"Where We Are In The Revolution—RIGHT Now, Part 2"

Going All Out to Change Everything

October 13, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us


The following is an edited version of a talk given at some Revolution Books stores this week.

People are transforming the world, right now in a very rapid way. We ourselves are part of that—changing things and learning things, as we ourselves go through changes. And in a period like this we need to come together and sum up how the world IS changing, what we ARE learning, how we ARE changing, and what we need to do to FIGHT and LEARN better.

I'm going to frame this with a slogan that crystallizes our Party's strategy to actually make revolution. "Prepare the ground, prepare the people, and prepare the vanguard—get ready for the time when millions can be led to go for revolution, all-out, with a real chance to win." How are we doing on these?

Preparing the Ground

Let's start with the first one, preparing the ground. That means changing the way that people think and act in a direction more favorable to, a direction that propels things toward, revolution. And things ARE changing in this regard.

I want to play a clip that has been circulating for a few days. Just to give you the back story, if you haven't seen this, a Black woman driver, her male friend passenger, and her two children are stopped for a seat belt violation. She explains that she is on the way to the hospital—that the doctor just called her to say that her mother was dying and she needed to get there. Instead of sending her on her way, instead of even just writing her a ticket and sending her on her way, they go over and ask her passenger for ID. He shows them some ID which they decide is not adequate and ask him to get out of the car. Then this is what follows.

What is this clip telling you?

First, what did the family say? That they were scared. What did they do? They called 911, but they did not get out of the car either—they were not going to go out like lambs. They stayed in their car and they very wisely began videoing the whole thing. And what did these pigs do? For a possible seat belt violation, which should be a ticket for the driver at most, they ran wild and, as Sunny Hostin says, they traumatized the family.

"The inherent racism of the police," says Sunny Hostin. Built into every single traffic stop, every single encounter. Bill Bratton, the police commissioner in New York, vowed this week that he would go after the "bad apples," so that the so-called "good cops," he said, can do their jobs. But your "good cops" went and cheered for the killer of Ramarley Graham, a young unarmed Black teenager gunned down by police in his own bathroom for nothing in the Bronx. Your "good cops" are like the pig in Chicago whom we exposed in our paper, a totally out-of-control sadist who not only received commendations from his "chief" but was promoted into commander of a district. And your "good cops" did this in Hammond for a simple fucking seat belt violation. So don't fucking say a word about "bad apples"—they're all bad apples. That's how this system has been set up to work.

And let's listen to Sunny Hostin. Sunny Hostin's furious response tells us that literally millions and perhaps tens of millions of people right now have deep and acutely felt questions about at least aspects of the legitimacy of a government that cannot stop doing this, that has no answers for this, and that threatens Black and Latino people every day. That traumatizes children every day. Don't tell me, she says—"'I live in America.'" "'I live in America... and I am who I am."' Or look at the statement online by the Black Ivy Coalition up on the Stop Mass Incarceration site. Look at the temper of the 375 people the other night at the symposium at Columbia—a symposium at which Carl Dix and Cornel West, and Iris Baez and Juanita Young, whose sons were murdered by New York police, along with someone from a Latino neighborhood in Brooklyn where police have been running wild, spoke to students and people from the community, where all this was being sharply, sharply questioned and opposed.

Things are changing. And if we don't rise to our vanguard responsibilities right now, when people are aching to stand up, then shame on us. Or let me put it more positively: Every single person here in this room should walk out determined to provide a way to struggle for the millions of people who feel like the brothers and sisters on the block the last few nights in St. Louis, who rose up against a police murder, or who feel like Sunny Hostin or angrier, or who are willing to go into the symphonies and disrupt the comfort of Mr. and Mrs. America, as was also done in St. Louis... every single person here should walk out determined to provide a pole of understanding for people to see that it doesn't HAVE to be this way—IF there is a revolution. We should walk out of here burning to build and provide a movement in which people can learn about that revolution and contribute to it, as they fight and work through their thinking.

Again—we really are at a moment where it could happen that, as the RCP's statement on strategy puts it, "conditions and people are moved to change, because of developments in the world and because of the work of revolutionaries...as people come to see that things do not have to be this way...as they come to understand why things are the way they are and how things could be radically different...and as they are inspired and organized to join the revolutionary movement and build up its forces." What we are fighting and working for right now—most especially the Month of Resistance and then the Dialogue on November 15 between Bob Avakian and Cornel West, along with our website and our Party and everything it stands for and does, and the other elements of our ensemble of revolutionary work—all this can and must be very powerfully acting on this very volatile situation.

