Further Reflections in Getting this Film Out In the World

May 25, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us


Revolution recently, two weeks back, had an article with a rather matter-of-fact title, “Watching Clips from the Dialogue Between Cornel West and Bob Avakian in West Baltimore.” This account describes the reaction, responses, and further questions of people, mainly from West Baltimore, where Freddie Gray was murdered. They “gathered around the tiny screen of a DVD player to watch excerpts from REVOLUTION AND RELIGION: The Fight for Emancipation and the Role of Religion. From teenagers to people in their 50s and older, men and women, and some who had done long bids in prison—everyone in the room was glued to the screen, hooting, laughing, and clapping at times, and at other times audibly silent, intensely listening to the Dialogue—with some particular intensity to the part where Bob Avakian laid out in clear and serious terms how it could be possible to make an actual revolution and defeat the brutal power of the rulers.”

This account describes the visceral responses to Avakian’s laying out a vision of a radically different world: What if the world did not have to be this way—without police murder, without the objectification of women as sex objects, without the criminalization of immigrants, in fact a world without borders—posing, in this context, whether we need religion to “get through the night” as a salve to the horrors of this world. This account describes the responses of the people to Avakian’s argument that we need to actually “win” the revolution, and be serious about it, including drawing forth others into the process of figuring out how, on the foundation of a basic framework to do so. “I leaned forward when I heard that” commented someone on Avakian’s notice that “if you’re going to go up against [the enforcers] of this system, you have to take seriously into account what they will bring down on people who try to fight them.” And most of all, people talked about their sights—and hopes being raised to the possibility of something radically different. “At the end of the meeting [one woman] said she was ‘worried’ because she felt so good. She felt so full of hope. We talked a little bit about this thing of how much it hurts for people to hope, but how much this raises people’s hopes and sights and dreams. Physically you could see she was so full of excitement—but she was also thinking, ‘am I a fool to hope?’ It was sort of an unspoken—or actually a spoken—thing. People were trying to take a measure of us, and of BA. I don’t think there was a question in people’s minds that BA is for real.” [emphasis ours]

People responded to and commented on the chemistry, the mutual respect between West and Avakian, with their differences, but united on their concern for those who are “the least among us,” with the account going on to state: “People were really responding to the back and forth between BA and CW over the role of art and having a different kind of culture—the point about the tenderness, the sweetness, and the collectivity. When BA said, ‘It’s not weak to love,’ that really struck a chord...” In this Dialogue, people experienced the pre-figuring of a radically different world, and this has come through in account after account of people’s responses, sincere and heart-felt, to the Dialogue and the film of it.

This is but a mere glimpse of the potential response to this Dialogue, and in an atmosphere of intense political and intellectual ferment that follows the defiant and mass protests against police murder, mainly of Black and Latino youth, a much-needed and critical element.

There are tens, if not hundreds of thousands across this country who are like the individuals at this gathering, searching for answers, open to radical questioning and radical change, looking for leadership, but who don’t yet know about BA.

This is what we seek to change with BA Everywhere, raising the funds so that all of them know about BA and what he represents in basic terms. BA Everywhere is a multi-faceted fundraising campaign to project Bob Avakian—BA—his voice and his work way out into society, far beyond what it is today. All those who have engaged BA in some form―whether by watching the Dialogue, or being provoked by a quote in BAsics, or reading a section of his memoir—and think he needs to be heard and seen by millions more, or can be won to see the impact this can have on society, needs to be part of this campaign to actually make this happen, to “make BA a household word,” and ways should be found for them to contribute and participate in this process.

Let’s, for a minute, look at what has happened since Ferguson, the moment when youth at the bottom of society and cast out by the system stood up and defiantly rebelled against the police murder of Michael Brown and the non-indictment of the cop responsible, Darren Wilson. Youth rebelling defiantly, and in the process, drawing forth the support and protest actions of broader swathes of society—not only in Ferguson, but Madison, Baltimore, Cleveland, and nationwide. This results in a shifting societal polarization that not only favorably arrays a range of social forces against these acts of police murder and its rationalizations, but is also sparking bigger questions and discussions about the nature of this society and what is variously understood as the “system,” its enforcers and its institutions of rule, and the history and place of Black people in it. While putting “the system,” scientifically the capitalist-imperialist system, on the defensive and forced to respond, it leads to a dynamic and polarization that is ever-shifting, but on the whole what characterizes and is manifesting the potential churning of society on one of its key fault-lines as it has historically evolved, the oppression of Black people from the time of slavery to its continuing legacy to today. This moment, potentially (i.e. not certain or a guarantee) continuing into and escalating through the “long, hot, summer,” holds within it, tremendous potential towards a revolutionary re-polarization—and hastening a time when the revolutionary seizure of power is on the agenda.

At a moment like this, what is most needed is “the masses of people more broadly, need to be led to correctly understand—and act on the correct understanding of—problem and solution, and the fact that, through communist revolution, there is a way out of the horrors and outrages that they are rising up against and that this system forces them to endure every day.”

All of this—the full package of the “problem/solution,” what is the source of all this oppression and needless suffering and what is the solution to it, the communist revolution, the fact that it does not have to be this way, and the leadership for it—is concentrated now at the highest level in BA, Bob Avakian. This is why The Dialogue, and other works by BA raises sights—and raises hopes, on a scientific foundation.

Commenting on the Dialogue, Ardea Skybreak has said: “It was like there was magic in the air. It was one of the most hopeful things that I’ve seen in a very long time. I think it was historic in many different dimensions: in terms of the topic that was approached; the people who were involved in it, the two speakers; the moment in time. I felt like I was able to see a great demonstration of morality and conscience applied to dealing with the problems of humanity—that both speakers stood out this way....”[emphasis ours]. (From “Ardea Skybreak: On Attending the Dialogue Between Bob Avakian and Cornel West.”

All of this is why we need to and will focus on making a real leap in fundraising for, and publicizing, showing, and distributing REVOLUTION AND RELIGION: The Fight for Emancipation and the Role of Religion, A Dialogue Between Cornel West and Bob Avakian.


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"The film brings you up close inside Cornel West's and Bob Avakian's dialogue: the passion, the audacity, the science, the morality, the revolutionary substance. Two courageous voices modeling a morality that refuses to accept injustice – pouring heart and soul into standing together challenging all of us to fight for a world worthy of humanity."

Andy Zee,
co-director of the film


BA Speaks

"No more generations of our youth, here and all around the world, whose life is over, whose fate has been sealed, who have been condemned to an early death or a life of misery and brutality, whom the system has destined for oppression and oblivion even before they are born. I say no more of that."

BAsics 1:13

Do you know anyone else—any person or organization—that has managed to bring forth an actual PLAN for a radically different society, in all its dimensions, and a CONSTITUTION to codify all this? — A different world IS possible — Check out and order online the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal).