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A Message from the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA to the People's Climate March:
Capitalism Is Destroying the Planet—We Need Revolution, Nothing Less!
September 15, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
The Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP) has joined with efforts to make the People's Climate March as powerful as possible. Let's go forward and step up the fight to wrench the planet off the path of destruction it is on.
We DO need to "change everything," as the call for the march has declared. But that cannot happen under this system—with its economics, its politics, and its priorities. To "change everything" will take revolution, nothing less!
Capitalism Is Not and Cannot Be a Fit Caretaker of the Planet
We need the most scientific understanding of the physical processes of climate change. But we ALSO need the most scientific understanding of why those sitting in the world's seats of power are not addressing this insane trajectory in the ways required to actually stop and reverse it.
A global system of ruthless competition for profit among capitalists and nation-states cannot and will not meet the needs of humanity. It cannot stop waging wars and occupations, or safeguard the rich diversity of life on this planet.
The problem is bigger than "big oil"... bigger than "the corporations." Capitalism-imperialism is a whole profit-based system that treats people as objects of exploitation and the natural world as something to be grabbed and poured into production for profit. Fossil fuels are foundational to the profitable functioning of this system and its strategic requirements, including the U.S. military.
Revolution Is the Only Viable Solution
This Revolution special issue focuses on the environmental emergency that now faces humanity and earth's ecosystems. In this issue we show:
the dimensions of the emergency...
the source of its causes in the capitalist system, and the impossibility of that system solving this crisis...
a way out and way forward for humanity—a revolutionary society in which we could actually live as custodians of nature, rather than as its plunderers.
Only the most radical revolution in human history—communist revolution that liberates human beings and ends the ravaging of the planet—can cope with the environmental crisis on the scale and with the urgency required.
Bob Avakian has developed a vision, a framework, and strategy for a revolution that can emancipate all of humanity and safeguard the planet. The Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal), of the RCP, makes as one of the foundational principles governing the new society, "protecting, preserving, and enhancing the ecosystems and biodiversity of the planet for current and future generations."
We need a new society and economy in which human potential can flourish and that provide the means to address the environmental emergency.
It won't be easy. But this is our only chance of achieving a truly sustainable society—and beginning the process of restoring the ecosystems of the planet.
We Are Building a Movement for Revolution
Some say we can't "wait" for revolution... the crisis is so urgent and accelerating. Yes it is. But should we deal with this emergency by hoping for capitalism to "come to its senses"—or by putting an end to a system that has brought us to this precipice?
And we are not waiting! We are standing up and fighting back now. We are building a movement for this revolution.
To those fighting to save the planet, we say: Be true to your convictions—whatever the pressures and difficulties. Don't lower your sights when you come up against the magnitude of what we are facing, or when the people running this system display their enormous power and ruthlessness.
And the revolution will be there with you: in the midst of important battles, standing side by side, bringing our full revolutionary perspective into the swirl.
Let's get an exciting process going: opening up all kinds of discussion, dialogue, and debate... learning from each other... mobilizing millions. And not stop until we have truly changed the course of everything.
Some Key Principles of
Socialist Sustainable Development
The following are some key principles of socialist sustainable development, which appeared as part of the special
issue of Revolution newspaper on the environment (Issue #199, 4/18/10, revcom.us/environment). These principles,
though not exhaustive, concentrate an orientation that enables socialist society to begin to tackle the environmental
emergency with a global and internationalist perspective. In putting these principles before people today, we hope to
open up debate and discussion that can contribute towards raising understanding of what we are confronting—and
raise sights about the viability and desirability of communist revolution.
A. The International Dimension and Internationalism
The socialist state must use its strengths and resources to promote revolution. The new socialist state must be a "base area" for the world revolution. The emancipation of humanity demands this. The preservation of the planet demands this: for humanity to deal with the environmental crisis on the requisite scale and with the requisite urgency requires a totally different economic and social system and set of values. That requires socialist revolution and the spread of that revolution.
The new socialist society will put the interests of the preservation of the ecosystems of the entire planet above its own national development. It will encourage and give scientific, technical, and organizational backing for bold international initiatives to prevent widespread ecosystem collapse of coral reefs, rainforests, critical savanna regions, etc.