The Ferguson Weekend and October 22

Now right now we face, very directly, the weekend in Ferguson and October 22. As for Ferguson this weekend, where people are gathering from all over the country for a weekend of resistance, which has been strongly supported by the Month of Resistance, we can't just sit passively. We don't know what might happen or where those protests might go—how powerful they might become or what the authorities might do—and if it might require very serious efforts either to defend what goes on there or to spread it. People may well feel the need to act in solidarity with what may go on there, and we should all tomorrow morning make "go bags" so that if we hear of something that does or even may develop into the kind of thing where masses of people all over just won't take it anymore, we need to be able to stand with those masses and provide the leadership that they require in that situation... especially should something develop calling for the kind of leadership that people required, but did not get, in Katrina.

Then there is October 22. How we build this is something we need to get into in a few minutes. But first we do have to have, and project, a vision of what this must be in order to really act on the overall situation in the way that is possible and necessary. We need thousands of people—and this should include parents powerfully indicting the system that has murdered or brutalized or imprisoned their children, this should include hundreds and hundreds of high school students walking out of class, as well as hundreds of college students, having been mobilized through networks, marching. This should include as well many, many progressive people who have been inspired by Ferguson, who are fed up... people like the ones who stood up at the St. Louis Symphony and who can be won to see that NOW is the time that they have to take a stand.

It would be a big mistake to see the ferment in Ferguson as somehow separate from October 22. Just the opposite. We should conceive of everything going on this month as part of changing the whole polarization in society around this question, the whole equation of what people see as just and unjust, what people see as tolerable, and what people are willing to do. In this way, October 22 works to take Ferguson to another level, and all this works together; but to do that, October 22 must in fact BE a militant outpouring, determined to STOP the kind of barbaric, outrageous, RACIST shit that we saw in the YouTube a few minutes ago and that acts as the spear point of this whole genocidal program.

If we have people acting in the city centers and out on the mean streets... acting with defiance and saying, in unmistakable terms, in word and deed, NO MORE... then October 23 will be a different day.

The Bob Avakian-Cornel West Dialogue

And reflecting this at the same time is what is developing around the November 15 Dialogue. Cornel West said the other night that when people ask him why he's ending up working with communists so much, he tells them it's because he finds his positions overlapping with theirs. There are more people who find themselves like this and who also think—like Cornel—that getting into where those positions overlap and where they differ... and using that to kindle the sparks of further and deeper insight... is just what is needed in this situation.

So you have something developing where prominent people are releasing statements setting forth their views and telling why such a Dialogue can contribute to what they want to see develop... and you have someone like the former prisoner who just wrote our paper with a very powerful piece putting out his views on why the people on the bottom need to be come to this Dialogue and get deeply into the revolution. The situation is developing where very prominent people in different fields, especially concentrated right now in the field of theology and religion, are contending over whether this Dialogue is what is needed right now in this situation where people desperately need a way out... or whether it is not needed and should not happen. This concentrates a larger struggle in society over whether BA's views need to be out there, or not... and this is a struggle that also reflects on this highly intense, highly volatile objective situation... on what, to paraphrase BA paraphrasing Marx, people are being compelled to confront... and this is a struggle that, again, as a vanguard we have to relish and we definitely have to rise to... now. And this should actually give us a deeper sense of what CAN be brought forward to publicly stand with this Dialogue and everything it represents.

Let me pause just a minute here on the significance of this Dialogue, and its potential to change the terrain. Many people know Cornel West—there are very few people you can think of with his integrity and willingness to stand against the power and his intellectual sweep at the same time. But too many people are only beginning to know about Bob Avakian.

There has in fact never been a leader like BA in this country; and there is no one else like him anywhere right now. There have been great leaders, but he is unique. Let me give you an example. The other day I was talking with someone pretty new to the movement; it was a session where people could bring their questions to the movement for revolution and hash them out. And she said, "Well, I'm worried my questions are stupid questions." So I asked what they were, and she said, "Well, how do we get millions of people to change their thinking so they're for revolution? How, if you do that, could you actually defeat all the repressive force the system has? And if you could make a revolution, how could you deal afterward with all the people who opposed it or still oppose it?" I told her that those were far from stupid questions; those were the questions that the movement for revolution had to answer and did have answers for, and we got into those for a few hours.

But here's the thing: The reason we do have those answers is because of BA and the work that he's done over 40 years! Nobody had those answers before for this country and, yes, in terms of the world and the entire experience of the revolutionary communist movement, he's taken the answers further than anyone who went before him. Do you get how incredibly important that is? And this is who is going to be dialoguing with Cornel!

