Need for a revolutionary organization
Published Nov 20, 2008 9:49 PM
WW photo: Gary Wilson
I want to talk not just about the importance of a party of professional
revolutionaries, but also about the challenge of recruiting youth.
A 15-year-old has had different historical experiences than someone who is 35.
It is important to understand what we who were born under the Carter
administration, who were born after the great social movements, have come up
in—the reaction we grew up in.
We were babies of the Reagan era. We grew up in a period during
deindustrialization, when the prison-industrial complex was booming, when the
death penalty was reinstituted. We grew up during the war on drugs. We grew up
during the crack epidemic. We also grew up during the rise of hip-hop
There are a lot of things that have contributed to the difficulty of recruiting
youth. The collapse of the Soviet Union didn’t necessarily have that much
of an effect on us, certainly not as much as the great Los Angeles Rebellion.
That’s what we remember. That was a great defining moment.
This is the period we lived in. There weren’t the great social movements,
the struggles for socialism. There was the victory of the Sandinistas, but what
we remember of that is the Iran-Contra hearings.
We had to suffer through seeing our parents or our friends’ parents
losing their jobs or experiencing the fear of losing jobs. I grew up in the
Rust Belt, and the wave of closures, plant closures and layoffs, felt like a
cloud of doom as it destroyed communities, especially the oppressed
There is a crisis of youth. It’s because of the period of reaction we
grew up in. It’s also a crisis of ideology and of bourgeois society.
Someone was talking about consumerism. We don’t want to make the workers
the enemy because they buy stuff. People have a right to stuff, but have a
difficult time buying. Capitalism staved off a crisis with credit buying.
People couldn’t afford things so they got them on credit. They got
groceries on credit. You bought a house or a car on credit.
When you turn on the television, walk outside your door, turn on the radio, go
on the Internet, everywhere: buy, buy, buy. If you buy a television and it
breaks down, you’ve got to buy a new one because there is nobody to
The government controls the education system. Not only do we have to contend
with the period we grew up in, but also with the decadence of bourgeois society
and the fact that the schools aren’t teaching history.
Something very simple that we can explain is the dialectical nature of
struggle—how two things butting against one another can create a thing of
quality, that struggle is going to produce a better society, that we did not
always live under this system in the past and will not always live under it in
We have to talk about the ideas of Marx. Not only do we have to teach the
dialectics of struggle and history, but also you have to tell people what is
possible for society in simple words. Malcolm X used to say, “Make it
plain,” when a person talked too long. We have to make it plain what
socialism actually is.
They are talking about socialism like it’s this monster rearing its head.
It’s never gone away. People are beginning to say, “Wait a minute,
something’s wrong with this.” But, in order to actually get to that
next step you need an organization.
Some youth don’t see the importance of centralization and organization
because they are taught that power corrupts and organizations become corrupt.
“Look at the Soviet Union. They were corrupt.” It’s like
trying to convince people that there is no corruption in the capitalist
government. What about Nixon? What about eight years of Bush, of Clinton?
We need a revolutionary organization. The thing about the L.A. rebellion was
that it lacked organization. It was great, but it was smashed into the ground.
If there had been a revolutionary organization on the ground, it could have
propelled it much further.
The idea is the importance of a revolutionary organization to make demands upon
the system. As the workers start to move, we actually push it further. As the
capitalists try to smash the rising of workers and workers begin to see the
system baring its teeth, we need an organization that says, “We need to
go further. Keep going, keep struggling because this is what we have to do to
win a new society and that new society is socialism.”
As an individual activist I started to get demoralized. You get tired and worn
out, but not if you are grounded in a revolutionary understanding of history
and of the ability of the masses to rise up and build a better world for
themselves. Not if you are grounded in Marxism and you are part of a
I believe that one of the shining moments, at least from my perspective, of the
party is what we did with the Barack Obama phenomenon. I’ve only been in
the party four years, but it has to be one of the shining moments of this
organization, because we did the right thing and we will see how that will play
out. All those organizations that said, “It’s nothing. It’s
nothing.” How are they going to be able to lead the masses in struggle to
build a better world if they couldn’t see the very basic question of
supporting self-determination and the national question? How will they be able
I think there are great things in the future. This is a period of struggle, and
this is the right organization to help push the struggles forward. We have the
right people, the right relations.
This party has given me a great deal of confidence. I’m so glad to be a
member of Workers World Party and of the revolutionary youth group Fight
Imperialism, Stand Together, and I look forward to working with you all in the
Articles copyright 1995-2012 Workers World.
Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.
Workers World, 55 W. 17 St., NY, NY 10011
Support independent news DONATE