Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Bob Avakian

Storms Are Gathering – Carry the Red Flag Forward!


First Published: Revolutionary Worker, “Special National Edition”, February 1979.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
Copyright: This work is in the Public Domain under the Creative Commons Common Deed. You can freely copy, distribute and display this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit the Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line as your source, include the url to this work, and note any of the transcribers, editors & proofreaders above.


In the following excerpts from a speech, Comrade Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Central Committee of the Revolutionary Communist Party, exposes the towering crimes of Teng Hsiao-ping and brings to life the tremendous achievements and revolutionary banner of China’s Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution led by Mao Tsetung.

During the January 29 Washington, D.C. demonstration, Comrade Avakian was arrested along with 77 others. All are currently charged with the serious felony assault on a police officer. He was singled out in court by the top Washington district attorney and by the judge because he leads and symbolizes the Revolutionary Communist Party, the Party which openly declares its intention to lead the working class and masses of people in this country in making revolution. Comrade Avakian was held on $10,000 ransom, which was not reduced because, in the words of the judge, “he is a revolutionary leader.”

Even after his bail was met, the judge put him under political house arrest–making a condition of bail that he remain in Washington, D.C. or Chicago until after Teng left the country.

But these attacks on Comrade Avakian and the Party have only further increased the determination of the Party and its supporters to defend the Chairman of the Central Committee with their every ounce of strength, and to redouble the Party’s revolutionary work among the exploited and oppressed people in the U.S.

* * *

I remember a song, I think it came out in the 1960s, by Nina Simone. I remember the words to it very clearly: it said, ”I wish that I knew what it felt to be free.” It’s a very moving song, but the song itself does not provide an answer to that question. But we know we have the answer. It’s not an answer we have only from books, but it was an answer being provided in living reality by the struggle and the achievements of the Chinese people and the Chinese revolution taking our class of people and the oppressed people throughout the world to the greatest heights we have yet scaled but not yet the greatest ones we will achieve in the future.

The Chinese people knew, as we long to know. They had the taste of freedom in their mouth, and they knew what it meant to be free. Not yet free of all classes. Not yet free of every big shot who would oppress the people, but free of the kind of madness, that daily hell, that we have to go through in their so-called greatest of all countries. And Teng Hsiao-ping wants to tell the Chinese people and the people around the world that they should aspire to live like we have to live in this hell-hole that they call a country!

The Chinese people don’t need Teng Hsiao-ping to tell them what it feels like to be free, because they knew what it felt like to be free, and Teng Hsiao-ping is trying to put them back in the hell-fire that they had to live in–and even worse than that–in the old society. But they knew what it felt like to be free. They knew what it meant to walk down the street any day of the week, any hour of the day and be able to hold their head up and not be afraid of anything in this world, not be afraid for yourself and not be afraid for your kids. They knew what it meant, not just from personal pride but with a class understanding of where they were leading mankind in going. They knew what it felt like to hold your head up and not have to bow before anyone.

They were tasting and they were bringing about in reality what we can only still dream about, though we’re working every day to turn our dream into reality. They knew that dream, and sometimes it seems an impossible dream, of what it would be like not to have these goddam pigs coming down the street brutalizing us and shooting us down for nothing more than trying to walk with a little pride.

They knew what it meant to be free of discrimination, they knew what it meant to be free of back-breaking, mind-breaking, body-breaking grinding work for some boss who doesn’t deserve nothing himself more than to be stuck in the ground. They knew what it meant to be free of all the decadence and decay and humiliation. They knew what it meant to be free of a society where people are driven so half-mad that they’ll kill each other over a parking space. That’s what this “greatest of all countries” is all about and we know because we taste its bitter taste in our mouths every day. That’s why we throw it all back up and we’re going for revolution.

The Chinese people, they knew what it meant, not through some magical gift from a condescending saviour, or some god descending out of heaven, but through their own struggle on the soil which they nurtured with their own blood in their millions. But there were others, snakes in the grass, back-biters, double-dealers and traitors, sawed-off revisionist pimps like Teng Hsiao-ping, and the rest of these strutting peacocks who’re gonna get cut down to size before too long by the Chinese people.

There were these people who maybe took part in the revolution, they even waved their achievements around like capital and told everybody, get in line and listen to me because I’m a veteran of the revolution. Maybe they took part in it, even maybe they were heroes in it up to a point, but their view of revolution was still the old self-seeking one.

They thought the revolution was about taking the tanks away from Chiang Kai-shek and letting them ride on top of them. That’s what they thought the revolution was about–taking away the palatial mansions of the old exploiters and letting them live in them. They thought it was about taking away the holdings of the old capitalists and letting them take them over. That’s what they thought, it was just a change of faces. That it was just a struggle among bourgeois cliques. That it was a question of using the people’s struggle for your own gain, using it as capital like always happens whenever the bourgeoisie gets control of everything.

