From a reader

"Barefoot Doctoring" in a Coffee Shop

April 9, 2018 | Revolution Newspaper |


This morning I went out to a neighborhood coffee shop near a local university, which is one of several in the area that I keep pretty stocked with materials from Refuse Fascism and A lot of these places have little free libraries in them, and some time last year I put a copy of BAsics there on a whim. I stop by fairly regularly and would notice that it was gone sometimes, then back again later, but I hadn’t seen it in quite some time so I wondered if it was still in rotation.

Today, however, I sat down and noticed that a young Black man (I’m unsure if he is a student or not) sitting next to me had been reading the copy of BAsics that I left there while he was waiting for a friend. I introduced myself and told him about the book’s journey, and he showed me how he had been taking pictures of quotations to share & go back to later. In particular, he said 1:5 had stuck out to him:

It is not uncommon to hear these days, from government officials and others, that only 1 percent of the population is in the U.S. military but that this 1 percent is fighting for the freedom of the other 99 percent. The truth, however, is this: That 1 percent, in the military, is in reality fighting for the other 1 percent: the big capitalist-imperialists who run this country—who control the economy, the political system, the military, the media, and the other key institutions—and who dominate large parts of the world, wreaking havoc and causing great suffering for literally billions of people. It is the “freedom” of these capitalist-imperialists—their freedom to exploit, oppress, and plunder—that this 1 percent in the military is actually killing and sometimes dying for.

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He was starting to break down the distorted meaning of the concept of “freedom,” and we talked about how Americans can be really bedazzled by this word and get tricked by those in power to go along with the horrendous shit that they’re responsible for.

Our brief conversation ended after his friend showed up. He showed her some quotes as she started to pick it up, and then they started catching up together on other things. So that it wouldn’t end there, I wrote down my email address on a copy of a Refuse Fascism flyer that was on a stack nearby. I handed it to him and told them both that there’s a group of us here that learn from, organize and fight the power on the basis of BA’s leadership and works like the one they were reading, and right now that means fighting to drive out the Trump/Pence regime. He said he’d check it out and hit us up, and I really hope he will, but at this point the fate of the follow-up is left to spontaneity on his part, and communists know that spontaneity is not on our side.

It was pretty cool up to that point, and I wasn’t trying to overwhelm them (but my excitement was probably obvious). Some missed opportunities would be asking him why he picked it out of all the others on the shelf, why that quote stuck out to him in particular, what he thinks about it more deeply, finding out what he does/is passionate about in general, actually getting his contact info rather than relying on him to follow up, how to tie it in to what needs to be done now, etc. I’d never been in this position before, so I did my best to try and guide things in the right direction without being overbearing. But at the same time, I know we should be boldly taking this out and who cares if we come across as awkward or intense—because this is about changing the world for real, and for the better.

It’s really invigorating to see that people are seeking out answers to their burning questions about the world, that they want to understand the world, that for some people out there things are “up in the air” to an extent. Walking away from this, my main feeling was that we really need a Revolution Club here to have a place where this is all being taken up scientifically and to really develop strategic commanders. Doing things individually is just sloppy, and it’s a bit of a problem to run into this kind of unevenness where someone may get into all this from an appreciation of BA and the method/approach of New Communism during a time when this actually has to be developed in the context of building Refuse Fascism and carrying forward its critical mission as the principal aspect of the overall strategic orientation during this period.

Nonetheless it was exciting to see that this little experiment on getting out BAsics from months ago would eventually lead to a chance conversation with potential for more—and to wonder who else had wrangled with what was inside and how it might have affected their view on the world.


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