Revolution #244, August 28, 2011

What people are saying about BAsics

Cornel West, professor, public intellectual, activist: I want to say a word about my dear brother Bob Avakian. He has a deep love for the poor people and even as a Jesus loving free Black man, I love that brother. He bears witness, he's willing to pay a cost and, thank God, we've got his text now of writings that provide us an analysis of how we think about this mess in which we find ourselves... People are suffering, working people are being debased and it's time for us to straighten our backs up and brother Bob Avakian is one of the voices, one of the very important voices.

Prisoner in California: I want to urge everybody out there to get their hands on this book and to help get it into the hands of others, not just prisoners, but into the hands of youth who are in danger of becoming prisoners themselves. There are kids out there who actually know that life in prison could be part of their foreseeable future. I know because I was one of those kids. Get this book into their hands now before they end up in a cell next to mine for hurting someone in their own community. Direct them to BAsics 3:16, show them there’s another way and bring them forward. Help them unlock their potential and give them a sense of purpose that doesn’t involve killing each other. Give them an alternative to the criminal lifestyle that doesn’t involve conforming to this horrid system. That is what they need, that is what they ache for. They want to rebel, they just have to be introduced to the correct way to do so. Put them on the path to becoming communists...

University student: I bought it expecting to disagree with a lot of it, but even the opening chapters have really been very lucid and provocative, with glaring parallels to the driving ideas behind veganism which I'm much more familiar with...You start reading it and it's like "the emperor has no clothes."

Bill Laswell, musician and producer: BAsics is the fundamentals of how things really are, if you choose to see it. Sometimes the truth can be in plain sight but you need someone to bring it out. Bob Avakian has done that.

Prisoner: I believe that a book like BAsics is very important, because it provides people with a scientific understanding of the world in which we live in; as well as, with a vision of a different and better world. When I talk to people about BAsics I tell them to think about it in the following way. “Let's say you’re sick and you want to get rid of the sickness, first, you have to know what the sickness is. In this way, you’ll know what steps you have to take to get rid of the sickness. So, if you identify the sickness as a cough, then you know that you’re going to need cough medicine to get rid of the cough. In this case, capitalism is the sickness and B.A. and his synthesis is the medication to the sickness.” It’s a crude analogy, but it helps in getting people to understand why a book like “BAsics” is so important.

Dongping Han, political scientist, author of The Unknown Cultural Revolution: Bob Avakian's book is soul searching. It is powerful and courageous. If we want to have a better world in the future, we have to face our past, and we have to understand what we are doing in the world today cannot be sustained.

Revolutionary communist youth: All the teens and 20-somethings who are desperately searching for something more meaningful in their lives than another hazy, chaotic, and forgotten weekend—they need to know about Bob Avakian and the party he leads. The youth in high school—from those who have never been given the opportunity to dream, to those even in the most elite institutions who see the futility and apathy of a school system designed to socialize and confine, rather than educate and liberate their minds—they need to know about Bob Avakian. For those of us in my generation who are already in and around this, it’s our responsibility to let them know about BA, the BAsics, and to bring them in to changing the world.

Erin Aubry Kaplan, journalist and author: I hope he gets number one We need to get this kind of word, this kind of conversation out into—it needs to be disseminated, it needs to be in the mainstream more. We got to stop thinking that this kind of stuff just belongs at the very, very fringe of society... Everyone should hear it, you don't have to necessarily agree with it but, my god, it needs a place at the media table... A lot of say Black people are still vested in integrating into the mainstream, they're still very trained on that, that's what they want to do. But I think you just need to introduce to folks—just pass it [BAsics] out, maybe at the subway, on the street level. And I think BAsics is a great way to do it because it's like the quotable Bob Avakian. It's like pieces of stuff but they all add up. And like you could read a little bit at a time, you don't have to invest the time to read the entire book. But you could actually open the page at any point and get something out of it. I think it's a great format and good for popular reading. I think it's actually a really good way to disseminate everything he's about. So I think it's an important step.

Prisoner: Upon receiving BAsics and becoming totally engrossed in the talks and writing of Bob Avakian, my cellmate, a 21-year-old first termer, inquired about the book. After explaining to him my limited expertise about the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, I allowed him to read a chapter for later discussions. This we did until we both completed the book, and now we conduct discussion seminars on the yard for all who are interested. The number of prisoners attending grows steadily and I have even been called into the Captain’s office and asked to control the size of the crowds. I now have a waiting list of prisoners waiting to read BAsics and it is very evident that your perspectives and viewpoints convey your messages.

reg E. gaines, poet and playwright: Basic as the voice, the words, the simple yet inexplicable thoughts of Bob Avakian, who may have the blueprint, the recipe, the undeniable common sense socialist solution necessary for our ever growing global community to make real change.