And so they didn’t like the way the Chinese revolution was gonna go. They didn’t believe it when Mao said we’ve got to go on to communism, this is only the first step. They said, “Oh, no. This is quite far enough. I’m tired.” “I want to settle down and have all this for myself. That’s what we made revolution for, wasn’t it?” “What good is this socialism of yours if it don’t let me live high and mighty like a king?” “What good is it if we gotta keep on struggling?”

Now the masses of people, for whom it’s a struggle every day, the people whose work, whose sweat, pushes society forward and whose struggle keeps things moving forward, they wanted to keep on making revolution. They wanted to keep on going forward because they saw there was much to be done to advance mankind to communism and that, as Mao taught them, even then we have to keep on struggling to resolve contradictions. We can never settle down and have a nice little tea party.

But Teng Hsiao-ping and them, they bitterly hated this. They had only wanted to make revolution in order for them to get in, in order for them to have their chance to ride on the backs of the people. And they were even willing to go down on their knees once again before the foreigners if they thought they could replace Chiang Kai-shek as the one selling the Chinese people and selling China like a whore. They wanted to be the new pimps and that was their idea of revolution and nothing more. And Mao Tsetung said, “No, we’ve got to go forward.” And they isolated Mao, and they attacked him. Oh yeah, they had honey on their lips for him then like they have to now, ’cause the Chinese people and the people throughout the world have learned from Mao and love him right down to the bottom of our hearts.

We ain’t ashamed to say it. This class of reactionaries, this class of blood-sucking murdering dogs, of course they got nobody that they can stand up before the people and say here’s a leader you should love. People would run him out of the room or laugh him out of the room. But we ain’t ashamed to say we love Mao Tsetung to the bottom of our hearts because he stood with us and we’re gonna stand with him and for everything he fought for. It ain’t a one-man thing, but it’s what he stood for. It’s what he unleashed the masses to do and what we’re gonna take up and continue to do.

But they hated Mao. They had honey on their lips but behind his back they plotted. And when there was difficulty. When the Soviets went bad, went backward, when the Soviets went back to capitalism. When Khrushchev got up and acted a fool talking about he wanted to go to Disneyland. When all these chumps got there and they said, just like Teng Hsiao-ping was saying, that revolution ain’t nothing more than a chance for us to have yachts like you got yachts, all our people want is to eat goulash, that’s all the masses of people want. They go out and work hard, they can’t think about nothing more, they don’t want to lift their heads up. Just give them a little food like slaves and let them stay in their place. When Khrushchev started running this trash, he said to Mao Tsetung, “You can’t stand up and talk about fighting against imperialism and supporting people making revolution all over the world. You can’t stand up and talk about continuing the fight for communism. That’s too dangerous. You’re going to bring down the imperialists on our heads and on your heads. You’re a madman. You’re crazy. You’re a leftist. You’re everything wrong.”

And these back stabbers in China, Peng Te-huai–you know who Peng Te-huai was, just a forerunner of Teng Hsiao-ping–they went behind Mao’s back and they went to Khrushchev, and said “We agree with you. This Mao is a mad man. He’s an idealist. He don’t know nothing about reality. He thinks the people care about politics, and changing the whole world and being free. We know all they want is a little more to eat.”

So they jumped out and tried to knock Mao right out of a position of leadership, but the Chinese people wouldn’t stand for it and these revisionists were the ones that got a good ass-kicking at that time. But they plotted. Khrushchev tried to strangle China, pull out all its economic assistance and told ’em, you’ll starve, you’ll see, without us, without big sugar-daddies from the Soviet Union, you’ll be nowhere. Mao told them, you can take your aid and shove it right up your ass, ’cause we’ll see who’s going to go on and build socialism and advance towards communism, we’ll see what is the real strength and what is the real bastion of iron–you and your little flaky machines or the masses of people transforming the world through their tremendous struggle.

So they couldn’t knock Mao down, but they encircled him. They tried to hound him every day. They even bugged his office, they even followed him just like these pigs here, and tried to cut him off from the people and cut him off from other revolutionaries. And things got so bad that in the 1960s in China–even while these dogs were still pretending that they loved Mao Tsetung and loved everything he stood for and agreed with his revolutionary line–things got so bad that in most parts of China you couldn’t even buy any writings by Mao Tsetung. Why do you think they had the Red Book–because the revolutionaries had to get Mao’s line out to the people. You couldn’t even buy it because these revisionists had control here and control there and they’d block everything.