And there's a whole other dimension as well. A recent article on the revcom.us site compared the opportunity to hear BA live and in person to the chance to see Jimi Hendrix live. It put it like this:

BA will be bringing all of that to the Dialogue with Cornel West at Riverside Church on November 15. But that isn't all. He will also be bringing the experience of BA speaking, live and in person.

Like Jimi Hendrix, BA connects with and profoundly inspires his audience in a way that people do not simply hear but viscerally feel. It's in the way he continuously lays reality bare, fearlessly exposing this system and society—and everything that keeps them going—unearthing and boldly putting forward the truths that are hidden and that people are not allowed to think and say. It's in the way he rips the mask of legitimacy and permanence off the existing order, dismantling any notion that things have to stay as they are, lifting hearts and sights to a whole different way the world could be. It's in the way BA does all this with rage and joy, humor and defiance, passion and poetic spirit, utter contempt for the system and those who rule it and deep compassion for all those who can and must be part of the fight to sweep that system away, especially those on the very bottom of society who are most viciously oppressed. It's in the way he breaks concepts down so that a professor with a Ph.D. or someone without any formal education can understand and take up these concepts. It's in the method with which he approaches reality, always going for the truth, always looking at things scientifically. It's in the way he illuminates the link between where we are today and where we can and must go tomorrow, and speaks to the biggest obstacles and contradictions standing in the way. It's in the way he ranges very broadly, through different spheres of society and different historical eras, without ever losing the core of revolution and communism. It's in the way he weaves so many different threads together. It's in the way he can break down the strategy for revolution or talk about the historical experience of communism in one moment, and then reference lyrics from The Clash or routines from Richard Pryor the next.

I want to underline that—and again, this is with Cornel West, and on a question that goes to the very core of millions of people. And this is all going to be happening during and—especially if we do our work right—deeply impacting on this highly charged, highly volatile situation.

Many Contradictions Roiling

And while these two main things are going on, you also have the increasingly intense attacks on abortion—the horrendous decision by the Appeals Court restoring the severe curtailment of abortion rights in Texas and the likelihood, given how the elections are shaping up, of even more intense attacks as the year turns... up against the plans of the Stop Patriarchy organization, which fought those cuts, to massively demonstrate in January. You have the heavy-stakes international moves by the U.S. You have the ongoing crisis and struggle around immigration. So things are roiling and this IS the kind of situation where no one can say exactly, to paraphrase BA's Making Revolution and Emancipating Humanity, what the effect of the actions of the vanguard may call forth and lead to.

So that is in very broad strokes the first prepare—the big terrain in society, the thinking of millions and tens of millions, and the changes it's going through and how we are affecting that and how we need to affect that. Are we looking all the time at the societal effect we can have and that we are having? And then on that basis how to maximize that effect, how to take real LEAPS in it?

Prepare the People

Then there's the second prepare—preparing the people. One aspect of this is actually involving people in their thousands right now, but moving toward more than the thousands, to become part of this movement, to actively take this up on all kinds of levels. To begin going through the whole process of standing up, fighting back, learning more... or if they are already in that process, fighting better and getting into a relationship with revolution, and with the vanguard. In short: the process of "Fight the Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution."

I was talking with someone a few days ago about the changes that people are going through, and the tremendous fluidity in people's thinking right now—including a case of someone at one point joining in on some of the attacks on the Party and then, after struggle, turning around and using his platform to recognize the importance of the Party and the work it's doing. And this comrade I was talking with said that, well, he thought the people at the bedrock were telling us "we're ready to die but we don't know what to do" and asking for leadership, but that he didn't understand why people in the middle strata would be going through these kinds of back-and-forth changes.

Now on one level this is a case of someone who's actually studied and applied both of the recent talks by BA—where this is gone into in some depth—and has made real contributions on that basis but who kind of had a temporary bout of some empiricism; some looking at surface phenomena, and then fitting that into what BA criticizes in those talks as a "reified" framework of understanding class. By reification, I mean the thinking that the proletariat, those who have nothing and are bitterly exploited and oppressed, will always be open to revolution... and the middle strata will either never be or else, when they ARE in a more progressive mood, well, that's the best we can or should expect from them, that's just great and let's just ride that. The fact is that, even as conditions are in some ways more favorable right now, in both these sections of society there is going to have to be very sharply fought struggle with how people think. Not just WHAT people think, but HOW they think.

