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Revolution Manifesto Class 4: Revolution in the U.S.

Jan 23, 2016

Introduction:

The purpose of this class is to continue developing a Marxist-Leninist understanding of the state and to apply this knowledge to the U.S. context.

Learning objectives and outcomes:

At the end of class 4, comrades will:

  • Have an understanding of the class character of the U.S. state and the U.S. revolution.
  • Be able to articulate the differences between bourgeois and proletarian state constitutions.
  • Have a more nuanced understanding of the relationship between the democratic republic, capitalism, and the proletarian state.

Readings:

From Revolution Manifesto

  • The U.S. State and the U.S. Revolution, by Eugene Puryear (pp. 41-55)
  • Chapter 4: Supplementary Explanations by Engels, by Lenin (pp. 149-172)

Recall activity:

  • What do you remember taking away from last class? Write at least three things down.
  • Share in pairs or as a whole group.

Discussion questions:

For “The U.S. State and the U.S. Revolution:”

  • How should we differentiate significant political trends?
  • What does the long life of the U.S. constitution prove, and how?
  • What evidence is there that the U.S. constitution has a class character?
  • What was the driving force of the British colonization of North America? Does this match what you learned in school or in the mass media? If not, then why do you think there is a mismatch between what happened and how it is presented through schools and the media?
  • What role did race, slavery, and the construction of whiteness play in the creation of the U.S.?
  • Think about Puryear’s discussion of the creation of whiteness and white supremacy. How is this relevant to our struggle today?
  • List some of the fundamental structures of the U.S. state. How did they emerge, and for what purposes?

For “Supplementary Explanations by Engels:”

  • How is the housing question dealt with under capitalism? How is it dealt with under socialism?
  • Why does Lenin revisit Marx and Engels’ critique of anarchists? (pp. 152-155)
  • What do Marx and Engels say about being “anti-authoritarian?” Does this critique have relevance for today? If so, discuss some struggles where it comes up.
  • Lenin describes two different forms of democratic centralism in reference to Engels’ use of the term. What are they? Is this distinction important?
  • What lessons does Engels draw from the commune in his 1891 preface to “The Civil War in France?” Why do you think Lenin is going back to the Commune in this chapter?
  • Why will democracy wither away together with the proletarian state? What does this tell us about democracy?

Music for discussion:

Listen to “Revolution” by Nina Simone as a group. As you listen, think of any connections you can make between Simone’s music, her lyrics, and the class readings and discussions.

Engaging activity:

Comparing the U.S. Constitution to the Cuban Constitution

  • This activity should be done in groups of 2-5 comrades.
  • Read the preamble to the Cuban Constitution out loud as a whole group
  • Next, divide up into groups. Each group will take a different set of articles (there are 27) in Chapter I of the Constitution.
  • Read and discuss your articles in your small group. What does the constitution prioritize? Can you find evidence of the constitution’s class character? How does it compare to what Puryear wrote about the U.S. constitution? (10-20 minutes)
  • Have one person in each small group report about your discussion to the whole class (2 minutes per presenter).

Supplementary video:

Eugene Puryear on Racist Police Terror and the Need for Revolution

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