- Marxist-Maoist-Leninist group formed in 1975
- Seeks the violent destruction of America’s capitalist economic system
Identifying its ideology as “Marxism-Maoism-Leninism,” the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP) claims that the United States is “a country founded on genocide and slavery.” America’s “capitalist-imperialis[t]” rulers, says RCP, are motivated by an “endless quest … for private profit” and have used “monstrous methods of warfare” to “plunde[r] and slaughte[r]” peoples around the world, thereby causing “more untold misery” than any other nation in human history. RCP considers capitalism the root cause of the world’s most destructive social ills, such as the “savage oppression” of nonwhite peoples; discrimination against “millions of undocumented immigrants” who are routinely “scapegoated and demonized”; and “the brutal oppression of women.” To combat these ills, RCP aims to wage a “revolutionary war” – complete with “great bloodshed and destruction” – “right within the belly of this most powerful imperialist beast” (the United States). RCP’s ultimate goal is to “bring into being a whole new world, without exploitation and oppression” – a world founded on the bedrock principles of communism.
RCP further articulates its worldview and political strategies with statements like the following:
- “Under this system of capitalism, so many in this society and so much of humanity are forced to endure great hardship and suffering, exploitation, injustice and brutality, while wars and the ongoing destruction of the natural environment threaten the very future of humanity.”
- “[O]ur Party has set forth an inspiring vision, and concrete measures, for the building of a new society, a socialist society, aiming for the final goal of a communist world…. But to make this a reality, we need revolution.”
- “Revolution will not be made by acting all crazy—trying to bring down this powerful system when there is not yet a basis for that—or by just waiting for ‘one fine day’ when revolution will somehow magically become possible. Revolution requires consistent work building for revolution.”
- “In order for revolution to be real there must be a revolutionary crisis, and a revolutionary people, numbering in the millions and led by a far-seeing, highly organized and disciplined revolutionary party.”
- “The potential for a revolutionary crisis lies within the very nature of this capitalist system itself—with its repeated economic convulsions, its unemployment and poverty, its profound inequalities, its discrimination and degradation, its brutality, torture and wars, its wanton destruction. All this causes great suffering. And at times it leads to crisis on one level or another—sudden jolts and breakdowns in the ‘normal functioning’ of society, which compel many people to question and to resist what they usually accept. … in these situations of sharp breaks with the ‘normal routine’ there is greater possibility, and greater potential, to make advances…. In this kind of situation, for great numbers of people, the ‘legitimacy’ of the current system, and the right and ability of the ruling powers to keep on ruling, can be called seriously and directly into question, with millions hungering for a radical change that only a revolution can bring about.”
The earliest roots of RCP can be traced back to 1968, when Robert Avakian, H. Bruce Franklin, and Charles Hamilton co-founded the Revolutionary Union (RU), which closely identified itself with Mao Zedong and Communist China. RU spun off a number of terrorist groups in the late 1960s and early 1970s. For example, H. Bruce Franklin led a particularly radical faction of RU members into the Venceremos group which engaged in armed terrorism in California. The center of the Venceremos group, in turn, formed the Symbionese Liberation Army. And RU member Steven Levin helped create the Black Liberation Army and the FALN. Other RU members loyal to Avakian committed themselves to activism within the labor movement, most notably the steelworkers’, autoworkers’, and miners’ unions.
In October 1970, RU activists trapped President Richard Nixon inside his limousine in San Jose, California, and pelted the vehicle with eggs, bottles, and rocks.
In August 1971, an RU cell in Reading, Pennsylvania disseminated explosives to a variety of terrorist groups throughout North America, including the Weather Underground, Puerto Rican extremists, and the Ku Klux Klan. Some of these explosives were used by KKK terrorists to blow up ten school buses in Pontiac, Michigan, in an effort to prevent the use of busing to promote racial integration in American schools.
HistorianGerald Nicosia – who describes RCP as a “very violent, extremely violent, far leftMaoist organization” – reports that by 1971 RCP (which at that point was still known as RU) had begun to “heavily infiltrate” the organization Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW). “They [RU/RCP] eventually took it over around ’73 and basically pushed out all the real veterans and brought in all the RCP functionaries and destroyed the organization,” adds Nicosia.