The new society will share scientific knowledge and technology with the rest of the world. It will contribute research to aid other parts of the world in dealing with various aspects of the environmental emergency—for instance, helping populations in low-lying poor countries deal with rising sea levels and flooding resulting from climate change.
Such initiatives will require unprecedented planet-wide cooperation of scientists and others, engagement of diverse populations and systems of governance, and the involvement of local communities. And the socialist state will seek to learn from the experiences, insights, and struggles of people around the world.
But for such initiatives to be truly effective and take hold over the long term, more of the world will have to break out of the capitalist stranglehold. Capitalist growth and development lead to massive environmental degradation. In the face of economic dislocation and societal breakdown, impoverished and desperate populations in vast parts of the world resort to environmentally destructive activities in order to survive. Civil wars fanned by the imperialists ravage land and water resources.
All of this emphasizes, again, why the new society must spread socialist revolution as far and wide as possible—and as fast as possible.
In its international relations, the new socialist society cannot be based on exploitation and plunder.
A revolution in the former United States will put an end to the pollution-intensive, cheap-labor, global manufacturing grids of production. The structure of production and the resource base of a new socialist economy will no longer rely on labor and materials from other countries—like cheap parts from hellish factories in Mexico and inflows of oil from abroad. The new society will provide technical and financial assistance for helping to clean up environmental damage in other parts of the world caused by the energy and mining operations, agribusiness and forestry, and industrial activities, as well as the export and dumping of toxic waste, of the former U.S. empire.
The new socialist state will immediately dismantle all military bases and occupations. It will vastly downsize the military industry and begin to convert huge components for productive, social use.
B. Consciously Planning and Regulating Growth; Protecting and Preserving a Variety of Ecosystems to Prevent Environmental Collapse and to Ensure the Health of the Planet for Future Generations
In place of the blind and environmentally reckless expansion of capitalism, a socialist sustainable economy will seek planned, regulated growth informed by:
Qualitative criteria. Production must be organized to meet the needs of the great majority of society—raising the quality of living—and to meet the requirements of advancing the world revolution.
Awareness of natural limitsand the interconnected web of fragile ecosystems. Socialist society must undertake the necessary large-scale conservation of wilderness tracts and critical natural areas—and buffer them from intrusion and development. It must utilize resources to sustain people in a way that will replenish renewable resources and conserve non-renewable resources.
Recognition of the historical legacy of U.S. imperialism's contribution to climate change. The United States and Europe are responsible for about 60 percent of fossil-fuel carbon dioxide emissions currently in the atmosphere. The new society must act radically and urgently to cut carbon emissions and aim for energy conservation in all spheres.
This overall orientation will not only influence the specific mix of what is produced and how it is produced in the new socialist society. This orientation will influence levels of output, including decisions to consciously restrict or cut growth in particular sectors contributing to climate change and straining the planet's ecosystems, and curbing the use of certain resources that are dwindling.
C. Transforming the Structure of Industrial Production, Agriculture, and Transport
The new socialist society will set out to transform the environmentally destructive structure and functioning of today's imperialist economy:
It must immediately begin to move decisively away from reliance on non-renewable and polluting fossil-fuel energy (oil, coal, and natural gas)—and to adopt and develop ecologically sound technologies, like solar, wind, and geothermal power. To move in this direction, the socialist economy must combine diversified large-scale with diversified small-scale production, and develop a rational mix of advanced and intermediate technologies.
Major efforts must be made towards reorienting transportation away from private automobile ownership and from the auto-highway and fossil-fuel-centered systems of transport. Safe and efficient mass transit will be given priority in all new development, restructuring, and research.
It will be necessary to develop agricultural systems based on principles of long-term land-use planning, comprehensive soil and water conservation, and agro-biodiversity. These agricultural systems—large, medium, and small-scale—must allow for technologies and practices that can be locally adapted, fitted to particular conditions, and that can respond to climate change and changes in demand. In reorienting agriculture, the goal must be to achieve high and sustainable yields of agricultural goods and healthful food products that minimize use of resources and minimize damage to nature and to people.
