Person

Bob Avakian

Nationality:

American

Born:

1943

Occupation:

Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA

Robert “Bob” Avakian is the Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA (RCP) which he formed in 1975. Since the 1960s, Avakian has been involved with Students for a Democratic Society, the Black Panther Party, the Revolutionary Union, and the RCP. Avakian’s politics have aligned more with People’s Republic of China-aligned Maoist communism over Soviet Marxism-Leninism which led to breaks in the communist movement during the Cold War.

Early Life

Born in Washington, D.C., in 1943, Avakian’s family moved to Berkeley, California, at the age of three. [1] Raised by his mother and an Armenian-American attorney father, Avakian began formulating his radical thinking and atheist views as a student at Berkeley High School and later at the University of California, Berkeley. [2]

Political Activism

While at UC Berkeley, Avakian was involved in the Vietnam Day Committee that opposed the Vietnam War and was an early leader of Stop The Draft Week. [3] Avakian was active in organizing national conventions for Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) [4] and a leader in the “Revolutionary Youth Movement II” faction of SDS. [5] Revolutionary Youth Movement II broke from the original Revolutionary Youth Movement to focus more on Maoist communism after Avakian was defeated as secretary general by the Mark Rudd faction that became The Weather Underground. [6]

In 1967, a pamphlet was distributed at a meeting of the Bay Area Action Committee containing a resolution by Avakian calling for the group to purchase guns for black militants in the San Francisco area. [7] In July 1968, Avakian was arrested at a Black Panther Party demonstration at the Alameda County, California courthouse for burning the American flag, disturbing the peace, and malicious mischief. [8] He was convicted and sentenced to 30 days in jail. [9]

Avakian was a member of the Bay Area Revolutionary Union in 1969. [10] Later that year, Avakian spoke at an Oakland meeting of the Black Panther Party and called for a communist overthrow of America. [11] By 1971, the Revolutionary Union split into two groups with Avakian heading the Bay Area Revolutionary Union and another group formed named Venceremos. [12] Also in 1971, Avakian and his group of supporters moved away from their support of the Black Panther Party. [13]

By 1972, Avakian and the Bay Area Revolutionary Union referred to themselves as “potentially the most dangerous Communist Party.” [14] That year members of the Revolutionary Union toured China while Avakian himself had a meeting with Chairman of the Chinese Communist Party Mao Zedong. [15]

In 1975, Avakian founded and became chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA. [16] As chairman of RCP, he wrote a new synthesis for communism (referred to as new communism) and the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America that was adopted by RCP in 2010. [17]

In the spring of 1979, a University of California, Los Angeles Chinese studies professor recalls allowing Avakian to speak on campus. [18] Avakian didn’t defend Mao as was expected but “got out of hand” when Avakian called the reformist leader of the People’s Republic of China, Deng Xiaoping, a “half-pint pimp” and hurled abuse at Deng before he was asked to leave. [19] Later that year, Avakian and 500 Maoist protestors protested Deng’s meeting near the White House with President Jimmy Carter and former President Richard Nixon by attacking police with fishing hooks. [20] Avakian was arrested and charged with assaulting a police officer but fled the country for France after his arrest. [21] All charges against Avakian from his arrest were dropped in 1982 after other members of the protest pled guilty. [22] Since his arrest and move to France, Avakian has continued to live in a self-imposed exile. [23] As of 2021, Avakian continues to run website publishing articles and books on the communist movement. [24]

Criticism

Avakian and the RCP have been called “a tiny Maoist organization whose most visible activity is running several branches of a store called Revolution Books.” [25] One commentator asked, “What if Bob Avakian threw a revolution and no one came? [26] A fellow Marxist commentator said “Avakian has succeeded in widely discrediting Marxism-Leninism and associating communism with his own cult following” and “Avakian is a leader all right, but not of the working class. His petty bourgeois and lumpen brigade is vying with CWP [Communist Worker’s Party] for leadership of the social-fascist trend.” [27]

