Shaking It Up with Revolution at the Climate Strike

From a member of the National Revolution Tour



The Revolution Tour went to the Youth Climate Strike led by Fridays for Future, Extinction Rebellion, and other reformist groups. Around 300 youths, mainly high school and middle school students (although some were even younger, coming with their parents or classmates as a group), and others took to the streets to demand “climate action” and to pressure government officials to take measures to alleviate the worst effects of ongoing climate change and ecological collapse. Some of the concrete reforms being demanded include a civilian board to review climate legislation in New York City. Our banner, BEB [Bourgeois Electoral Bullshit] on one side and “The System Can’t Be Reformed, It Must Be Overthrown!” on the other, was going against everything coming from the stage and went up against the spontaneous thinking of the students.

A startling fact was that the catastrophic danger of fascism was not on anyone’s radar there, that we could tell. In terms of what people thought was the solution to the current crisis was the Green New Deal. The overwhelming and dominant framework people talked and filtered things through was voting and the “democratic process” which may involve protest, but which doesn’t fundamentally challenge or overthrow the system.

From the time we got there, students were into talking and wrestling with stuff. Some thought there should be some sort of revolution. Some were into decentralized socialism and democratic socialism, but they were open. One asked what if Bernie were elected and picked a whole cabinet. We raised the example of Salvador Allende, who they had never heard of. A young woman raised Bernie as a solution, and we countered with what he really has said about the borders and immigration, to which she replied, “He just saying what he has to say because he’s running.” The students who came out have more freedom and can wrestle with different ideas. Art students talked about how the art schools are the worst because it’s full of Wall Street people’s children. They expressed interest in having Joey Johnson come and speak there.

The BEB banner with the faces of many prominent politicians, which included both Trump/Pence and Bernie/AOC, was very controversial. While most people don’t like, or even really hate, Trump (a handful defended him, still), most youths who saw the banner took varying levels of offense to the fact that the latter pair, these “progressive heroes,” were on the very same banner! It’s safe to say this stirred up a lot of shit, including people wondering aloud, “Who are they for, then???” Democratic socialism was a big trend among the young people there, and a couple of young anarchists were passing out leaflets it looked like they had made promoting their ideas of anarchism and what it means. When chants would ring among the masses of “Green New Deal,” we would challenge this strongly, agitating with substance as to why it is no solution, and doesn’t dismantle the U.S. military, the world’s largest single institutional consumer of oil, for example, or doesn’t address the lopsidedness in the world. To be frank, there was a lot of American chauvinism out there, and we came out swinging against that shit, chanting “HUMANITY FIRST, NOT AMERICA FIRST,” which a lot of people took up, some even (rightly) adding “HUMANITY AND THE PLANET.”

At the end of the march there were speakers from the different organizations, as well as Democrat politicians, the most prominent of whom was Chuck Schumer. When we realized that it was Schumer who was speaking, we rushed around to see if we could disrupt him. One of us ended up yelling, “Chuck Schumer, you’re bullshit!” and indicted him for collaborating with Trump, funding border security, and refusing to call people into the streets against Trump, or even calling Trump a fascist. Even without our amplified sound, this disruption did catch people’s attention, even if most people did not hear it. A new person just now joining the Revolution Club joined us for the latter part of the event, and he got in on the disruption too, yelling “Fuck you, Chuck Schumer!” Prior to this, one of us went out with him to flyer the crowd with some materials for the upcoming Revolution Club meeting and the #OUTNOW protest on the 14th, and although he was shy at first, he got into this rhythm of being really forthright and insistent with people that they had to be there. After, when summing up with him, he had the feeling that he didn’t have too much of a grasp on what fascism really is, and we later linked him to the excerpts that have been posted on which draw from several recent works from Bob Avakian on this question.

Despite most people really not looking for actual revolution as the solution to the climate crisis, we did find many who were open to discuss it, and some who were very open. Some were very excited but shy; they were still figuring things out. By far we were the most radical people there, and this caused quite a bit of contention with some of the organizers who clearly did not want us anywhere near “their thing.” This very likely affected the youth as well, and some may have been turned off by this. There’s way too little rebelliousness, perhaps ironically.

We did a couple interviews, including with a journalist who expressed real interest in #OUTNOW and the Revolution (she came the next day to the train protest and ran with us the whole day). She lives in the Bronx and is doing work as an independent journalist to expose the role of the U.S. in the rest of the world, with a certain focus on Africa. She is reporting on what is happening in Congo, where protesters are being disappeared. She said that there are revolutions happening in Africa, and it’s a shame that it isn’t in the U.S. She thinks it’s because people don’t see the larger connection to what’s going on. She dug into 5-2-6 and is interested in coming to the Club meeting.

Overall, we felt that this was positive, including in putting the challenge to people to join the Revolution Club on the basis of the right criteria that have been set forth as the 5-2-6 and real engagement with/appreciation of BA. Even if many instances of this were initial, certain things were forged that day that were significant in quality, even if not in scale. The crowd was saturated with our materials, including the #OUTNOW stickers which remain very popular. Huge numbers of people were not moved to join us on the spot, but the radical and advanced were attracted, as opposed to totally turned off, and some were recruited very directly and we have their contacts. A handful seem serious about coming to the upcoming Club meeting, which will be in a real sense an introduction to this organization and to who BA is.

Revolution Club at NYC Climate Strike

The Destruction of the Planet by Capitalism-Imperialism, by Bob Avakian, an excerpt

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