Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Bob Avakian: Dangerous, yes, but not to capitalism

First Published: The Call, Vol. 8, No. 34, September 10, 1979.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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If it hasn’t come to your local late night talk show, daily newspaper or neighborhood wall, it probably will soon: The ranting-and-raving-Bob Avakian-raise-a-million-dollars-for-the-RCP show.

For those of you who haven’t yet had the benefit of this bombast, you should know that it features Bob Avakian, chairman of the so-called “Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP).”

After what some who know him have described as a severe nervous breakdown, Avakian has emerged from his suburban Chicago headquarters to stump the country in a desperate campaign to equate himself and his party with the cause of revolution and communism in the eyes of the masses.

Avakian’s tactics include evangelical-style meetings, (“Hear Bob Avakian speak.. .it will change your life”) and a poster campaign in which Avakian has dubbed himself “the most dangerous man in America.” A media blitz, with all the trappings of a high-powered public relations firm behind it, has seen Avakian featured on numerous TV programs and in newspaper articles, calling for violent revolution in the style of a true provocateur.

The pretext for all this is Avakian’s plan to raise a million dollars for the defense of himself and 16 other RCPers charged with riot and assault during their attack on Chinese Vice-Premier Deng Xiaoping’s U.S. visit earlier this year.

It appears that a multi-million dollar gift given the RCP by a big capitalist in 1978 was squandered on RCP’s “Mao Tsetung Memorials” of last year. In those programs, the RCP tried to capitalize on the revolutionary prestige of China’s Mao Zedong. Portraying themselves as Mao’s true disciples, the RCP flew audiences from all over the country into New York and California for the meetings.

In fact, neither the RCP’s political line nor its methods have anything in common with Mao’s thinking. They are akin instead to the ultra-left gang of four in China whose fascist methods disguised with socialist rhetoric are being denounced by the Chinese people today–even while Avakian is busy emulating the gang’s techniques.

The capitalists are only too eager to help with Avakian’s media campaign. Having a self-described communist appear on their TV shows as the stereotypical fanatic and advocate of mindless violence helps them in their effort to make communism something alien and frightening to the masses.

While Avakian is busy on television threatening to “kill all the pigs” and eradicate all the “punks, bootlickers and running dogs,” it is actually the poor and working-class people of the country whom the RCP is attacking. RCP gangsters have opened fire with shotguns on the residents of Capitol Homes in Atlanta’s Black ghetto. They have launched violent attacks against a wide variety of movements that refuse to accept their “leadership”–from Hawaii’s land struggles to the Black United Front in Brooklyn to local chapters of the U.S.-China People’s Friendship Association.

In Austin, Texas, last week Brown Berets and others fed up with RCP’s self-proclaimed leadership of the people’s movement chased RCP-ers out of Rosewood Park and prevented them from holding a rally. In statements to the press afterwards, community activists said that RCP’s disruptions and provocations against the police were CIA-type activities.

While many of the Berets recognize that RCP’s “communism” is phony, others are taken in by Avakian’s pose, and lump what they see of RCP with communism in general, thus fueling anti-communist sentiment.

These tactics are all too reminiscent of what can now be proven to be FBI-COINTELPRO-inspired provocations inside the anti-imperialist struggles of the late ’60s and early ’70s.

The Revolutionary Worker, RCP’s newspaper, now has as its central task the creation of a cult around Avakian. A recent issue featured five pages devoted to him. Headlines promoted him as “dangerous,” “powerful” and the target of the “greatest government frame-up conspiracy in a decade.” Surely this is the height of megalomaniacal self-flattery, especially since Avakian was released after his arrest on a mere $10,000 bond, and most other RCPers were released on their own recognizance.

Avakian’s efforts to build a cult-like organization may prove captivating to a small number of people who are looking for easy solutions–people who are as likely to join a fanatical religious sect as they are to join Avakian’s RCP. Such people are attracted by Avakian’s pronouncements that “revolution is coming quickly” to the U.S., and are easy marks for the RCP’s social-fascism.

But the masses of workers and revolutionary-minded people can only look on Avakian’s antics with scorn. They know that armed struggle, while a necessary part of revolutionary strategy, must be developed with great care and not used as a provocation to set the people up for attack as Avakian does. They know, too, that the true leaders of the people are not publicity-seeking, self-proclaimed “heroes,” but rather those who earn their reputation as class fighters through their real contributions to the struggle.

When all is said and done, Bob Avakian is not really a very dangerous man at all–to capitalism anyway. He does pose a danger to the people’s movement; but as his activities provide more and more of a self-exposure, fewer people will be taken in by the RCP.