References

  1. Avakian, Bob. “From Ike to Mao and Beyond: My Journey from Mainstream American to Revolutionary Communist.” Insight Press 2005. ISBN: 0976023628. Accessed from Google Books October 12, 2021. https://www.google.com/books/edition/From_Ike_to_Mao_and_Beyond/gf-MCBwrBzsC?hl=en&gbpv=1&dq=isbn:9780976023623&printsec=frontcover. ^
  2. [1] Avakian, Bob. “From Ike to Mao and Beyond: My Journey from Mainstream American to Revolutionary Communist.” Insight Press 2005. ISBN: 0976023628. Accessed from Google Books October 12, 2021. https://www.google.com/books/edition/From_Ike_to_Mao_and_Beyond/gf-MCBwrBzsC?hl=en&gbpv=1&dq=isbn:9780976023623&printsec=frontcover. ^
  3. Bob Avakian Institute website. www.thebobavakianinstitute.org. Accessed October 11, 2021. https://thebobavakianinstitute.org/bob-avakian-official-biography-part-1/. ^
  4. Bob Avakian Institute website. www.thebobavakianinstitute.org. Accessed October 11, 2021. https://thebobavakianinstitute.org/bob-avakian-official-biography-part-1/ ^
  5.  Illinois Crime Investigating Commission. “Report on the SDS Riots to the Illinois General Assembly. April 1970. Accessed October 17, 2021. http://www.idaillinois.org/digital/collection/isl/id/2789. ^
  6. Saba, Paul editor. “New Left Maoism: Long March to Peaceful Coexistence.” Workers Vanguard. No. 31. October 26, 1973. Accessed October 17, 2021. https://www.marxists.org/history/erol/ncm-1/sparts-ru.htm; Illinois Crime Investigating Commission. “Report on the SDS Riots to the Illinois General Assembly. April 1970. Accessed October 17, 2021. http://www.idaillinois.org/digital/collection/isl/id/2789. ^
  7. Report by the U.S. House of Representatives Internal Security Committee. “America’s Maoists: The Revolutionary Union; The Venceremos Organization.” House Report 92-1166. 92nd Congress. 1972. ^
  8. Report by the U.S. House of Representatives Internal Security Committee. “America’s Maoists: The Revolutionary Union; The Venceremos Organization.” House Report 92-1166. 92nd Congress. 1972. ^
  9. Report by the U.S. House of Representatives Internal Security Committee. “America’s Maoists: The Revolutionary Union; The Venceremos Organization.” House Report 92-1166. 92nd Congress. 1972. ^
  10. Baker, Ross K. “A History of the Weathermen.” San Antonio Express/News (from the Washington Post News Service), November 22, 1970. Accessed October 18, 2021. https://newscomwc.newspapers.com/image/29755938/?terms=history%20of%20the%20weatherman&pqsid=Sa4d7fXh5MFUiqIsR4FC-w%3A256000%3A726628720&match=1. ^
  11. Benson, George S. “Avakian, Head of R.U., Expected in San Diego.” Beckley Post Herald. March 24, 1972. Accessed October 17, 2021. https://newscomwc.newspapers.com/image/15742174/?terms=bob%20avakian&match=1. ^
  12. Evers, Bill. “Revolutionary Union Splits Over Differences in Ideology, Tactics.” The Stanford Daily. January 4, 1971. Accessed October 17, 2021. ^
  13. Evers, Bill. “Revolutionary Union Splits Over Differences in Ideology, Tactics.” The Stanford Daily. January 4, 1971. Accessed October 17, 2021. ^
  14. Benson, George S. “Avakian, Head of R.U., Expected in San Diego.” Beckley Post Herald. March 24, 1972. Accessed October 17, 2021. https://newscomwc.newspapers.com/image/15742174/?terms=bob%20avakian&match=1. ^
  15. Cott, Lawrence V., editor. “’Revolutionary Union’ Surfaces Its China-Trippers.” COMBAT, Vol. 4, No. 2. January 15, 1972. Accessed October 17, 2021. ^
  16. Avakian, Bob. Official Biography. Revolutionary Communist Party, USA website. Accessed October 11, 2021. https://revcom.us/avakian/bob_avakian_official_biography/Bob_Avakian_(BA)_Official_Biography-Introduction-en.html. ^
  17. Avakian, Bob. Official Biography. Revolutionary Communist Party, USA website. Accessed October 11, 2021. https://revcom.us/avakian/bob_avakian_official_biography/Bob_Avakian_(BA)_Official_Biography-Introduction-en.html. ^
  18. Baum, Richard. “China Watcher, Confessions of a Peking Tom.” University of Washington Press 2011. ASIN: B004Q3RS0W. Accessed October 17, 2021. https://books.google.com/books?id=yzykD4-mN7cC&pg=PA241&dq=%22Bob+Avakian%22#v=onepage&q=%22Bob%20Avakian%22&f=false. ^
  19. [1] Baum, Richard. “China Watcher, Confessions of a Peking Tom.” University of Washington Press 2011. ASIN: B004Q3RS0W. Accessed October 17, 2021. https://books.google.com/books?id=yzykD4-mN7cC&pg=PA241&dq=%22Bob+Avakian%22#v=onepage&q=%22Bob%20Avakian%22&f=false. ^
  20. “Double White House Protest.” Associated Press. January 30, 1979. Accessed October 17, 2021. https://newscomwc.newspapers.com/image/62652674/?terms=bob%20avakian&match=1. ^
  21. Oppenheimer, Mark. “Free Bob Avakian! Oh, He’s Already Free? Never mind.” The Boston Globe. January 27, 2008. Accessed October 15, 2021. http://archive.boston.com/bostonglobe/ideas/articles/2008/01/27/free_bob_avakian/?page=3. ^
  22. Kamen, Al. “Plea Bargain Ends 3 ½ Year Case of Violent Protest by Maoist Group.” The Washington Post. June 4, 1982. Accessed October 18, 2021. https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/politics/1982/06/04/plea-bargain-ends-3-12-year-old-case-of-violent-protest-by-maoist-group/4c7e3011-fd6b-44b6-9a1f-bfe026872872/; ^
  23. Oppenheimer, Mark. “Free Bob Avakian! Oh, He’s Already Free? Never mind.” The Boston Globe. January 27, 2008. Accessed October 15, 2021. http://archive.boston.com/bostonglobe/ideas/articles/2008/01/27/free_bob_avakian/?page=3. ^
  24. Revolutionary Communist Party, USA website. www.revcom.us. Accessed October 18, 2021. ^
  25. Oppenheimer, Mark. “Free Bob Avakian! Oh, He’s Already Free? Never mind.” The Boston Globe. January 27, 2008. Accessed October 15, 2021. http://archive.boston.com/bostonglobe/ideas/articles/2008/01/27/free_bob_avakian/. ^
  26. Oppenheimer, Mark. “Free Bob Avakian! Oh, He’s Already Free? Never mind.” The Boston Globe. January 27, 2008. Accessed October 15, 2021. http://archive.boston.com/bostonglobe/ideas/articles/2008/01/27/free_bob_avakian/?page=4. ^
  27. Saba, Paul editor. “Bob Avakian: ‘The Jerk’ Is Loose!” Bolshevik Revolution. No. 1, December 1979. Accessed October 16, 2021. https://www.marxists.org/history/erol/ncm-5/bob.htm. ^
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