Letter from Chicago:

Getting into BA and Revolution with People Fighting the Power

December 21, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us


In the last four weeks, since the Laquan McDonald video was released, there have been continuing protests that refuse to allow “business as usual” to continue as long as Black youths are being murdered with impunity by police. Some of these protests are large, some small, mostly youths, a majority Black, but all kinds of ages and nationalities, community and political groups (see comprehensive and ongoing coverage at www.revcom.us). As this has been roiling, big questions have been raised about why does the oppression of Black people and other oppressed people go on, where does this come from, and is there a way out? Is there a connection between this and all the other horrors in the world? What would it take to end it?

In this situation we have made a concerted effort to introduce people to Bob Avakian’s pathbreaking leadership and work. We have gotten out Revolution newspaper, pluggers with quotes from BA, BAsics, and the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal). We have had some pre-planned events, like showings of the video BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! at Revolution Books store, and discussions of BA’s outline, “The New Synthesis of Communism: Fundamental Orientation, Method and Approach, and Core Elements.”

The first showing of BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! was the same day as a major protest, and three people came directly to the showing from the downtown protest along with some Revolution Club members. At the second showing, seven new people came who we had recently met in the streets fighting for justice for Laquan McDonald: six Black people ranging in age from 14 to 50 and one young white woman. Some gatherings were held on-the-spot (before and after protests) to dig into the revolution and BA. And a “Meet the Revolution Club” gathering was called the next day after one protest, which six new people came to.

Here is a report on a discussion after a protest one night.

Discussion One Night After a Protest

Why are we still fighting for justice in 2015?

"Why are we still fighting for justice in 2015?" is a clip from the film REVOLUTION AND RELIGION: The Fight for Emancipation and the Role of Religion; A Dialogue Between CORNEL WEST & BOB AVAKIAN. The film is of the November 2014 historic Dialogue on a question of great importance in today's world between the Revolutionary Christian Cornel West and the Revolutionary Communist Bob Avakian. Watch the entire film here.

After one of the marches, a 30-something Black man who had come to the first BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! showing brought six younger Black guys over to a revolutionary and said, “I told you I had friends who wanted to talk about this stuff, let’s go do it.” So they went to a nearby coffee shop. It was an interesting and diverse mix, from some in the Black middle class to people who had been into life on the street. Two of them were high school students from the South Side. The other four seemed to be in their 20s and have jobs of some type. The man who pulled them together got people’s attention and introduced the revolutionary saying, “Here is the guy with the revolution who wants to talk to you.”

The revolutionary started out by saying that we had just been out in the street demanding that police terror stop, but we need to dig into what is causing this if we want to end it. He spoke briefly to how the oppression of Black people is built into the very nature of capitalism from the beginning in America and only a revolution to get rid of the whole system will end it.

This didn’t go on for too long before one guy started to argue that the problem was not capitalism as a system, but rather that Black people had not been allowed their fair chance to succeed at capitalism. He ran down how Black people spend billions but it does not go to Black businesses. He remembered back 20 years ago when there were Black businesses in the Black neighborhoods on the South Side. He named Black businesses that used to be at a certain intersection but are no longer there. A number of times, the revolutionary tried to break in to bring a bigger perspective—what happened to all those businesses? They went under when all the big factories left—which was a product of how capitalism must constantly seek new and greater ways to exploit labor. The main guy and a couple of the others got into talking about how Black people buy insurance to cover their funerals, but they don’t buy it from Black insurance companies. One of them talked about how Black people used to own banks.


"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

Read more

The revolutionary asked them, if they wanted to own businesses, who did they think was going to do all the work for them to make their profits? This didn’t get any traction. Then the main guy explained what a good business head he had by talking about back when he was into the informal economy, he used to beat out his competitors by having “two for one” sales. This line of discussion went on between the four somewhat older guys for quite awhile.

