An Afternoon with the Revolution Club

by Lenny Wolff | March 16, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


I want to share with readers some highlights of an afternoon I spent with the Revolution Club in Chicago in February. I asked to meet with the club so I could learn how people were seeing the situation right now, what they were confronting, what they were learning, and what they were thinking. I said a few things at the beginning about the basic problem humanity faces, and the solution brought forward by BA, and the importance of boldly promoting this. I talked about how it was far from impossible that out of the contradictions that are boiling right now a revolutionary situation could develop—depending in part on what we do now, along with the development of other things. This in turn led to the statement on strategy, and the importance of the people who are conscious today working to influence millions and preparing to lead them when the all-out struggle for power becomes possible. We also got into BA’s new piece, “What Is a Revolutionary Situation,” which goes into what that situation looks like (and lets us measure where we’re at in relation to that at any given time). From there we got deep into things—people had a lot of ideas. I can’t get into it all, but I’m going to lay out a few things that I think were particularly important.

The first point goes back to the strategy statement, and the importance of those thousands who today are influencing millions toward revolution. When we think about that, it's important to keep going back to and summing up and building on what the club has accomplished. At one point we went around the room, and people talked about what they thought were important things the club has done.

And this club has done a LOT of important things in just the past few months. The Revolution Club put out a proclamation to the community on fighting the real enemy and not letting ourselves get turned against each other. They took some very important actions on the oppression of women, including taking out the compendium from BA on the oppression of women and getting into a lot of struggle with the people in the community and movements themselves over this. Then right after that, members of the club rushed down to Ferguson, the day after things began to jump, and played a critical front-line role. They mobilized people to go to the Dialogue between Bob Avakian and Cornel West. They stepped to the forefront of the actions in November and December to “shut shit down” after the pigs who murdered Michael Brown and Eric Garner were let off. And there’s many other things I’m forgetting.

Chicago Rev Club member read from their proclamation to the community on fighting the real enemy and not turning against each otherChicago Revolution Club members read from their proclamation to the community on fighting the real enemy and not turning against each other.

Get into BA!

Chicago club members putting up revolutionary slogans Chicago club members putting up revolutionary slogans.
Photos: Special to

The point is that the Revolution Club in Chicago has had a big, if still beginning, effect on people’s thinking. They’ve been right out there in the thick of the battle and promoting BA and revolution—and taking some heavy charges from the state as a result. In other words, they’ve been fighting the power, and transforming the people, FOR revolution. It helps sometimes to step back and see the effect that you have had.

As we got into this, the comrades in the club were realizing and talking about the importance of going back out among the oppressed people very broadly, and at the same time going very broadly into the society, to win support for the comrades who are facing charges... and doing this as part of building for the very powerful national outpouring against police murder on April 14.

A second big point that we got into from many different angles concerned the fact that the people who run this empire do not have it all together. Yes, they are definitely powerful and vicious, and not to be taken lightly in any way, shape, or form. But they are also riddled with contradictions. There were a lot of different ways this came up: Who really runs the government? Could we bring them down if Black people and other oppressed people would boycott the system? Are the people still too passive? And then the big question: Could these people on top really be defeated if and when it comes down to an all-out struggle for power, and what do we have to be doing now to prepare for that possibility?

I can’t get into all the rich back-and-forth on this. I can and will, however, strongly recommend going back to the Party’s statement on strategy, which gets into a lot of this, and also "On the Possibility of Revolution," which gets into the strategy for the all-out struggle for power. One good place everyone could start would be the filmed speech by BA, REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS!, the last part of the second disk and first part of the third—maybe clubs could watch this together.

What we’re doing right now is most of all getting ready—preparing the terrain, preparing the people and preparing the vanguard: “for the time when millions can be led to go for revolution, all-out, with a real chance to win.” This runs on two tracks. The main track is, again, fighting the power, and transforming the people, for revolution. But we’ve also got to be studying the doctrine that has been developed for the all-out struggle for power—when that is on the agenda—and working to contribute to that process.

