Revolutionary Communist Party, USA
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The Revolutionary Communist Party, USA (also known as RCP and Revcom) is a communist party in the United States founded in 1975 and led by its chairman Bob Avakian. The party organizes for a revolution in the United States, to overthrow the system of capitalism and replace it with a new socialist republic, with the final aim of world communism.
Since the 2000s, Bob Avakian's new synthesis of communism is the RCP's ideological framework, which it considers a scientific advancement of Marxism–Leninism–Maoism. Prior to this, the party was a founding member of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement. The RCP has drafted a Constitution for the New Socialist Republic, to replace the U.S. after a revolution.
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.
The RCP organizes U.S.-based supporters into what it calls Revolution Clubs, (formerly known as the Revolutionary Communist Youth Brigade) with chapters in Berkeley, Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York City. Internationally, there are groups of supporters in Iran, Mexico, Colombia, Brazil, France, and Turkey.
History [ edit ]
1960s–1970s [ edit ]
In early 1968, Leibel Bergman, H. Bruce Franklin, Bob Avakian, Stephen Charles Hamilton and a score or so others—consisting of both veterans of the Communist Party USA, and Bay Area radicals based in Palo Alto, Berkeley, and San Francisco, formed the Bay Area Revolutionary Union (BARU). Among the first tasks of the BARU was to challenge the Maoist Progressive Labor Party (PLP) over their positions on the Black Panther Party, the Chinese Cultural Revolution and the direction of Maoism. The early RU joined with the Revolutionary Youth Movement faction in the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) in opposing PLP's role in SDS at their national convention in Chicago in 1969. The resulting split led to PL controlling the SDS name, while RYM itself split into two different factions.
In 1971, Franklin led a more militant faction of BARU out the organization to join Venceremos, leaving Avakian in a leading position within BARU. The RU continued to expand nationally uniting collectives, across the country, effectively becoming a national organization—with the long-term goal of forming a new communist party. The new nationwide structure induced BARU to change its name to simply the Revolutionary Union (RU). Avakian was elected to the central committee of the RU shortly thereafter. 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)
In 1973 the anti-war group Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW) entered into reforms following the end of the Vietnam War, these included adopting an explicitly Anti-imperialist stance and the opening of its membership to civilians. During this period the RU became a popular faction within the VVAW eventually reaching its peak in 1975, when the RU controlled national office voted to remove members, expel chapters and place the organization into ideological uniformity, following the integration 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 a counterrevolutionary coup against Mao's allies, and the split left him as undisputed leader of the remainder of the RCP.
In January 1979 Avakian and 78 other Party members and supporters were arrested and charged with various crimes in connection to a militant protest against Deng Xiaoping's visit to the White House. Seventeen demonstrators, including Avakian, were charged with multiple felonies which would carry a combined sentence of up to 241 years. After the RCP and its supporters waged a mass campaign for political, legal, and other support for the defendants, the charges were dropped in 1982, by which time Party leadership had decided to go into exile, with Avakian applying for political asylum in France, where he remained for many years.
1980s [ edit ]
The RCP organized May Day 1980 rallies in 16 cities across the U.S., including in Los Angeles, New York, Portland, Seattle, and Washington, D.C. Weeks before the May Day demonstrations, RCP member Damian Garcia and two others climbed the Alamo, tearing down the American flag from its pole, and raising the Red Flag in its place before being arrested. Shortly thereafter, on April 22, 1980, Garcia was stabbed to death while organizing in a Los Angeles housing project. At the time, police said that Garcia's murderer was gang-affiliated, while RCP insisted that he had been assassinated by the state in retaliation for his action at the Alamo. Avakian remarked in his memoir that Garcia's murder was "very clearly tied in with police agents ... it was an attack on our Party."
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. In 2017, A World to Win was restructured to "a more thorough-going tool for revolution based on Bob Avakian's new synthesis of communism."
1990s–2000s [ edit ]
In 1991, C-SPAN aired a presentation by RCP spokespersons, about U.S. wars in the Middle East, the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa, and what the "new world order" means for black people in America.
Flag-burning by RCP members led to the Texas v. Johnson case. 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. In 1996, the RCP launched the October 22nd Coalition to Stop Police Brutality.
RCP branches opened Revolution Books stores in major US cities and became a frequent presence in protest movements.
2010s [ edit ]
In 2011, RCP spokesperson Carl Dix along with Cornel West co-initiated the campaigns to Stop "Stop and Frisk" and "Stop Mass Incarceration". Dix and West appeared on Democracy Now! to discuss the state of Black America in the age of Obama. RCP organized Rise Up October against racism and police brutality; the attendance included Quentin Tarantino.
