BA, the New Communism, and the Challenge to Us: A Plan to Change Everything

April 16, 2018 | Revolution Newspaper |


April 16, 2018: We write this as Trump struts and preens for having bombed Syria (a conflict which the U.S. has stoked and maneuvered in from the beginning), supposedly to punish the deaths of nearly 50 civilians... while continuing to sponsor with money, arms, and training a Saudi war against Yemen that has taken the lives of thousands of children. We write this as the New York Times Magazine front-pages the fact that Black mothers and babies die at more than twice the rate of white mothers and babies, and as the drumbeat of police murder of Black and Latino and Native American youths continues. As the environment hurtles toward utter disaster. As immigrants and refugees are demonized, hunted, persecuted, imprisoned, and essentially murdered on the high seas and deserts, while the U.S. itself leads the pack on this. As the stories of abuse and degradation of women continue to fight their way out of every corner of the globe. We write this as fascism stalks the globe, with its champions in the White House—Trump on the offensive, with Pence and a whole Christian fascist movement as the backbone.

This world cries out for revolution. But what kind of revolution?

Revolution requires leadership. But what kind of leadership?

A little more than a month ago, revcom published a critical, and what must become a seminal, editorial, “THE NEW COMMUNISM COULD CHANGE EVERYTHING—IF...” There, the challenge was sharply posed:

We revolutionary communists are supposed to represent and speak in the name of the interests of all of humanity. And we are supposed to do so on the basis of science and nothing less. On that basis, we can in fact have a great deal of certitude in stating that what humanity needs, more than anything else, is a communist world, achieved through a process of revolutions (of the right kind) to establish socialist societies (of the right kind) as a transition and road, and a base for advance, to that communist world. So it’s not just communism we are fighting for, it’s the right kind of communism, the NEW COMMUNISM....

There is nothing that would be more important to accomplish in this period of history than to succeed in breaking through some of [the] obstacles and getting the New Communism, as well as its architect, Bob Avakian [BA] (the person who has elaborated and developed this new synthesis of communism, and who himself stands as a concentrated expression of its core principles and scientific methods), widely known, engaged and appreciated throughout this society (and among all strata), and beyond that throughout the world. And it must also be said that, conversely, if we don’t succeed in doing THAT—if we don’t succeed in making qualitative and quantitative breakthroughs in fulfilling THAT mission—then not much at all will come out of anything any of us have done over the past decades, or continue to do today. All that hard work, and all that dedication, and all that sacrifice? It will all amount to a big fat zero if we do not succeed in broadly spreading the New Communism, getting it to take root and initiating a process of sustainable geometric progression.

The author then goes on to sharply lay out the crucial task before us: spreading the new communism much more broadly and widely and developing a situation where lots more people know about BA, and what he has brought forward; where lots more people are discussing, debating, contesting, engaging the new communism; and where this is all giving rise to a certain kind of geometric progression as it takes hold and spreads farther and farther day by day, reaching a great many people we could not possibly encounter directly. Going further: We need a situation in which significant new cohorts of genuine and motivated actual followers of BA and of the new communism are cohering into a real force—significant not simply in importance, but in actual numbers, and expanding societal influence, as well—all of which bodes well for the possibility of the new communism spreading and taking root to an unprecedented degree in the next period.

The plan that follows responds to this challenge. It is a plan to begin that “geometric progression,” now. Below we discuss the overall political terrain on which this takes shape. We examine in basic terms some relationships between different urgent tasks that have to be handled well. Then we get into some of the key components of the plan, while indicating where we need to do more work. Important elaborations of key points can be found in boxes that go with this plan.

This is a campaign to go out to masses of people. This campaign aims to involve many people who previously knew nothing about BA and the new communism but who—in this moment—can be moved, with the power of this revolutionary theory and leader, to take this up and be part of radically changing the world. Without that, it can’t really work; but with it, we can actually... change everything.

