The 1978 article On the Role of Agitation and Propaganda says that “Agitation, whether spoken or written, generally focuses on one event, and one contradiction, and seeks to make a single idea powerfully clear to broad numbers of people. It is like a sharp knife seeking to expose and make raw a glaring contradiction and draw blood around it.” Therefore, this task is the most urgent one for communists in the United States to take on at the present time.
It’s our most urgent task because material conditions at the moment make it the most useful thing for us to do. Not enough people, at least in the United States, would support the communist movement if it were to try to overthrow the capitalist state. And until we sufficiently build up an armed Marxist-Leninist organization, we won’t have the means to attempt this anyway. Until these material realities change, our focus will need to be on bringing people to the side of proletarian, anti-imperialist, and anti-colonial revolution.
How can a member of the movement participate in this agitation effort, even when they lack a social media presence or any other type of platform? I personally recommend you try to gain access to such a platform to help you with spreading your messages. But whether you can do this or not, following the instructions I’m going to lay out here will make you well equipped for the goal of revolutionary agitation in this time and place.
1: gather the proper sources of knowledge
To gain a basic understanding of the tasks we’re trying to accomplish and the problems we’re trying to address, it’s crucial to read these works:
Das Kapital by Karl Marx
The Communist Manifesto by Marx and Engels
The State and Revolution by Vladimir Lenin
The Foundations of Leninism by Joseph Stalin
Settlers by J. Sakai
The Wretched of the Earth by Frantz Fanon
For a far more thorough education on class struggle, one can also commit to reading through all the works listed by the Marxist study guide that I’ve linked to here. And to be able to adequately teach others the nature of communist and anti-imperialist revolution, you’ll need to defend the past and existing socialist experiments from bourgeois propaganda. This will require reading and promoting these sources on the common lies and misconceptions about Marxist-Leninist, anti-imperialist, and anti-colonial leaders:
Lies Concerning the History of the Soviet Union by Mario Sousa
The Essential Stalin by Bruce Franklin
Another view of Stalin by Ludo Martens
Did Mao Really Kill Millions in the Great Leap Forward? by Joseph Ball
Socialism and Democracy in the DPRK from Write to Rebel
Tales of North Korean Abuses: No Facts, All Fiction by Tony Cartalucci
Defending Socialism: Deconstructing the “Communism Killed 100 Million” Lie by Revolutionary Left Radio
Bipartisan hardliners use coronavirus to escalate Cold War with China by the Global Times
Time for Global Communists to Unite under Xi and the Communist Party of China by Saikat Bhattacharya
There’s also the task of countering all the regime change propaganda that the imperialists constantly use to demonize anti-imperialist countries. This is harder, because the line of rhetorical attack from our opponents is always shifting in ways that best manipulate people into believing lies about the target nations. The best way to fight this perpetual onslaught of lies is to follow anti-imperialist outlets like AntiWar.com and MintPressNews, and use their repudiations of imperialist narratives to turn others against these narratives.
2: introduce these sources and knowledge to others when certain contradictions become pertinent
For our actions to be agitation and not merely a general propaganda effort, each attempt to bring our knowledge to the people will preferably be focused on one given issue that exposes a certain contradiction. When a protester wrote a Marx quote on a Target store during the recent anti-police brutality uprising in Minneapolis, they were engaging in such an act; they drew attention to the murder of George Floyd, which represents the contradiction of racialized state violence under capitalism, and used it as an implied argument for why the capitalist class should be overthrown.
We can do the same by taking whatever equivalent opportunities appear for exposing contradictions, and using those opportunities to spread awareness of the need for dismantling capitalism, colonialism, and imperialism. Spray painting a building is maybe the most drastic (but still very much doable) way that one could try to go about with this task. If you want to take a less risky approach, you can spread flyers in your community, promote messages on social media, or use the spoken word, as On the Role of Agitation and Propaganda says can be done.
The advice I’m giving you will only be useful if I specify which messages I’m asking you to promote. So here’s a guide to the ideas that are best to spread around as they correspond to the most discussed political issues of the present time:
-When addressing/discussing climate change, use at least one of the messaging routes I listed above to promote the idea that socialist revolution can save humanity from an apocalyptic warming scenario. The same solution should be promoted when addressing or discussing economic inequality, poverty, corporate power, or racism.
-When addressing/discussing issues that relate to white supremacy in particular, the idea of decolonization should be promoted as the solution. Returning indigenous land to the First Nations, reparations for colonized peoples, and abolition of colonial police and prisons should be mentioned.
-The subject of China should be addressed with clarifications about the lies that Westerners are told about the country. The “Uyghur concentration camp” and “Chinese imperialism” narratives should especially be pushed back against. The same task of debunking imperialist propaganda should also be undertaken in regards to Syria, Venezuela, Russia, Cuba, Iran, Nicaragua, and the DPRK. In the hyperlinks from the previous sentence, I’ve provided resources about each of these countries to study and to use in arguments.
3: when you’ve won someone over, get them into an organizing space
Once you’ve familiarized someone with the material I’ve provided throughout this essay to the point where they’re willing to help with our cause, you should judge their merit and trustworthiness before deciding to bring them into a party. In the mission to build a vanguard-which is an organization that can effectively lead the proletariat to overthrowing and replacing the capitalist state-new members should be carefully vetted. We’re going to need people in charge who can be trusted, and who know the revolutionary theory that’s required to make the right decisions.
To recognize the ideas that make someone less qualified to participate in the vanguard, you can read these sources:
Combat Liberalism by Mao Zedong
“Left-Wing” Communism: an Infantile Disorder by Vladimir Lenin
Decolonization is not a metaphor by Eve Tuck and Wayne Yang
The Miseducation of the US Left: Bernie Sanders, Social Democracy, and Left Chauvinism by Joshua Briond
These articles respectively teach against the pitfalls of liberalism, idealism, incorrect characterizations of anti-colonialism, social chauvinism, and (for our modern context) counterproductive social media behavior.
Study all of the materials I’ve compiled in this essay, and you’ll be in a better position to lead and participate in the communist movement. This knowledge will make you better able to engage in agitation, which is right now the essential step towards a direct attempt at overthrowing the capitalist state.
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