Revolution #171, August 2, 2009

Listening Party at Libros Revolución

On July 21st, a small group gathered at Libros Revolución bookstore to listen to Michael Slate’s show on KPFK, the local Pacifica radio station, featuring an interview with RCP supporters Clyde Young and Sunsara Taylor about the new statement.  A sign maker showed up earlier in the afternoon to paint the title of the statement on the bookstore window in bright yellow-orange, creating a buzz. 

3 people came to the listening party, along with a couple of people to help with translations back and forth between English and Spanish.  One man, a Black worker who has had a subscription for some time and has come to the store several times, said he likes and respects what Bob Avakian has to say about America, the so-called “land of the free.”  He really hates the hypocrisy of the US and also sees how America drives immigrants here and then won’t let them speak their own language, but is perfectly willing to exploit them.  This was moving, to hear him defending immigrants in this way, and you can tell he has argued with others about the outrageous treatment immigrants face.  He was very interested in the pamphlet “Communism and Jeffersonian Democracy” and weighed whether he had enough money to get it.  He was interested in the point about Lincoln not really wanting to free the slaves, but instead was aiming to save the Union and the capitalist mode of production. 

When asked what he thinks of revolution and communism, he was very quiet and didn’t have much to say.  He liked what the statement says about what communism means, “A world where people work and struggle together for the common good...Where everyone contributes whatever they can to society and gets back what they need to live a life worthy of human beings...Where there are no more divisions among people in which some rule over and oppress others, robbing them not only of the means to a decent life, but also of knowledge and a means for really understanding, and acting to change, the world.”  We talked about a world where people are grappling with the big questions of how to move society forward to get rid of exploitation and oppression, getting at the truth through the ferment and debate in society on the basis of the solid core, to transform the world.  But it was very new to him.  And he has a question about whether or not it is possible.  We talked about what the statement says about that, the financial crisis, but also what a revolutionary situation requires.  And the example of Iran and how quickly things can change - and the question is - where is the leadership to hasten that situation and lead it forward towards revolution and communism.  And we do have that leadership.

Another Black man who was involved in the 1960’s and 1970’s is very movement oriented, thinks the left needs to get together and that’s the main problem; doesn’t think revolution is possible or desirable.  And that we “definitely don’t need just one leader that everyone just follows blindly.”  He agreed with the callers to the radio show who brought up the “cult” question, and also said “what if a great leader gets taken away–if everyone just depends on them, then their movement will collapse if people are not ready to be leaders too.”  There was discussion about the crucial importance of defending a leader of the caliber of Avakian, and not letting the authorities silence him or deny the masses his leadership, and if we don’t do that, we are giving up before we even begin.

The third person who came is a Spanish speaking immigrant from Mexico who had been involved with various parties and struggles in Mexico.  He took on what the second person was saying about Avakian, and in a very eloquent way.  He said he used to think that way himself–he first heard about Avakian here, and he thought, “Well who is this guy, he hasn’t led any revolution, so what can he have to offer.”  But he said he read Phony Communism is Dead, Long Live Real Communism and he realized these were very important questions Avakian was putting to him and to the masses, about the whole direction of society and the difference between revolution and revisionism.  He said he had been involved in many struggles in Mexico, with various revisionist parties and leaders, and none of those leaders ever challenged him or others to read analysis and philosophy.  He said they would just lead them to take up one struggle or another for land or better wages, or some other kind of reform, but never to understand society and change the world.  He said he realized Avakian was challenging the masses and giving them the understanding they need to make revolution and transform and lead society.  He said, “that’s why I very much want to support and promote this leader, Bob Avakian.  There is no one else like him.”

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