The Political Terrain on Which We’re Working and the Pathways to Transformation

We confront—and must transform—a highly fraught situation. A crisis, in the truest, fullest sense of the word. A fascist regime holds power in the U.S. and is right now attempting to fully implant its rule. One outrage follows another, with the latest shouldering the one before it out of the headlines in a dizzying procession. Conflicts rage around the world, with possibly catastrophic ones threatening to erupt. Meanwhile, the business of “capitalism-imperialism as usual” grinds on and accelerates, crushing the lives and mutilating the spirits of billions each day.

Yet the “division of opinion” is unfavorable. Most people cannot see beyond the bounds of the “proper channels” of the very system that is moving to implant fascism. People are anxious but also learning to live with the normalization of this—which immeasurably heightens the danger.

But within this lies a deep potential for radical change, either positive or negative. The stakes hold both extraordinary danger AND a high potential for people to search out, hear, and grapple with new ideas—and act on those ideas to transform the situation.

In truth, three possible futures contend in the current situation. One is that posed by the fascists—and yes, they can succeed in forcing this openly racist, misogynist, and xenophobic future down the throats of humanity and indeed almost certainly WILL succeed unless they are stopped by the massive, defiant, in-the-streets struggle of millions. There is the second future of “imperialism-as-usual,” represented by the likes of Obama and Clinton, in which some of the rights of the better-off sections of people within the imperialist countries are respected some of the time and lip service is paid to diversity of people and thinking... while billions worldwide and in this country are ground down daily to feed the system’s machinery and are crushed when they resist.

But there is a third future as well—of revolution, guided by the vision, ethos, and plan of the new communism. We need, most of all and ultimately, revolution—the right kind of revolution. Nothing else can end what we call the “5 Stops”—the wars for empire, the oppression of women, the oppression of Black, Latino, and other oppressed nationality people, the persecution of immigrants, and the capitalist plunder and destruction of the environment; nothing else can get us out of a situation of cycling between fascism and “normal” capitalist-imperialist oppression. In fact, spreading the word on the leadership of BA and the breakthrough elements of the new communism is a fundamental part of the strategy to make that revolution and of the process, right now, of preparing the terrain, the masses and the vanguard for the time when that could be correctly done with a real chance of victory. (See HOW WE CAN WIN—How We Can Really Make Revolution.)

Getting out word of this third future—spreading this everywhere—is the heart of this plan. At the same time, as we have written elsewhere, “At this immediate moment... ousting this fascist regime is a ‘stage we [the movement for revolution] have to go through.’”

The organization Refuse Fascism has united around a plan “to launch at the soonest possible time a nationwide movement of nonviolent political protests, in the streets and public squares, that don’t stop until the demand that the Trump/Pence regime be removed from office is met.” The success of this plan in its own right is crucial, and we urge everyone reading this to read that plan as well, and to follow and support Refuse Fascism.

Refuse Fascism aims to radically reshape the political and social environment. Its success is critically important, very possibly decisive, for humanity. At the same time, the campaign to bring forward that geometric progression of influence of and followers around BA and the new communism will and should dynamically interact with the struggle against fascism (even as it won’t be limited to that).

The Critical Importance of BA’s Filmed Talk on the Trump/Pence Fascist Regime

Let’s take a minute to get into that. One key part of that interaction: Bob Avakian’s filmed speech from last fall, THE TRUMP/PENCE REGIME MUST GO! In The Name of Humanity, We REFUSE To Accept a Fascist America. A Better World IS Possible. There is nothing comparable to the way this speech and the question/answer session that follows uncovers the deep roots and underlying dynamics of this regime; to the way it puts forth the compelling necessity to drive out the regime; to its engagement with what holds people back; and to the way it explicates the strategy to do that. More, there is the deep understanding of societal dynamics, the thorough internationalism, and the emancipatory methodology AND morality that ground this film—and the speaker who delivers it. If even 100,000 people were to see this talk in the next few months, it would make a huge difference in what they thought necessary and possible and it would compel many of those who watched into conscious activity toward Refuse Fascism’s goal of thousands (and ultimately millions) in the streets, day after day and night after night, in defiant mass political struggle.