Socialist society must be working to make conservation of resources a standard in all aspects of economic and social life: in technology development, in production, in the consumer goods that are produced and how they are used. It must promote recycling and multi-use of materials and products—this in place of the irrational upgrading of products (annual "new models") and the wasteful consumption of materials of capitalist society.
D. A Different Kind of City and
Given their privileged position in the global division of labor, the imperialist countries have evolved in a certain way. Their economies, and where people work and live, depend on high levels of mobility, the automobile complex, and long-distance, energy-intensive supply chains.
The system of production in a sustainable socialist economy cannot be focused on this kind of supply and delivery system. It must aim towards a system of interchanges within local and regional economies functioning as part of a unified socialist economy.
Cities must become more sustainable—more capable of producing more to meet basic needs and requirements, including efforts to develop local urban food production. The huge and wasteful consumption of energy associated with the parasitic commercialization of the contemporary city—office structures serving global financial invest-ments, advertising, insurance, etc.—will be transformed. The kind of intensive and speculative commercial and residential development encroaching on "green spaces" in the areas outside of cities, in suburbs and "exurbs," will be put a stop to.
Economic-social planning will strive to connect work that is meaningful and creative with people's sense of community—and forge new relations between work and where people live. Planning will seek to create a new kind of "social space" in the cities, where people can interact, organize politically, create and enjoy culture, and relax. At the same time, planning must seek to break down the distinctions between the cities and the outlying suburban and rural areas—and find new ways to integrate the economic and social activities of these adjoining regions.
E. Struggling Against Consumerism
A sustainable socialist economy in the former United States will strive to produce a rational variety of consumer goods. But this will not be the same "consumer society" (it would take the resources of almost five earths if the rest of the world had the same ecological footprint of the average person in the United States).
The "convenience" of having Indonesian workers cater to the athletic clothing needs, or peasants and plantation workers in Kenya and Jamaica catering to the upscale coffee sensibilities of people in this society—that will be no more. The "convenience" of the "Wal-Mart price," based on super-exploitation and environmental damage abroad, will be no more (and Wal-Mart will be no more).
Consumer goods must be functional and durable (not the "used once and thrown away" of today). Society will pay attention to changing demand, taste, and aesthetic. But there will not be the same obsession with private consumption, with the need to define yourself on the basis of what and how much individuals own and consume. This will be a matter of education and ideological struggle in society.
With the transformation of social life—with the creation of more "social space" allowing for richer and more meaningful connectedness among people—new values can take hold. With people gaining greater awareness of humanity's connectedness to nature, and of the ecological cost that imperialist "consumerism" has exacted, attitudes can change.
F. Valuing the Planet, Becoming Caretakers of the Planet
There is an ecological imperative for us to care about and value the planet. We depend for our survival on the natural world, from green plants that produce oxygen to other living species that provide food and medicine; we cannot live without fresh water, nutrient-rich soils, and clean air. At the same time, we are linked with the natural world: through complex evolutionary chains and through networks of ecosystems that provide flows of energy for life to maintain itself.
There is a moral imperative to care about and value the planet. We must strive to become the stewards of the planet: protectors and enhancers of the natural world of which we are part, and with which we are always interacting and transforming. Knowing more about our connections with the natural world and our responsibilities to it also enriches us as human beings.
There is an urgent time line to act: if we do not protect and preserve fast-vanishing natural ecosystems around the world, if we do not move to stem climate change, this planet could very well become uninhabitable for billions of people, and possibly all of humanity.
This is our orientation. Revolution makes it possible to live lives worthy of human beings and to protect the environment. It is why socialist revolution, and the creation of a new socialist state in one or several countries, would have an incredible effect on the world. The establishment of even one new socialist state—especially in a significant country, in terms of geography and population—would dramatically change political alignments in the world. It would give hope and inspiration to people throughout the world. This heightens our determination to make that revolution and to call on others to join and contribute to this most vital undertaking.
"The U.S. Must Lead" in Solving the Climate Crisis? Excuse Us, But What Planet Do You Live On!?
September 15, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Some forces in the environmental movement say that to deal with the climate catastrophe, "the U.S. must lead."
Bullshit! This line comes straight from the U.S. ruling class—and can only lead to further ruin of the planet.