Bringing Forward Those Who Catch Hell Every Day

With the bedrock base for revolution, those who catch hell every day, yes we are going to have to give them ways to fight back, and these ways cannot be conventional and actually have to FEEL revolutionary, especially at a time like now, AND we are going to have to struggle over what is your life going to be about after all.

I want to read from a report I got that brings this out.

Two stories. First, [two young comrades] were out at a school and one was agitating on the bullhorn while the other was getting out whistles and one other person had the bucket for donations. Youth were rushing to get whistles all in front of a police car who was stopped in front of the school. As kids streamed by to get whistles, they were blowing their whistles right at the car. The fact they were basically in front of this police car agitating and the youth were inspired to blow the whistles at the police right there contributed to a whole air of defiance. (Unfortunately, they don't have any pictures of this which we summed up collectively. Also, one of the people was going to write a snapshot of this for the paper but hasn't yet.) Another story: All these kids are rushing to get whistles from one comrade while the other is on the bullhorn, but this time another, more veteran, comrade was there. He was trying to get everyone's contact info who was taking up the whistles but couldn't find pen or paper and was getting ignored by the students rushing to get whistles. He hollered out, "OK stop, no one is getting a whistle until I get a pen." Out of nowhere, a handful of kids pulled out pens, pencils, markers... everything. OK, a kid with a pen got a whistle. "Now, no one else gets a whistle until I get paper." The comrade said out of nowhere, paper of every color appeared. And then all these kids were enthusiastically signing up and taking the whistles. This was just kind of funny (and showed some determination on the comrade's part), but also gave you a sense of the eagerness which the students were taking these up.

But it's not all smooth sailing. There is the pull of the street organizations in this, and sometimes they are neutral and sometimes they are supportive and sometimes they are ... neither. This report goes on to make the point that even when things are favorable—when, because the revolutionaries have been struggling, both against the system and with the ways people think—those organizations are neutral, we still need to get out there saying to people drawn to that life that people like you will make the revolution, but not the way you are... you need to get with this... to fight back now... to learn about and spread the word on our leader and our vanguard and the strategy we have... The comrade writing the report talks about some struggle over this, then says:

Importantly, through this discussion, [the veteran] could see the difference and could see how there's been eclectics in our approach; the person writes that "even though there's been some struggle, it's still like: 'that's you, this is me.' We have to join the struggle more sharply. And it's not a straight line, [one comrade] walked away from the BPP many times... but he had been given a framework through struggle to where he could contrast what they were doing and what he could be doing to what he was doing which wasn't any good. These youth have to see the role they can play in something heroic and with a lot of meaning. And that has to become much more of a question: get out of that, into this. Be this. Have courage for this and not BS that doesn't mean anything."

So bringing forward those on the bottom is full of struggle, including as a big part of this IDEOLOGICAL struggle. But NOW is the time to have it! Now is the time to wield the "Call to Revolution" from BA (the New Year's message) and all the other material. Now is the time to apply the whole approach in BA's REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! I mean, it's always been the time, but NOW is the time to take this up if you haven't taken it up and to step it up if you have. And again, especially with this potential backbone for the revolution, now is the time to take this Dialogue—including taking that piece I referenced earlier from a former prisoner about "This Is for You."

Both of these elements, the actual ways to fight back and the ideological struggle, working together, have to bring into reality what we called for some years back:

It is up to us: to wake up...to shake off the ways they put on us, the ways they have us thinking so they can keep us down and trapped in the same old rat-race...to rise up, as conscious Emancipators of Humanity. The days when this system can just keep on doing what it does to people, here and all over the world...when people are not inspired and organized to stand up against these outrages and to build up the strength to put an end to this madness...those days must be GONE. And they CAN be.

The Invitation... and Boxing

And in the middle strata, there is going to have to be the combination of the Invitation and the boxing gloves. Let's go back over that Invitation from BA:

Let's go on a crucial journey together—full of unity against oppression and lively struggle about the source of the problem and the solution. Pursue your own convictions—that the outrages that move you are intolerable—to their logical conclusion, and be determined not to stop until those outrages have been eliminated. And if this, as well as learning about other outrages, and ideas about how this all fits together and flows from a common source—and how it could all be ended, and something much better brought into being—leads in the direction of seeing not only the need for bold and determined resistance, but also the need for revolution and ultimately communism, then don't turn away from that because it moves you beyond your comfort zone, challenges what had been your cherished beliefs, or because of prejudices and slanders. Instead, actively seek to learn more about this revolution and its goal of communism and to determine whether it is in fact the necessary, and possible, solution. And then act accordingly.

