Listening to Cornel West’s Interview with Bob Avakian

Learning What Is True, Unsettling Some People

November 4, 2012 | Revolution Newspaper |


Revolution received the following correspondence:

We held a listening party for the Cornel West interview with BA at our bookstore to open up engagement with this and generate ideas to get it out there. It was relatively well attended, both people who’ve been around and some new folks showed up. There was a lot of excitement and a celebratory feeling in the room. The interview stimulated a lot of thoughts and interesting comments which I thought would be important to share.

A young person new to all this commented that it was very interesting to hear what was said about the difference between a Christian and a communist revolution. He said, “My generation has been pummeled with a lot of lies so it’s hard for us to figure out what we need… this is the first time I’ve heard someone basing things on reality and truth. The facts are there even though the media lies and skews things. It’s hard to know what’s true because reality is skewed, but it’s out there.”

The topic of lies of the media and how people can learn what’s true, how things can change, and BA’s approach to breaking through this was a big topic of conversation.

Another younger person who has been around for a while commented on how interesting it was to hear such a conversation between two people who are each amazing—in their unity, but also differences.  She commented on how acute BA’s outrage is and how this boiling sense of outrage comes through, but also his love of humanity. At the same time there is a systematic understanding of why things are like this that has never dampened.  She said, “This interview is truly exciting. People need to hear about the RCP and what it will take to have a revolution, that things don’t have to be this way, how to make BA a social question and a household word. It’s not all pinned on this interview but it’s very cool and a step forward.”

Another younger store staffer commented on the way BA unfolded the moment we’re in and the reality, how the masses produce all the wealth in the world but this is privately appropriated and how this is the basis for revolution. “You could hear someone listening to this and having unity with it. He was outrageous but very rational… he laid this out in a very simple but not shallow way.”

An older person commented on the way BA spoke to the logic of appeasement with fascism in answering Cornel’s question about the argument people make of “maintaining the middle ground.” He said Germany was an example of where this kind of appeasement logic was pursued, of saving the middle ground and then came Hitler. He said in terms of here and now, “The train is going to the right, no matter what car you’re sitting in, it doesn’t matter, ’cause the train is going in a certain direction.” If we could get this conversation into this whole Obama/Romney thing, that could be important.

People wrangled further with the content of the interview, including the internationalism BA was developing, and what this type of approach would mean for making revolution in a country like the U.S.  Then the conversation got more into how significant it is that Cornel West, with the very disproportionate influence he has in society, interviewed BA in this way, and what a great opening this provides to get this out and acquaint many, many more people with BA’s works and his vision. One person commented on how Tavis Smiley and Cornel West have spoken out against the drone attacks and have been attacked in a concerted campaign including from White House operatives. This is all part of what we face. It was good that Cornel West said at the end, “Let’s unsettle some people.”

Listening to the interview got a lot of ideas flowing for how to get this out in a big way.
People wanted to organize more salons like this, to play the interview in gatherings but also on the street. To try to get it on the local Pacifica radio station. One person said many people are gathering to hear the debates and there is a politicized mood. Many people are not at all happy with what they’re hearing, even though spontaneously they are thinking the best they can do is vote for Obama as “the lesser of two evils.” How about challenging them to listen to this interview as a way to go for another way? People want to get this to college campuses, engage with professors and ask them to play it in their classes. To do house parties among basic people and have a back and forth with other sections of people sitting in, Facebooking and tweeting word of the interview broadly, and making posters to put up in all the wi-fi coffee shops in town.

This is truly a great interview that can have a big impact on shifting the conversation if all kinds of people are made aware of it and engage.

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