by BA, "The Science, The Strategy, The Leadership, for an Actual Revolution and a Radically New Society on the Road to Real Emancipation". And digging into these materials is what continues to keep me grounded in this movement for revolution.

Someone who took this Permaculture class with me, who was even interested in being part of Rise Up October- the protest in NYC that took place against police terror- and disagrees with other catastrophes that takes place under Capitalism-Imperialism, is a bit confused that I am taking this new approach. One time she posted, “revolution to me means not contributing to… (something along the lines of that consumer approach)” and also send me a link (as a reminder I guess) to how being green and other things can really free yourself from the corrupt state. And If you open that article, you will get an advertisement on getting ready for when the economy collapses. I think this is interesting because even the instructor was proceeding on the basis of getting ready for when that time comes (when the economy collapses). And this is something that is real due to the consequences of Capitalism-Imperialism.

I'm not stating that this collapse will happen soon as these Capitalists politicians like to scare Americans into thinking so that we can go green (and part of the reason is because Capitalists are always finding new ways of doing business- though that itself continues to harm our planet), but it has already done a lot of damage if people read about it- through the special issue of the Revolution Newspaper on the Environment, but also through other left wing sources. But, going back to the things I mentioned before, in terms of thinking that solutions is tailored to what products we buy, you can see how this is an individualistic approach rather than proceeding from what lies in the interest of all of humanity.

Another classmate of mine told me to get into his project instead: A collective land/farm for Syrian refugees. This sounds like a very interesting-much needed project. But the aim here is to aid refugees, not to get to the cause of the problem (which is what radical actually means) and preventing future catastrophes from taking place. And many other horrific things that happen under Capitalism can stop, but only with this new constitution, which would be working toward a better way of living not only in the U.S, but internationally as well. But to get back to this classmate, he got so scared about my transformation. He said a lot of things, but one of the things he said was that any system (Capitalism, Communism or Socialism) is an old doctrine. He comes from the Baha’i religion and still invites me to the center from time to time because he thinks what people need to do is love each other. But the way this system is organized is precisely what gives rise to these antagonistic relationships in the first place.

I know getting into the topic of religion is very uncomfortable for people who are religious. It is one of the reasons Communism is so feared or despised. That’s why BA emphasizes that this movement is not, “the first shall be last, and the last shall be first,” (not enslaving or wiping out some so that others can be free) and the emancipation of humanity (one that can be achieved by going all the way toward Communism, when we get to a stage that we no longer need state power because there are no classes and no forms of exploitation and oppression in the entire planet. But of course this is a long process. And this is something that (understanding different political systems) is not understood because people are not taught about it in this system, unless is to teach them about how this system works, only in the aspect of advancing ahead.

So that’s why it is so easy for people like this old classmate of mine to see any form of politics as inheritably evil, especially by learning about Communism through this system overall. But to hammer more into the religion sphere, and get more real- Bob Avakian is an atheist (what a Revolutionary Communist is). From his standpoint, as a leader for a Communist Revolution in the U.S, he is not simply atheist because God is not working toward changing the world (though there is some truth to that) or only based on the science of whether God exists or not (though that has truth to it as well), but really on the basis and science of what it actually takes to liberate people. And he has studied how many religions, not only ran counter to this, but have planted the seed to patriarchy and slavery. Religion is what is the old doctrine that chains people in owning their forms of oppression. And people can learn about this critically as well, even through other sources not rooted in revolution. But my point is that this form of thinking is harmful to the masses. It accepts things the way they are, makes people think that a higher power is controlling things and that it will work out in the end, and other types of harmful thinking. Not all religious people think this way, but some or most. I mean even people who are not religious think this way... There are even people who call themselves Atheists but hang on to wrong notions of spirituality (I was one of them.)