Prisoner in Alabama: This book has to be put into the hands of the rappers or the youth must demand that the rappers read it. So this information can spread like a wildfire. For the youth to get involved in the reading of the BAsics, it has to be made the cool or hot thing to do.

Herb Boyd, professor, journalist, and author: One doesn’t need a B.A. or a bachelor’s degree to understand or to grasp the essential meaning of the lessons delivered in Bob Avakian’s latest book, BAsics... As in most of his books and columns in “Revolution”—the Revolutionary Communist Party’s paper from which much of BAsics is derived—the writing is clear, the analogies simply conceived to breakdown complex issues, and the content absolutely relevant.

Prisoner in Midwest: Today Aug. 3rd was a most wonderful day for the four of us inmates here at the YY Correctional Center. First to be honest we didn’t think yous were going to send us the book BAsics by it being new cause we assumed yous had to gain back your expenses first, but wow, we are truly overwhelmed and at a lose for words and words can’t express the joy and gratitude We feel but our appreciation is off the charts so to speak.

William Parker, musician: I think people should read the book. And again, it's a stimulator. It has a lot of historical facts, information, not so much just blaming, but it sort of inspires you to begin to investigate. Now, you don't have to read the book and say, "OK, because Bob Avakian said, this is true." He's mirroring what happened. He's mirroring a tale. He's mirroring an idea. So you can say, OK, imperialism. So what is imperialism? Bob Avakian says imperialism is the cause of all the troubles in the world. So you investigate it. And then you find out what he's saying is true.

Lynne Stewart, Lawyer: Since that day we have all been called upon as Progressive Leftists to protest and support more causes than even we could have imagined—now, the U.S. has three wars on far-flung battlefields and those are only the ostensible ones; torturing our "enemies" has been confronted but is largely ignored and our Iscariot president has perpetrated his lies over the non-closing of Guantánamo but not ending the practice of torture. Through all of this, and there is more to come, the Revolutionary Communist Party has been in the vanguard. I am sure, given the new impetus of the book BAsics, that movement will gather strength. I am looking forward to reading it!

Emory Douglas, Revolutionary Artist, former Minister of Culture, Black Panther Party: A salute to Revolutionary Bob Avakian on his book "BASICS." I recall meeting Bob Avakian in the early, early days of the Black Panther Party for Self Defense while working on the BPP newspaper with Eldridge Cleaver, then the Minister of Information for the BPP...Bob Avakian continues to Educate to Liberate.

Prisoner: [W]hen I read Bob Avakian's latest book called BAsics recently, it put a wide smile on my face because the title of it couldn't have been more appropriate. As BAsic as it may be for those with a longer history and background in studying the subject of communism, that's what makes this book so profound and significant to me. There's no question in my mind, that its simplicity will be the start of many people coming to see the world as it actually is for the first time in their life and proactively taking up a communist world outlook and methodology, with the intent on changing the world for the better. And to me that's what it's all about anyways.

Richard Brown: I want to say to the young people, please get this book. Get it. Young people, you have to get it... When I was in the Black Panther Party, we used the Red Book as a means of uniting a whole community, and uniting each other. We read that book every night in the Black Panther office, we took it to the street corners and some nights we would go into the communities to people in our community, we'd go in their living room, and we'd have block parties to bring the community together and read from the Red Book. It united us, it gave us principles, it taught us how to work together and we did everything we could in order to bring about a revolution. That's what this country needs and that's what we have to do. We have to have a revolution.

Carl Dix, founding member, Revolutionary Communist Party: For those in the ghettos and barrios across the U.S. who have had it with modern day slavery and are willing to get scientific about the source and the solution to the problems humanity faces, for students and youth who are willing to confront the horrors this system forces people to endure and to act to end them, for everyone agonizing over the state of the world and wondering whether something better could be brought into being—I urge you to get into this book.

Prisoner: I like the concept of having a bunch of B.A.’s writing in one place. A long time ago I used to cut out his articles from the paper and save them, but then I realized they were starting to pile up so I had to get rid of them. It’s not feasible to save newspapers indefinitely in prison cause your cell will start to look like a junk yard, and, as you probably know, prisoners are limited in how much property we can have. This book, however, allows for you to have some of his best writing all together in one compact disk—so to speak. Plus, you don’t have to sit around and read it straight through. You can jump around to different parts and browse on your spare time, just like you can with Mao’s Little Red Book—which is fitting since B.A. has picked up the torch from him, and both books even have their images/pictures in them.

