New York Van Tour Snapshot:

Conversations with People After Watching BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! Bob Avakian Live

August 25, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


From a volunteer with the BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! Van Tour in NY:

After a discussion of a piece on on “Two Different Epistemologies,” our team stepped out on Day 2 of the van tour differently. The question posed was how much are we going to people to seek validation for “our” ideas versus how much are we going to them with the need to not just look at their ideas on why things are so fucked up in the world, but also how they are thinking—by what method are they looking at the world? This is a pivotal point from the “Two Different Epistemologies” piece.

People viewing the BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! DVD in Washington Heights (a neighborhood of New York where many immigrants from the Dominican Republic live). Photo: Special to Revolution

In the film BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS!, Bob Avakian models the method throughout of digging into how people are trained to think. One woman who will be joining the van tour this weekend said that after watching the entire film over two days she was struck by how BA deals with elections with the comparison with the three-card Monty game (how the system actually draws people in to think that this is how one makes a difference), and she said this is an example of how he breaks everything down, by getting to the essence of how the system gets people to think, and that gets played on people, and by extension how we’re trained to think on every major question. Peoples’ mode of thinking has to change, and that’s true for the revolutionaries taking this BA Everywhere Van Tour to challenge how people look at things.

I spoke with a 45-year-old Puerto Rican confined to a wheel chair in the Bronx. He started to watch RNL for a few minutes and opened to me with “here’s what I have to say about that: I just feel that if we do good in the world—and this has to be everybody—then things could begin to change.” We had to go at this from several angles, including getting into why people make the choices they do and what a difference a radically new society and state would make so that people could actually do good. I found myself repeatedly saying, learning from BA: you have to pull the lens back and see the larger picture... Without a different state power and system, I argued, one that really encourages people to transform the way they think so that the ideas so common today like: “fuck everybody else,” “look out for #1,” are being struggled over and the basis for people to act this way is being worked on, there is no way people can do good that really counts. “Think about it,” I asked him. Where under this system of capitalism-imperialism, where this country goes all over the world plundering people, their land and resources, and, in this country where crime is a rational choice for youth in the ghettos and barrios as BA points this out, quoting a prominent conservative author, how are people supposed to act in that context? He was never confronted by someone asking these questions and wants to meet with us to take this film out.

I also spoke with a white, 30ish criminal defense attorney who stepped right up to the film and watched BA for a while, came up to me with a huge smile and said, “I was wondering when revolution and communism was going to make a comeback.” He wanted to know how much of a reach we have in the country, and thought this needs to get out there in a big way. He immediately connected to BA’s style and thought this is something he can bring some of his friends to hear. “I tried through my work to try to represent people who have been fucked over by the law, and I find this impossible to do. And every time I’m in court it is plain for anyone with eyes to see, and unfortunately many don’t want to see it, that the courts are stacked against Blacks and Hispanics, with priors [previous convictions] used to send them away forever.” I asked him if he ever thought about why this has been the history of this country for people of color. He actually hasn’t; he just thought people are racist as if it’s in white peoples’ DNA and this is where we got into things. I recalled something BA wrote awhile back entitled “What’s wrong with white people? Nothing a good revolution couldn’t solve,” I told him. We got into how white supremacy is embedded into this system and recalled BAsics 1:1 and 1:2. He never looked at the problem this way and more or less thought there was something inherent in our thinking. He was very open to this and said the idea of communism to him was not a bad one at all, and he didn’t say—in fact he talked against the idea of “Oh it’s a good idea but doesn’t work”—but he had no idea that over the past several decades someone has done the work of developing a new synthesis of communism. He wants to get together and take this discussion further, and I raised the idea of a fundraising event with friends of his.

On Day 3 of the van tour we stepped even more out there, not just ready to struggle with people but also with a scene created. It was a big plus to have Carl Dix out there speaking, drawing people in, in the context of the film over what the recent New York court ruling around Stop-and-Frisk means and doesn’t mean. (Read “Stop-and-Frisk Is Immoral and Illegitimate—Don’t Mend It. End It!” by Carl Dix at One of us chalked the sidewalk “Stop-and-Frisk is a crime. Don’t mend it—end it. We don’t need a civil rights movement, we need revolution. Check out” Dozens read this, came over to watch the film (over 60 people in a couple hours), and some wanted to get busy with us. And busy it was, in a good sense. An employee at the hospital we were in front of was taken by the chalked drawing and also came right up to me and we watched the film together. “Man—is he telling the truth.” Turns out he, like so many others attracted to BA Everywhere, had ideas that it was human nature that is the problem, and asked if we are up against that. In the film, BA addresses human nature, drawing out 150 years ago many people thought slavery was “perfectly natural” while few would advocate that now. I asked him: why is that? He looked at me and asked, “Can we sit down over coffee and get into this more”? I told him yes and we can go watch the film at Revolution Books the next night.


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