OAKLAND, USA—They came in a steady stream to march on May Day. They came to the plaza outside Fruitvale BART Station in Oakland—the very station where years earlier the cops had cold-bloodedly murdered a young Black worker, Oscar Grant. They came to march for immigrant rights but they came also to march against a racist capitalism that has taken an even more racist turn. Many came in organized groups like unions or “sanctioned” school walk-outs, but they all came with a confidence and excitement that a mass movement is building.
And here and there knots of people engaged Red Flag distributors. “Communism? Will it be authoritarian or democratic?”
“Revolutions are authoritarian. They are when one class imposes its power over another! It will take a powerful mass movement to bring the walls down and smash all borders. But the authority of the masses is different from the authority of the exploiters.”
“You talk about bringing the walls down,” another marcher chimed in, “but why don’t you talk about bringing the other walls down—the prison walls? My brother is in jail. He’s innocent. He didn’t do anything. Even when he gets out it’s like he’s illegal anyway.”
“You make a good point It’s a connection we don’t make enough Please write us a letter. Red Flag is a paper of the masses. Communism is not just what you think; it’s what you do as well.”
And then another discussion with some students raised another point. “My dad’s an aircraft mechanic. What would it mean to him to work without pay?”
I struggled with that for a minute. “Like the paper says,” I said, pointing to the editorial, “communism means you have to rethink everything.”
“But my dad’s a skilled worker and he kind of takes pride in that”
“Your dad might start looking at himself differently. He’d still use his skills but maybe start doing some engineering as well. Perhaps he’d take part in transferring his skills to a group of youngsters who would be getting some schooling at his workplace.”
Another good discussion later on revolved around the question of “How do you make the revolution?”
“Well, at the moment, the masses are in motion. They are revolting, resisting against this or that aspect of capitalism. Our job is to join them and raise the main task—organizing to overthrow capitalism and replace it with a society organized on communist ideas and principles.
“To this end we try to reach industrial workers, soldiers, and students—key forces in the maintenance and future of capitalism or communism.”
By the end of the march we had spread Red Flag far and wide. We were all but out of papers. Broadening the discussion brings us face to face with the next: organizing and recruiting so the ideas of communist revolution become a material force for revolution.