So it had to come to a head and it did come to a head. It came to a head in the Cultural Revolution when Mao said, alright, we’ll see.. .you think you’ve got control over the Party positions, you got the bureaucracy locked up, you’re handing out the patronage jobs, well we’ll see. We’ll see who’s got the real power down here when we unleash the masses. And all these revisionists ran for cover like rats and the people tracked ’em down like rats, club in hand. They smashed this dude Liu Shao-chi and Teng Hsiao-ping, they drove ’em out of office, and this dude Lin Piao who turned traitor.

I remember when I was in China the first time in 1971, I went to an exhibit in one of the cities in China and there was this young girl, a peasant girl there in her teens. She lived out in the countryside where, before the Cultural Revolution, there was almost no medical care because all these big shots like Teng Hsiao-ping said that the people of the countryside had to wait till they modernized the cities and then they could send some medicine out to them, but in the meantime, let them suffer. If we modernize them they’ll all get healthy. But people were dying out there. We’re talking about real things. People were dying out there.

This girl had a disease they said was incurable. She couldn’t even lie down. She had to sleep sitting up. She was a young teenaged girl. And now she had pictures of herself. She had an exhibit. She was exhibiting a lesson in the class struggle. She had an exhibit of what she used to look like because now she was grown and healthy, and the signs of her disease were hardly there. And I remember we listened with tears running down our cheeks when she said, “I hate that revisionist line of Liu Shao-chi. I hate revisionism.” Because it was that revisionist line that said let the people, the masses of people in China go to hell, because we’re going to modernize the cities for the advancement of a few big shots in the city and let the peasants die.

That’s what Mao Tsetung and the struggle between revisionism and communism meant to the people in China. It meant things like that on an everyday level and it meant the big questions in society about which road and whether people were going to go forward.

And I remember one more thing in China 1971, there was this group of little kids about 5-6 years old. We went to visit a grammar school there. They talk about how terrible the educational system was under the gang of 5. I thought it was tremendous. I had never seen anything like it, because I’d never been to a country controlled by the working class before. And I thought this was the greatest thing an educational system could possibly have been.

These little 5-6 year-olds, and I’m telling you they weren’t full grown adults but just like some of these young brothers and sisters around here now–they knew basically what they were talking about and they came out and did a dance about supporting the struggle of the people of the world against imperialism, and they knew what the hell imperialism was. If you were to ask some of these fools running around in the press, they could have talked circles around them about what imperialism and politics in the world is.

Now to me, that’s education, because when you grasp politics and understand the way the world works and what the real forces shaping it are, you can grasp on that basis everything and move things forward step by step and through struggle. I remember that little dance and again we sat there choking to hold back the tears and I remember thinking to myself, I would die before I let those imperialists in the U.S. drop bombs on these little kids. Because I know that they hate everything that’s going on here and they’d do anything they can to wipe this out, even drop bombs on these little kids. And 1 remember carrying that feeling with me, but then what happened?

The U.S. imperialists were not able to drop bombs on China, they were not able to wipe it out from the sky or from the outside, but Teng-Hsiao-ping and Hua Kuo-feng did it. GODDAMN IT! They did it right from the inside, they did it without bombs having to be dropped. They wiped that out through their back-stabbing treachery, that they carried off in their coup of October 1976. And the hatred, I’ll tell you, the hatred that I felt and the feeling that moved me to say I’d rather die than let them drop bombs on those little kids, I’ve got ten times that hatred today in my heart. It fills me up with hatred for Hua Kuo-feng and Teng Hsiao-ping, for wiping out what those Chinese people had gained, for wiping out the future that was being shown brilliantly in the faces of those young kids.

And today, they want to wipe out altogether the banner of revolution. They want to use both sugar-coated bullets and real bullets to wipe out revolution. They want to hold up Teng Hsiao-ping and Hua Kuo-feng–I’m talking especially about the people who rule this country and their kind throughout the world. They want to hold up what’s happened there, and say, “See? Revolution is impossible. Your dreams of being free will never be realized. You will never know what it feels like, not to have to go through this madness.” That’s what they’re doing–they’re using Teng Hsiao-ping.

Teng Hsiao-ping is talking about modernization, and praising the benefits of living in a country like this, an imperialist country. We know what modernization means. Look at Washington, D.C. Here you’ve got all these modern buildings, here you’ve got all these modern imperialists and the masses of people are living in ratholes, with modern rats, modern roaches, modern landlords, modern pigs, modern machines exploiting us.

