Revolution #256, January 15, 2012
BA Everywhere—Looking Forward to 2012, Summing Up the Lessons of the First 6 Weeks
“This is a battle for funds with a very specific goal—to project this person’s voice and work into every corner of society. 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 forward—there 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.
“Projecting this voice... making this person a point of reference for all of society will make a HUGE difference! Imagine the difference it could make to the whole social atmosphere and culture of this whole country if thousands, hundreds of thousands, and eventually millions more were actively being made aware of the works and vision for a whole new society and world brought forward by BA. Some people would passionately agree, some people would passionately disagree, some people would for now simply feel the need to get better informed in order to understand it better. But people throughout society would be debating and wrangling over truly ‘big’ questions about the nature of the present system (capitalism/imperialism), a concrete and worked out vision of an alternative way of organizing society which really would benefit the vast majority of people (as put forward in the recently published Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal), a document which is an embodiment of the new synthesis of revolution and communism that BA has brought forward).
“Imagine the mix of people from different walks of life coming TOGETHER to think about these things and discuss them and relate them to their own experiences, in all different kinds of places and all different kinds of scenes—from campuses to basic neighborhoods, from the prisons to the Occupy camps, in all kinds of cultural scenes and concerts, and out into the suburbs. And imagine all this taking place in the midst of—and providing a framework and context for—all the efforts being launched to fight the power, and transform the people, for revolution, whether against mass incarceration or against pornography and patriarchy or other outrages and sites of resistance that the movement for revolution will relate to. A whole ensemble of things—a whole creative, compelling mix of the different elements of this campaign, and a whole package of fighting for a different and far better world—will come through to people.” (Excerpts from the editorial “BA Everywhere... Imagine the Difference It Could Make!” Revolution #249, November 16, 2011)
As we reported last fall, big plans are afoot to achieve this in 2012. There are six big ideas which will mean raising big money:
• Get BAsics much more out into society and into the hands of students, prisoners, people in the communities and all those looking for a whole different world. A part of this will be a dramatic national advertising campaign.
• A movement of cultural events and works that are the result of the wellspring of creative energy connecting with and inspired by BAsics or other works by Bob Avakian.
• The BA film project. Raising funds for many different kinds of short films and videos inspired by Avakian’s works and also documenting the controversy, excitement, and radical vision generated by this mass fundraising campaign in society.
• Raising funds so Raymond Lotta, Carl Dix, Sunsara Taylor, and others can crisscross the campuses and take on all comers in debates and dialogues—and bust into the talk shows and op-ed pages.
• High-profile dialogues, and a major symposium, with other thinkers and people with different ideas focused on the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal). As well as funds to promote and spread this Constitution to classrooms in high schools and colleges.
• The BAsics Bus Tour. Let’s free up some full-time organizers who can go out on this tour to cities and rural communities across this country. Taking out BA Everywhere, showing the Revolution talk, and getting BAsics into the hands of thousands in every corner of society.
But as we look forward to the challenges before us in 2012 and think deeply about what difference it will make to reach this ambitious goal, it is important to learn from the initial efforts which launched this campaign.
Over the past six weeks, the mass campaign to raise big money to get BA’s vision and works into every corner of society has made important, beginning strides. $23,000 and more was raised to produce the film Occasioned by the Publication of BAsics: A Celebration of Revolution and the Vision of a New World. A range of individuals from all walks of life contributed—and others came together in groups to raise funds. Lively discussion characterized house parties which drew together people who had closely intersected with the movement for revolution with others who were just now hearing of BA. Many, many people contributed in diverse ways. Groups of people got together to have garage and bake sales, and devised other innovative ways to raise money. In one city, three restaurant owners donated a percentage of their proceeds for the night to the film. People donated for many reasons and to make these different projects a reality. This fundraising culminated December 11 and 12, when the energies of people all over the country collectively came together to reach the $23,000 goal. In this way, the movement to raise money for BA Everywhere made a real advance, as people from far-flung areas connected with each other and became part of a larger effort, not only to raise the needed funds, but to ensure this much needed film would be made, and shown throughout society.
$15,000 has been raised since the publication of BAsics to send this handbook for a new wave of revolutionaries to prisoners. On Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving and the biggest shopping day of the year, people responded to the call: “Want the alternative to capitalism? Get the BAsics!” Teams fanned out in cities across the country... going to shopping areas which draw all kinds of people—as well as to communities of the oppressed and to lines of people visiting prisoners. As just one example, over $500 was raised through donations in Harlem (in New York City) to send BAsics to prisoners.
Festive year-end parties, drawing altogether hundreds of people, were held across the country and raised thousands of dollars for the BAsics Bus Tour pilot project. Young and old, of all nationalities, and with a diversity of viewpoints, gathered in people’s homes and in other venues to party and look forward to a new year full of struggle and advance. At a number of parties, people came and performed for the cause: There was live music, DJs, and new spoken-word pieces. Almost everywhere, people danced into the night. In one city, the word went out through the Occupy movement and local churches, over the Internet, and was publicized in the main city newspaper.