Aladdin, actor and playwright: I know a lot of the quotes in BAsics... Each time that Bob Avakian talks you really engage because he's really uncovering the truth. And like I say, the great thing about the truth is that you don't have to remember lies. Everything that Bob says is all facts so what really caught my attention is that I think he was trying to make people understand that the way that we learn the history of America is full of lies. And what he's trying to embark on is a movement that if we can embrace the truth and know the past and acknowledge that we've been lied to then revolution is realistic because we can approach what is clearly a lie and approach it with truth. And the great thing about truth is that is one of the ways you can get people's attention. And I think it can mobilize because people identify when they've been lied to. So when I heard Bob Avakian I knew that it was something that I was definitely interested in because it was based on truth.

Maggie Brown, singer: I'm new to Avakian and his quotes, but I'm impressed by him. His language and ability to state it real plain. And so far what I've read of the book, I agree with a lot of things that he says, the situation of Black people and so forth. And I think the book, his quotations, it's like sometimes people feel a certain way but they don't know how to articulate it. He's articulated some things that are needed and makes it accessible, more tangible. Sometimes the voiceless need a voice, they know it's wrong but they don't know how to say it in a way that can be heard and comprehended... It's so deep. I did get into the pages—the quote that says, "if you can conceive of a world without America,"—get your head around that. Then that's a baby step that's a necessary thing. It is hard to do, your mind fills with all kinds of question—what would you do... how would this happen, what about this? We've been so damn indoctrinated, we're so damn used to things.

Prisoner in Midwest: Why is BAsics so important for this generation? Well, “the essential question is not ‘thinking for yourself,’ but thinking according to what method—a correct or incorrect one—leading to what basic result—truth or falsehood.” BAsics does just that, but in the most accessible way for the masses to grasp, while making it their own...I’ve already received and read my copy of BAsics. It’s definitely a handbook for my generation and the youth coming up. I’m certainly promoting it as much as my influence will allow me behind these walls. ...

Nicholas Heyward Sr., father of Nicholas Jr. who was murdered by NYPD cop in 1994: I remember hearing Bob Avakian talking about Revolution and speaking up for poor people. And I love how he speaks the truth about what's going on and backs it up with facts, and mixes in a little humor. In today's fucked up world, I need what Bob Avakian brings to the situation—the whole world does.

Matthew Shipp, musician: I come at it from a little different angle, but what impressed me about Bob's work was an openness and a non-doctrinaire attitude. He always talks about a firm center and elasticity, and the fact that he talks about how revolutionaries have to have a poetic spirit. So I think freeing imagination is one reason we go into music, poetry, dance or whatever, and I really feel that the way he approaches things leaves a lot of things open for all kinds of possible syntheses and things to happen that you can't maybe pinpoint, but if we have a situation where people's imaginations can be unleashed, lord knows how things can evolve and come into being....So basically all that is to say that what I really liked about his work is that he approaches things in a non-dogmatic way. And at the same time he recognizes all the failures that have happened in revolution in the past. We have to learn from all the mistakes in the past but that should not close your mind to the fact that something better can emerge in the future.

Letter to the Hood
To all the fellas in the hood
Yeah, I’m talking about you, dude
Sittin’ around in a bad mood
Walkin’ around acting all rude
            If only you had the BAsics
            Then you’d know your actions are without basis
            That they only serve to make the man feel safest
            When he knows he has you at your tamest
Watching as you take it out on each other
Instead of acting like that homeboy’s your brother
It’s no longer even a wonder
Why we’re all still asunder
            Maybe if my generation had a B.A. degree
            Then we’d all be outside and free
            It sounds that simple, don’t you agree?
            What are you waiting for then, an RCP decree?
You already know that this place ain’t no fun
That there’s more important things to be done
It’s not like you’re a coward choosing to run
Just ’cause you realize life’s much brighter under the sun
            And that you’d rather sacrifice for a noble cause
            Than to live out some T.V. fantasy from “Oz”
            So think real hard and take a pause
            ’Cause ride or dying in the hood won’t get you applause
It’ll just turn you into an afterthought in someone’s memory
While you waste away in the penitentiary
Adding to the fodder of some reactionary
’Cause you chose to live the life of a criminal than a revolutionary

                        By Prisoner at Pelican Bay
                        June 27, 2011

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