This encompasses people going through a whole process. That process cannot be rushed, but it cannot just be allowed to stagnate either. And again, this Dialogue will play a critical role in that—just imagine what it will mean for people to see many of their deepest questions, many of the sharpest contradictions in their outlook, wrangled with and thrashed out by two such ardent exponents as BA and Cornel West.

And then there is boxing. People talk shit about the revolution, about the Party, about the masses who stand up, well, they need to be set straight—like our articles on the Party and the struggle against police murder on our website this time—and this has to be done in clear, crisp, very certain terms. And when you do this right, it changes the terms. You did have this situation I referred to earlier, where someone went from opposing, at least to a degree, what the Party was doing in Ferguson to, through struggle and coming to see how things unfolded, giving Carl Dix recognition for his role and knowledge from the stage of an event recently. Things are fluid, and if we fight strongly for what is right and set the right standards for everyone, we can change things in a positive direction. And we must, if we are to win.

So yes, it is fluid. My god, this is class society and this is class society in a universe that is based on contradiction—which means that every process and person is a constant battle of opposites and full of the potential for fluidity and change! People come forward based on certain aspirations and then there is pressure put on them and other things come to the fore. In the base, always it is the pigs and sometimes it is their homies, or the street organizations... sometimes it is their own self-doubt and everything they've been taught about how they are no good that exerts a pull on them.

In the middle class, people have jobs or positions and they step out and they catch a lot of shit from their colleagues spouting anticommunism, or people who wield some bit of power given to them by the ruling class saying "hey, nice little platform you got here... hate to see you lose your credibility..." or it is the fear of being blacklisted. This can be intense... and sometimes people don't want to talk about this with us or they don't know how to. And we don't enough take the time to get into things with people, once they have come forward (even as we can't stop everything and do have to continue to change the world, we should be drawing people out and struggling with them in the context of doing that).

So again, both things at once—changing the world and changing the people we work with, and ourselves, at the same time. The lessons that are gone into in BA's piece on freedom and necessity are very relevant—you forge unity with people around an objective, but then new questions emerge and this is class society and the ruling class acts on people.

Why Do They Attack the Party and BA?

And let's ask ourselves again, as we did two weeks ago—why are there these attacks, on our Party, on BA in particular, on people who step forward? I went last time into the potential for this Party to connect and the threat that poses to the system, and how that is the fundamental reason behind this. But let me add this—right now, while we are in no way satisfied with how well we are doing in realizing that potential, while this is not anywhere near enough for us... it is already way too much for the bourgeoisie. So we had better be prepared for more attacks and more serious ones, including the kinds of attacks that I talked about last time in regard to the example of the assassination of Malcolm X, and how they very consciously prepared the ground for that, focused up around the very high-stakes and high-risk Dialogue on November 15. We had better be bringing home to people the need to defend precious leaders like BA, and to defend truth-tellers like Cornel as well, and build a wall going into this Dialogue.

Lessons of the Columbia Symposium

I want to turn again here to the Columbia program the other night. One thing you had there—and this had to be worked for and fought for—was people coming who were not used to being at a place like Columbia University. You had women whose sons had been murdered by the police... you had women whose sons had been snatched up in the raids in Harlem... you had other people from that bedrock section of society that is locked out of the ivied halls and the work with ideas. And because of what had been brought forward, by revolutionaries working with students, you had a situation where people like this were able to put forward the reality of what life is like for masses of exploited and oppressed, and students were ready to hear this.

THIS is the kind of thing we need and that we have to work and fight for, driving forward October 22 and crescendoing at the Dialogue. This is a living embodiment of what we call the "two maximizings"—maximizing the revolutionary struggle coming from the bedrock... maximizing the ferment and radical vibrancy and revolutionary-minded thinking and action in the middle strata... and maximizing the dynamic synergy between these two factors, when people get a sense that, yes, we could break down the walls and divisions that the present society spends so much time erecting and reinforcing. This is what the new society we will bring into being will be all about and this is something we are doing to the maximum right now—breaking down those walls, so that people can join together in the search for the truth, learning from and struggling and uniting with one another.

So this is a process. And critical in this process is what we call the OHIO, referring to the Ohio State University marching band, where people come in at one place and then march through from the first O to the other letters and then on to the last O. The point is, however, you want to think about it, is that people need ways into this movement and we have to provide them with those ways. People need to be given ways to act.

They need to be able to get organized, to be part of things on whatever level they can. And we have to get much better at this.