At the same time, most people who see the film will “meet” BA for the first time. They’ll not only hear him make a crucial argument on the central issue of the day; they’ll be led to confront the horrific future that the Trump/Pence regime represents and its deep roots in the whole history of this country and structure of its society. This provokes big questions about the system we live under and if a better world is possible, which BA points to. So the film also, and crucially, opens the door to a whole further journey. That makes for a potentially powerful synergy between the crucial struggle to drive out the Trump/Pence fascist regime and the urgent necessity to bring BA and what he represents—the new communism, and the revolution to bring a whole new world into being—to millions.

As the talk becomes a point of reference in the debate around the Trump/Pence fascist regime, and as and if there is increasing defiance against the regime itself along the lines being fought for by Refuse Fascism and its allies, there will be a different level of projection of Bob Avakian into the “public square.” There will be new openings, which must be seized on, sometimes at a moment’s notice. There will be serious attacks of different kinds, which must be recognized and correctly countered... meeting each such attack with greater mobilization of masses.

So there is the immediate context of the fascist threat which we are working to radically transform as a stage of the overall process of making revolution. There is, as well, the overarching ideological terrain where sights are low and the possibility of a different world, of real and viable alternatives to this system, is not on the map. This too we must radically transform, wielding this plan. Indeed, without many thousands at least being exposed to a genuine communist critique of the current world and vision of a better one—to the new communism—and without a growing section taking it up, it is very unlikely that we can defeat fascism.

The Plan to Change Everything: Basic Components

How do we begin those transformations? What follows covers the period through early next year. For the next several months at least, BA’s filmed talk on the Trump/Pence regime is the main—but not the only—vehicle of this effort. This means ongoing, all-the-time work in taking the film out everywhere, and it also requires some focuses.

In this next period, these focuses include a national Take BA to Campus Week, April 30-May 4; and major showings in key metropolitan areas in the second half of May and early June. (See the accompanying box “Two Major Efforts.”)

At the same time, the talk must form part of a whole larger engagement with BA—with the new communism he has brought forward, and the revolution he leads. In line with the reality that it is the totality of the new communism that unlocks the door for humanity, there are three other key components to the campaign right now along with the talk. These include:

  • Making much greater and more consistent use of some of the key works of BA, in forms ranging from study groups to salons, from one-time-only sessions on a key question that comes up with people or is in the news to getting down with people right on the street or a campus food court or wherever; doing this simply and drawing on ready-to-hand materials (for instance, The Bob Avakian Institute website has a syllabus for leading study and discussion of the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America; and THE NEW COMMUNISM itself contains questions for study and discussion at the end).
  • A series of programs set to begin in the fall that set forth and wage struggle around key components of the new communism and revolution. These will be major efforts sponsored by The Bob Avakian Institute to change the terms of debate among intellectuals, students, and more broadly. (To find out more about the institute, go here.) The prospectus for this is audacious and attractive.
  • To be clear, this will require sharp and substantive struggle in the realm of ideas. These programs aim to go up against the dominant intellectual frameworks through which people “process” things and which are often taken for granted. These dominant frameworks include various forms of relativism (a disbelief that the basic and underlying truth of a situation can be ascertained), social democracy (a fervent belief that the system can be fundamentally reformed), and others. As opposed to discussions where particulars may be debated but the underlying ground on which people stand to understand those particulars is not identified and struggled with, these programs will confront these frameworks as frameworks.
  • A summer project to take BA and the revolution he represents to “the people who catch the hardest hell every day,” in the inner cities of the U.S. in a particularly focused and concentrated way; and a companion project taking BA and the fall programs in particular (see below) to conferences of all kinds, festivals, summer sessions of universities, and resort areas. Taking BA to the basic people does not require any less of a struggle over ideas and against contending frameworks than taking him to campus—indeed, the struggle with these masses will be and is “ferocious,” as Avakian himself has put it.