- In 2004, then-VVAW national coordinator John Zutz confirmed the Maoist communist influence that had penetrated his organization in the 1970s: “That in fact did happen. The RCP was attempting to take over [VVAW].” Noting that RCP’s influence over VVAW grew even stronger in 1973, Zutz said: “The war was basically over, so the membership in VVAW started dropping, which gave the RCP a chance to try to take it over.” “They were veterans and they were active and they became leaders,” Zutz added. “Because they were active and they were willing to do the work, they started working themselves up the leadership ladder.”
In 1975 Avakian reorganized and expanded RU, and he renamed it The Revolutionary Communist Party, USA.
Embracing Vladimir Lenin’s “vanguard” philosophy, which maintains that a vanguard of intellectuals is needed to lead the proletariat in establishing a worker’s utopia, RCP in its early years dubbed itself the “party of the proletariat.” It also developed a relationship with two organizations listed by the State Department as terrorist organizations: the Communist Party of Peru (Shining Path/Sender Luminoso) and the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK).One of the intellectual leaders of RCP in its early years was William H. Hinton, a Marxist who authored multiple books praising the Maoist revolution in China, and especially the Cultural Revolution of 1966-76. Another key RCP figure was Paul Jacobs, a self-described “professional revolutionist” who, at different times in his life, described himself variously as a Communist, a Trotskyist, and a Socialist.
In 1978, VVAW’s RCP-led communist factions split off to form their own group called Vietnam Veterans Against the War–Anti-Imperialist (VVAW-AI.) This group is still active today and refers to the U.S. as “Amerikkka.”
In late 1979, RCP members staged a takeover of the Statue of Liberty, in support of the Iranian Revolution and its leader, Ayatollah Khomeini. At that time, 52 Americans were being held hostage in Tehran by extremists associated with the revolution.
On Veterans Day 1979, a group of RCP members barricaded themselves inside the observation deck of the Washington Monument and hung out a large banner reading, “U.S. Keep Your Bloody Hands Off Iran.” According to The Washington Post, the demonstration “apparently was prompted by public duscussion of measures to win the release of hostages held at the U.S. Embassy in Iran.”
In 1979 as well, RCP founder Robert Avakian was arrested for leading a violent demonstration against Mao Zedong’s successor in China, Deng Xiaoping, during the latter’s visit with President Jimmy Carterat the White House. Avakian regarded Deng as a political sell-out, and his fellow protesters chanted: “Mao Zedong did not fail, revolution will prevail!” Avakian, for his part, was charged with assaulting a police officer at the scene. In 1981, criminal indictments were issued against Avakian and several other RCP leaders for their illegal presence on White House grounds during the aforementioned protest. But rather than face trial, Avakian fled the United States and settled in France, where he continues to reside as the “chairman-in-exile” of RCP’s Central Committee. RCP members reverently refer to Avakian as their “Precious Leader.”
The early to mid-1980s were a time of intense activity for RCP. In the summer of 1983, for instance, the organization set up terrorist training camps in Colorado, drawing people from the Iranian Student Association and the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA) — the latter of which was known for its involvement in heroin trafficking.
In October 1983, RCP tried to sabotagethe Reagan Administration’s efforts to deploy Pershing and cruise missiles in Germany. The Party led a “World Without Imperialism Contingent” (WWIC) on an eight-week tour of Germany to lay the framework for thwarting those deployments. Accompanied by members of Peru’s Marxist guerrilla army, the Shining Path, a number of RCP members penetrated the Mutlangen U.S. military base in West Germany, where Pershing II intermediate-range missiles were in storage.
The following month, RCP / WWIC members were involved, along with the so-called Red Cellsand other German anarcho-terrorists, in an assaultagainst Vice President George H.W. Bush’s caravan during a visit to Krefeld, Germany.Also during this period, RCP sought to establish alliances with radical environmentalist organizations, as exemplified by its November 22, 1983 joint public meeting with representatives of Greenpeace. RCP’s radical agendas found further expression when the Party co-sponsored the March 12, 1984 founding conference of theRevolutionary Internationalist Movement in London.
In January 1985, the RCP newspaper Revolutionary Worker called for the assassination of President Reagan.