To the Masses in a Mass Way

Now they can't do this if they don't meet us! Here I want to have someone come up and tell you what she told me this week [person from audience comes up and says the following]:

As anybody knows who's been around me in the last few weeks, I'm chomping at the bit, totally enthusiastic and burning with desire, both for the resistance of this Month but also for the Dialogue coming up on November 15 with Bob Avakian and Cornel West. There is so much happening in this city, and so many people who need to hear about this. There are people who are right now searching for things. There are so many programs, so many events, so many dialogues, so many conferences that are not attended by 12 or 16 people but hundreds of people coming together right now, almost every day. There's three events tonight I wish I could've been at, but this one was more important. And they're happening all over the city where people are searching for answers—around mass incarceration, around deep questions of colonialism, around the international situation, around the conditions of women, and religion and Islam, and all this shit, and just cultural events. And places where people are looking for answers and other places where people are just going about their lives, and they don't even know—maybe they're looking for answers, but that's not what they're doing at the moment, they're going to the theater, or they're going to hear music.

I have hundreds of these cards for the Dialogue in my bag, all the time. All of us should. I've been to half a dozen events in the last 10 days, with hundreds of people at each of them. Some of them are smaller. But you just get these out, and you're talking to people. We should be all over the place with this, out in the feel and flow of the city, not stuck, cooped behind the computer screen, cooped up in a meeting-meeting-meeting culture, not too busy to go out in the feel and flow of the city and let everyone know: There's a major historic thing happening. People are standing up and fighting back. And the leader of the revolution, someone who has re-envisioned revolution and communism and rescued the project of human emancipation, is going to be live and in person on November 15, dialoguing with one of the most courageous and integrity-filled, compassionate human beings of the religious tradition. And they're going to be dialoguing on the biggest questions of our epoch: "Revolution and Religion, the Fight for Emancipation and the Role of Religion." And everyone needs to know about it.

So all you've got to do is go out, every single person here. We could have an enormous impact and infect others with this spirit. One of the most important things you can do is to take stacks of these cards out everywhere. And you just say, "November 15, don't miss it. Bob Avakian and Cornel West. Revolution and religion. You've got to be there. Riverside Church." And you tell everybody about it. And you hand these out. And you have enough so that you can give other people stacks of them, because a lot of people will take little stacks back to their dorm, back to their co-workers, back to the laundromat. And then you take it to the laundromat, and you take it to the café where you get your coffee, and you take it to the stores that sell things, wherever the main drag is that you walk past. Or you get off the train half an hour early, go to the train half an hour early one day for rush hour and you hand it out at your train stop. We need to be getting this everywhere! There are times, and there are other teams that are going out to key things and you should sign up and be on the schedule for that. But literally all of us should have this on the train, handing it out, talking to people. And then you see somebody famous on the street, you chase them down. You're not without it. You tell them they gotta be there. This is really something that everybody needs to know about—people who are searching for this; people who don't know that they're searching for this.

You do this, and you're learning what people are thinking. You're learning what's on people's minds, what's stirring them, and what people are getting into at some of these events and some of these cultural arenas, and the religious communities and the sermons that are happening. And you're talking to them about... I mean, I'm re-reading Away with All Gods, from BA, which I really recommend that people do, or if you haven't read it yet, that you read it. And you're talking to people about what you're getting into about it, and you're opening people up to that, and you're learning about this whole thing, and you're feeding that into a whole process.

And, in all this, you have to really SELL SOME TICKETS—you have to be telling people to get your tickets now, to get with this, to make sure you're going to be there! And then sell them the tickets, on the spot.

Give People Ways to Be Part of This

What she said is extremely important. And it goes for the whole ensemble of revolutionary initiatives. We have to be getting out the word as she said, AND we have to give people materials that they can get out. Materials for O22 and materials for the Dialogue, and sell them our newspaper.

In terms of O22 in particular, coming up on us right now and actually crucial to further advances, we have to involve masses of people in getting out stickers, getting up this issue's centerspread on walls, in organizing their schools—and some of you who at one point organized walkouts, why don't you write that up and throw it up on our site, or send it to the SMIN site; yes, you did this before there was Twitter, but there are principles involved here—including you do need a core. But "natural cores" exist all over, especially within the middle schools and high schools—we need to find them. The student sit-in movement in the 1960s got kicked off by four guys who sat up all night talking in their dorm rooms, night after night, about what do we do—and finally came up with this and just did it, and then it set off a chain reaction. But they were a core. Just the other night, I was standing in line to get my book signed by Cornel and there's five high school kids behind me talking about their friend, who was up front talking with Cornel, and they're talking about "Oh yeah, that's Tony, he's always talking..." in an affectionate kind of way, and then Tony comes back, exhilarated, and he shouts to them "Let's go change the world!" and he's right—let's!—and let's find people like this and work with them in cores to do this.

