Revolution #229, April 15, 2011
From a Reader:
Thoughts on the Left Forum and BAsics
I was recently able to attend the Left Forum in New York, an annual gathering of progressive thinkers struggling with some important questions. It was very interesting for me to see the line developed by Bob Avakian in contention with other lines. Among many of the panelists and attendees, there was a spirit of disgust with the way things are now and a yearning for something far better. On that basis, there was a lot to unite with. But at the same time, there was a lot to contend with. Many people's understanding of the fundamental problem and solution was often unscientific and lacking in scope. When held up against the visionary work of Bob Avakian, it was clear what line actually had the scientific grounding and the recognition of the full breadth of what we're confronting, and therefore carried the only real possibility of leading to the full emancipation of humanity.
As I sat through different discussions and heard various panelists and attendees speak, I constantly had the same thought: "Man! I wish I had my copy of BAsics already!" [ed. note: this was before BAsics became available] For so many questions that were asked, I knew there was a quote from Avakian that would sharply and scientifically speak to what was being raised. For example, in one panel I attended, a young woman who looked about student-age said that she truly felt that capitalism itself was the problem, but that she was struggling with what she could do now to bring a new world into being. At the time, of course, I thought: "I wish I had my BAsics!" Because I knew that there is a quote from BA about how we need to be working now to prepare for and hasten the emergence of a revolutionary situation and a revolutionary people. But I couldn't remember the quote fully and speak to the whole breadth of what he lays out.
Well, the good news is that I do have my copy of BAsics now! And here is that quote:
"We hear from masses of people—and I've see this in reports recently—statements or sentiments along the following lines: 'I know revolution is needed,' or 'I know revolution is what's gotta happen at some point,' but 'what do we do now, what do we do in the meantime?'
"Answer? Make revolution. Fight the Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution. Prepare minds and organize forces for the time when a revolutionary situation and a revolutionary people, in the millions and millions, emerges. Work actively and consciously to bring this time closer and to bring things to where we are in the best position to act decisively when this does come about. Devote your life, energy, daring and creativity to confronting, fighting through and overcoming the obstacles to making this happen, and to winning more and more people to doing the same."
- From BAsics, Chapter 3: Making Revolution; Quote #31
Over and over again, the same phenomenon happened. Someone in the audience or one of the panelists would raise a point or a question that really was demanding me to read aloud from BAsics. I got a living sense of what a tool this book will be, not only for people just starting to get familiar with Avakian and the revolutionary movement, but also for people who have been studying his work to get into it much more deeply and to wield the line developed by Avakian and the RCP; to demarcate what the fundamental nature of this system is and how to break free of today's oppression and to get to a far better, more liberating world.
In a funny way, this experience made me think of those iPhone commercials—the ones that present problems like finding a recipe or a map and end with "There's an app for that." When we confront the questions that come out in the process of making revolution and transforming the people, we can answer with confidence, "There's a quote for that!" and then pull out our copies of BAsics and really get into it.
Here are some more examples of times when I thought: "There's a quote for that!"
1. In one discussion, a young man who looked to be in his late 20s said that he was struggling to understand the class dynamics of the U.S. and that he didn't know whether there was a real proletariat in this country because many factory workers could lead "comfortable" lifestyles. The panelists spoke to this question by saying that because of the work of the unions many factory workers were able to ascend to the middle class, and so maybe a better understanding of the proletariat in this country is that it is made up of cubicle workers who are making less money and aren't able to unionize. I was really struck that not a single panelist talked about the situation for Black people in this country in relation to this question! I thought it was a profoundly inaccurate understanding of the true class dynamics at play.
But don't worry: There's a quote for that!
"If you want to talk about who owes whom—if you keep in mind everything the capitalists (as well as the slave owners) have accumulated through all the labor Black people have carried out in this country and the privileges that have been passed out to people on that basis—there wouldn't even be a U.S. imperialism as there is today if it weren't for the exploitation of Black people under this system. Not that the exploitation of Black people is the whole of it—there has been a lot of other people exploited, both in the U.S. and internationally, by this ruling class. But there wouldn't be a U.S. imperialism in the way there is today if it weren't for the exploitation of Black people under slavery and then after slavery in the sharecropping system and in the plants and other workplaces in a kind of caste-like oppression in the cities."
–From BAsics, Chapter 1: A Worldwide System of Exploitation and Oppression; Quote #12
2. One common topic of discussion was leadership and what kind of leadership and organization people thought was needed in order to create change. In one discussion, a panelist said that she thought the best way to create change, and even challenge this system, was by embodying the spirit of "Think Global, Act Local," and that people should set up small local organizations that address local problems, such as land conservation. I was thinking that this doesn't even begin to address the real magnitude of what is created by this system, let alone what it will take to bring a new one into being!
I was thinking: There's a quote for that!
"What kind of organization you see as necessary depends on what you're trying to do. If all you're trying to do is make a few reforms, if you're not trying to really confront and deal with this whole system, if you're not trying to make revolution and transform society and the world, then you don't need this kind of vanguard party."
–From BAsics, Chapter 6: Revolutionary Responsibility and Leadership; Quote #2
3. In another discussion, in response to comments from another revolutionary, one person said "Look, what you're talking about, getting to a new world, that sounds great. But, it's never going to happen. We need to think more practically."
Of course, though: There's a quote for that!
"This is not a fantasy. These are the things that have been done in socialist societies that have existed—or they're things that, on the basis on that experience, we have summed up and are learning more deeply need to be done. This is all possible. It's not some pipe dream. This is what happens when the masses of people rise up and take control over society and this is what waits to be done."
–From BAsics, Chapter 2: A Whole New--And Far Better--World; Quote #9
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