Throughout its history, one of RCP’s principal objectives has been to foment civil unrest in the United States. One especially notable example of such efforts occurred on April 29, 1992, when RCP members looted and trashed the downtown and government districts of Los Angeles, helping to trigger the infamous Rodney King riots (protesting a jury’s failure to convict four police officers who had beaten a black motorist in March 1991). During the days immediately preceding the violence, RCP – which maintained close ties to the L.A. gangs known as the Crips and the Bloods – had circulated throughout South Central Los Angeles a leaflet featuring a statement by RCP national spokesman Carl Dix. The leaflet’s title, “It’s Right To Rebel,” echoed a quote popularized by the late Mao Zedong. Encouraged by Dix, RCP activists participated in the riots that ultimately left 63 people dead and more than 2,000 others injured. According to Robert Avakian: “This rebellion was the most beautiful, the most heroic and the most powerful action by masses of people in the U.S. for years and years…. Glory to those who have risen up with fury!… Forward from rebellion to the all-the-way-liberating Proletarian Revolution!”
In March 2002, RCP’s C. Clark Kissinger created Not In Our Name, a “peace movement” that produced a “Pledge of Resistance” condemning the U.S. government’s pursuit of “endless war”; its greed-driven “transfusions of blood for oil”; its determination to “erode [our] freedoms”; and its eagerness to “invade countries, bomb civilians, kill more children, [and annihilate] families on foreign soil.”
In June 2005, Kissinger initiated World Can’t Wait, an RCP front group dedicated to driving President George W. Bush from office.
In late 2005 and early 2006, RCP launched a Revolutionary Communist Speaking Tour designed to “build a communist movement among the people locked on the bottom of society in the current era of Bushite Christian-fascism.”
In July 2014, RCP activists collaborated with representatives of numerous other leftist organizations in Murrieta, California, to stage protests condemning local residents who were demonstrating against the influx of illegal aliens into their community.
Later in 2014, RCP was a key organizer of protest demonstrations denouncing two recent incidents where black men — 18-year-old Michael Brown in Missouri, and 43-year-old Eric Garner in New York — had died as a result of altercations with white police officers. As one RCP flyer in San Francisco said:
“…There’s countless videos where these fuckin’ pigs wantonly murder people right in front of a camera knowing they’re being recorded! What the fuck is it gonna take to get these muthafuckers to stop?! The answer is Revolution — Nothing Less! Nothing less than overthrowing the capitalist-imperialist system that they so viciously serve and protect…
“This shit has to stop and you can be part of stopping it. All these pigs [police], all the courts, all the prisons are there not because they want to keep our communities safe, all that shit is there because they fear YOU! They know what you rising up and not staying in your place could turn into. They fear what your righteous anger and your unwillingness to just bow down to their illegitimate authority represents. They fear your potential to transform and become the gravediggers of this system and that’s why they hate you!… [T]hey fear you coming together as an organized revolutionary force to overthrow their rotten fuckin’ system.
“…If we fight for meaningless reforms, they get what they want. If we turn away from revolution and the leadership of the Revolutionary Communist Party, they get what they want. They get us walking around in circles aimlessly without any real clarity about the problem and much less the solution. And while now is not the time to go all out for revolution, now IS the time to resist, now IS the time to fight back, now IS the time to build the movement FOR revolution, and now is the time to strengthen the organized force that will lead that revolution. …”
Other key organizers of the aforementioned protests included the Occupy Wall Street movement, the Progressive Labor Party, the ANSWER coalition, the NAACP, the New Black Panther Party, the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the SEIU, national LGBT organizations, climate environmentalists, amnesty groups, pro-Palestinian organizations, and Christian social justice groups.
In mid-August 2016, several RCP members were present at an anti-police riot in Milwaukee which began after a police officer had fatally shot a 23-year-old black man named Sylville Smith, who was armed with a stolen handgun at the time.
Convinced that America’s purportedly ubiquitous white racism makes it impossible for blacks to be treated justly in the United States, RCP exhorts black Americans to establish a separate, autonomous, black-only republic in the American South — a geographic area to which the Party refers as “the southern part of the former imperialist United States of America.” The decision to form such a republic, says RCP, would be made by “a special vote in which only African-Americans would be eligible to participate.” This ambition is a descendant of the Communist International’s call, in 1930, for the creation of a Soviet-directed and Soviet-controlled “Negro Republic” among America’s Southern states.
Shortly after the November 2016 U.S. presidential election in which Republican Donald Trump defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton, RCP members Carl Dix, Sunsara Taylor, and Andy Zeecollaborated to establishan organization called Refuse Fascism, depicting President Trump as an illegitimately elected “fascist.”
To help disseminate its message as widely as possible, RCP publishes a weekly newspaper titled Revolution (it was called _Revolutionary Worker_from 1979-2005). RCP also strives to advance its ideas via books and other publications distributed by Revolution Books.