In July 2016, mass protest and police arrests erupted over a flag-burning by the RCP outside the Republican National Convention, before a crowd of thousands. The next week, the RCP staged another flag burning outside the Democratic National Convention, after denouncing the United States. Later that year, in response to Donald Trump's tweet calling for the criminalization of flag burning, RCP supporters burned another American flag outside the Trump International Hotel in New York City.
In October 2016, RCP supporters were banned from the University of Chicago for "trespass" after encouraging students to get organized with the revolutionaries, with one activist arrested by police; the next day they returned to defy the ban, while denouncing U.S. elections and America.
In August 2016, the RCP led protesters in a two-day march on a barricaded police station after the fatal officer shooting of a black man by Milwaukee police; the police chief blamed the RCP for inciting "violence towards police."
The RCP strongly supported Colin Kaepernick and NFL protests of the U.S. national anthem. In October 2017, party spokesperson Carl Dix confronted Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, in relation to NFL protests, over "his troubling tendency to muzzle his players and align himself with an oppressive president [like Trump]."
RCP organizer Sunsara Taylor appeared on Fox News's Tucker Carlson Tonight in February 2017, where she debated the host and said that Trump is "more dangerous than Hitler" because of his access to nuclear weapons.
In July 2018, Refuse Fascism and RCP organized 100 handmaids to protest U.S. Vice President Mike Pence in New York City, saying "[he] is a Christian fascist theocrat for whom the handmaid's tale is a model."
In October 2018, the RCP organized a demonstration in Chicago's Daley Plaza on the 23rd Annual "National Day of Protest to STOP Police Brutality," in response to the police shooting of Laquan McDonald and other black youth.
In March 2019, a Revolution Newspaper correspondent was detained by police on the anniversary of the police shooting of Stephon Clark, after getting into an argument with Al Sharpton, while urging attendees to organize for revolution rather than political reforms.
On International Women's Day 2019, the Revolution Club joined supporters of the Communist Party of Iran (Marxist–Leninist–Maoist), to march through Westwood, California, calling for universal women's rights.
On Independence Day 2019, the RCP staged flag burnings at the U.S.–Mexico border and at the White House, the latter being a demonstration against the "Salute to America" military parade, which resulted in two RCP supporters being attacked by the Proud Boys and arrested by Secret Service officers.
Leadership [ edit ]
Bob Avakian is a controversial figure, who the RCP acknowledges is both "loved and hated." Avakian is viewed by supporters as a revolutionary leader whose body of work has advanced communist theory and represents a "pathway to human emancipation" from the capitalist system. Avakian is also criticized by detractors for an alleged "cult of personality" around him by the RCP, accusations which the party strongly denies as "lies and slander."
Current activities [ edit ]
The RCP releases daily updates online and a periodic print edition of its weekly newspaper, Revolution (formerly called Revolutionary Worker, 1979–2005) available in English and Spanish, and published continuously since 1979.
In December 2016, party members and others co-initiated Refuse Fascism, a coalition group aiming to "drive out" the Trump administration through sustained street protests. InfoWars and other far-right conspiracy theory websites claimed the RCP and Refuse Fascism were organizing a military overthrow of the government on November 4, 2017. Several nationwide anti-Trump protest marches were organized for that day, numbering in the thousands.
Refuse Fascism protesters were arrested in September 2017, with some currently facing criminal charges, after blocking four lanes of the 101 Freeway in Los Angeles during rush hour, to "sound the alarm about fascism."
Political ideology [ edit ]
The RCP originated as a Maoist political organization with roots in the New Left of the 1970s. In the 1990s, its political ideology was Marxism–Leninism–Maoism. Today, the framework for its political ideology is Bob Avakian's 'New Synthesis' (or 'New Communism'), which it sees as an advancement of revolutionary theory; this has been debated among Maoists internationally. The RCP is atheist and stresses the scientific method.
RCP leadership says "the system cannot be reformed, it must be overthrown," and does not participate in charity or elections, instead organizing for total revolution, to replace the capitalist system with a new socialist system aiming for communism worldwide. Its goal is not to "make America socialist" but instead "a world without America and everything it stands for."
The RCP has identified what it calls "the 5 Stops," which it says are social contradictions under capitalism that can only be ended by revolution: white supremacy, patriarchy and anti-LGBTQ violence, anti-immigrant persecution, imperialism, and environmental degradation. The RCP emphasizes women's liberation, and says it can only be achieved under communism.