Through all this, the engagement with BA and what he is bringing forward is going in new directions and beginning to reach new forces. There is a beginning momentum that must be seized upon to make crucial new leaps in 2012. Whether people know of this leadership—and this path out of this madness—can make all the difference in whether humanity advances to a different and far better future.
In the course of achieving these goals, we have learned some important lessons:
1) By taking this campaign out broadly we have learned that there is a great deal of openness to learning about and engaging with BA’s vision and works. We are in a time of rapidly shifting thinking. Very big questions are up among a large swath of people. In this context, the fact that Avakian has done the work he has done, over several decades, stands out even more sharply right now—and there is urgency and necessity for people in all corners of society to know about this work and to engage it. We have been putting BA’s work directly in their hands. The quotes and essays in BAsics are resonating with thousands. As does the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal), Avakian’s talk Revolution: Why It’s Necessary, Why It’s Possible, What It’s All About, and other works. There are answers here. At the same time, people have a lot of questions, uncertainty and differences. That’s exactly the process of engagement that is a big part of this fund campaign which is set on nothing less than “effecting a radical and fundamental change in the social and political ‘atmosphere’ of this whole country by projecting the whole BA vision and framework into all corners of society where it does not yet exist, or is still too little known, and getting all sorts of people to engage and wrestle with it...” (from the editorial in Revolution #249)
2) Important, and significant, has been the involvement and participation of dozens upon dozens of people, including many people who are only now being introduced to BA and the movement for revolution. Individual donations are very important. Together with this, the coming together of groups of people to collectively work out the ways to raise funds and join in the movement to raise big money has special significance.
Work has to be done to organize people now to take up the efforts of this campaign in the ways they see fit. It’s not enough to open a door. People have to walk through that door. One important way this happens is when they share their thoughts on why they are contributing to the campaign—why they think it’s important for BA’s vision to be out in society—this opens up space for others to get involved.
The number of people taking up this campaign needs to and will grow through this process. Another way the campaign grows is by people not just contributing themselves but reaching out to others.
We should recognize that for many people, it’s a big step to go from donating or participating in this fund campaign to enlisting others in these efforts. People have questions about whether this means they’re representing for all of what Avakian is about when they often have their own questions about revolution and communism. People will have second thoughts. Let’s keep the door open for them to raise their concerns. It is positive when people raise their questions... it means they are seriously thinking about how they want to contribute and that impels them to sharpen up their own thinking about the world and the content of BA’s vision and works. This kind of back-and-forth is exactly the discussion that must be unleashed—and the broader the discussion becomes, the greater the impact of BA’s vision and works in society will be. It is through this process that people will come to know who BA is—and what he is all about.
Raising these funds really does matter to the world, and we should struggle in a good way about this with people. But as we do this, we should keep in mind the need for there to be the space for them to contribute in the ways they feel comfortable.
The first six weeks was a glimpse of what it feels like when fundraising itself is a mission and social force. And all the ways in which this can have a big impact on the political and ideological terrain. As we go all out with this fund campaign, we should apply these lessons, reaching out very broadly and working with people to take this up themselves, setting out to reach our largest goal of projecting BA everywhere, making what he represents a point of reference in society, and with the direct and immediate part of that now raising the money for the BAsics Bus Tour or for the big ideas we have for 2012.
The mass campaign to get BA Everywhere must continue to sink roots among all sections of the people, and to reach out broadly in a myriad of ways. The campaign will be punctuated with major efforts... the six big ideas described at the beginning of this article... and will be further developed as we raise the funds to carry them out. Plans are right now being developed to launch the BAsics Bus Tour, which will be kicked off in California in February. And efforts are continuing to raise funds for achieving the goal of 2,000 BAsics for prisoners.
This will mean going to people with more resources to donate, but it must also involve people of all strata, with all different means, coming together, organizing to raise funds. This means individuals making donations... but more than that, it means people joining this movement and taking this out to others in all the ways that you can.
During January, and all along the way, let’s organize more house parties. Let’s figure out the ways and means of having bake sales, or tamale sales, or preparing dinners to sell in the projects. Let’s learn from the creativity of the artists who put together the map which exposed what the U.S. has done around the world and highlighted the quotes from BAsics (“A compelling work, a creative introduction to BAsics,” Revolution #255, January 8, 2012) and provoked many not only to think about this—but to get their own copy of BAsics. Getting BAsics into the hands of people everywhere is essential. There are really unlimited ways and means to seize upon the momentum of the last six weeks. This movement must grow, with an ever-wider range of people being introduced to BA, his vision, and his works. And now is the time.
And a special, urgent note to our readers: Send us your correspondence on what you are doing to raise money for BA Everywhere. And, as a crucial part of this, let us know why people are contributing and what they are saying!
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