“How Soon Could This Revolution Happen?”
Watching Clips from the New Film of the Dialogue and Reading the Interview with Ardea Skybreak
March 16, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Several of us got together recently to look at clips from the upcoming new film of the Dialogue that were shown at the BA Everywhere dinners in February. Before we got together we read the excerpt from an interview with Ardea Skybreak about the Dialogue (“ARDEA SKYBREAK, ON ATTENDING THE DIALOGUE BETWEEN BOB AVAKIAN AND CORNEL WEST”). Among us were an artist, a middle school teacher in an oppressed neighborhood, and a social worker who has worked with diverse communities.
We had all been at the live Dialogue and it was exciting to be taken back to that day in November in Riverside Church by Ardea Skybreak’s poetic and deep description of what that was like. But even more, through her eyes, we got a greater appreciation for what BA and Cornel West were doing in that Dialogue, why many more people should see the new film in this moment, and how much can be learned by going back to it more than once.
I wanted to give Revcom’s readers a flavor of how the interview with Ardea Skybreak impacted this group of young professionals in working out their own thinking about the world and revolutionary transformation in this moment.
Teacher: Reading the interview with Ardea Skybreak made me think about the stamp the Dialogue put on the movement and the moment since the non-indictments in Ferguson and Staten Island. BA and Cornel West were really modeling something in how they related to each other, which I didn’t recognize until I read the interview.
Artist: In the interview, Ardea Skybreak, who is a scientist, is talking about BA, the revolutionary communist leader, as a scientist at the top of his field. This really means retraining how we think. We’re taught that science is just “chemistry” and so on. I never would have considered becoming a “scientist.” I missed that boat! But pushing myself to be a scientist now, has to do with how you look at the world and analyze it. This is a great thing about working with the Party [the Revolutionary Communist Party, which BA leads]. There’s a game plan for revolution, you work together and sum up what you accomplished and what people said. You’re learning from the standpoint of that game plan.
Social worker: BA unpacks how he came to the conclusions he came to; he’s a social scientist looking at all of it: art, culture, looking at all different sources, it’s a large net. It’s not his “narrative”—he’s working on how to get at the truth.
Artist: This Dialogue was about a whole different future society. People’s sights are so low, you hear a lot about how fucked up this is and how fucked up that is, and it’s very grounded just in what is going on now and not stepping back to what can we imagine for the future. People who are supposed to be for women’s rights have such low demands and low sights, you’ll be happy to take anything like a “fair wage” or a handful of women CEOs. What about a whole new society, not based in what exists now? Let your imagination run wild! BA lays out the biggest thing you can dream, and how it could be reality, so let’s organize and push people around that. Not the drumbeat of bullshit like body cameras for police, the “be realistic” shit that leaves things the way they are.
Teacher: Right! Woo hoo, we’re supposed to be happy about a plus-size model in Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition! They put out this bullshit to just try to keep us from erupting.
But if people’s basic needs aren’t met, it’s very hard for them to have time to even imagine something different. BA makes this point that the same reasons people are in this shit and have trouble being in the movement for revolution is why we need revolution. I have one student who has a lot of problems and does a lot of really screwed up shit. So her mom comes in for a conference and she’s dragging this big oxygen tank. And she’s not old. How does something like this impact on how the kids are struggling? This woman is taking care of her kids and her grandniece and all kinds of stuff, it’s an everyday struggle. How does this family sit around and talk about a future society? This is exactly the reason we need something totally different. Screw this!
That part where BA says, “It’s not weak to love!”—I want to put that up in my classroom, because these teenage guys only know they have to be hard, they can’t show weakness... The parts of the Dialogue where BA talks about what the police do to the youth... this names what they feel, they need to see it.
Artist: How soon could this actual revolution that BA is working to lead happen? It’s the Selma 50th anniversary; this kid just got killed by the cops in Madison, Wisconsin. I see a lot of random tweeting now about how “the whole damn system is guilty.” How fast can things happen? Some of us have trouble if we’ve been strategizing and expecting this for a long time, imagining how things can change very fast. But the anger could boil over very quickly, especially among the people who could be the backbone of a revolution. Look what happened when people stood up in Ferguson and didn’t back down. They (the system and the authorities) let it go for a little while—after so much talk about the people in Egypt resisting dictators, it didn’t look so good to the rest of the world when they suppress protest and we’re supposed to be spreading “democracy.”
Social worker: But they still suppressed it, it didn’t matter.
Teacher: People were standing up and fighting the power, and transforming the people, in Ferguson. It didn’t just go directly to sparking a revolution, but what was accomplished and how does that get taken forward? The New York Times headlines on any given day are mostly indicating that a whole lot is really wrong! There is more questioning of the legitimacy of this system. How can people fight the power in more strategic ways and with more people knowing how to do that and then the scales could start to tip to where a revolution could be possible? I’ve also said, “Well, that didn’t work” when people have stood up in the past and it didn’t just keep going. But maybe that’s not the way to look at this. If people don’t keep coming out every time, does that mean we were wrong, or we lost? I don’t think so.
Artist: I think lots of people need to see this film right now because it helps people realize what’s possible when they can see a model of what the future could look like and how to get there, like seeing BA and Cornel West argue and get into it in a principled way. These are two people with very different ideologies and they share a strong and deep love for humanity. You see in the Dialogue how they wrangle with each other and come to some truth about getting people out of this situation, how they are leading people. Everyone won’t have the same ideology and think the same way all the time, but if at the heart you want change, you have to figure out the way out. If you feel like you have no power and nothing to contribute, you will go with whatever your situation is. But if you were inspired by seeing people standing up in Ferguson and not backing down, this is just a little bit of the kind of power you can have and it’s your responsibility to be part of a movement to bring a new society into being.
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