About BA's Constitution for the New Socialist Republic

Commit to 1000 Conversations

From the blog Just Enough for the City, Urban Ministry for the Global City.

| revcom.us


Editors’ Note: We are reposting the following statement by Rev. Dr. Robert L. Brashear, New York Presbyterian clergy, which we believe can contribute to important dialogue and wrangling among people who are coming from different perspectives but share a common concern about the state of the world and the urgency of bringing a different, more just world into being. We especially appreciate his positive comments about the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, authored by Bob Avakian, and the call for 1,000 discussions of this Constitution.

We strongly agree with Brashear’s statement: “I categorically reject the broadly held opinion that there is a moral equivalence between communism and Nazism.” However, where he refers to “the death counts accumulated by Stalin and Mao,” we do not agree that this is an accurate way to put things. As with all important aspects of reality, the history of the communist movement, and the socialist societies it has brought into being, is a complex matter. As can be seen in the works of Bob Avakian over a number of decades (including Conquer the World? The International Proletariat Must and Will from the early 1980s and the recent Breakthroughs: The Historic Breakthrough by Marx, and the Further Breakthrough with the New Communism – A Basic Summary), Bob Avakian has done extensive study, analysis and synthesis of the history of the communist movement and the socialist societies it has brought into being, and on this basis has drawn the firm conclusion that this experience has been overwhelmingly positive, although there have been significant errors made, some of them quite serious or in some cases even grievous. There is also a comprehensive discussion of this history in a special issue of Revolution, an interview with Raymond Lotta—You Don’t Know What You Think You “Know” About… The Communist Revolution and the REAL Path to Emancipation: Its History and Our Future—which is available at revcom.us.

With regard to his statement that Bob Avakian, BA, is thorough but at times irritatingly so, and the implication that he is incapable of making succinct statements of his views, the fact is that, in addition to the Constitution which Brashear mentions, BA’s extensive of body of work consists of works of a variety of lengths, including books and substantial essays, speeches that are as long as six hours, and statements that consist of a single paragraph or a single sentence—but all of it is compelling in how it penetrates to the heart of things and shows the completely unnecessary nature of this system of capitalism-imperialism and the massive suffering it causes, and the possibility of a radically different and better world. In this connection, BA has commented:

The truth is that I would very much like to be in a situation where so many people are not so weighed down by so much misinformation, disinformation, ignorance and outright prejudice that it wouldn’t be necessary, so much of the time, to go into things in so much depth and at such length in order to break through the confusion and obstruction that presently keep so many from taking up a scientific approach to pursuing the truth and following the truth wherever it leads. But, then, there will always be new problems which we human beings will find ourselves needing to deeply engage, and so it is likely that there will never be a time when some things do not need to be grappled with at length, at times perhaps even irritatingly so.


Friday, May 15, 2020

Living in cronavirusworld 53: Without struggle there can be no progress

Around mid morning, I get a call from one of my communist friends. (I’m really going to have to write that essay some day!) Let me be clear....I categorically reject the broadly held opinion that there is a moral equivalence between communism and Nazism. I am fully aware of the death counts accumulated by Stalin and Mao. The objective fact is that every one of our major belief systems, Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Communism....has shown themselves to be fully capable of murder. Period. Communists have been some of the most honorable people I have known. Humble, dedicated, disciplined, capable of self sacrifice and with a deep love of humanity. Nazism, all forms of fascism, ultimately has no love of people and is built on the idea that some people are superior to others and that there is no obligation to the common good. Even Christianity is based on an ultimately negative view of humankind. Communism, on the other hand, is perhaps, hopelessly utopian its view of humanity, which is its blessing, and to me as a reformed Christian, perhaps its curse. Recent studies are showing that the velvet revolutions of the 1980’s were not fought to end communism or socialism. The desire was to replace the sclerotic system of nomenklatura with an authentic socialist structure. As in all systems, the nomenklatura was nimble and was driven to figure out how to simply shift their power into a new configuration. This was not as Fukuyama called it, the end of history. It was not the victory of liberal democracy but of gangsterism. The Soviet Union was no more communist than the U.S. was a democracy. So that’s enough of that for now, just don’t give me the moral equivalent line, OK?