Actually, the U.S. has long been "leading" on climate change—as the largest destroyer of the planet and the largest producer of greenhouse gases historically. Its military "leads" as the single largest institutional consumer of oil, in order to carry out its murderous wars for empire.
And huge sections of America's governing officials and representatives don't even accept the science of climate change!
As for "climate president" Barack Obama...
* His administration has opened up vast new swaths of the Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, and federal lands to oil and gas exploration.
* Under Obama, the U.S. is on track to becoming the largest producer of oil in the world.
* The U.S. is now turning its vast new reserves of natural gas into weapons of great-power rivalry, as in its struggle with Russia over Ukraine.
* Obama maneuvered in 2010 to prevent the Copenhagen climate conference from achieving any substantive and binding agreements to tackle climate change.
Obama and the U.S. ruling class know climate change will bring disaster. But they can only deal with this from the economics and politics of capitalism-imperialism. And no matter what happens to the planet, they want to make damn sure this system survives and remains in power. So they try to fool people with puny "climate initiatives" and doubletalk, while they intensify the hunt for the fossil fuels that are destroying our planet.
As the UN climate summit meets in New York City later this month, the U.S. continues "to lead" as world-class oppressor and dominator. Bombing Iraq again... backing Israel in the slaughter of Palestinians in Gaza... carrying out the mass incarceration of Black and Latino people.
Getting behind "the U.S. must lead" means lining up behind its mangling and devastation of the world's people and the planet. To say "the U.S. must lead" is like saying Nazi Germany should have led in protecting the rights of Jewish people.
The world we need is not one where the "U.S. leads" but one where the U.S. empire is no more.
Capitalism is destroying the planet—we need revolution nothing less.
Why You Absolutely Need A Vanguard Party To Make Revolution
by Lenny Wolff | September 15, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Why do you need a party? And in specific, why do you need a vanguard party—that is, a party to which people dedicate their lives, heart and mind, body and soul, to making, leading and carrying forward revolution?
Actually, if all you’re trying to do is win some reforms within the current system, you don’t need such a party. Or if you’re trying to build alternate communities within the current society and hope that somehow that will change the whole thing... well, you don’t need a vanguard for that, either.
The Revolutionary Communist Party, USA has taken the responsibility to lead revolution in the U.S., the belly of the imperialist beast, as its principal share of the world revolution and the ultimate aim of communism. This is a great and historic undertaking—and all those who yearn to see this happen should rally to and support this vanguard, working together with the party, building support for it and, on the basis of taking up the cause and outlook of communism, joining it.
The emancipation of all humanity: this, and nothing less than this, is our goal. There is no greater cause, no greater purpose to which to dedicate our lives.
from the Constitution of the
Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, see entire Constitution here.
But what if you’ve come to understand that the current system cannot be reformed? What if you’ve come to see that people are capable of much, much better—that we could actually overcome the horror and misery and the spirit-crushing daily grind—through a revolution, aiming to uproot all exploitation and oppression and to change all of society? And what if you’ve come to know that without such a revolution, all the struggles... all the efforts to bring forward something new... will come to nothing in the end?
Revolution Is Very Complex (!)
Immediately, you come up against questions. What would go into such a revolution? Clearly, people would have to change their thinking on a massive scale. There would have to be a strategy developed to do that. People, in their millions, would have to learn how to distinguish between different ways forward that would be offered in a moment of extreme political crisis. There would also have to be a strategy and doctrine to enable people, in their millions, and as their thinking changed, to overcome an extremely powerful and repressive military machine when the time came to do that.
And if a revolution were to be made and power was seized, then what? Who would organize and lead hundreds of millions of people, with all different kinds of viewpoints, to build a whole new society, with a new economic system and new political structure? Who would lead people to overcome the deeply rooted American chauvinism, and build the new society in a way that did NOT continue to plunder oppressed nations—of the “global south”—and instead make sacrifices for the people of the world? And to do all this in a way that did not give up power... while making sure, at the same time, that that power was worth keeping?
Just think for a minute about all that. Revolution IS possible. But it is about the most complex thing you could imagine. Do you really think everything that goes into making revolution—even the essential things we touched on above... do you think that could just be accomplished by a loose grouping of people with no structure, and no system of leadership? Without a common method enabling them to scientifically and accurately analyze reality and figure out how to go forward? With no way to act in disciplined unison at crucial moments when everything is on the line?
