From a Revolution Club Member:

The Young Karl Marx, BA, and Contending with Other Views

March 26, 2018 | Revolution Newspaper |


We received this letter from a member of a Revolution Club with thoughts off of seeing the recently released film The Young Karl Marx. The film tells the story of 26-year-old Karl Marx, along with Friedrich Engels and others in the 1840s who were fighting to bring a scientific understanding to the revolutionary movement of the time. For more, see the interview with the film’s director, Raoul Peck, on The Michael Slate Show.

I went to watch The Young Karl Marx and it had a big impact on me, the more I let it sink in and kept thinking about it. The history, what was in the film I didn’t know anything about it, so it was really interesting learning about it.

The point on contending lines has been something I’ve been thinking a lot about, and one thing that was really great about Marx was that he was not afraid to be contending with all these lines out there. He had an understanding that he knew was necessary to put forward. I’ve been thinking about that in relationship to the Revolution Club, to what we have in Bob Avakian (BA), and what we need to be fighting for in society. I think this made it more clear in my thinking what contending lines look like and why it even matters how we are fighting for this line to gain leadership.

I was thinking about what is represented in the new synthesis and in BA. Why does it matter for that to be what gains leadership? Put simply: It is what humanity needs! It is what people need to be introduced to, and engaging with and taking up themselves if we are serious about making this revolution real!

In the Club, we can’t be afraid to contend with other lines. I remember a struggle in the Club where someone said that one of the reasons they weren’t stepping up to lead was because they were “afraid to say the wrong thing.” This person talked about other people who have led the Club in a situation where the pigs are fucking with people, the agitator would do a very great agitation in exposing the pigs and what they represent and at the same time, people would cheer and give us thumbs up and agree with what was being said. And I was thinking, well why the fuck do we do agitation? Is it to be popular? To get people to come around us and tell us “good job!”? Because a lot of the times we are too content with that!

This is in opposition to what’s discussed in HOW WE CAN WIN—How We Can Really Make Revolution: “[W]e need to approach everything―evaluate every political program and every organized force in society, every kind of culture, values and ways of treating people―according to how it relates to the revolution we need, to end all oppression. We should unite with people whenever we can, and struggle with them whenever we need to, to advance the revolution.

That’s the reason we do agitation! Not just to get thumbs up! So I’ve been thinking about how to change this in the Club. We can’t be liberal or apologetic when it comes to contending with lines. We shouldn’t pick a fight with everyone who puts forward something reformist. But how are we really going to change people’s thinking and understanding if we aren’t putting forward our line, and having people make the compare and contrast on their own? And not in an antagonistic way either.

Learning and appreciating how BA does it, with a lot of humor and heart for people, not making people feel stupid for thinking something that isn’t true. But also with lots of urgency and hatred towards the system.


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