Reflections by a member of the National Revolution Tour, off of a discussion of the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (CNSRNA), authored by Bob Avakian (BA)

Individuals, Constitutions, and State Power....
Notes on: “More on Individuals and Social Relations”



The deeper appreciation also came from learning about the contradictions the Constitution and institutions in the new socialist society would be dealing with. The profound contradiction of people needing communist revolution, but not always desiring it, and the contradiction between individuals existing as individuals within a society. The way this is expanded upon in Bob Avakian’s RUMINATIONS AND WRANGLINGS, in the section “More on Individuals and Social Relations” which really made clear the stark differences between individualism as weaponized against the people by bourgeois forces, and individuals existing as individuals but their existence also being a social existence.

This article acknowledges humans DO exist as individuals, yet their existence is shaped by social and production relations that correspond to the social relations. And while the capitalist-imperialist system projects some god-like ideal or quality to the right of the individuals, individuality without a social context is bleak and numbed. The bourgeoisie exalts individualism in line with a system that breeds cutthroat competition between capitalists and between people. Demanding people step on each other to get ahead. The conflict is between the kind of society we have under this system that is argued for with the Categorical Moral Imperative philosophy Kant put forward that says the best society protects individual rights, when in reality this system is grounded in the need to exploit masses of people and grind humanity and individuality into nothing, in gross and violent ways. The hypocrisy of who gets to be an individual and for whom individuality and humanity is kept away from or beaten out of will depend on random chance between which border you are born within, what nationality or gender you are. This is not a system that cares about the individual.

Individualism promoted by capitalism-imperialism and its philosophy is very different from individuality, which is good and real, and any attempt to grind it down would go against an emancipatory future and further reinforce anti-communist stereotypes. The kind of communist revolution we are seeking appreciates individuals and the contradiction of individuality to society and production relations and all the richness and life that brings about. We are not sea sponge. And this non-homogeneity is a strength and a reason for beauty. But this means at all stages and always, there is a need to handle this contradiction. All the way through, from capitalist society struggling for revolution, to making revolution, to being well into socialism, and even within a future communist society, the contradiction between how people exist as individuals and how their lives, aspirations, etc. are shaped by production relations and social relations that correspond to that. The CNSRNA authored by Bob Avakian serves to be a reflection of the superstructure of the future socialist society with the eventual goals of communism, and how that is set up and functions matters in order to keep society on the socialist road and eventually get to communism.

Reading Constitution with Friend

This reading of “More On Individuals & Social Relations” became even more useful and applicable in going up and clearing away the lies and conventional slander of communism “cutting down the individual” and making everything grey and flavorless.

I was reading through the Introduction and Preamble to the CNSRNA with a friend.... He opened the Constitution on his laptop and we read through the Intro and Preamble.... He will put forward some honest thoughts and he readily brings up what he’s heard and understood about communism/the slander. He does this in good spirit.... We talked about the difference between the dictatorship of the proletariat and the so-called “democracy” dictatorship of the bourgeoisie.... This section in Ruminations became relevant as he brought up in good spirit the kind of stuff he hears and thinks about when imagining a communist society. That everyone becomes a tool of production without a say or individuality, that everyone is meant to be flattened and their individuality stifled. He was skeptical of that being true but just laying it out there to parse through why it is said. I brought out the paragraph in “More On Choices... and Radical Changes” that ends in the way this system pulverizes the individual. We talked about the hypocrisy and illusion of holding up “the individual” as we are all pitted against each other through the workings of this system and what that leads to. He’s reading it in full now....

Additional thoughts on class as a whole

During the class, the person leading the class asked what we were “hoping to get out of it” and what we expect from ourselves. I wanted to join this class for various reasons. I was excited to understand more about the workings of society now, why it is the way it is and how the proposed future society we are working to bring into being would function in relation to the goal of emancipating humanity. I was excited to have this be a collective process. A part of that had to do with a more solid feeling of committed routine and structure to get into the material. The main thing about the collectivity of this class relates to the ending of the “Introductory Explanation” section in the CNSRNA: “For, again, that is our purpose in publishing this Draft Proposal: to stimulate, as broadly as possible, such serious and substantive engagement with this Draft Proposal, and vigorous discussion and debate about what is put forward as the kind of society and world to not only be imagined but actively struggled for.”

Although I recognized “base and superstructure” as a common thing that was said, it had a vague meaning to me. I didn’t have as much materialism to go with it. Sure, I understand “base” to mean “economic base” but even superstructure was fuzzy to me. Like some amalgamation of force drooling a kind of evil over the people suffering in the world. People abstract “system” in this way, maybe even personifying it instead of understanding it in a more material and detailed way. I had a sense and some knowledge that the superstructure meant the ways this system enforced itself; examples I could come up with were limited to the police, the military, the criminal justice system. I wouldn’t even reach for the legal documents like the Constitution and how it is interpreted.

After reading the assigned reading leading up to the first class, I got a much deeper appreciation for what it means to have state power. Before the assigned reading I understood a necessity for state power in a more abstracted and secondary way than I do now. I was framing it in a kind of begrudging way almost, like, “Yes, we’ll haaaave to have state power to keep on the socialist path and defend against our enemy.” And like others said, I had less respect for the role of constitution, laws and institutions that make up the superstructure of a society. I think this is mainly because the superstructure that enforces the economic base of this system of capitalism-imperialism leads to all kinds of disgusting things. So I’ve lived with some rebellious, childish aversion to engaging in it and its contradictions to get a deeper understanding of this system, its mechanisms, “how” it is kept, enforced & “regulated.” Understanding this is valuable and necessary to work towards a different future and system including by comparing and contrasting.

CONSTITUTION For The New Socialist Republic In North America

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Bob Avakian (BA) is the most important political thinker and leader in the world today.

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