The illusion that there could be “leaderless” revolutions... that “the people” on their own, without leadership and with all the contradictions among them, will somehow liberate themselves from those who oppress them... this has led, even with the best of intentions, to crushing defeat and redoubled horror by the powers-that-be—most recently in Egypt. Too much is at stake to not be real about this.
And if you do come to see that such a leading group would be needed, do you think that this could be pulled together at the last minute? Or would it need to be growing all the way through, spreading its roots and bringing in new people, learning better through everything how to work together to figure things out and lead people to act and to fight?
What a Vanguard Does
If you think through these questions, you are led to the irreplaceable need for the vanguard party. The vanguard dedicates itself to grappling with the problems of the revolution in the most thorough and scientific way possible, and then acting in unison to carry through the answers. The party uses the scientific method—grounding itself in this method and further developing and sharpening it at the same time. The party uses this to sum up its experience and that of others as well, in the political as well as other spheres, very broadly. The party works together, using this, to continually develop its understanding, correcting it where it is weak or one-sided or false... coming to more deeply know reality while it is continuing to act to change reality. The party is the vehicle to lead, and learn from, the masses, and to bring forward and train people from among the masses to take active, conscious roles in the revolution. It is structured in such a way to do all those things, to unleash and lead the maximum possible initiative and instill the necessary discipline to get to liberation. And party members voluntarily make a lifetime commitment to be part of this, to act with the discipline required through thick and thin, in order to hasten one of those rare times when revolution can actually be made... and to lead people to seize that opportunity when it emerges.
Without such a party, the masses really do have nothing. Yes, people will rise up in struggle—but, again, history has shown over and over that this struggle, left to itself and on its own, cannot go all the way to revolution... and once more the masses will be set back. The hour is just too late, and we know too much, to allow that to keep happening.
With such a party, the masses of people have a chance... a real chance... to emancipate themselves. And think about what that would mean—the billions breathing free, working together to go forward. Those who join the party do so because they understand this... and they understand that there is nothing greater that their own lives could be about than building and strengthening such a party, in order to carry through that revolution and go further toward emancipation.
There IS Such a Party—And That Carries Responsibilities
Today, within the U.S., we have such a party—the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA. This is a truly great thing. And we have a rare and unique leader in Bob Avakian, the Chairman of this Party, who has brought forward a deeper understanding of communism and revolution and provides practical leadership for this Party. This itself is precious—extremely precious. This Party has a very developed line on how to make and carry forward the revolution, based on that new understanding, drawing from and scientifically summing up the experience of hundreds of millions of people over decades of making revolution. This Party has cores who are with this line and help to develop and wield it, and people who will go into the thick of struggle and stand with masses and work to lead them.
But we’re also struggling to overcome problems and weaknesses. We’re racing to meet the huge challenges before us. And, to be frank, we are coming from behind and facing a life-and-death situation. We could make big advances... but we, and the whole cause of communism and revolution, could also be seriously set back. The future is unwritten. The stakes are very, very high.
Now is not the time for revolutionary-minded people to take having such a party for granted. Nor is it the time to take the leader of this Party, Bob Avakian, for granted. A leader like BA—someone who has given himself heart and soul to revolution, who has actually developed the theory of revolutionary communism to a new level, and who gives practical leadership to the party—comes along very rarely. There is a dimension in which the challenge in the article "Watching Fruitvale Station with Bob Avakian"—"We had better fully recognize and appreciate what we have in BA, and act accordingly"—applies here.
So, no. Now is definitely not the time for revolutionary-minded people to stand aside and hope things improve, to wish the Party good luck. Now is the time to think deeply about the question of what it will take for the Party to make the advances it most urgently needs to make, right now, to fulfill its role. And now is definitely the time, based on everything you have come to understand about the need for revolution and what that revolution requires, for everyone to think very deeply about their own role and responsibility within that process... their own role in making sure that the masses have the vanguard they need so that all this, to paraphrase BA in his powerful conclusion to REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS!, does NOT “come to nothing, and mean nothing.”