No one has to tell us about the glories of modernization. Does that mean that we are against progress, that we are against having modern machines, that we don’t want to conquer nature, and transform it for the benefit of mankind? Or that we want to see the Chinese people have to continue to suffer under the legacy of being dominated and carved up by imperialists, and the stagnation of feudalism, and what it’s left behind in their country? Of course not, and no more did Mao or the other revolutionaries in China. But we know that modernization in order to benefit the working class has got to be carried out by the working class through its own struggle, and more than that, through its own planned and conscious activity, and with it in the driver’s seat, and in control of society.

They’re trying to trample the banner of revolution into the dust. Now why are they so concerned with that? Why do the imperialists of this country write articles every day and crow all the time about what’s happened in China? They tell us that this means that revolution is only a dream or even a nightmare and that sooner or later sensible, practical exploiters like Hua Kuo-feng and Teng Hsiao-ping are bound to come to power, and that that is the only sensible way that society can be run.

Why are they so concerned about this? Do they really think, as they try to tell us, that everything’s fine, that the economy is getting healthier, that world peace is coming closer? Of course not. Why the hell you think they are building air raid shelters and talking about evacuating the whole cities, and why do you think they already got their underground headquarters picked out and prepared for when they start this world war?

They know all this stuff is lies–they’re feeding us about how things are going to get better, how the economy is going to get better, how world peace is right around the corner, that there isn’t going to be any war, especially if they get it on with Teng Hsiao-ping. They know there’s going to be tremendous storms and upheavals in the 1980s.

Now we say, good, and great. We say, as we said the other day, if you thought the ’60s was heavy, check out the ’80s. And if you liked the ’60s, you’ll love the 80s.

There are storms gathering. There are going to be upheavals. And they know it, and they want to strike down and wipe out the banner of revolution, because they want to go into this situation with nobody able to lead the masses in opposing them. Because they know the hatred of people for this system, the hatred that already burns in the hearts of millions, is going to spread and deepen in the hearts of tens of millions of people in this country.

People’s ability to live one more day under this system is gonna grow shorter and shorter. The fuse is burning down. It’s going to come to the point where people say, I’d rather die than live one more day in this way. And they know damn well that when it gets to that point, that if there’s revolutionaries around–which there is gonna be–that we’re gonna say when people stand up, we’re gonna say, “Right. Let’s go. The time is now. Let’s go out there and put our lives on the line because we’re not gonna live one more day this way.”

So they want to wipe out the banner of revolution. They know big things are on the horizon. They want to prevent the people from being able to have a leadership, able to have a revolutionary banner they can rally around. Even the people who today have not learned the lessons that have to be learned, as the situation tightens up, the trivial and superficial things that people are caught up in today, the way that the grind grinds them down, and the rat-race runs them down, these things are going to fade. They’re not going to be the important things on people’s minds, as everything they thought they had is snatched away and beat over their heads.

People are going to look for a way out. They’re going to look for a banner that’s clear, that’s firm, that’s uncompromising, that stands for the way forward, and is held up by people who are determined to make a way forward. The imperialists and reactionaries want to wipe out revolution, and they’ll shoot us down if it comes to that. They’ve already done that in this country. They shot Fred Hampton in cold-blooded murder and many other revolutionaries in this country. They won’t hesitate.

But they would rather do it without having to spill blood, so that their bloody mask doesn’t come all the way off. And they can still walk around talking about democracy. But they’re not going to be able to do that, because we’re not being taken in, and we’re not going to lie, like they want us to lie, and tell people that revolution is impossible, and revolution can’t solve these problems, that the capitalist system is the best thing there is, and as hellish as it is, you might as well get used to burning.

We’re not going to do that. We’re going to raise the banner of revolution up. We’re going to prepare the people every day to make revolution. We’re going to organize ourselves and strengthen our ranks. We’re going to go out among the people and rip the mask off of this enemy. We’re going to educate, we’re going to mobilize, we’re going to organize and most of all, we’re going to prepare people for when the time comes when the contradictions boil up, when the system canít go on the way it’s going on, when people are driven to the wall, and say I’d rather die than live one more day like this. We’re gonna say, let’s go out, and let’s not only die but let’s kill to make revolution.

The imperialists know this and we should learn. We should learn from everything and everybody, even our enemies. What they hate, what they fear, what they want to stamp out, what they want to crush is what we gotta love, what we gotta hold high, what we gotta cherish, what we gotta strengthen, what we gotta build.

And what they hate and what they fear, and what they want to crush is the banner of revolution, the banner of the Revolutionary Communist Party and its revolutionary line, the banner of Mao Tsetung. It’s the banner of working every day for revolution, of seeing beyond the superficial and down to the essence of what this hellish society, and its mad-dog prisonhouse that they call democracy, is all about. And we gotta hold up that banner, we gotta hold it up today and rally the revolutionary-minded people, all people who look and long for a way out of this madness.