Meeting with an Attorney about Contributing to BA Everywhere

December 9, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


From a reader:

I met with a Black attorney, about 40 years old, and one of her areas of focus in her work is the school-to-prison pipeline, particularly as it relates to minority children with disabilities.

To arrange the meeting, I gave her the BA Institute mission statement and the Cornel West interview with Bob Avakian, and told her very briefly about the BA Everywhere campaign—that it is a campaign to raise the kind of money that can accomplish what is described in that mission statement, getting BA's works and vision known throughout society. I told her because of BA's work there is a viable vision and strategy for revolution and a radically different way the world could be. She had heard the interview with BA on the Michael Slate show, and we had talked once before about BA and the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America—just after the Trayvon verdict.

When I told her about BA Everywhere and asked her for the meeting, she wanted to know what we are raising money for. I told her we are not now raising money for one particular project, though there are several projects we've done more focused fundraising for—like raising over $20,000 during the summer for van tours that took this work into neighborhoods in the major cities. She seemed impressed by that. I told her now we are raising money to make a breakthrough overall—money that can go into national advertising and promotional campaigns for the films, van tours with volunteers going out to different parts of the country, etc. She asked how much we are trying to raise and I told her in the hundreds of thousands. She agreed to have lunch with me the next week to talk about this.

When we got together, to begin with I told her about BA, his background, the work he's done, what his work and leadership open up at this point in history, and what can be transformed by people throughout society learning about and engaging this—the real possibility of a radically different way the world can be. Throughout the discussion, I did a lot of talking and she mainly asked questions. I'm not sure I have all the questions here in the order in which she asked them (nor am I sure whether what I said was exactly in response to some of the particular questions or were woven into different parts of the conversation), but this gives somewhat of a picture.

One of the things I mentioned when talking about BA's work is his work on the "George Jackson contradiction"—what George Jackson identified about a section of youth who don't think they are going to live to be 18 or 21, and how to bring those youth into fighting for a future revolution. I talked about the ways the Black Panther Party went off in either direction in relation to that, and how this is something BA has spent a lot of time revisiting and really wrestling with in order to solve.

One question she asked was something like how does the Party go about building this movement outside of the existing structures that would confine it to the way things already are. I should have learned more about what she meant by this question. I kind of assumed she was talking about elections, and so I talked about how the goal is not elections, but real revolution and that is what we are building a movement for—with the strategy of fight the power, and transform the people, for revolution. This seemed to speak to her question in part, but later she referenced it again when talking about something else.

I asked her what she was thinking after I had laid out a lot about what is revolution and the new synthesis of communism. She said she likes everything I was talking about and thinks this is what's needed, but can't see how people would be discerning enough and thoughtful enough to take this up. She said there needs to be radical change. When I asked her about why, she talked about listening to NPR every morning and hearing the stocks report and wondering why people aren't angry and outraged at how the stocks keep going up and these people keep making all this profit, while she just came from a school where the children can't take the books home because there are not enough books. She is outraged by the inequality, and disturbed that there is not mass outrage. I talked about the basis for this revolution in the reality of what this system actually means for the planet and people here and around the world, and how there is a backbone force for revolution in potential among those for whom daily life is already a horror and chaos. I talked about how people's thinking is shaped by the workings of this system, including the verdicts on communism, how there are people searching out how to bring about radical change, but they are not reaching for communism and that has to be transformed—through setting the record straight about the historical experience and most importantly bringing people the work of BA in a way that they can begin to see it as legitimate, and a real alternative with organization, leadership, and a movement for revolution fighting for this in the world.

At some point when I was talking about the historical experience of the communist revolution in the Soviet Union and China, she said she doesn't remember anything she ever learned about that. I told her mainly we haven't been taught about it, and when we have it's been a lot of slander and propaganda. I showed her the special issue of the newspaper which she looked through for a couple minutes.

She also asked how do we gauge the influence we are having, the people who are being transformed and becoming part of this movement. I told her the website and newspaper readership is one important way. How many people are going to the website regularly, and how many are subscribing and getting the newspaper every week, but also in particular with the website people writing in, reporting on how this is being taken up in different parts of the country, writing in letters. I talked about how the newspaper is a key way in which we lead the masses, and I told her how there is a strong base for this in the prisons, where 800 people receive the newspaper weekly and the newspaper often prints letters from prisoners where you can actually see how people's thinking is being transformed. One example I gave of the role the paper is playing is the writing that's been done there about fighting for what's true vs. basing ourselves on what "everyone knows"—that this has been a topic of discussion and struggle within the ranks of the revolution and some of this is happening on the website.

At one point she asked how long I've been involved with this. When I told her 20 years, she wanted to know what is different now, or why I think there are changes that can come about now. I talked about what the times have been like, how this Party was the fruit of the struggle of the 1960s, but was forged as that upsurge was already dying out and then there were changes on a global scale together with an ideological onslaught against communism, the way the Party began to settle in, and the way BA called the question and launched a cultural revolution inside the Party, fighting to revolutionize the Party. Then I talked about what is happening in the world now, the difficulties faced by the U.S. imperialists in rivalry with other world powers and the infighting at the top over how to handle this, with a reassertion of white supremacy to keep the social glue together (and the real danger of fascism) with the question of the oppression of Black people in this country intensifying and coming into sharper focus including in the culture in this period, but also manifested in a real way in the murder of Trayvon and why and how that was a societal jolt.

At the end of the conversation, one thing I'd mentioned was a comment from the British comedian Russell Brand about Occupy, about how it actually changed things because it changed the discourse, it introduced the idea of the 1% and the 99% into what people are talking about and how they see things. I was using this as an example of how we can have societal impact in changing the terrain to be more favorable to revolution. She wanted to know why we didn't try to make revolution at the time of Occupy. She saw it as a major crisis where lots of people were involved, standing up, and this should have been an opportunity for the Party to get in and lead a revolution. I told her it was not a revolutionary situation, not the least of which is because the base of society was not mainly involved—it was an important upsurge among the disillusioned and in some ways disenfranchised sections of the middle class, including a lot of students, and we never know how far any jolt will go and we were in the midst of Occupy and working to bring a revolutionary understanding into it and take that jolt as far as it could go (including ourselves going to people from the base to step forward, not on the basis of Occupy, but as a revolutionary force). I told her about the struggle that went on in Occupy about questions of leadership in particular and that even within that movement, people by and large were not ready for revolution. She didn't understand why we would rule out the possibility of revolution just because the people from the bottom of society are missing—she said something like you never are going to have a perfect situation where all the elements of a revolutionary situation exist. I said something about how you actually cannot make a revolution without this backbone force, and I also used the example of what the 1960s looked like as a contrast to something that actually could have developed into a chance to make revolution.

She also asked basically a question about how do we see the development of a revolutionary crisis—as something that happens outside of us or as something that happens as a result of what we are doing. This was at the end of the conversation, so I talked very briefly about how crisis develops out of the workings of the system itself, but what we do can hasten and shape a revolutionary crisis and that is what we're working on.

In the middle of the conversation I asked her to donate $500. At the end I asked her what she thought about that, and she said she wouldn't be able to donate $500, and might give a donation but wanted to go home and read the special issue of the newspaper and think about it. She said she would read the paper that very night because it was a night she had some time and wasn't on mommy duty. In addition to the special issue, I gave her Stepping Into the Future and encouraged her to watch it right away. I am awaiting her decision.

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