The Revolutionary Communist Party, USA has a Strategy for Revolution, and a slogan, Fight the Power, and Transform the People, FOR Revolution, which captures a whole process. Right now, we have what we call an ensemble of revolutionary work, which deals with some key focuses, even as we are tense to other things developing in unexpected ways.
What is an ensemble of revolutionary work? In music, an ensemble is a group that plays together. A jazz ensemble might have drums, piano, bass, and a horn in front. A great ensemble usually has a great front man or woman—who carries the lead tune much of the time, sets the tone and direction of the piece, and brings out the best in everyone. Other players weave in and out. If everyone's playing the same thing, the song won't take flight. But if everyone is just playing their own part, not listening to the whole song, and not following the lead, the piece as a whole goes nowhere.
In the RCP's ensemble of revolutionary work, BA Everywhere—the campaign to raise big money to spread the word on the vision and leadership of Bob Avakian, the leader of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA—is front and center. Why? Because this is the vision and leadership for a whole new world. Without it, everything—including people's thinking—stays locked within the terms of the way things are. The ensemble includes uniting with everyone who is ready to, or can be won to take a determined stand against mass incarceration of Black and Latino people and against the enslavement and degradation of women. Along with connecting people with Bob Avakian, the second key player in the RCP's ensemble of revolutionary work is revcom.us/Revolution—reaching hundreds of thousands, then millions. At the core of this movement for revolution: the Revolutionary Communist Party. If all the elements of this ensemble are mixing and meshing—impacting society, setting different terms for people, and transforming how people think and feel—then under conditions we are waiting for, but actively getting ready for, there could be a serious chance of winning a REAL revolution that would transform EVERYTHING. And here's what else you need to know: This ensemble has a place for YOU!
Excerpts from an interview with Ardea Skybreak: On Attending the Dialogue Between Bob Avakian and Cornel West
"It was like there was magic in the air. It was one of the most hopeful things that I've seen in a very long time. I think it was historic in many different dimensions: in terms of the topic that was approached; the people who were involved in it, the two speakers; the moment in time. I felt like I was able to see a great demonstration of morality and conscience applied to dealing with the problems of humanity—that both speakers stood out this way."
On March 27, 2015, The Michael Slate Show will air this interview with Andy Zee, of Revolution Books and the co-director of the upcoming film, Revolution and Religion: The Fight for Emancipation and the Role of Religion; A Film of the Dialogue Between Cornel West and Bob Avakian and Annie Day, of The Bob Avakian Institute who also co-produced the film. They discuss the historic significance of this film and give a flavor of why people should come out across the country to theatrical premieres this Saturday, March 28 or watch it online at revcom.us.
» Students, Basic People, and the Revolution Club Mix It Up About "Why Are We Still Fighting for Justice in 2015"—Watching and Wrangling Over Excerpts of Revolution and Religion; A Dialogue Between Cornel West and Bob Avakian Read more
The Dialogue audience was invited to write questions for the speakers. More than 200 questions were submitted. Here are two questions that Bob Avakian and Cornel West addressed—see more at "Questions from People."
"For many Black and Brown people who believe in Jesus Christ and rely on him for salvation, how do they square their religious faith, or can they square their religious faith, with a revolutionary mindset that does not look to heaven to fix problems on Earth, because many will not give up their God?"
"How in this world are we, the oppressed, to accomplish true revolution peacefully, when in reality, the powers-that-be have all the artillery to kill, while all we have are our voices and our fists? How do we compete? There's no 'win' in this picture for the oppressed, as I can see. Please shed some light on this."
Cornel West and Bob Avakian came together and can work together and fight against injustice, mass genocide and racial profiling against young Black men. They have their differences, but they can work together. I joined the Black Panther Party in 1968. We used to patrol the police who were harassing people. I was with Bobby Hutton when he was murdered by the police. You still have exploitation and being discriminated against today. It's still going on. I saw the trailer for the film and I want to see the rest of the film.
Terry Cotton, Black Panther Alumni
“We Need a Way Out!”