Three, there was a lot of wrangling over what is theory, and what’s the point of theory anyway. Coming into the meeting, one young comrade had written up some questions based on watching that part of REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! that I recommended above. These included: “As a youth that is actively involved in the revolution, how can I prepare myself better to become a leader?” And then, right after that, “A lot of youth feel like the RCP just tries to push a new order into people’s minds and it’s nothing but theory based on past events. How can I approach that?”

Well, the answers to those two things are very linked. BA makes the point in BAsics that the qualities of leadership are not innate or genetic. “All these qualities are things that can be learned, even though they are not, and they cannot be, learned all at once. Developing as a communist, like everything else, is a process and it proceeds through spirals. And it is marked by being repeatedly confronted with the need to make leaps and ruptures at critical junctures when the challenges become particularly acute.”

Now, making those leaps is not just a matter of theory—but it does require theory. In other words, you need the theoretical tools to understand and dissect, or take apart, the reality you are facing, to figure out what to do. You need this especially if things are complex. And revolutions are very complex.

So we’ve got to get into and learn better how to apply theory. Part of that is “based on past events”—that is, learning from those who have gone before and tried to make revolution. That’s really crucial. You don’t start from scratch in a science. At the same time, the science of revolution is more than that—it takes in the scientific method itself, most of all, and knowledge that is gained in many other spheres of society besides revolution and attempts at revolution (even as, again, that is one very significant part of theory).

Revolutionary theory, and all science for that matter, is NOT just a collection of “answers.” Seeing it that way actually goes against the scientific method. And people who have the ability to understand certain parts of theory shouldn’t see that as “their thing,” or put down others who come at it differently or are just learning. That actually discourages people, and turns them away from getting into it. We’ve got to learn to struggle with each other in a good way. At one point, we read aloud the whole quote I just referred to—BAsics 6:12—to not only get to how do we develop as leaders, but how do we relate to each other, and help bring out other people’s strengths. A lot of the people at the session brought up and were moved by how BA and Cornel West were able to disagree on some things, but at the same time have a very strong unity and spirit of mutual learning.

This leads to the last big thing that struck me—we have to keep going back to what is the problem and what is the solution, constantly deepening our own understanding of this and insisting on it with others. People in the club told how they run up against people who have been misled and miseducated all their lives about communism... about people who have been told that RCP is a cult... and some of them have a hard time with their families, who struggle with them in this way. People had some good ideas on how to go at this—one person said that she has thought for a long time there needs to be a revolution, and here are people thinking that too, and when people say back to her “I agree, but...” she tells them “No BUTS because with that ‘but’ you are erasing everything came before the ‘but.’”

In fact, there is absolutely no need to be defensive at all, if we stick with reality. The question is always, what is the problem? Taking people back to that, like BA does. And, with that, what is the SOLUTION, and especially the fact that there even IS a solution, and it's BA that’s actually brought that solution forward and this is why he is so important to the people, and why people need to get into what he’s saying and defend him. Like we say on the BA page on the website, right at the top, “Because of Bob Avakian and the work he has done over several decades, summing up the positive and negative experience of the communist revolution so far, and drawing from a broad range of human experience, there is a new synthesis of communism that has been brought forward—there really is a viable vision and strategy for a radically new, and much better, society and world, and there is the crucial leadership that is needed to carry forward the struggle toward that goal.” We should be letting people in on this!

Of course, there was a lot more that we got into. One person had written a response to the letter in Revolution last December on the clubs that had somehow gotten lost; I think it would be good to print it soon [editor's note: the letter has since been printed at]. Another person and I went back-and-forth on religion, going off different examples. But I guess my closing point for now would be that our site should be a place where what people in the clubs are thinking and grappling with, and what the clubs are doing not just in fighting the power but in transforming the people very broadly, where all this is getting reported on and wrangled with.

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