As part of this: we have to get those whistles out in a mass way and lead people in using them, and video and write reports on it... These whistles so far have been like a scientific pilot project—experience has shown that they can be highly effective tools for masses of people to resist the police with. But these have to be "scaled up" and spread.

And just to re-emphasize what the person just said, and very important, right now in everything we're doing—sell tickets to the Dialogue; as you are building O22 but also with important efforts devoted to this as the main thing in its own right... and then accelerating after O22. We need whole departments at colleges having bought their tickets... whole classes having bought their tickets... groups of people in neighborhoods having done so and working together to get others while they are nailing down plans to come themselves... blocs coming from the suburbs... with their tickets now, and then all this building as we get closer. But this does have to start happening NOW and this itself develops partisanship and drives people to get more into this.

Finally, give people ways to donate money, which gives them ways in... and fills real and right now urgent needs of the movement... this is a case of the people supporting their vanguard and the broader movement, and this is something that has to be re-instilled in the culture of the people, which has been, as CW pointed out just the other night, poisoned by an ethos of "me, me, me." Be bold in this. And here I want to call people's attention to, again, a good article summing up experience with this bold approach on our website, "Fundraising for the Dialogue: Reaching Out Broadly—With a Sharp Focus."

Tasks Create People

One last lesson I want to draw from the Columbia experience is that tasks create people and what that means and doesn't mean. It does not mean that we here think of tasks and then give them to people. It does not mean that we here encourage people in whatever idea they come up with and then do not assist them in carrying this forward.

It means that we may propose an idea, or we may listen to an idea and encourage it, but that's often the beginning of a whole back-and-forth process of leading and learning, where people take up these tasks as their own. We have to do better at this, quickly. I did hear, by the way, that the proposal that was talked about two weeks ago—to have fundraising parties showing Fruitvale Station—happened and drew 11 people, but that people were so overcome by the film they literally could not talk at the end; which is not at all surprising. This is the kind of living portrayal of the stakes that they keep from people and when it is presented in this way, the impact can be extremely powerful; as evidenced in the article itself, which remains very important: "Watching Fruitvale Station with Bob Avakian." So we should learn from this, continuing to work with the people who came and spreading this form, but conceiving of it as the beginning of a discussion and involvement, the beginning of a process.

To sum up, if you look at this second prepare, you have to say that we have a long way to go here. You have to say that we have to learn a lot of new ways to do things in a short time, even as we need to do much better at spreading the lessons where we ARE making progress—which is part of the point of this talk! But you also have to say that this Party is in fact beginning to be more of a salient factor on the terrain and we have to find the ways in for people, the ways into our Party and into the larger movement of which it is the core.

Preparing the Vanguard

Now this leads me to the third prepare—preparing the vanguard. I'm going to focus here on a piece written by someone who joined in the past year or two and wrote in to our paper, "Taking Responsibility for the Line of the Party—At the Highest Level."

This person emphasizes first, and very importantly, that the principal responsibility of every comrade is to fight for the line of the Party and to struggle to keep the Party on the revolutionary road, "taking responsibility for really straining against the limits of the objective situation and hastening to the greatest degree possible the emergence of a revolutionary situation and a revolutionary people in their millions." And they talk about the importance of people stepping forward to take THIS responsibility on this level.

They say:

So when you're taking responsibility for the line of the Party as a whole it means you are taking responsibility for whether this Party stays on the revolutionary road, it means you're taking responsibility for whether this Party is really straining against the limits of the objective situation and hastening to the greatest degree possible the emergence of a revolutionary situation and a revolutionary people in their millions. This is the highest, and most important, level of responsibility for anyone in the Party.

As a part of that, one of the things that has struck me the most about being in the Party is what it means to take responsibility for the line of the Party at this whole different level. In the Party, you are a part of the chain of knowledge (a team of scientists)—constantly contributing to it, wrangling with it, and collectively wielding it to transform the world... and drawing theory out of that process (along with other developments and changes in the world), which goes on in a larger process of what we call the '"theory/practice/theory'" dynamic.

Then this person goes to the importance of science and they talk about the need to really strengthen the Party's system of reports.

