|International affiliation||None (formerly the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement)|
The Revolutionary Communist Party, USA (or the RCP) is a communist party in the United States founded in 1975 and led by its chairman Bob Avakian. Coming out of the New Left, the party organizes for a revolution in the United States and internationally.
The RCP is notable for its various coalition groups, such as the World Can't Wait, Stop Patriarchy, October 22 Coalition to Stop Police Brutality, Stop Mass Incarceration Network, and Refuse Fascism.
In early 1971, H. Bruce Franklin and Stephen Charles Hamilton formed the Bay Area Revolutionary Union (BARU) after a split in the Maoist Progressive Labor Party stemming from disagreements over the path of the Chinese Cultural Revolution and incipient rapproachment with the west. Robert Avakian led a small group from a split of another Maoist Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) spinoff into BARU soon after its formation. Later in 1971, a more militant faction of BARU followed Franklin out the organization to join Venceremos, leaving Avakian in a leading position within BARU. BARU was subsequently able to absorb a series of similar local collectives finding their way after the doctrinal and factional battles that had rocked the post-SDS Maoist movement. The new nationwide structure induced BARU to change its name to simply the Revolutionary Union (RU). The RCP claims that of the various groups coming out of SDS, it was the first to seriously attempt to develop itself at the theoretical level, with the publication of Red Papers 1.
In 1974 RU started publication of their newspaper Revolution (renamed Revolutionary Worker in 1979) and in 1975 RU reconstituted itself as the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP). After the death of Mao in 1976, the RCP lost about 40% of its membership in a 1978 split over alignment with the new Chinese leadership. Avakian led the faction that rejected what they considered revisionism by the new Chinese government, and the split left him as undisputed leader of the remainder of the RCP.
RCP branches opened Revolution Books stores in major US cities and became a presence in protest movements. They became known for their small but highly dramatic and confrontational presence at protest events. Flag-burning by RCP members led to the Texas v. Johnson case. In the aftermath of the Oscar Grant killing in Oakland, CA in 2009, RCP members were arrested for incitement to riot. RCP adopted cultural faces designed to appeal to alternative rock and hip-hop youth cultures. It attained some success developing a following in the alternative rock subculture, but remained an overwhelmingly white organization. Racial unrest was and remains central to RCP's strategy for attaining power. RCP regarded the 1992 Rodney King riots as legitimate political rebellion and advocated for the defendants in the Reginald Denny beating case. RCP advocated for international Maoist movements such as the Shining Path guerrilla movement in Peru and sought to spread their ideology under the guise of various front "committees" and "coalitions."
In 1979 Avakian was charged with assaulting a police officer during a protest against a US visit by Deng Xiaoping, then fled to Paris, France to avoid prosecution. Charges were dropped in 1982, but Avakian has chosen to remain in Paris as a senior philosopher for the RCP. In 1983 Avakian was one of the founders of the now-defunct Revolutionary Internationalist Movement (RIM), an international grouping of Maoist parties. The RIM published A World to Win news service from 1981 to 2006, but since its dissolution the publication is now updated on the official website.
After major splits in the party, some ex-members and other groups have alleged that the RCP has a cult of personality around Bob Avakian.Mic has called it "a communist doomsday cult that is obsessed with Avakian". Alternately, San Francisco Chronicle has written of Avakian as "the marathon man of the international anti-imperialist struggle".
The party has responded to these allegations, calling them "lies and slander" and "complete and utter nonsense," saying "Bob Avakian and the RCP are the exact opposite of a cult."
The RCP releases daily updates online and a periodic print edition of its weekly newspaper, Revolution (formerly called Revolutionary Worker, 1979-2005) which is published in English and Spanish and has been published continuously since 1979.
In December 2016, party members and others co-initiated Refuse Fascism, a coalition group opposed to the presidency of Donald Trump. The statement was used by InfoWars and other far-right conspiracy theory websites to claim that RCP and Refuse Fascism were organizing a military overthrow of the government on November 4, 2017. Several anti-Trump protest marches were organized for that day, which passed without incident.