A small group of women who were formerly homeless and had lived on “Skid Row” in LA came together to watch the Trailer and the new clip, “Why Are We Still Fighting For Justice in 2015?.” This area is where the LAPD recently murdered Africa, an unarmed Black man, captured on video and seen on YouTube by 7 million people in the day after the brutal, cowardly murder. Two of them had never seen the Dialogue, nor heard either of the speakers before. They huddled around a smart phone to watch the Trailer and the clip—and were captivated by what they heard. Afterward they said:
They are both telling the truth. People from Skid Row need to hear this. I want to see the whole thing... In Skid Row you feel so trapped. People think of people there as drug addicts, but most people there are just down on their luck. There’s professionals there, intellectuals, women escaping abuse, people come from all over the country because they think California is better, but end up on Skid Row. They are coming for a better life, but get treated like animals. How can people get out of this madness? You are in a hole and you keep trying to get out, but the system keeps dragging you down. We need a way out!” The women made plans to saturate Skid Row and the more gentrified nearby downtown area with postcards and posters for the Dialogue Film Premiere.
“People Were Feeling It.”
...People the system says are the worst of the worst can change and be part of this. If you don’t get that part you are missing a big part of what BA’s speech is about.
When BA talked about how the world could be different in the “What If...” part of the speech, almost everybody in that section was in tears, including me. People were feeling it.
Challenge yourself, think about revolution, hear what two revolutionary thinkers are thinking in late 2014, what their thoughts are about revolution and building a post-capitalist society, and then challenge yourself to think you can get there any other way...
...Bob Avakian [is] probably familiar in talking about revolution and for taking the side of it, and you throw in religion, and obviously someone who’s a very declared atheist throughout his career, and then when religion is tossed on the table, along with revolution, it really becomes revolution and the condition of man. So there’s a deep philosophical component to this. And then the inverse of that is true. Cornel West having to respond in the same manner—deeply philosophically, but also the social critique and the vision of the future from Cornel West.
(Alan Minsky, Interim Program Director, KPFK Radio in Los Angeles)
(see full interview)
What I learned from the Dialogue is that we can change this whole damn system that’s guilty as hell. We certainly and most seriously need a revolution so our Black and Latino kids can rise up and be a part of our country instead of ending up dead or locked up because they are separating our families.
(Woman from Ferguson, Missouri who attended the Dialogue)
Right out of the gate, boom, BA went after religion! I thought, Oh no, he’s going to go there... I really respect him because he is not going to compromise, and I can see why Cornel really respects him, too. I can’t say I agree with all of what he says, but this guy is really honest.
“Prophetic elders with breadth, stature and conviction.”
It was great and very powerful. I want to highlight both of them, Cornel West and Bob Avakian. They were able to agree and disagree. They are both prophetic elders and I got a sense of their breadth and stature and conviction and how that all meshes with what’s happening, particularly to what’s happening in light of the nationwide protest that jumped off in the wake of Ferguson.
(Activist/Writer/Poet, after viewing the Trailer for the film)
One guy we met said that just talking about all the murders by police gets him angry, but that he would check out the revolution and donated $14. Then we showed him the trailer. Half-way through watching the trailer, he pulled out $40 and bought 2 tickets. He said that with all the divisions among the people, he was struck by the unity and level of discussion between CW and BA.
( BA Everywhere organizer on showing the Trailer on the street)
They [BA and Cornel West, at the Dialogue] said it’s always the Black people that get killed for no reason. What surprised me? Knowing that it’s always us—like my brother who was killed by police. You shoulda came because it gives you all the information about WHY most of our black people are getting killed for no reason.
(Twelve-year-old Black youth from Chicago who attended the Dialogue)
It was so beautiful how BA and Cornel West talked about the music in the 1960s. How BA got into the influence of the movements among the people that helped create different music, and how what is happening now in society can influence the culture too, like the people beginning to stand up in Ferguson inspired the J. Cole song. People think communism would be boring or stale—but why would it be? What people get enjoyment out of now mostly just sucks! In a new society you wouldn’t have your escapism, your ‘real housewives,’ this dumb shit and gossip that we get sucked into. But BA is funny! That Ussain Bolt stuff that BA said during the Dialogue, we were cracking up! You need to laugh, you need to have heart and soul.
(Artist who attended the Dialogue)
The Bus Ride Home—Filled with the Spirit of the Dialogue: “I wish life could be like this experience on this bus all the time...”