The RCP is not currently engaged in armed struggle, instead preparing for such a future time; accordingly, it has a strategy pamphlet for "How We Can Win" a revolution in the U.S., as well as a proposed Constitution for the New Socialist Republic, outlining what would follow. A code-of-conduct called the "6 Points of Attention for the Revolution" outlines the principles of party members and supporters.
The RCP has declared there are no existing socialist states today, saying there have not been since China from 1949 to 1976 and the Soviet Union before 1956. Its website polemicizes against political currents such as anarchism, democratic socialism, intersectionality, liberalism, and Trotskyism, as well as criticizing reductionist approaches to Marxism, and errors within Maoism, insisting only the New Communism can carry out revolution and eradicate oppression.
LGBTQ issues [ edit ]
The RCP platform demands full recognition of LGBT rights as a fundamental component towards establishing socialism. However, in the 1970s and 1980s, the RCP was noted for its opposition to homosexuality as "petty bourgeois" and its former prohibition of LGBT individuals from party membership. This outlook was consistent with then contemporary Marxist–Leninist states such as Cuba, and was consistent with numerous groups of the New Communist movement and the broader Marxist Leninist movement of the period.
The RCP officially reversed this position in 2001, writing:
"The revolutionary proletariat is staunchly opposed to the attacks on homosexuality by reactionary forces such as religious fundamentalists, and to all physical assaults on, discrimination against, and government repression of homosexuals, which is so widespread and vicious in the U.S. today. In the new society, discrimination against homosexuals will be outlawed and struggled against in every sphere of society, including personal and family relations."
Prison outreach [ edit ]
The RCP runs the Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund (PRLF), which sends its newspaper and other political works from its publishing press to hundreds of incarcerated people nationwide. The PRLF as its aim: "provides an educational opportunity for prisoners to engage with world events and key political, cultural, and philosophical questions from a unique revolutionary perspective, including discussions of morality, religion, science, and the arts."
The RCP has faced increasing censorship by prison officials who seek to deny inmates requested access to revolutionary literature.
See also [ edit ]
References [ edit ]
- "What the Heck is the Revolutionary Communist Party' Doing In Ferguson?". Talking Points Memo. Retrieved March 21, 2019.
- USA, Revolutionary Communist Party (2010). Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America: (Draft Proposal). R C P Publications. ISBN 9780898510072.
- "The New Synthesis of Communism: Six Resolutions of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA". Indymedia UK. Retrieved March 21, 2019.
- "Book Release: Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal) from the Revolutionary Communist Party". American Friends Service Committee. November 4, 2010.
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- "Activist: Abortion Is a 'Great Decision,' 'Should Be As Common as Possible'". CNSNews.com. Retrieved March 21, 2019.
- "[Two leaflets related to the case of the Jena 6]". Bolerium Books. Retrieved March 21, 2019.
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- "Aurora Roja". Aurora-roja.blogspot.com. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
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- Leonard, Aaron; Gallagher, Connor (2015). "Heavy Radicals: The FBI's Secret War on America's Maoists". Zero Books, UK: Chapters 1 & 2.
- "Bob Avakian (BA)—Official Biography—Part 1: FORMATIVE EXPERIENCES, CRITICAL JUNCTURES, DECISIVE LEADERSHIP". revcom.us. Retrieved August 19, 2018.
- "Red Papers 1". Originally published by the Bay Area Revolutionary Union, now available online thanks to Marxists.org's Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line project. Spring 1969.
Elbaum, Max (2002). Revolution in the air : sixties radicals turn to Lenin, Mao and Che. London: Verso. pp. 192–193. ISBN 1859846173. OCLC 49845864.
...in April 1975 the RU- controlled national office moved decisively to assert full control over the organization it expelled a number of chapters, drove out scores of individuals and then imposed programmatic uniformity on those members who remains. Within a very few months, VVAW/WSI declined to a small core of RU cadre and close supporters.
Elbaum, Max (2002). Revolution in the Air. London: Verso. pp. 192–193.
It [the Revolutionary Union, the predecessor of the RCPUSA] convened a congress in September 1975 that formally disbanded RU and founded the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP)..."
- Avakian, Bob (1981). Bob Avakian Speaks on the Mao Tsetung Defendants Railroad and the Historic Battles Ahead. Chicago, IL 6065: RCP Publications. p. 1. ISBN 0-89851-047-3. CS1 maint: location (link)
- "MAY 1st 1980: REVOLUTIONARY WORKERS STORM HISTORY's STAGE"(PDF). Revolutionary Worker. May 5, 1980.
