Letter from a reader

Baseball and Revolution—Looking to the Future

June 1, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us


I really appreciated the short report “Chicago Sox Park: Taking a message to the Family Day baseball game” on the revcom.us website recently. In particular, that the people who were part of this outing acted on their understanding that it is “... important—to take this message out to this mainly white, middle of the road crowd.” More of this type of activity should go on.

The terrain we’re working on is changing rapidly. A highly contested and bitterly fought societal polarization has been shaping up around murder by police. This impacts all of society, creating possibilities for new synergies among different sections of people, and within different struggles. The need and the possibilities for radical change seem more realizable to more people.

Even more, as the article “High Stakes in Baltimore” concluded: “We NEED a revolution, we need to get organized for an ACTUAL revolution. What the masses have done in Baltimore has increased the possibility of that... and increased the challenges that revolutionaries must recognize and meet to actually move closer to being able to make that revolution.”

There is new necessity―and new freedom to act on that necessity—for the revolutionaries. And it must be acted on, urgently, as part of “hastening while awaiting” the emergence of a revolutionary situation.

Baseball Fans and Revolution

The letter makes the point that Sox fans “are not widely regarded as a progressive bunch.” The same could probably be said for baseball fans generally (although it would be wrong to be mechanical and one dimensional in our understanding of this—for one example, many immigrants from countries like the Dominican Republic and Mexico are avid baseball fans).

But here’s something to think about—if tens of millions of “baseball fans” (using this phrase as a metaphor for white middle strata people not usually associated with “progressive” causes) aren’t won to participation in, active support for, or friendly neutrality towards the movement for revolution—the revolution can not win. As the Constitution of the Revolutionary Communist Party states, “In order to win, the party will have to unite millions and tens of millions of people—and a vast array of political and social forces, with diverse viewpoints—to actively take part in and support the revolution....”

Its well worth giving some serious thought to what that “vast array” of forces holding diverse viewpoints could look like. It is also worth thinking about where the “millions and tens of millions” holding these viewpoints live.

Many of them live in the suburbs. Suburban America has become a more complicated place in the last 20 years or so. Many basic masses live in suburbs, as do people of many nationalities, including immigrants of different strata. Bob Avakian has deeply addressed some key contradictions among these suburban strata—among the youth and among women, for example.

But still, the potential solid base for a revolution is mainly concentrated in the inner city cores. And the potential social base for counter revolution exists, in large part anyway, in suburbs and “exurbs.”

In his work “Birds Cannot Give Birth to Crocodiles, but Humanity Can Soar Beyond the Horizon” (Birds/Crocodiles for short), BA describes a fascist outlook that “today rather acutely stand[s] out” and is a “major expression of ‘suburbanism,’ and in particular significant right-wing social and political expressions of this.” BA describes “suburbanism” as “part of this whole [fascist] package” and goes on to say that a big part of that is “racism—and a certain self-righteous viciousness founded on parasitism.”

This ugly situation didn’t just develop on its own, or because white people are inherently racist and backward. Along with the workings of this system, the ruling class of capitalist-imperialists has done and continues to do a lot, practically and in the realm of ideology, to foster all sorts of backwardness and narrow mindedness among middle strata people. We can see that all around us today.

But, as BA argues in “Birds/Crocodiles,” this reactionary “suburbanism” can change quickly among many people, especially youth, as a rebellious and revolutionary spirit takes root and reverberates throughout society. As he wrote in that work, “[T] here is both a great need, and a real possibility and potential, for a rebellion, particularly of youth, in opposition to all this—especially to the right-wing expressions of this but also more generally to the assumptions and dynamics, the motivations and ethos, at the core of ‘suburbanism’....”

Today, and “Tomorrow”

Maximizing this possibility is a crucial part of preparing the ground for revolution. There is an important ideological component to this today. It is very positive, for example, that many middle class white people in the Baltimore area and elsewhere have joined in the fight to stop murder by police. New synergies that build off and strengthen each other, and the potential for new alliances, can be seen. All this should be consciously worked on and taken to its utmost at any time by the revolutionaries.

Maximizing this potential, including in its organized expressions, are also crucial for actually making and winning a revolution. If the areas most solidly for revolution are able to be easily surrounded and suppressed by the “baseball fans in the suburbs” in a future situation—one qualitatively different from today—that would not bode well for the revolution. The movement for revolution has to work on this contradiction, now, as part of fighting to create more favorable conditions for revolution.

Working with this understanding is also an expression of what the movement for revolution is all about—the emancipation of humanity, not “the last shall be first”, seeking revenge, or any other petty motive.

Revolution—actual, real revolution, is in the interests of the majority of people in this country, whether they now know that or not.

A Society Boiling with Conflict

Right now society is boiling with conflict about the epidemic of police murder and brutality, and mass incarceration of Black and Latino youth. A profound polarization—a big division in society has developed. Uprisings among the oppressed have compelled broad numbers of people, including many thousands of white middle class people, to confront not just police brutality, but the ideology of white supremacy.

On the other side, defenders of this system, which has white supremacy woven into its every aspect, have been staging police rallies and protests and demanding unconditional support. And yes, there have been surges of gun sales in the suburbs.

Communists, acting with basic masses and others in taking out revolutionary politics into this mix, have the potential to make a huge difference now, and aiming towards the future. Things won’t just “fall our way”—but things can begun to be realigned more favorably for revolution, through intensely sharp struggle.

A Fight to Wage, a Fight to Win

This brings me to my last point in this brief letter. The revolutionaries have to FIGHT for this. Just putting a line out there won’t do. Building a revolutionary pole of attraction mainly in the urban cores but felt throughout all of society changes things broadly for many people. But for that to strengthen and grow, it must be fought for tooth and nail among all sections of people, every step (and leap) of the way.

Revolution, nothing less, must be the foundation, starting point, and “glue” of how the movement for revolution approaches people in these middle strata. Lifting people's sights to make them aware of the real possibilities for radical change. Bringing BAsics, the Dialogue between Bob Avakian and Cornel West, Revolution, and other material on the revcom.us website to them. Expecting and welcoming controversy and fierce struggle, including vehement opposition; but also expecting the message of revolution to connect and resonate, to “sink in,” with growing numbers of people.

The example of the young guy in Chicago who challenged the revolutionaries by asking where the pictures of cops were on the Stolen Lives banner, and how the revolutionary responded, has to go on... on a much larger scale.

In “Birds/Crocodiles,” BA talks about how youth who had been raised as conservative Republicans became “radicalized” within a short time during the upheavals of the 1960s. We have to fight for similar transformations today among sections of youth and other “baseball fans.” And we are in a much better position to achieve that today, because of the work done by BA and the existence of a revolutionary vanguard, the RCP.

Fighting to maximize the influence and organized development of the movement for revolution among the middle strata, including the “suburbanites,” is not an abstract question, it is not something that can be put off until “we’ve made more advances in the cities.” This is a life and death matter that urgently needs to be worked on, now.

So, these are some initial thoughts prompted by an important and instructive initial experience.



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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."

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BA Speaks

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BAsics 1:13

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At the beginning of 2012, an in-depth interview with Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, was conducted over a period of several days by A. Brooks, a younger generation revolutionary who has been inspired by the leadership and body of work of Bob Avakian and the new synthesis of communism this has brought forward.

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