Create a Social Movement Around the Talk

Over the past weeks, has highlighted some of the work that has been done with the talk (as well as with other elements of the BA “package”). This has shown a glimmer of the potential. But in light of the pivotal and multidimensional importance of the talk as we’ve been discussing it, the scale and scope of this effort must increase by several orders of magnitude, to a whole other level. This must become a social movement in its own right.

What are the keys to this?

Taking and connecting the talk to key sections of people. Right now, there are sections of people that are aroused and in a mood to fight; there are sections of people under attack but perhaps intimidated; and there are sections of people who need to be part of the fight, to influence everyone else. BA’s talk must reach all of them, in a range of creative ways. (See accompanying box “Who Must See This Talk.”)

How do we do it? We go to actions, to programs, to groups and organizations far and wide. We let no assumptions get in the way about who might or might not be interested. We grasp more deeply the acuteness of the situation and the potential power of the talk, and on that basis we conceive and carry out plans on a far greater scale than we have up to now.

A note: When we go out to people, we agitate. On the street, at a program, at a demo... we agitate. And we don’t confine our agitation to the immediate topic of the talk. We wage ideological struggle with people, in every corner of society, and spread the basic message in relatively brief and straightforward terms: who is BA, what is it he’s done that is so new, and so important (what has he done? why is it so important?), and that could change everything, if it is taken up (how could it “change everything”? What do you mean by “if it is taken up”?).

And if you or the people you’re with think the agitation is good, send it to revcom. Agitation can lay bare the real terms of things; it can present and struggle for a different framework of understanding; it can draw out the needlessness of this system, the need—and possibility—FOR revolution, and what we have in the understanding brought forward by, and leadership of BA. Let’s learn from the best, and then take it further.

Activating preexisting social networks. We should work with people to spread the film through their networks—their schools, political groups, religious congregations, families and friends, etc. And then we sum up the response with them. We listen to the contradictions they run into, and work together to solve them. For certain, we should prepare new people by going over “BA: A Contended Question” before they go out. We listen to their ideas on how to spread it and work with them to systematize them. In short, we should organize people, learning from them as we do and helping them identify potential links and levers to make this movement grow.

Make BA a much greater presence on social media. The more that we can learn the dynamics of social media and how to spread things on them, and the more that we can plug into social media with material that people can use, the more that BA can break out broadly. How to utilize the various platforms? There are volunteers who have taken on the job of leading this; if you have ideas, or if you know people who have ideas and expertise, or if you want to be part of this... write to revcom!

Connecting the talk, and BA, to people with (different kinds of) influence. There are artists, clergy, journalists and writers, public intellectuals, professors and scholars, political figures and activists who have already engaged the talk. Some have made public statements responding to it, others have called on people to get into it. It is vitally important that people who would want to go to bat for spreading this talk to be given the chance and consistently worked with to do that. This creates a whole public conversation on it, between BA and among the people commenting, it enables other people who have seen it to learn from how a variety of prominent voices responded to the talk, and it draws people broadly toward getting into it themselves.

This process should aim high in terms of people with a lot of influence but not be limited to people with a conventional “platform.” There are some people who may not be well known but who have particular insights on the film, or who may be from a group that, as a group, has “won the ear” of people more broadly; for instance, high school youths who became active off of Parkland, DACA youths, relatives of the victims of police murder, or others... What they have to say has importance in itself and, many times, their experience can lend texture and weight to their insights and cause others to check out what they’re talking about. And again, in every case—we should be using this process to open the door wide to BA and all that he represents and has brought forward.

More on Organization

Any serious effort at social transformation requires organization. People need a place to get and discuss—and argue over―direction, a place to contribute insights and figure out together how to combine efforts for maximum effect, a place to strategize and, sometimes, to just kick back and talk about the big wide world and what it’s all about.

The Revolution Club is one critical organization where that has to happen. The Revolution Club unites on the need for revolution and communism, and on that basis both spreads and takes up the new communism and mobilizes people to fight the power, and transform the people (including themselves), for revolution. The club, as active fighters for BA and the new communism, needs to bring forward many more active followers. This doesn’t happen automatically; it requires fighting for revolution among all sections of the people... and then when you do attract people, it requires a real plan for and a real systematic method of working with them.

This is something that Revolution Club chapters really need to think about: what is the culture, or atmosphere, of our chapter? How are people brought forward? How revolutionary is it—how much is it grounded in the orientation, and method and approach, of the new communism?

At the same time, there are people who may not at this point want to join the club but who DO want to help this campaign succeed. There needs to be a network for such people, and a way for them to come together as well in an organized way. This can mean volunteering for The Bob Avakian Institute (in places where the institute has an organized presence), or it can mean being part of a network that comes together at different times. But people don’t just magically come together without leadership. Thought must be given as to the forms this should take; while we’re not certain yet as to the specific forms this should take, we ARE certain that such forms will be needed... and we invite your thinking on this.

Revolution Books should both aggressively go out into society with programs and initiatives around BA that flow out of and feed into the whole campaign and in so doing draw in many new volunteers, sustainers, and supporters. The stores have to become political, intellectual, and cultural centers of a movement where the new communism is being engaged, applied, contended over, and connected with.

A key yardstick of this campaign: are the organizations growing and getting stronger?

Building for the Fall—and Summer—While Going All-Out Right Now

As touched on above, The Bob Avakian Institute recently announced a series of major programs, beginning in the fall, exploring major questions of the new communism.

But we can’t wait for the fall to build for those! Right now, we need to get the prospectus out on campuses and in conferences of various kinds, and made known to all who are trying to figure out how to change the world. This is nothing less than a major battle of ideas over how to understand the world, what is the problem we face, the goal of communism and the socialist road to get there, how revolution could win, and the question of leadership. This should be a major if secondary part of Take BA to Campus Week. Beginning now, we should be uniting with people who may not themselves be partisans of the new communism but who would like to see this debated to help build for this... even as we get into the new communism with them and the frameworks it’s contending with.

In a short time, we will be announcing plans for the summer. This will entail taking BA into the communities of the oppressed, as well as going to conferences, cultural events, and elsewhere with the film and the fall programs. Following up with these plans with those students who do come forward in this period will be critical.

It will be important during this whole next period that people have organized ways to engage the new communism. This may mean showings and discussions of REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! (see “Showing the BA Film at the Revolution Club Organizing Center in Chicago”), study groups around THE NEW COMMUNISM, or forums on the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, or single sessions on quotes from or chapters of BAsics (see “Discussion at Revolution Books in Berkeley: Revolution, Religion and Epistemology”).

At the same time, the Party needs to be transforming itself—qualitatively, in line with the “The New Communism Could Change Everything—If...” polemic, and quantitatively, through a growing stream of people coming forward to build and join this Party.

A Final Note

In the plan above, we’ve broken things down into components. We’ve mainly discussed things from the standpoint of the situation as we go online, April 16. But the world is more complex than that. Components form part of a larger, fluidly dynamic process. The larger world is constantly changing—with new phenomena emerging, other contradictions intensifying or receding, etc. We have to be ready for anything... alive to the changes, and seeking out the possibilities beneath the surface of those changes, for profound social transformation. This has to be treated as a living, dynamic plan.

To return to an earlier point, we have to be able to say “yes!” with real substance at every key juncture along the way to whether we are, for real, getting toward that needed geometric progression of the new communism, spreading and taking root to an unprecedented degree in the coming period.

Who will do this? You, who are reading this article... and the people whom you reach with word of this emancipating framework, the new communism, and the revolutionary leader who brought it forward, Bob Avakian.







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