Discussing Bob Avakian’s New Synthesis with Spanish-Speaking Immigrants

January 4, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us


From a reader:

Several Spanish-speaking immigrants got together recently to dig into Bob Avakian’s new synthesis of communism. Below is a report on that lively discussion. Because of limited materials in Spanish, we referred a lot to quotes from Lo BAsico (Spanish edition of BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian).


by Bob Avakian, Chairman,
Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, Summer 2015

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It was exciting to do this with new people who we have been working with on the fault line of police brutality. These people, mainly from Central America, have gotten the newspaper, seen the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, and have copies of Lo BAsico. But it makes a big difference to actually read from Lo BAsico in preparation for this discussion of The New Synthesis of Communism: Fundamental Orientation, Method and Approach, and Core Elements (Outline). I really got an appreciation for how valuable Lo BAsico is for introducing people to the new synthesis. Some of the outline can be intimidating to new people because it literally is speaking a new language for them. The quotes in Lo BAsico, Chapter 4, were what we mainly used. Most people did the readings and everyone followed the re-studying of the quotes during the discussion. (At the time of preparation, the Spanish translation of the interview with Ardea Skybreak, Science and Revolution: On the Importance of Science and the Application of Science to Society, the New Synthesis of Communism and the Leadership of Bob Avakian, was not available.)

(From Chapter 4 of Lo BAsico we discussed #1, 14, 6, 7 and 10.)

But even before getting into the outline itself and the Lo BAsico quotes, we made an introduction (prepared for another English-speaking salon) about the historical sweep for humanity starting 200,000 years ago and summarizing the development of classes and oppression and the first stage of communist revolution. This was controversial right away because one woman raised that she knows that the world cries out for change and the idea of communism and people having equality and rights, but she has heard contradictory things about communism. Some people argue that in Cuba, for example, people have access to great education and health care but other people say that people are trying to sell their shoes off their feet in order to get money for food and that there is great poverty and suffering... “So where is the communism,” she asks. “I don’t see that it has ever existed.”

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So this led us to go and pull out copies of the Revolution newspaper special issue: “The Communist Revolution and the REAL Path to Emancipation: Its History and Our Future” and read the section on what the revolution was able to do right away about the oppression of women. Others talked about other achievements, like the barefoot doctors in China, and a veteran talked about how when he visited China young kids spoke about a different future for people around the world and felt like they were a part of bringing that forward. But then we talked about the reversal of the revolution in China after the death of Mao and why there is a basis for that reversal because of the inherited inequalities and class differences. So this was really good and the woman who posed the question came out of it promising to read that special issue, and we put a challenge to her to take responsibility for doing that.

I went through the whole outline and very briefly summarized the four component parts of the new synthesis. Then we started going into the Lo BAsico quotes around method and approach. Right from the first quote there was controversy because another person said, “When it says understand reality... whose reality? It depends who you ask, doesn’t it?” So this led us into a discussion of relativism and the problem with “your narrative” and “my narrative,” etc., and that there is a basis for getting at and understanding objective truth. But there have been problems in not maintaining a rigorous scientific method and attitude among communists. We talked about how the new synthesis opens up an understanding of wrong tendencies toward instrumentalism and not confronting the truths that make one cringe. We talked about the example of the capture of Chairman Gonzalo in Peru and the difficulties that the comrades there had with that and the harm that it caused.

We also began discussion of Lo BAsico 4:10 and the problem with people accepting things based on how much authority is behind it, and Lo BAsico 4:7—truths that make you cringe; class truth and what problems that caused in the Soviet Union and later in China; how BA speaks to this and argues for a scientific method and approach for a new stage of communism, based on recognizing shortcomings of the first stage.

So there was a back and forth—looking at the real accomplishments but, also looking at BA’s fearless, critical method and approach in order to go forward and further next time.

People found the discussion both challenging and very helpful because they really had not seriously studied or looked at these things in the past. One woman came out saying, “Wow, I really have some work to do to study this special edition [of the history of the communist movement] and read more of Lo BAsico.” Two other women really appreciated this too, and I thought the discussion took on the argument for relativism and how you have to take responsibility for what is true and fight through with people to find out what is true and what isn’t and take responsibility to act based on that.

One of the things that I also learned in this session is how controversial the new synthesis is, even among some who have been around this movement for years. When we were discussing how BA approached the dialogue on religion and revolution with Cornel West and how he struggled with Cornel about what is true but also had the attitude of appreciating what Cornel brings to the table, one woman talked about how she is Catholic but does not close herself off from learning from others coming from either different faiths or no faith. When she spoke about her religious faith, one person started making fun of what she was saying. He was called out on this, and the religious woman herself let him know that this isn’t right. We need to listen and learn and understand where people are coming from and how they understand reality—and then, if it is wrong, we have the responsibility to struggle with them. If religion does not reflect reality, then struggle with people about why and what harm religion does, and with specifics, the way that BA does. Don’t take an attitude of smug arrogance and make fun or light of people’s way of thinking.

Plans for the next discussion were made. I decided to play the section from the film of BA’s talk Revolution: Why It’s Necessary, Why It’s Possible, What It’s All About (this video has Spanish translation) on historical materialism, and open the discussion on the quote about no predetermined pathways from Ardea Skybreak’s book Of Primeval Steps and Future Leaps (i.e., I wanted to get into the first sub-topic in the “method and approach” part in the outline).



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