- "Los Angeles detective briefs reporters on Damian Garcia homicide". UCLA Film and Television Archive.
- Avakian, Bob (2005). From Ike to Mao and Beyond: My Journey from Mainstream America to Revolutionary Communist. Insight Press. p. 408. ISBN 978-0976023623.
- "Editorial Introducing a transformed AWTWNS". A World to Win News Service.
- "Yo! The World is Being Turned Upside Down". C-span.org. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
- "20th Anniversary of the Los Angeles Rebellion - It's Right to Rebel Against Injustice!". Revcom.us. Retrieved August 20, 2018.
- "RW Online: Support the People's War in Peru!". Revcom.us. Retrieved August 20, 2018.
- "History and Background of October 22 Coalition". October22.org. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
- "Carl Dix: Revolutionary Communist – Fighting the Plague of Mass Incarceration". Black Agenda Report. August 26, 2015. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
- "The Struggle Continues: Checking in With Revolution Books". Cal Alumni Association. December 19, 2016. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
- "Activists Cornel West And Carl Dix Hold Mass Incarceration Dialogue In N.Y.C." May 21, 2013. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
- "Carl Dix Talks Ending Police Brutality, Marching With Cornel West & Shutting 'Em Down". AllHipHop.com. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
- "Cornel West and Carl Dix on Race and Politics in the Age of Obama". Democracy Now!. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
- Elerick, George; Manager, ContributorActor Comedian Activist Social Media (November 18, 2015). "An Interview With Carl Dix On: Racism, Police Brutality, Ferguson & Rise Up October". HuffPost. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
- "Cleveland police arrest protesters after flag burning outside RNC". PBS. July 20, 2016. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
- "Watch Protest Erupt Over Flag-Burning Outside GOP Convention". Time. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
- Redford, Patrick. "Communists' DNC Flag-Burning Interrupted By DeSean Jackson Fanboy". Deadspin. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
- "People Burn The Flag Outside Trump Hotel To Protest His Latest Tweet". Retrieved April 17, 2019.
- "Video: Communist Protester Arrested After Standing on Table in Dining Hall". Chicagomaroon.com. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
- "Communist Returns to Campus After Arrest, Ban". Chicago Maroon. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
- Briscoe, Tony. "Chicago-based RevCom downplays Milwaukee role, calls protest 'righteous'". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
- "Milwaukee police chief blames Chicago-based activists for violence toward police". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
- "Here Are the Most Infuriating Points on Flier Handed Out by Kaepernick-Supporting Communists". Ijr.com. September 14, 2016. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
- Dix, Carl (October 20, 2017). "Why I Confronted Dallas Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones". Huff Post. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
- "'More Dangerous Than Hitler'?! Tucker Battles Anti-Trump Protester". Fox News Insider. February 22, 2017. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
- "'Handmaids' protest Mike Pence, Kirstjen Nielsen in Manhattan". ABC News. July 31, 2018. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
- "Report Back from Washington". Vimeo.com. August 15, 2018. Retrieved August 22, 2018.
- "Rally to Stop Police Brutality". WGN Radio. October 22, 2018. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
- "October 22 Coalition to Stop Police Brutality still going after 23 years". Amsterdamnews.com. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
- Lazas, Maddie (February 14, 2019). "Visions and Voices event disrupted by RevCom". Daily Trojan. Retrieved September 23, 2019.
- Hector Amezcua (March 18, 2019). "New York activist detained after incident at Sharpton press conference". The Sacramento Bee. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
- "Revolution Club leads march through Westwood in support of universal women's rights". Daily Bruin. March 9, 2019. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
- "Trump supporters and communists in violent clashes after Fourth of July flag burning". The Independent. July 5, 2019. Retrieved September 23, 2019.
- DelVecchio, Rick (April 29, 2005). "Berkeley: Memoir follows author's road to communism". SFGate. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
- "Praise and Reviews". Insight-press.com. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
- "REVCOM Archives". Retrieved April 17, 2019.
- Weir (2007). "Maoism". In Weir, Robert (ed.). Class in America: H-P. Greenwood. p. 492. ISBN 978-0313337192. Retrieved March 6, 2018.
- "Stop the Lies and Slanders: Bob Avakian and the RCP Are the Exact Opposite of a "Cult"!". Revcom.us. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
- "In the Name of Humanity, We Refuse To Accept a Fascist America". Revcom.us. Retrieved December 29, 2017.
- Hayden, Michael Edison (October 11, 2017). "'Antifa' waging civil war on November 4, according to right wing conspiracy". Newsweek. Retrieved February 13, 2018.
