Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Bob Avakian

Opening Remarks At Congress


First Published: Revolution, Vol. 3, No. 7-8, April-May 1978.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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The following are excerpts from the opening remarks at the Second Congress of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, by Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Central Committee of the Party and Chairman of the Presidium of the Congress.

* * *

On behalf of and acting as Chairman of the Presidium, I declare this Second Congress of the Revolutionary Communist Party of the USA officially open.

Since the last, the founding, Congress of our Party, there have been many important developments in the world and especially in the international communist movement, not the least of which is the death of beloved Comrade Mao Tsetung. At this point, as the first official act of this Congress, I call on comrades to stand in a one-minute silent tribute to Comrade Mao Tsetung. [All present stand in silent tribute for one minute, then the opening remarks continue.]

I think we should begin here by summarizing the immortal contributions of Mao Tsetung, which mark him as the greatest Marxist of our time. As the Programme of our Party states, in the section on the Party itself:

Mao Tsetung, in leading the Chinese revolution for many decades, has enriched Marxism-Leninism in many areas–in its application to warfare, culture, revolution in colonial countries, in philosophy and in other fields. Most importantly, in leading the Chinese proletariat’s struggle to prevent the restoration of capitalism, Mao Tsetung has developed the theory of continuing revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat, showing how the working class must continue to transform society in order to carry through the full transition to communism.

And, further:

... after the death of Lenin and his successor, Stalin, modern-day revisionists, led by the traitors in the Soviet Union itself who have restored capitalism there, came forward to distort Marxism-Leninism and attempt to rob the proletariat of its revolutionary science. Mao Tsetung has led the way in exposing these renegades and in so doing has further sharpened the science of revolution as a weapon of the working class. Mao Tsetung today represents the struggle of Marxism-Leninism vs. revisionism, of the proletariat vs. the bourgeoisie. For this reason, the Revolutionary Communist Party proudly raises the banner of Marxism-Leninism, Mao Tsetung Thought, and bases itself on the application of it to the revolutionary struggle in the U.S. (pp. 58-59)

These words in our Programme now ring out with even greater force. And beyond this general summary of the contributions of Mao Tsetung it is important to call particular attention to two of Mao’s great accomplishments.

First, Mao Tsetung led the way in charting what was then an uncharted course, he led the Chinese Communist Party and the Chinese proletariat and masses of people in making revolution in a colonial (or semi-colonial) and semi-feudal country. He developed the basic theory and strategy for such countries of proceeding through the new democratic revolution as the first stage, with armed struggle as the main form, and then advancing, immediately upon achieving victory in this stage, to the socialist revolution. This he did by concretely applying the universal principles of Marxism-Leninism to the concrete situation in China, in the context of the world revolution; and in so doing he enriched these principles.

The success of such a revolution, and the embarking of China, a large country with nearly one quarter of the world’s population, on the socialist road–this radically changed the face of the world. It carried forward and represented a further advance in the new period of history mankind had entered with the victory of the October Revolution in Russia in 1917.

But beyond that, after the question of socializing ownership in China had in the main been settled, with the old exploiting classes largely expropriated and politically shattered, after this and with the experience at the same time of the revisionist takeover and in the face of capitalist restoration in the Soviet Union, Mao Tse-tung made an even greater contribution to the struggle of the international proletariat. Summing up the experience of the Soviet Union, its positive and negative lessons, as well as the situation in China and the world with revolutionary sweep, and basing himself on the application of materialist dialectics to socialist society, Mao Tsetung developed the theory and basic line of continuing the revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat.

And in particular he led and mobilized the masses in forging and utilizing the form of mass struggle to combat and prevent capitalist restoration–the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution....

This theory and basic line and the concrete practice of the Chinese masses guided by it, especially in the Cultural Revolution, was an inspiring beacon light and tremendous force for the international proletariat and revolutionary people everywhere, including in this country, who saw but did not fully understand the degeneration of the Soviet Union. It struck a hammer-blow at the bourgeoisie internationally who preached that it was impossible to continue on the revolutionary road. Through the darkness that had arisen around the betrayal by the Soviet revisionists and had been consciously cast by the bourgeoisie and reactionaries in every country; piercing the clouds that hung over the revolutionary movement, this theory and basic line developed by Mao Tsetung and the tremendous upsurge of the Chinese masses in carrying it out shot through like a lightning bolt.

All this occurred in the midst of a storm of revolutionary struggle worldwide. It brought clarity in a situation marked by great upheaval but also by great confusion, where masses were not only rising up in rebellion but also seeking fundamental answers to the basic problems of society. Just as the October Revolution had spread Marxism-Leninism throughout the world, so, too, the Cultural Revolution, carried out by the Chinese masses under Mao’s leadership and guided by the theory and basic line he developed, spread Marxism-Leninism, Mao Tsetung Thought to all corners of the globe and pointed the way forward for revolutionary people everywhere, including in this country.

It is no exaggeration to say that without the theory and line developed by Mao and the practice of the Chinese masses in carrying it out, especially through the Cultural Revolution, our Party would not and could not have been founded when it was and on such a revolutionary basis. We, along with the people of the whole world, owe Mao Tsetung a profound debt, a debt we will make good by continuing the fight for the cause to which Mao dedicated his life until his last breath, the cause of communism.

Mao understood and constantly taught that one Cultural Revolution would not be enough to prevent capitalist restoration, and he constantly reminded the masses of the possibility of reversals and the danger of revisionist triumph and the rise to power of the bourgeoisie all throughout the socialist transition period. But he was no pessimist; in fact he was full of the unshakable revolutionary optimism characteristic of the proletariat.. ..

