Revolution #173, August 16, 2009

Correspondence to the Revolution newspaper

I recently screened excerpts of Bob Avakian's speech, Revolution: Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About for a discussion group that meets regularly at a public library. At least 20 people came, older people, many of them descendants of immigrants from Europe and the Soviet Union who had settled in this modest income section of the city years ago. Few knew much of anything about Avakian or the Revolutionary Communist Party or the Revolution newspaper, but there was some familiarity with the legacy of Bolshevik and Chinese revolutions, unions and the old Communist Party and various versions of Marxism, McCarthyism and the 1960s in this country.

And indeed a very lively discussion followed the DVD excerpts, especially taking off on the "Imagine" section where Avakian concretely challenges people to imagine a very different world in a socialist society as a transition to communism. Every person took part, and, with the exception of a couple of staunch anti-communists, people were really taken with what they had just viewed, and almost everyone in one way or other expressed some level of agreement with what Avakian envisioned...about particulars such as a whole different system of health care, education, housing, and more...and what it would mean for people to be able to really fully participate in the big decisions in transforming society and people. Also, people compared that with what goes on under this system, "capitalism," including some sharp criticism of profit over everything, Obama, and how powerless people are.

Along with the real inspiration people got from the DVD, there were questions and doubts, expressed, with feeling. People said that they had heard some of these ideas before, but had been "let down," or disillusioned, and did not see it happening. Others said they had gone through, and expressed renewed anger mixed with demoralization about the McCarthy era and how many forces gave up on revolution, and the loss of the revolution in the Soviet Union. And "what guarantees" are there that that would not happen again?

People realized that there were no iron clad guarantees, but this got us into talking about how Avakian has led in studying and learning the lessons of the real and great advances made in the revolutions in the Soviet Union and China, especially the Cultural Revolution, and also the mistakes.

This was breaking new ground for these people. They had questions...for example, what does Avakian say about voting, voting here really did not change things, how would that be different? Someone asked about Nepal and what the RCP's understanding of that was, and was glad to hear of the articles and letters on the Revolution website. And it was very important to urge them to get the DVD, to go to the Avakian web site to read what he has said and written about these questions.

People were really engaged in this and even within the time limits, perhaps called for more focus, but then another question came up—"But how could you possibly have a revolution here?" along with "what keeps you going like this?" This led to explicit reference to the statement, "The Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have" and the three objectives in the editorial of the issue #170 of the Revolution newspaper. Everyone had a copy of this in their hands and now people took another look.

The session had run over time, but among the people who came up afterwards was a woman who at first seemed to be describing communism as egalitarianism...but in fact she really wanted to be sure that there would not be another class set up. Another said he appreciated the session, but there was still this "human nature." One who had been very vocal about being "let down" said that she was going to take another look at what the RCP and Avakian were saying. Everyone got information about the Revolution newspaper, the websites of Bob Avakian and Revolution Books, and one person got the full DVD set of Avakian's speech to view and send to family. For the people at that library the question of this revolution and the leadership of Avakian was in the house, and they will be thinking and talking about it with their family and friends.

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