My friend is interested in what is going on out there. Especially among progressives. The fact is, we are at an unprecedented moment. Six months ago, when my friends were seeking to “drive out the Trump-Pence regime now,” and were working to build an actual revolution now, I felt they were badly out of touch with society. Bernie Sanders had made the word socialist acceptable in polite society. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the Squad were giving marginalized peoples representatives who looked and sounded like them, as if voting could actually also result in a voice to be heard. Elected congresspeople could actually express criticism of Israel on the floor of congress and survive. It was not a good time to try and convince people that there was no real difference in who you voted for when objective reality seemed to tell a different story. But that was then. The democratic liberal elite closed ranks to quash the Sanders candidacy and promoted the all but finished Joe Biden whose moribund campaign had been all but buried with obituaries. And then the Coronavirus invaded and the whole world ground to a halt. (Meanwhile, Sanders will not even be on the New York primary ballot, because he’s “not running” anymore and AOC has been bounced from the ostensibly socialist Working Families Party line.) The world has changed.

I told my friend that it was clear to my circle that we are at a critical moment and nothing will ever be the same again. The virus has exposed the abject failure of this system to protect, to care for, the lives of its people, and globally speaking, any people. The U.S. in particular has been revealed to be a failed state incapable of rational response to a health crisis. In the popular view, we have gone from being admired...or feared...to being pitied. And beyond that there is the thought that there might be more method to the madness than we’d like to know. That they may know exactly what they are doing. There is no going back. The question is, where do we want to go and how do we get there?

I have been profoundly moved by the presence of nurses and other health care workers on the lines with Amazon and fast food workers and signage that says clearly that nothing changes as long as capitalism rules.

I urged my friend to get his colleagues to seriously engage people around the proposed Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America. (Can be read at https://revcom.us/socialistconstitution/SocialistConstitution-en.pdf)

The work of Revolutionary Communist Party Chair Bob Avakian (or BA as his followers call him), the constitution is the most comprehensive detailed projection of how a truly socialist republic might function that I have seen. Whatever else you might say about Avakian, no one else from the radical left has gone this far in their vision. Avakian is nothing but thorough. Often annoyingly, irritatingly so. (I can’t imagine asking BA for an “elevator speech.”) I suggested to my friend that their cadre ought to commit to a 1000 conversations, engaging friends and neighbors over the question of so what is a better way of doing things? The way the corona virus crisis has been mishandled in this country provides the perfect opportunity to define what a humane and effective policy regarding pandemics would look like. The most interesting aspects of Avakian’s alternative are that it is proactive, international and cooperative by nature and actually takes science seriously. It’s a great place to begin a conversation. A thousand conversations. (A thousand flowers?)

Be clear, I am only saying what I am saying, nothing more. But the conversation about where we are going needs to start now. The fact is, we also need to be aware of what the stakes are. Those currently in power will not move aside any easier than the nomenklatura gangsters. They’re simply gangsters with different tailors. The 50th anniversary of Kent State (and Jackson State) reminds us of how the power structure responds to threat. As do the assault weapon armed thugs who shut down the Michigan state house. At the end of the day, this is serious business.

I needed a long walk. At the Frederick Douglass Houses I saw a sign. “Without struggle, there can be no progress.

In another window, I see lyrics by Si Kahn:

The more I study history, the more I seem to find

That in every generation there are times just like that time

When folks like you and me who thought that we were all alone

Within this honored movement found a home.



Posted by robert l brashear at 11:41 PM

Labels: ccoronavirusworld, communists, Constitution for the new socialist republic in North America, Governor Cuomo, revolutionary communist party Avakian, urban ministry

About Me

robert l brashear

Pastor, musician and theologian, sharing ongoing reflections on what’s going on in the world around us.

"Without struggle there can be no progress"

...in every generation...

I go to pick up a prescription and walk all the way home. Noticing the restaurants reopening. And those who have given up already, their windows filled with the “never coming back” brown paper. There are “thank you’s” everywhere.

I am clearly feeling worn. I’m tired of this.




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