We must learn from Mao Tsetung, who always stood with the masses and grasped in the fullest, deepest sense, on the basis of a profound scientific understanding, that the masses are the makers of history. It was because Mao was a thoroughgoing materialist that he was fearless and forged a way forward repeatedly in the face of difficulties.

And, as Mao understood and practiced, to be a thoroughgoing materialist means you must also base yourself on dialectics. In this, in the consistent application of materialist dialectics, Mao is truly our great teacher. It was this that guided him in scaling the heights and ever reaching for greater heights, beckoning to us continually from those heights to join in the advance.

It was materialist dialectics that enabled Mao to see that it was impossible to stop the struggle part way and “rest.” He saw that convention must be shattered, that the force of habit is against us and must be constantly and ever more consciously fought. He saw that change, upheaval, rebellion, revolution is the real order in society, in the world and the universe. Who else but such a great Marxist-Leninist would consistently and repeatedly stand firm in the swirl of the mass movement and in the face of vacillation in the revolutionary ranks and attacks from the reactionaries, inside and outside the Party! Who else but such a great Marxist-Leninist would say–and we can picture him now saying–when, for example, the revisionists jumped out to attack the Great Leap Forward because it was creating such disorder, “The chaos caused was on a grand scale and I take responsibility”!

Revolutionary sweep was always and ever present in Mao Tsetung. He projected always the need for revolution. Who else but such a great Marxist-Leninist would sum up and proclaim that there will always be a need for revolution, even 10,000 years from now! Mao gave us further insight even into what communist society would be like–not by fortune-telling, for as he said, Marxists are not fortune-tellers–but by applying materialist dialectics and drawing the crucial lessons from the experience of socialist society, the transition to communism. Even under communism, Mao taught us, although classes will be eliminated, there will still be struggle, there will still be contradiction, change will still be the order of the day . . . The development of society will always be propelled by struggle, by leaps and changes, by upheaval and in this fundamental sense by revolution.

This is the legacy which Mao Tsetung has left us and revolutionary people everywhere. And if we want to be communists and if we are determined to carry out our responsibilities as vanguards of our class, we must learn from and take up this legacy as our own. We are bound to encounter difficulties, there will always be twists and turns and in an overall sense there are bound to be setbacks and reversals; this is an important part of the truth Mao taught. But the greater part is that despite such difficulties and setbacks, society is bound to move forward and none of these detours and reversals can prevent the forward march of mankind to communism. ...

No one, that is no Marxist and least of all Mao Tse-Tung, ever told us that the struggle to achieve communism would be easy. But at the same time Mao Tsetung has told us–and taught us, in both word and deed–that nothing is hard in this world, if we dare to scale the heights. This is the strategic orientation we must stick to, basing ourselves on the understanding that Mao poetically and powerfully proclaimed, “Look you, the world is being turned upside down.” Our Party has continued to draw inspiration from this and to learn from the legacy Mao left us.... and we have smashed the traitorous Menshevik clique in our own ranks, headed by Mickey Jarvis and Leibel Bergman, who would have ... snatched away the victory for the working class that was achieved in the founding of our Party, who would have killed our Party as a revolutionary vanguard in its infancy.

We can proudly say that we have stood this test and emerged victorious, that we have strengthened ourselves to face even greater storm and stress ahead. We have deepened our understanding that it is through storm and stress that our Party will be further steeled as the vanguard Party of the working class in this country–and we do not fear but welcome storm and stress because we have learned more deeply that this is how things develop and the world is moved forward.. ..

In this way we have continued and deepened the victory for our class represented by the founding of our Party. We have strengthened our dedication in the most sweeping sense to make revolution, to achieve the historic mission of our class, in opposition to the petty and puny reformism and reaction of the Menshevik clique. We have deepened the determination that fired our Party at its very foundation, when we declared that this would be the second and last time that the Party of the working class in this country would have to be formed!

This was no idle statement, but a firm resolve to refuse to go revisionist, to fight the pull of spontaneity and the conscious efforts of opportunists to drag us into the rut. It was a declaration that this Party of ours would not go the way of the old CP, as our Mensheviks are determined to do; that ours is a Party that does not place momentary interest and immediate results above the general and long-term interests of our class; that does not give up the final goal for real or imagined short-term advantage which can only be illusory for the masses in the long run; that does, not determine its conduct from case to case and adapt itself to the chops and changes of petty politics and barter away basic principle.

Instead ours is a Party that is determined to truly fulfill its role as the advanced detachment of our class, a Party that truly relies on the masses in the fullest sense, applying the science of Marxism-Leninism, Mao Tsetung Thought to lead the proletariat and broad masses in making revolution.

This struggle against revisionism and revisionist betrayal .. . has revived and rekindled revolutionary enthusiasm and revolutionary vision in our Party. The spirit is prevailing, as Comrade Gert Alexander [a veteran comrade who died in April, 1976]–whom we also pay tribute to here–said, where people want to make revolution so bad that they are willing and determined to be scientific about it. On the foundation of the victories scored so far and with this militant and scientific spirit and approach, we must take up two tasks before us here at this Congress, as the highest body of our Party, in concentrating the understanding and will of the whole Party.

First, we must achieve the still more thoroughgoing repudiation of the Menshevik renegades and consolidation of our Party around its revolutionary line, and lay an even more powerful basis to carry forward Party rectification and strike at the roots of the revisionist influence of the Menshevik clique as well as the influence of bourgeois ideological and political line in our ranks generally.

And second, we must chart more of that uncharted course, laying the basis to forge further ahead on the high road.

In conclusion: in this way this Congress can truly be a Congress of unity and victory and enable our whole Party to take even greater strides in fulfilling our solemn obligations and lead our class in fulfilling its historic mission and achieving its lofty goal. With this firmly in mind let us vigorously take up our tasks and responsibilities at this Congress.