A Glimpse of the Difference It Could Make: Report on a Recent Fundraising Dinner for the BA Everywhere Campaign

November 25, 2012 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us


Roughly 50 to 60 people came together recently for a dinner to raise money for the campaign BA Everywhere… Imagine the Difference It Could Make! This is a mass campaign to raise big money to get the vision and works of Bob Avakian—the revolutionary leader who has developed a new synthesis of communism—into every corner of society. The evening brought alive, in a powerful, moving, and lively way, what Bob Avakian's leadership, vision, and work means for humanity; what this unleashes; the many exciting ways that people have been inspired to take this up and spread it throughout society; and the profound difference it would make for this campaign to make leaps and for BA to truly become a household name.

A quote from BA that speaks to an essential element of his new synthesis of communism is: "Internationalism—The Whole World Comes First" (BAsics 5:8). There were several aspects of the night that reflected this theme: People of many different nationalities were in attendance; the food at this potluck dinner came from different cultures and included Peruvian potatoes, tamale pie, Chinese duck and pork, and rice and beans; the decorations, in addition to enlargements of the BA image and Revolution newspaper, featured an incredible giant map of the world that an artist made showing the crimes this system and the U.S. in particular have committed in every corner of the planet as well as quotes from BAsics speaking to the nature of this system and this country; and the emcee for the cultural program spoke in both English and Spanish.

The evening started with people of all different ages sharing food, lively conversation and laughter at tables festively decorated with flowers and candles. Those in attendance included people from housing projects, from the local Revolution Club, people involved with the initiatives to end mass incarceration and to end pornography and patriarchy, veteran revolutionaries, students and others of many different generations. They hung out and shared thoughts about major developments in the world that were on people's minds and key things that were happening in the movement for revolution.

After awhile, the cultural program began. The emcee welcomed everyone and said that if they were seething with outrage at the way people have been abandoned and left without basic necessities after Hurricane Sandy… at police murder… at the oppression of women… at wars for empire… if they didn't want to live another day with all of this and dared to dream of a different world… then they were in the right place.

Next, clips were played of BA speaking over the years. One thing that was very striking was to see a clip from 1979 where BA speaks to those who would ask how they could be sure that he and the Revolutionary Communist Party would not sell out; BA points out that he had been fighting the system politically for 15 years, had been a revolutionary for 12 years and had been a conscious communist for 10 years or more and had no intention of being or doing anything else as long as he's alive. In the 33 years since that speech, and in the face of significant setbacks and tremendous sacrifice, BA has never wavered from going ever more deeply into the past experience of the communist revolution, and human experience more broadly, in order to forge a new synthesis of communism that provides a viable vision and strategy for a radically different and better world. He has continued to apply this new synthesis to many different spheres of society and develop it further. And not only is he leading a party and movement for revolution to get to a radically different world, but he has fought tirelessly to keep that party and movement on the revolutionary road and to continually identify and address the many questions and contradictions that must be grappled with and transformed in the process of making revolution. And here we all were in the room because of all of this. To say that BA has kept his word would be a massive understatement.

After watching the film clips, a woman stepped to the microphone to do two extremely moving readings. First, she read a letter from a prisoner, which recently appeared in Revolution newspaper, in which this prisoner talks about sending $10 each month in order to buy a copy of BAsics to give to people behind prison walls as well as $10 for the BAsics Bus Tour. In the letter, the prisoner talks about initially sending money for the bus tour in Texas, but then realizing, after getting into BA's new synthesis of communism: "This is not just about 'My' home state or whatever locality I may reside in, this is about the State of the 'World', and this 'Nation', … about truly building the 'New Socialist Republic', of North America."  The way the woman read this letter really brought the voice of this prisoner into the room, and there was a sense that people were very stirred and very struck by the gravity of the letter. This was followed by a reading of BAsics 3:16 ("An Appeal to Those the System Has Cast Off"…), in which BA appeals to those most viciously exploited by this system to rise to their potential to be emancipators of humanity. The combination of this quote and the prisoner letter, which provides a dramatic example of the very potential BA is talking about in that quote, was very powerful.

Someone who could not make it to the dinner wrote a letter that someone else read out. In this letter, which was teeming with creativity and enthusiasm, the author described listening to Cornel West's recent interview with BA and then buying a copy of BAsics. As she was reading BAsics, she got very inspired to take out BA, and she had all kinds of ideas for how to do this. (See "BA EVERYWHERE... 'There is SO MUCH that we can do!'") The author of this letter clearly had a deep appreciation for BA—she talked about the importance of the work he has done to forge a new synthesis of communism. One couldn't help but think, listening to the letter: this is exactly the kind of initiative and brainstorming about ways to project BA throughout society that is needed on a massive scale!

At roughly the midway point of the program, a speech was given that spoke very sharply to the horrors of the world as it is and the fact that what humanity needs most is revolution and the new synthesis of communism that BA has brought forward. The speaker urged everyone in the room to get into BAsics as well as the interview with BA, What Humanity Needs: Revolution, and the New Synthesis of Communism.

A young revolutionary gave a fundraising pitch, which he started by saying that he could tell people in the room the difference it would make to get BA Everywhere, but he believed they already knew. And this revolutionary himself would not be up there telling people shit, he noted, if not for BA. He spoke to the urgent need for people to find out about this leader and the responsibility of everyone in the room to make this happen. He also pointed out that it cannot be left to accident that people find out about BA. More than $900 was raised through the evening.

The revolutionary then introduced a young person who had been part of donating food for people in housing projects that were hit hard by Hurricane Sandy and then abandoned by this system. The revolutionary asked the young kid if he would say a few words. "I'm here to have fun, and to eat dinner," the young kid said, drawing appreciative laughter from the crowd. He then talked briefly about how he had been part of the food donation.

In the midst of the cultural program, there was important struggle over what kind of culture—and what kind of standards—this movement for revolution is going to have and is going to project to the world. This is an internationalist movement and its standards and culture—which were decisively insisted on at this dinner—aim to bring a future society into being which is about upholding the humanity and emancipation of oppressed peoples, overcoming and abolishing all the oppressive divisions among the people, all the exploitation in the world, and bringing into being a new society and world.

The program closed in an extremely poignant and electrifying manner. A young woman and man led everyone in singing Nina Simone's beautiful and uplifting song, "I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free." Before doing so, the young woman talked about what the song meant to her, and how in the future society and world, people would actually be able to do the things that Nina Simone wished she could do.

It was hard to hold back tears—and why try?—upon seeing men and women of different nationalities and ages joining together to sing lyrics like "I wish I could break all the chains holding me," and "I wish I could give all I'm longing to give."  You could feel a whole different way the world could be, which made the utter insanity of the way the world is stand out all the more.

Towards the end of the song, the young woman really started to let go and belt out the lyrics. It was powerful, soulful and joyous, full of uncorked promise and potential.  Which is to say: It was a perfectly fitting way to end the occasion.

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