I’ll state my family’s response to the people who were killed in Orlando, as an example- something I heard from strangers as well. They say things like, “It was their time.” Thinking that there is this destiny, or an angel of death, or however other way people call it, is very harmful: It prevents people from analyzing the real cause of the problem and critically analyzing the whole situation. I mean new evidence keeps surfacing behind the shootings: such as the role of the police, the role of radical Islam (something we make clear is not radical but reinforces capitalism-imperialism) and the role that people, such as the LGQBT and other minorities, play in this society under this system.

Of course many people don’t respond that they want a revolution (which is why is important for us to be out there). They simply take into account the problems and controversies behind the crime. Mostly, people just want justice for the LGQBT community. Others, like someone who lost their son by the hands of the police, who spoke out on the current Baltimore Conference, sees the connection and embraces revolutionaries like Carl Dix and others in the club. A reverend who spoke on the conference as well, even called out for a revolution- An example that people from different sections of society can realize what is really going to take to get us out of this mess, and work together among their differences.



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    • Luz Ortega profile image
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      Luz Ortega 15 months ago

      There is truth to what you are saying. I want to make clarifications to your response though. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong. For example, In saying that "I excuse the failure by saying that it has converted back to capitalism", are you implying that it hasn't or just simply saying that the fact that it has, means that it has failed?

      If it is the first one, I would say that the nature of a Communist state and a Capitalist state is very different, so the fact that Russia and China is in a state that it is today DOES signify that it is no longer Communism. The problem is that b/c it has kept the brand of Communism, people therefore assume that communism and capitalism is the same thing.

      Now of course, you can say that the very reality of it reverting back to capitalism DOES signify its failure and the possibility of it failing time and time again. And this reality IS the reason that people should not take a Communist Revolution very lightly. This is the very reason that this particular movement for a revolution, by NO means promotes that we intent to have a revolution when the time is NOT yet riped or ready for that. B/c doing it this way WILL result in a lot of bloodbath and failing for sure.

      At the moment, one of the things that needs to happen before actually attempting to have a revolution is that MILLIONS of Americans actually WANT one. We cannot have a revolution without MASSES of people wanting it. Of course that is a challenge, and therefore, there are people that will say that will never happen. But there is possibility because many Americans are very liberal & progressive. There is A LOT of conservatives, racists & chauvinism too of course, and that will exist even after a revolution (if there is one).

      But the point is that the liberals and progressives right now have many illusions of the solutions they would like to see, which cannot happen with a system under capitalism. So this is something that revolutionaries have to consistently be working on- working on changing peoples' minds/psychology, in order to transform them into wanting an actual revolution rather than reforms or any other ideas they have that they think work.

      Now the impossibility of people wanting a revolution lies a lot in the fact that Americans have a lot of luxuries, what you call "democracy." The problem is that THAT form of democracy is granted on the back of slaves from other countries and wars that are waged for empire, which havocs not only the people living in other countries, but our environment as well. Let's not forget the borders as well.

      I mean even if you DO have many Americans who are subject to injustices today, such as black & brown people being targeted for police terror, as well as immigrants being incarcerated or send back to the hell of their country, mostly created due to imperialism, due to capitalist countries SUCH as the the U.S waging war. And a lot of the these things cannot be reformed under capitalism b/c the nature of capitalism RELIES on the oppression and exploitation of people in order to profit, and the that's the only way it COULD profit.

      But even if you can help "fix" the lives of immigrants and black people in the U.S, we cannot escape the fact that this country drives on the exploitation of people outside the U.S, such as the reasons for WTO, NAFTA, the U.N and other international institutions that brags to be democratic but in actually is very corrupt. But it gets away with it b/c of these individual freedoms you speak of.

      Now that is not to say that individual freedoms will be taken away under Communism. Actually that is one of the subjects Bob Avakian speaks and writes about: in terms of one of the negative effects of past revolutions. And it is something to learn from in order to not commit the same mistake. However there has also been instances that what people called "taking away individual rights" stemmed from the fact that countries like China underwent serious problems that they had to focus more energy on than other things: it was on the basis of priorities. If people are starving, the government cannot turn its back on that. This is something you can dig into here: http://revcom.us/a/323/you-dont-know-what-you-thin... where an economist in the RCP, Raymond Lotta, writes about the Communist experience, something that this system does not teach us b/c it doesn't WANT us to know. It rather us FEAR Communism by stating that many Communist leaders were totalitarian, and they give examples of this in a very one-sided way.

