Revolution #244, August 28, 2011

Shaking Up the Campus... And Accumulating Revolutionary Forces

Posted Thursday, August 25, 2011

"All along the way, both in more 'normal times' and especially in times of sharp breaks with the 'normal routine,' it is necessary to be working consistently to accumulate forces—to prepare minds and organize people in growing numbers—for revolution, among all who can be rallied to the revolutionary cause.  Among the millions and millions who catch hell in the hardest ways every day under this system.  But also among many others who may not, on a daily basis, feel the hardest edge of this system's oppression but are demeaned and degraded, are alienated and often outraged, by what this system does, the relations among people it promotes and enforces, the brutality this embodies."

— from "On the Strategy for Revolution," A Statement from
the Revolutionary Communist Party

These next few weeks will witness something really new—scores, perhaps hundreds, of people fanning out on college campuses and handing out the powerful special edition of Revolution to acquaint tens of thousands of students, and others, with the book BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian. 

The message that will come through: "you can't change the world if you don't know the BAsics!" These students will get acquainted with what BA has been bringing forward, and what he's all about. Many will get more deeply into this, on different levels—pondering and discussing the quotes in the special issue, and buying the book and engaging that, right away and over time. This activity will be very important in its own right to putting revolution—this revolution, based on BA's new synthesis—on the map. Recent editorials have gone into the purpose of this initiative and the importance of making that very broadly known, and we won't repeat that here. Rather, as we now go into this great effort, we want to emphasize the importance of "accumulating forces for revolution," as we do this and coming out of it.

While many people, as noted, will want to mainly engage through reading the book, at least at first, there are some people who will want to find other ways to get into the movement for revolution. We are posting with this a letter from a comrade about experience going out to a concert with people newer to the movement—one who literally got involved that very day—to popularize BAsics. And there are other positive experiences as well to get into, and ideas which we are going to lay out later. 

But in order to do that right, there are still fetters in our own thinking, expectations and habits, that we have to root out. The fact remains that we still hear from people who are interested in getting involved that it is hard to figure out how—where to carve in... and what is expected. Bringing forward the new people that we meet and making a place for them in the movement for revolution is part of the ongoing struggle to further strengthen and deepen the revolutionary character and foundations of the Party—part of more deeply breaking with the revisionism (being revolutionary in words, but reformist in actual fact) that has been identified and struggled against in the Cultural Revolution within the RCP. It has everything to do with grasping the fact that there is a real material basis for the understanding of revolution and communism we are taking to people—a basis for people to be drawn to this, to engage it, and to take it up and help, in many, many different ways, to take it out and make it a point of reference—and increasingly a material force—in this rotten-to-the-core society.

The truth is this: Because of BA and the work he has done over several decades, summing up the positive and negative experience of the communist revolution so far, and drawing from a broad range of human experience, there is a new synthesis of communism that has been brought forwardthere really is a viable vision and strategy for a radically new, and much better, society and world, and there is the crucial leadership that is needed to carry forward the struggle toward that goal.

These next few weeks are a special opportunity to bring that home to many, many new people—and to involve many of them, as well as longer-standing ties, in spreading that word to others. 

And let's remember the real deal here: These students are in a situation in which despair, no matter how well-concealed or suppressed, is so rampant that according to the president of Cornell University, "about 2,000 alcohol-related deaths each year occur among American college students." ["A Pledge to End Fraternity Hazing," David J. Skorton, NY Times, August 23, 2011]* Their desire to engage big ideas, to seek out a purpose and calling in life, and to find meaning at this pivotal time of their lives is mis-channeled, stifled or squashed. The metaphor drawn in "Birds Cannot Give Birth to Crocodiles, But Humanity Can Soar Beyond the Horizon" takes on a particularly vivid meaning in this context:

"If there were an epidemic disease striking down people and there were a doctor in the area who had developed a cure for the disease, should we be defensive about telling the masses about that, or should we be knocking on their doors and shaking them awake to tell them, 'hey, you don't have to suffer this terrible disease—the cure may not be easy, but it's there and it's real'?"

When we keep all that in mind—what we actually represent and what is concentrated so beautifully in BAsics, up against what people are actually forced to swallow every single day in this putrid culture—it should make it much easier to creatively come up with ways to involve people—to "accumulate forces...FOR REVOLUTION."

So, what are some ways to open things up for people to make real what is said in the statement on strategy: "there is a place and a role, a need and a means, for thousands now and ultimately millions to contribute to building this movement for revolution, in many different ways, big and small—with ideas and with practical involvement, with support, and with questions and criticisms"?

