Revolution#124, March 23,2008
New York City: March 9 Presentation on Bob Avakian’s New Synthesis
A Journey into Possibilities of a New World
(see below for locations and dates of programs in other cities)
Sunday afternoon, March 9, in New York City: 220 people made their way to hear the first in a series of talks around the country: “Re-envisioning Revolution and Communism: What Is Bob Avakian’s New Synthesis?”
The event promised the first popular presentation of Bob Avakian’s new synthesis—what Avakian himself, in his talk “Making Revolution and Emancipating Humanity,” has called his “recasting and recombining of the positive experience so far of the communist movement and of socialist society, while learning from the negative aspects of this experience.” People heard about it from internet listings or radio announcements, or a flyer or poster. But most who came were among the hundreds and thousands who were reached by revolutionary activists, friends, and others who spread the word and kicked off debate and discussion in just a few short weeks before the event.
Youth came from the neighborhoods and high schools of Harlem, Brooklyn, and Washington, D.C. And there were also people who work with youth—teachers, mental health workers, and those involved in social programs—who are up against trying to keep a generation out of the meatgrinder of this system. Revolution Books staff people and young revolutionaries had visited dozens of high school and college classes in the weeks before the program to invite students and teachers, and to start opening up the questions that were going to be addressed, and to get out flyers and posters. One high school teacher showed the “Imagine” section of the DVD talk by Bob Avakian, Revolution: Why It’s Necessary, Why It’s Possible, What It’s All About, which captures what state power in the hands of the people can accomplish, and studied sections of Avakian’s “Making Revolution and Emancipating Humanity” series with his students.
People from World Can’t Wait were there, along with university students studying Marxist philosophy. Ex-Black Panthers and other veterans of revolutionary struggles, who now find themselves challenged by Avakian’s re-envisioned revolution and communism, turned out. Two out-of-state high school students drove several hours each way after being encouraged to come by their teacher. One crew of youth kicked up a raucous argument about communism and revolution in the subway car back to Brooklyn, and has been debating and telling others what they missed in the days since. Revolution Club members built for the program and also came with a range of questions about what the new society would be like and how to get there.
Just about everybody who came followed the two-hour talk intently. They got a vital and gripping journey into the possibilities for a whole different world—and a different way of thinking and approaching the world, and of transforming it. Lenny Wolff’s presentation addressed Chairman Avakian’s synthesis of the methods and experience so far of communists leading people to understand and revolutionize the world, on three levels: philosophically, politically, and in the realm of strategy for revolution, especially in a country like this. Wolff explained that Avakian’s new synthesis comes out of 30 years of hard, scientific work—and that one afternoon could only hope to introduce people to some of the major outlines of it. The point is to give people a sense and a springboard to get more deeply into this work.
The presentation involved a high level of science—but that’s necessary, as emcee Sunsara Taylor told the audience in her introduction of the speaker, if you’re really serious about revolution. She explained that there would be parts of the speech that everyone could relate to, and parts that people would have to—and did—stretch and strain for. The seriousness with which people responded, and the hunger of most people to stay as long as they could to discuss and debate—people went at it for nearly three hours of question-and-answer and then free-form discussion after the speech—bore out that there are a lot of people who are way past ready to get this new synthesis. Indeed, it is up to communists, and revolutionary-minded people more generally, to take it out there and engage people with this.
A carload of suburban anti-war and World Can’t Wait activists told about their excited conversation on the way home and one of them remarked, “This is a road map to get out of this shit... This is not just mouthing off about the system. Get on the road. This is not just saying that the system is fucked up but this is a way out.”
One New York City youth wanted to know how to join the revolution and how the revolution will bring forward a new generation. He said, “We need more young people, because the young people need to know what’s needed to be done to get there.... We let, including us young people, including myself, we let society get the best of us. We’re so used to the bling, we’re so used to wearing the clothes, whatever, that’s all basically getting us away from what’s really happening... Everything he said made sense. He broke it down in a logical, scientific way, and he also did it on the effect on society, on the lower levels. So he basically touched on everything, so people would hear this and it would really change their minds.... There’s a lot of youth that don’t like what’s going on here, or in other countries.... There are so many kids in the Brooklyn schools and the Manhattan schools that have to deal with the metal detectors and all that. If you reached out to them, they would join the program.”
Many commented about how sweeping the presentation was, and that it “challenged people to think on a whole other level,” as one middle-aged woman put it. A graduate student in international public health said, “It was incredibly interesting and wide‑ranging. I really got a sense of what Avakian is doing that is new, and it is really needed in terms of an alternate vision for the world.”
A young Mexicano fast food worker said he had to come because he considers himself a communist and it means a lot to him and to people around the world that there is a party that could lead a revolution in this country. What stood out to him about the program is that people were challenging the speaker and not just accepting everything he said. “Criticism of this sort actually helps the party,” he said. “This is what I expected to see, people coming to learn more about Avakian and to see if revolution is actually possible and how it is possible.”
Some experienced and scientific communists who have been following Avakian’s work remarked that the speech showed the living interconnections between the philosophical, political, and strategic dimensions on a level they had not quite grasped before. One compared it to the work of T.H. Huxley to popularize Charles Darwin’s thesis to a broad audience. This speech started to do just that: and many looked into Avakian’s works (which were referenced in the speech) at the Revolution Books table, and a special pre-release of his new book, Away With All Gods! Unchaining the Mind and Radically Changing the World, sold out on the spot.
Young people from the neighborhoods—one of whom quietly asked some revolutionary leaders if they believed “in their heart of hearts” that a revolution like this could really happen in this country—are still debating, wrangling over the concepts of the speech. Two nights later, 70 people came to Revolution Books for a follow-up session with Raymond Lotta focusing on the accomplishments and shortcomings of the socialist societies up to now—and the vistas opened up by Avakian’s new synthesis. And various groups of people are getting together for more discussion, making plans for taking revolution and communism out to the people, and doing events in Spanish and in the neighborhoods and schools.
More major events are scheduled in Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco on March 22. The New York City event shows both the tremendous importance of these talks, and the big basis for them to connect. To our readers: not only should you be sure to come to these events, you should do all you can to take this to people you know and bring them out. And watch the pages of Revolution for
Saturday, March 22nd • 1 to 5 pm
525 S. State Street
At State & Congress
Red line to Harrison stop, then walk 1 block north.
Brown, Pink, Orange lines to Library stop, then walk 1 block east, 1 block south
Simultaneous Spanish interpretation will be available
Venue is accessible
Parking/ride sharing – call for information
*This program is not sponsored by or affiliated with University Center
Saturday, March 22nd • 1 to 5 pm
The New LATC
514 S. Spring Street
One block east of Broadway
in downtown LA between 5th & 6th
Simultaneous Spanish translation will be available
Saturday, March 22nd • 2 pm
Black Repertory Theater
3201 Adeline St, Berkeley
1 block south of Ashby BART
Spanish translation will be available
$10 sliding scale admission
For further information: 510-848-1196 / www.revolutionbooks.org
Download PDF flyer for Berkeley event
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