The revolutionary kept struggling with them to pull the lens back and look at reality. And at one point he was able to grab hold of the fact that if—as they were advocating—they could all become capitalists, then they would live by the commandment “expand or die.” And it would make no difference what nationality, gender, etc. they are, they would have to act like capitalists and use every imaginable avenue open to them to maximize their profits and beat down their competition. He said, “You may think you are going to pay your Black employees a decent wage, but if you do, you will just go broke because your competitors will be looking for cheaper labor somewhere else in the world to exploit. And you will be forced to do everything you can to drive your competitor Black businesses under, just as they will be forced to do the same to you. And pretty soon—if this actually was allowed to happen—there would be just a few big Black businesses left doing to Black people exactly what white (and other businesses) do to them today.”

All of a sudden everyone was listening intently. The main guy stopped interrupting. There was something about the reality of the “expand or die” commandment that they had to all recognize. Earlier, someone had said something about how for oppressed people to “get started” fighting their oppression, they had to play the same game as their oppressors. So the revolutionary again stressed that no matter who you are, capitalism will turn you into a monster. He brought up the example of Israel as what happens when an oppressed people take up the same oppressor role as the imperialists in the name of “my people first”—they end up committing horrible crimes themselves.

Then the revolutionary went after the illusion that this system would ever allow Black people as a people to take control of their own neighborhoods and somehow have their own economy. Someone had earlier mentioned that Black people used to own banks. It was called Black Wall Street in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The revolutionary asked them what happened to it. Most of them knew and said that it had been burned down by a racist mob and the Black people massacred. So what made them think that this system wouldn’t do the same thing again?

The revolutionary told them straight up that they needed to get serious and look at the world as it really is. First, Black capitalism is not liberation for the vast majority of Black people, and certainly cannot emancipate all of humanity. Second, the rulers of this country are never going to allow that kind of Black economic independence to develop within this system of capitalism-imperialism, and if somehow they allowed a greater share of the wealth to Black people, that wealth would still be based on the exploitation and oppression of billions of people around the world enforced by military might. And last, but actually most important, there are a whole slew of other horrendous problems facing humanity—the oppression of women, immigrants, wars of empire, climate destruction—that Black capitalism doesn’t even pretend to address. But there is a solution to all this—and here the revolutionary went into BA, who he is and what he has brought forward through 40 years of work. Except for the guy who got them together, none of them knew of BA. The revolutionary explained that there was a strategy to make a revolution and a constitution for a new revolutionary society—and challenged them to dig into BA and see for themselves that there is a truly liberating way out of the horrors of this system for all of humanity.

The whole mood of the discussion had changed. Different people spoke, saying they wanted to learn more about the revolution and this leader. The revolutionary made the point that the implications for people’s lives are way too serious for us to be wrong about the problem and the solution. That is why, the revolutionary argued, people have to dig into BA. And things ended with everyone getting each other’s phone number and planning to meet the next day. The meeting the next day got superseded by another demonstration, but two people from this discussion came to the next showing of disc 2 of BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! at Revolution Books two days later. One of them, a high school youth, thought what BA was saying in the video was the same thing as what people who are advocating for Black capitalism are saying. He said he agreed with BA that we need a revolution, in order to get to Black Wall Street, not to do away with capitalism. The struggle over the way forward continues...



Volunteers Needed... for revcom.us and Revolution

Send us your comments.

If you like this article, subscribe, donate to and sustain Revolution newspaper.

REVOLUTION AND RELIGION The Fight for Emancipation and the Role of Religion, A Dialogue Between Cornel West & Bob Avakian
BA Speaks: Revolution Nothing Less! Bob Avakian Live
BAsics from the Talks and Writings of Bob Avakian
Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal)
WHAT HUMANITY NEEDS Revolution, and the New Synthesis of Communism
You Don't Know What You Think You 'Know' About... The Communist Revolution and the REAL Path to Emancipation Its History and Our Future Interview with Raymond Lotta
The Oppression of Black People, The Crimes of This System and the Revolution We Need