- Strickland, Patrick (November 4, 2017). "Far-right conspiracies fizzle amid anti-Trump rallies". Al Jazeera. Retrieved February 13, 2018.
- Smith, Jack IV (November 2, 2017). "The far-right thinks a violent antifa overthrow is coming Nov. 4, but the truth is far stranger". Mic.com. Retrieved November 3, 2017.
- "Ominous and Illegitimate Persecution of 11 Members of Refuse Fascism, LA and the Revolution Club, LA". September 28, 2018. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
- McGahan, Jason (September 29, 2017). "Why Did Protesters Block Traffic on the 101 This Week?". L.A. Weekly. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
- "Anti-Trump protest shuts down 101 Freeway in downtown LA". November 21, 2017. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
- "Michael Slate". KPFK 90.7 FM. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
- "WBAI Radio - NYC". Wbai.org. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
- "Important Struggles in Building the Revolutionary Communist Party,USA". Marxists.org. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
- "Our Ideology is Marxism-Leninism-Maoism". Revcom.us. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
- "Our rupture from the Communist (Maoist) Party of Afghanistan". cpimlm.com.
- "AGAINST AVAKIANISM : AJITH"(PDF). Jalands.org. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
- "Science and Revolution : Ardea Skybreak : 9780976023616". Bookdepository.com. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
- "Revolution Books Chicago". Chicagorevolutionbooks.blogspot.com. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
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- "What's Really Going On: the RevCom Party Outlook". www.chicagomaroon.com.
- Revolución, Revolution Books / Libros (January 4, 2019). "Revolution Books / Libros Revolución: FRIDAY – The Michael Slate Show: As a New Year Begins, We'll Talk About "The Five Stops--Why This System Can't Be Reformed," by Bob Avakian". Retrieved April 17, 2019.
- "Unleash the Fury of Women"(PNG). Blogs.brown.edu. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
- "HOW WE CAN WIN—How We Can Really Make Revolution". Revcom.us. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
- "File:Socconstitution". Keywiki.org. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
- "Re-envisioning Revolution and Communism: WHAT IS BOB AVAKIAN'S NEW SYNTHESIS?". revcom.us.
- "RCP,USA: On the Position on Homosexuality in the New Draft Programme". Revcom.us. Retrieved November 25, 2018.
- Gallagher, Conor R. (2015). Heavy Radicals: The FBI's Secret War on America's Maoists. Zero Books. pp. 186–187.
- "RCP: Hit for antigay-rights line". Marxists.org. Retrieved November 25, 2018.
- "Toward A Scientific Analysis of the Gay Question, RU Position Paper". Marxists.org. Retrieved November 25, 2018.
- Leonard, Aaron; Conor, Gallagher (2015). Heavy Radicals: The FBI's Secret War on America's Maoists. Zero Books.
- Shasta Darlington. "Castro admits 'injustice' for gays and lesbians during revolution". CNN. Retrieved November 25, 2018.
Elbaum, Max (2002). Revolution in the Air. London: Verso. pp. 138–139.
"The first wave of party builders also foundered in addressing the oppression of gay men and lesbians. Doctrinally, most of the movement simply ignored this issue, though the Guardian did decide by 1971 that it was appropriate to include opposition to discrimination against gays under the broad rubric of defending democratic rights. But whatever was formally said or not said, for the most part the movement's attitude toward homosexuality and the gay movement was decidedly negative. Fundamentally, most Marxists-Leninists shared the homophobia prevalent in society as a whole, and on the issue of gay rights they surrendered to prejudice instead of analyzing and opposing it.", p. 138. Hardcover edition. 2002.
- Chicago, Hyde Park Art Center 5020 South Cornell Avenue; Maps, IL See map: Google (August 25, 2010). "A Benefit for Prisoner's Revolutionary Literature Fund". American Friends Service Committee.
- Ninh, Amie (October 11, 2009). "Local cafe hosts benefit for nationwide prisoners literature fund".
- "Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund". P R L F.
- Bowe, Rebecca. "Censored: calls for a revolution". San Francisco Bay Guardian. Retrieved June 9, 2019 – via San Francisco Bay Guardian Archive.
Further reading [ edit ]
Books [ edit ]
- Elbaum, Max, Revolution in the Air, Sixties Radicals Turn to Lenin, Mao and Che. (Verso, 2002).
- Aaron J. Leonard and Conor A. Gallagher, Heavy Radicals - The FBI's Secret War on America's Maoists: The Revolutionary Union/Revolutionary Communist Party 1968-1980 (Zero Books, 2013)
- The Red Paper I (1972)