“Science and a Game Plan for Revolution.” In the interview on revcom.us with Ardea Skybreak, who is a scientist, she 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.
(Artist who attended the Dialogue)
“The role of today’s Democratic Party seems to be a stumbling point for some...”
I am overwhelmed by the scope of the problem, I am just coming to understand that my vote is not going to bring the change we need and that the current cast of characters is actually part of the problem, not the solution. My impressions reflect my point in a personal journey; I know that others in Riverside Church had their own experiences. I know that as time passes I will think of other points and consider other ideas. But the importance of this moment will always stay with me. Rather than being a single, isolated voter alone in a little booth I was one of hundreds, gathered from across the country, together to share questions, concerns, and ideas. Being together and sharing the possibilities is so much better than being alone and in the dark. That is probably the most important thing I took away from this experience.
First Impressions of the PREMIERE of
the New Film of REVOLUTION AND RELIGION: The Fight for Emancipation and the Role of Religion; A Dialogue Between CORNEL WEST & BOB AVAKIAN
A correspondence from Andy Zee, co-director of the film
April 6, 2015
“This film brought an awareness that we do need an actual change....” A young Latino brother echoed what was felt by audiences across the country who came to the March 28 premieres of the new film of the historic Dialogue between Cornel West and Bob Avakian that took place last November at Riverside Church in New York City. Wherever you were coming from, whatever experience you have had with what this system does to people every day, whether this was your first encounter with the revolution or you’ve been fighting to get rid of this system your whole life, you came away from seeing REVOLUTION AND RELIGION feeling this brother’s sentiment.
In this correspondence, I am going to share some of my own and others’ first impressions. I urge everyone to watch, dig into, promote, and raise funds so that many more can experience and be moved by what Bob Avakian and Cornel West did on November 15, 2014.
Seeing the film on the big screen was special. Look, there was nothing like the excitement of being at Riverside with 1,900 people “live,” experiencing Bob Avakian and Cornel West together on this topic—I won’t ever forget it—being a part of something really historic.
Yet, watching this on film is just a different experience: profound and provocative. I found myself drawn deeply into their insights, their arguments, how they related to each other and engaged and struggled with the audience, the different methods by which they analyzed and approached big questions. I found myself learning more and anew. The film brings you up close inside Cornel West’s and Bob Avakian’s presentations and exchange: the passion, the audacity, the science, the morality, the revolutionary substance. Two courageous voices modeling a morality that refuses to accept injustice—pouring heart and soul into standing together challenging all of us to fight for a world worthy of humanity.
I attended the New York City premiere at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. It was fitting that this film was welcomed and debuted at this beautiful institution that resonates with the history of Black people. Watching the film on the big screen at the Schomburg—a screen that must be 40 feet across and 20 feet high with big, rich sound—was new for me after months of being a part of editing the film on small monitors!
BA and Cornel West really are two courageous moral voices of this moment. They hold and fill the big screen. The topic, Revolution and Religion, is huge: The fight for the emancipation of humanity and, in that context, looking at religion, which holds sway over much of humanity, especially the oppressed of the world, is an urgent question that demands and holds attention. But the dynamism and passion of both BA and CW, their humor and substance, their concern and struggle for the future of humanity, amplify and resonate in a special way through the film. Whether watching in a dark theater or up close on computer, TV, or smartphone, the film brings you into a personal experience with “Cornel and Bob,” so much so that afterward people who had never met either of them came up to me speaking of them by their first names as if they were life-long friends!
1. SPREAD the TRAILER and new preview excerpt of the film everywhere online.
2. TWEET and RETWEET. Spread the hashtag: #M28CornelAndBAfilm. Retweet from @RevBooksNYC (Revolution Books NYC, co producer of the Dialogue film).
3. JOIN the Facebook event page and INVITE all your friends. There is one Facebook event page for the nationwide film launch at Dialogue Facebook event.
4. In everything you do online, send people to www.revcom.us.
Bob Avakian, "BA," has developed a new synthesis of communism that opens up the possibility of a radically new world through revolution. BA Everywhere is a national fundraising campaign to make BA's work and leadership known in every corner of society.