      Capitalism has collapsed as well. the Roman Empire is an example of that. And actually as Capitalism (not democracy) advances, it actually has gotten WORSE for people and the environment. And you can learn about this in a lot of liberal/progressive medias, not just the news from the Revolution Newspapers.

      But in terms of ideology, I do agree that we all, including myself and many Communists, but people overall, should take a step back and learn from different ideologies. But not in a way to just feed into whatever people say/write, but to think critically and compare/contrast them- not just their differences/similarities in what they tell you (conservatives for example will make you think we SHOULD go to war and give your reasons why, while liberals tell you what is really happening- consequences- and why we, therefore, SHOULDN'T)...

      But even taking in that news, the liberals vs. the revolution- you will see there is a different method & approach in terms of laying out the problem. The Revolution will lay out the foundations of the system, so people can understand WHY it happens... which is not as simple as that Capitalists are corrupt, greedy, etc. though most are, some only become that way b/c of the system they live in- and how it functions. And this is the reason we stress the fact that we cannot take vengeance on people and other principles. We have to understand who the real enemy is.

      and Again this country was FOUNDED on genocide of the natives and slavery of blacks. So it was NEVER democratic from day one. Perhaps to a group of people, but def not to all people living in the U.S. And again, this happens b/c capitalism rests on the exploitation and oppression of people and that way of doing business HAS evolved... things have NOT gotten better... perhaps some blacks & immigrants have gone up the social ladder, but that doesn't take away the fact that THOUSANDS of people are suffering living under this system IN the U.S itself. They just have been incarcerated (hence the reason we have the most prisons in the world) and other things. I recommend you read the other special issues of the Revolution Newspaper on the website b/c they do state other horrors that happen under capitalism-imperialism. But of course you should read other sources. We are not the only ones that say this.

      And you are right that we should get out in the real world. But it depends where you go. I mean do you know how many people live in slums outside the U.S? and a RESULT Of the U.S? I mean a lot of people are living good both in the U.S and in other countries, it depends how people define 'good' of course, and everyone has their preferences, but there is also a lot of chaos in the world. And I'm not saying the U.S is the ONLY cause of that.. there are other countries who are pillaging the planet in order to increase their Empire, Russia & China is an example, but there are others.... But the point is that all these reasons are good enough reason to have an actual revolution for the masses of people who this world is a living hell for.

      Now what I do agree with is that worldviews change over time for the better. But the way I see it is that the way we handle things should be better... for example, I think people who are drawn to this movement def need to learn more and understand the challenges. That is a serious thing. b/c like you mentioned, we do need more than just good intentions. & this is part of the New Synthesis of Communism by Bob Avakian. Feel free to write questions/comments on the website revcom.us -the bottom has a contact

    • lions44 profile image

      CJ Kelly 15 months ago from Auburn, WA

      The attempt to create a true Communist has failed every time it has been tried and I'm hearing from you the same things that every other Communist revolutionary states just prior to the "revolution": "We're gonna do it right this time" or "They did it wrong in Russia, but in China, we're going to do it better."

      I find it interesting that you have to excuse all of the failed Communist states as having turned to capitalism. Just the fact that you had to come up with reasons why they failed, means the "revolution" is doomed to failure.

      The very nature of a collective is the subordination of individual rights and other freedoms. No matter how hard you try, a revolution (with the exception of the American Revolution) devolves into a bloodbath and chaos. What comes out of that is totalitarianism.

      Democracies evolve, communist states collapse. There is no way around it.

      I wish you the best in your future endeavors (as long as you are not involved in a violent revolution). But take a step back from your ideology, particularly, if you live in the U.S. Get out in the real world. Worldviews change over time and usually for the better. Good intentions don't always lead to successful results.