Revolution#113, December 23, 2007
Six Weeks Left in $500,000 Fund Drive
Needed… and Possible: A Great Leap
At the beginning of August, tens of thousands of a special fund drive broadsheet went out across the country: Truth…in Preparation for Revolution! That broadsheet announced a six month, $500,000 expansion and fundraising drive for Revolution newspaper.
The broadsheet begins:
At a moment when much of humanity finds itself in a living hell, when the horror of the U.S. occupation of Iraq threatens to escalate into a war against Iran, and when the future of the planet itself is threatened, Revolution newspaper must be out there much more boldly and much more broadly—exposing what is going on, revealing why, and pointing to a revolutionary solution in the interests of the vast majority of humanity.
With six weeks to go in this fund drive we confront this situation: Important new things have been accomplished and learned. If we build on them, then our goal of $500,000 is a hell of a stretch, but possible! Yes, there has been a “learning curve” among those taking up this fund drive. But the main thing we’ve learned is that making this fund drive a success requires taking out the politics of the fund drive broadsheet with boldness, struggle, hard work, creativity, and systematic and serious follow-up with people who are interested in this fund drive. And we’ve learned that we need to break with timidity, fear of “alienating” people, “playing it safe” (and guaranteeing failure) in the form of only approaching the “usual suspects,” and acting as if the stakes of this are not great.
This fund drive, along with other transformations in this paper, is necessary for Revolution newspaper to rise to really playing the role of what Lenin identified as the role of a newspaper like this: The better part of preparation—ideologically, politically, and organizationally—for revolution. Those are the stakes.
As of December 10, $253,315 has been raised in donations and pledges—just over half of our goal. In addition to donations to Revolution newspaper, this includes contributions to discrete projects that contribute to this newspaper’s reach and quality: The Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund which subsidizes subscriptions to Revolution for prisoners, and The Global Center/Woodward Jena Project which funds reporting that Revolution correspondents are doing from Jena, Louisiana on the case of the Jena 6.
Important things have been accomplished and learned in this fund drive that lay the basis for taking it to a whole other level. Individuals and “$100 Teams” have committed to raise money and gone out to the people to do that—spreading the reach of Revolution in the process. People with resources and influence have hosted fundraising events that have both raised money and turned on new people in the middle class to Revolution—in some cases agreeing to match funds raised by crews of proletarians for this fund drive. Gatherings to organize and strategize for this fund drive have brought together unique mixes of artists, intellectuals, high school students who have been going up against the war, proletarians of all nationalities, activists, college students, and others. Coming from different perspectives, they have all been engaging with each other over the importance of raising $500,000 for a newspaper that is the core of a revolutionary movement, and then in many cases going out and doing that.
The advances in this fund drive have been made by tapping in to profound discontent and outrage at the direction of things in this society, and connecting that with the revolutionary communist project. At the same time, to be blunt, too often this profound discontent, and the potential to connect that with this project, has not been correctly recognized and seized on in the form of not following up in a serious way with people who come forward. But if these relationships are developed and deepened, and if we build on these relationships to unleash new waves of outreach, this fund drive can kick into another level in the remaining six weeks.
When people seriously engage and struggle over this fund drive, heart-to-heart conversations over why donate to this cause have been an opportunity to dig into the special fundraising broadsheet—“TRUTH… in Preparation for REVOLUTION!”—and get deeply into what’s wrong with the world, what needs to change; and how this newspaper must be at the center of a growing revolutionary movement if any of the fundamental problems facing humanity are to be addressed in any really meaningful way.
Struggling with people to donate to Revolution compels revolutionaries to engage around the most important historic questions of the future of humanity. And this is a very good thing on all kinds of levels! Communism has been maligned and distorted by the powers-that-be, and their verdict is “accepted wisdom” these days. But a society based on the needs of humanity, not the drive of capital for profit and all the horrors that come with that, is in the interests of the vast majority of people, and ultimately of humanity as a whole. Every opportunity that presents itself to dig into this with people and unleash a movement for revolution and communism must be seized, not shied away from.
At the heart of opening up and plunging into the controversy over communism is the work of Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party. The series “Making Revolution and Emancipating Humanity” currently running in Revolution and available in its entirety online at revcom.us is an eye-opening, inspiring exposition of the most developed understanding on what communism is, and how to get there.
Of course the spectrum of people who support this fund drive, and Revolution newspaper, ranges far and wide—and includes many people who do not agree with communist revolution. They can and do develop their own perspectives in the course of bouncing off of what they get from Revolution. The fundraising broadsheet has important examples of the breadth of such support in the section, “What People Are Saying About Revolution Newspaper.”
A question has come up, both in organized fundraising events and in candid conversations, about the risks involved in supporting a revolutionary communist newspaper in the era of Guantánamo and “watch lists.” To be clear, donating to this newspaper is legal. On the other hand, this system is vicious towards dissent, and has a long history of trying to censor, shut down, and crush revolutionary politics. Because of the nature of this system, supporting this fund drive involves an element of risk and sacrifice. That risk and sacrifice are very much worthwhile. And this movement has to work to support people if they do come up against unjust repression for this.
Following Up…and Fighting Through
To succeed with this fund drive, the thousands of people who responded positively to it need to be followed up with. Fund drive broadsheets need to be gotten out widely and discussed. Pledges need to be collected. And new waves of people need to be drawn into the process and unleashed. All this will be a further opportunity to forge a still deeper relationship between the paper and the broader numbers of people who read and support it.
Selling subscriptions is a very important part of this process. The networks of regular readers of Revolution is uniquely equipped to respond to events, and is strategic to building a revolutionary movement. This is an element of Lenin’s point that a newspaper like this is the better part of preparation for revolution. And as part of this, subscribers are the most reliable base for fundraising.
If we build on what has been learned and accomplished, and find ways to both deepen the commitment of those who are already plugged in, and unleash everyone possible to continue to expand our outreach, we can fulfill our goal, and take a critical step in expanding the quality and reach of this paper. Making this happen, fighting through on it, has been and will be a matter of struggle. It must be fought through in practice.
What You Can Do:
- Commit yourself or organize a team to raise $100 or more. You’ll find 40 ways to raise $100 at revcom.us/drive/40ways.pdf, and more tips on pulling together a $100 team at revcom.us/drive/tips.pdf.
- Donate online / become a sustainer at revcom.us/drive. Or contact us at RCP Publications, PO Box 3486 Merchandise Mart, Chicago, IL 60654. Or call (773) 227-4066.
- Subscribe. See special subscription offer on page 15.
- Order “Wanted” t-shirts at revcom.us/revgifts
- Plug into local fundraising activities in your area—see contact information on page 2 or contact RCP Publications at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 773-227-4066.
The following projects are not part of Revolution newspaper/RCP Publications, but their missions contribute to expanding the distribution of, and improving the quality of Revolution.
- Donate to and learn about the Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund at ihcenter.org/groups/prlf.html. Make tax-deductible contributions using PayPal or your credit card. PRLF is a program of the International Humanities Center (IHC), a non-profit organization under section 501c3 of the IRS code.
- Tax-deductible donations for the Woodward Jena Project to fund the work of Revolution newspaper correspondents in Jena, Louisiana can be made to the Global Center, a 501c3 organization. Make checks (checks only) to “The Global Center” and designate “Woodward Jena Project” in the memo line. Mail to RCP Publications, PO Box 3486, Merchandise Mart, Chicago, IL 60654.
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