- Maoist group formed in 1974 as an offshoot of the Progressive Labor Party
- Seeks the violent destruction of America's capitalist economic system
- Called for the assassination of President Reagan in 1984
- Was a key instigator of the 1992 Los Angeles race riots
The Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP) is the premier Maoist party in the United States. Its earliest roots can be traced to June 1, 1962, when, in the immediate aftermath of that year’s Sino-Soviet split, approximately fifty members and ex-members of the U.S. Communist Party met at the Hotel Diplomat in New York. Favoring the Chinese brand of Communism over its Russian counterpart, these radicals founded the Progressive Labor Movement (PLM) to promote their political views. By 1966, the several-hundred-strong PLM renamed itself the Progressive Labor Party (PLP), which, at its first convention, decided to join forces with the radical Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). But PLP shunned the counter-culture image of SDS and opposed the latter’s calls for student revolution -- urging young people instead to avoid doing anything that would alienate fellow students or their communities. PLP tried unsuccessfully to take over SDS's National Office, thereby pushing SDS even further to the political left -- toward hard-line Maoism. Opposition to PLP tactics led to the formation of yet another Maoist group, the Revolutionary Youth Movement, which eventually split into two factions -- one becoming the notorious terrorist group Weatherman; the other spawning a 1969 splinter group called the Bay Area Revolutionary Union (co-founded by H. Bruce Franklin, Robert Avakian, and Charles Hamilton), which would become the Revolutionary Communist Party in 1974.
RCP’s “Draft Program” consists of the following major tenets:
- “Of all the tyrants and oppressors in the world, there is none that has
caused more untold misery and committed more screaming injustices against the
people of the world than the rulers of the U.S. This is a country founded on
genocide and slavery. … The rulers of the U.S. have plundered and slaughtered
their way to the top position within the worldwide system of
capitalist-imperialism -- a system of global exploitation, of political and
military domination, and of murderous rivalry among the imperialist powers
- “The imperialists in their endless quest to turn everything into a means for
private profit, and in their monstrous methods of warfare to enforce and extend
their domination … generally wreak havoc on the earth and its resources. … To
bring down this system is the urgent need of the world’s exploited and
oppressed. In the U.S. itself, it is our special challenge and responsibility to
make revolution, at the earliest possible time, right within the belly of this
most powerful imperialist beast … as part of the world proletarian
- “The ultimate goal and the historic mission of the proletariat is communism, a world in which human beings are no longer divided into classes. … Socialist revolution will put an end to the profit-over-all, expand-or-die insanity of capitalism. … As the crucial first step in this, the new proletarian power will immediately seize and socialize ownership of the major means of production -- that is, convert them into the common property of the people, in the form of state ownership or collective ownership by large groups of working people. The state will also institute socialist economic planning to consciously regulate and guide social production to serve the masses and revolution.”
In RCP’s calculus, “revolutionary war” is the only means by which people can ultimately be freed from capitalism’s shackles. Says RCP: “Marx once noted that ‘Force is the midwife of every old society pregnant with the new.’ The old ruling classes have never voluntarily stepped down from power. … Thus the proletariat must overthrow and thoroughly smash and dismantle the bourgeois state. And that requires war. In the words of Mao [Zedong]: ‘A revolution is an insurrection, an act of violence by which one class overthrows another.’ War brings with it great bloodshed and destruction, and the proletariat will ultimately abolish war. But this will be done, and can only be done, by abolishing the system of capitalist accumulation and class oppression that constantly gives rise to war.”
The early to mid-1980s were a time of intense activity for RCP. In the summer of 1983, 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 is known for its involvement in heroin trafficking. Police have also linked the RCP to heavy-weapons-trafficking endeavors carried out in unison with the Ohio-based “Outlaws” motorcycle gang.
In October 1983, RCP tried to sabotage American efforts to deploy Pershing and cruise missiles in Germany. Toward that end, the noted RCP member C. Clark Kissinger led a “World Without Imperialism Contingent” (WWIC) on an eight-week tour of Germany to lay the framework for these efforts. Accompanied by members of Peru's Marxist guerrilla army, the Shining Path, Kissinger and his RCP comrades penetrated Mutlangen U.S. military base in West Germany, where Pershing II intermediate-range missiles were stored. In November of that year, RCP / WWIC members were involved, along with Red Cells and other German anarchist-terrorists, in an assault against Vice President George Bush's caravan during the latter's visit to Krefeld, Germany. Two months thereafter, the RCP newspaper Revolutionary Worker (renamed Revolution in 2005) called for the assassination of President Ronald Reagan.
This was approximately the period during which 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 sponsored the March 12, 1984 founding conference of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement in London.
Throughout its history, one of RCP's principal objectives has been to foment civil unrest in the United States. The most notable example of such efforts occurred on April 29, 1992, when RCP members looted and trashed the downtown and government districts of Los Angeles, triggering the infamous Rodney King riots. 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, titled "It's Right To Rebel" -- a quote popularized by Mao Zedong. Encouraged by Dix, RCP activists helped lead the riots that would leave 58 people dead, more than 2,300 people injured, some 5,300 buildings burned, and $1 billion in property damaged or destroyed. On the ten-year anniversary of the rioting, RCP member Joseph Veale fondly recalled the violence as "the most beautiful, the most heroic civil action in the history of the United States."
Robert Avakian is RCP's Founder and current "Chairman-in-Exile." As a result of 1981 criminal indictments issued against him and several other RCP leaders for their break-in to White House grounds during a presidential ceremony, Avakian and his cohorts fled to Paris, where they have been living ever since. From his Parisian base, Avakian continues to agitate for the violent overthrow of the U.S. government. RCP National Council member C. Clark Kissinger in 1987 founded the group Refuse & Resist to serve as a recruiting office for RCP. More recently, he created the organizations Not In Our Name and World Can’t Wait.
In late 2005, RCP launched its 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." The organization further disseminates its message via literature that is distributed by Revolution Books, which operates a number of stores nationally.
Today RCP maintains offices in sixteen U.S. metropolitan areas: Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco/Berkeley, Washington, Miami, Atlanta, Honolulu, Baltimore, Cambridge/Boston, Detroit, New York City, Cleveland, Portland [Oregon], Philadelphia, Houston, and Seattle. It is also active in Western Europe, particularly in France, Germany, and England.