Listen to this:

This is wrangled with, above all, collectively but is also done through a system of reports. This is described as well in the Party's Constitution. And actually writing reports is part of the process of being more scientific: you step back, look at the work we've done, systematize what we've done, and within that you're looking for trends and patterns that are significant. You have to ask questions: how reflective was this practice of the overall strategy for revolution? Did we max out as much as possible? What were the advances—both qualitative and quantitative? If there were shortcomings, you have to identify those and wrestle with why. What did we run up against? What didn't we understand, or what did we understand wrong? Was it objective or were there subjective elements that pulled on not being able to really max out and wield the line to the maximum degree possible?

You also have to work at thinking of ways—and this is part of taking responsibility—to further seize on openings or opportunities as part of leading the overall movement for revolution, even as you are working on a particularity that is feeding into the broader work the Party as a whole is doing.

In addition to summing up our practice, you are summing up trends on the terrain—obstacles in people's thinking that we're reaching out to, ideological and methodological questions that need to be spoken to or ruptured among different sections of people. You are summing up the larger motion and dynamics in objective reality—which holds the material basis for revolution in the first place.

I want to stress this to everyone in the Party and to everyone here for the first time and everyone in between—what this newer comrade says is critically important, it is a necessary component if we are going to actually make the breakthroughs we need.

First I want to stress that this does give you a living sense of why joining the vanguard, once you have decided you are ready for that commitment and worked through essential things about what your life is going to be dedicated to, is so important and critical.

But I also tonight want to stress something else. That while doing this on the level of within the vanguard is crucial and ultimately decisive, including as this person stresses the point as to the whole character of the Party itself, this method can also be applied by others. Everyone can contribute to this process... everyone can be and should be part of pitching in, even before you join the vanguard and set about strengthening that vanguard and preparing it for the awesome responsibility of actually LEADING what we say we intend to lead, once the time is right... to "get ready for the time when millions can be led to go for revolution, all-out, with a real chance to win." We need a whole movement of people summing up their experiences, applying science, discussing this collectively, and popularizing what is true and advanced.

A Point on the Essence of Leadership

Finally, just a word on leadership and its essence, from What Humanity Needs—just putting this in here because I find it insightful and helpful and something for everyone to aspire to:

...the heart of [communist leadership] is actually implementing "Fight the Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution"—is actually bringing forward all of the things we've talked about in terms of enabling people to get a real understanding, scientifically grounded, of the larger picture that any particular thing fits into. What is the overall foundation and framework in which all these things are occurring? What is, to put it simply again, the problem and solution: what do all these outrages stem from; what are they all rooted and grounded in; what do we need to do to uproot and eliminate all this, and how do we actually build the movement to do that? All that is the essence of communist leadership, whatever level of a party, or whatever part you play in the division of labor of a party, as part of a revolutionary communist vanguard.

Finally, on this note. People I believe probably have read on our website that last week we lost a very important revolutionary communist leader—a leader of our Party, a member of the Central Committee, Clyde Young. I'm not going to read here the statement that was released by the Party Central Committee upon Clyde's death, which is very powerful and comprehensive and which should be read. I am going to say that his death, and the life that he led, and the powerful example that he set with his life, does concentrate something about the juncture that we face right now. And people can think about that.

And I also think that we need to take into account, even as we are going forward and drawing inspiration from his example, that mourning itself is a process and a struggle. It's a struggle to come to terms with the terrible wound in our Party and in our lives. And this is especially the case for those who personally knew Clyde, but for others as well. We are going to have a memorial here, in the first weekend in November. And there is a memorial set for Chicago, which his family will be going to, on October 18.

But people are hurting, now, over this loss. Take the time to remember Clyde. Take the time to talk to each other about Clyde. Hold him in your heart. If you are someone who writes, write about him. If you only just heard about him, then meet him. On our website, meet him in the statement from Bob Avakian, who talks movingly about losing a dear friend—not just a comrade but a dear friend. And read about him in the wonderful interview that Clyde did some 20 years ago. Clyde is somebody who first went to prison at the age of 12, and spent his teen years and his early 20s in the dungeons. And he came out a revolutionary and he never wavered after the decision he made in prison to take up that life. And he waged a great deal of heroic battles against the enemy, and he waged a very heroic battle against disease and disability that was also very difficult and required heroism and science of a different sort.

Mourning someone like this is also part of something we're all about. We are human beings with feelings, we have hearts. This is part of the new world we are struggling to bring into being. And for all of us, as we leave here tonight, we should take his example and the life he led as a call to ourselves, to each and every one of us, to step up further, and to actually cross this crucial bridge we now face, with all its great risks and all its stakes, and all its potential to make a huge advance for the emancipation of humanity.

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