First off, donating funds. We should be shaking the bucket everywhere we go... and we should be going to people we meet and people we know, and really giving them a chance to support this exciting initiative financially. Such support is very critical to the revolution—it is active support and it is serious support. It is a way to feel part of, and to BE part of, supporting the effort to make BA a point of reference in this society and specifically among the youth and students.

Second—and this is very related to raising funds—we should be systematically going to professors and sharing with them this book, and what we're all about. Revolution has now received several reports of professors utilizing, or planning to utilize, BAsics or other works of BA in their classes. This is very good; it comes from giving people the book, sitting down and hearing them out about their concerns and their aims, learning from them, and working with them to see how BAsics can be a unique and dynamic element in their classes. Other professors might themselves wish to pass out the eight-page special edition on BAsics, or might wish to invite a representative to speak—a few words, or perhaps more—and get it out. 

Third, let people whose interest gets piqued by the paper know where they can go—that same day—to talk about what they've just encountered. It could be a coffee shop, a table in the cafeteria, a spot on campus or nearby... wherever. Somewhere to wrangle with these ideas. People have often taken up this opportunity in the past. We can learn as well from the experience reported last Spring, where students in a cafeteria table were given a quote to read—it was 1:10—and it sparked a great deal of very deep discussion.

We should note as we do all this that during the tours of Raymond Lotta and Sunsara Taylor a few years ago, several students at different campuses wrote op eds for their campus paper saying that while they were not fully convinced of the ideas of either Lotta or Taylor, they appreciated the chance to engage them and wanted to invite others to do so. We should ask ourselves—and ask them, and people with those same feelings—what are the forms in which they would like to do that? People want to hear the contestation of ideas—would they be interested in debates, discussions, forums? Would they want to set up a club on campus to sponsor that? Would they want help in doing that?

Fourth, set up discussion groups around BAsics in our stores, or in other centers. Thus far, people have attended these discussions—some have stayed with it, and others have come in and out... but all that is part of the process. At the same time, there should also be a new wave of discussion of Birds/Crocodiles—so that new people can get more deeply into the substance of the science, and what BA has been doing.

Fifth, let people know about cultural events, store discussions on other books, etc.—let them know what is going on and give them many ways to plug into all this.

Does this mean that we should not try to involve people in other active work that the Party and other revolutionary forces are doing, work that is already underway? Far from it! In fact, everywhere we set up we should have a flier that we give to interested people that lets them know the multitude of ways they can get connected and get involved—from taking an e-sub to the paper to actually distributing or working on the paper or website; from spreading BAsics in different ways to volunteering at the local bookstore; etc., etc. 

To re-emphasize: our main activity in these next two weeks should be to actually saturate some key campuses and other sites, including some high schools, with the eight-page special edition. As we do that, we should also be involving others, including as we meet them. Then, after this, we should give some special focus to further consolidation—which we will discuss next week. 

The point is this: to come out of these next few weeks significantly strengthened in all three of the objectives in the campaign around "The Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have"—that is to say, the particular but interrelated objectives of putting THIS revolution on the map in people's thinking; making Bob Avakian a point of reference in society; and bringing forward cores of new initiators of a new stage of communism. To come out with much more active and vibrant layers and groupings of people relating to the movement for revolution in all kinds of different ways. And to be poised for greater advance, moving forward from a new, and higher, plateau.


*   This article is well worth reading. It is, whatever the intention of its author, a massive indictment of this entire society. In it, the president of Cornell University describes a campus culture in which sexual abuse, bullying, and “dangerous humiliation” are not only endemic but generally take place “without [a] feeling [of] remorse” on the part of those perpetrating it. This was written because this past February a 19-year-old sophomore at Cornell died during a fraternity initiation rite that included “mock kidnapping, ritualized humiliation and coerced drinking.” While the tone of the article is somewhat dry, the statistics and descriptions cited by the author should actually shock anyone with a sense not only of how actually horrific these behaviors and their consequences are as well as how unnecessary and terribly, terribly wasteful (from the standpoint of what humanity actually IS capable of) they are—but also how utterly rooted these kinds of “pastimes” are in the values of this inhuman, shark-like capitalist society, with its relentless pressure to commodify one’s very humanity, and with the suffocating context of the “social and psychic glue” that holds it together—the pervasive and crippling patriarchy, the vicious white supremacy, and the callous America-uber-alles mentality.  [back]


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