Taking the Work of Bob Avakian and The Bob Avakian Institute to an Immigration Law Conference

June 21, 2018 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us


A small team of volunteers with The Bob Avakian Institute went out with a multifaceted plan to make BA and his work known to thousands of immigration attorneys over the course of a three-and-a-half-day conference.

This was a gathering of lawyers in a state of emergency—looking for ways to find their footing in a rapidly changing legal system—the rules of which, many would say, were changing by the hour as the ground is being pulled out from under them. Over the course of several days, we had a big impact and became known at the conference as a whole. We distributed thousands of palm cards, posted up with banners, and sold 30 copies of the compilation from The BA Institute, Constitution, Law, and Rights – in capitalist society and in the future socialist society. Selections from the writings of Bob Avakian including excerpts from the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal).

Immigration is the spearhead and battering ram for the whole Trump/Pence regime fascist agenda. In the days leading into the conference, this was hitting home with gale wind force and with all of its ugliness laid bare. One attorney told us, when she heard that mothers were being told that their children were being taken for a bath and then never returned, “This hit me in ways that I am still trying to process. The level of utter cruelty that this is a part of…” She said she had always resented the analogy of Trump to Hitler because she had lived in Germany and thought Americans had no idea what this means. But as bad as the years under Obama were, this is something else. The first thing that came to her mind after hearing this story was the taking of people to the gas showers in Nazi Germany.

The massive attacks on immigrants and refugees are inextricably tied to the workings of the system of capitalism and imperialism. Millions and millions of people today are driven from their homelands, risking lives crossing borders in order to find a way to survive and enable their families to survive. They cannot live in their own countries because of the hell that the U.S. has created there: the theft of resources, the wars and environmental devastation, the oppressive and violent social relations. And for every country whose people are targeted in this war on immigrants, you can see the bloody footprints of a system of exploitation that spans the globe. The fascism of the Trump/Pence regime takes this to ever greater extremes. This lawyers conference was taking place in the center of this storm.

A Multi-Faceted Approach

The team of volunteers took two key works from Bob Avakian out to the conference and called on people to engage with the work of the architect of a new synthesis of communism, a whole new framework for human emancipation. We brought palm cards about the film of the talk, THE TRUMP/PENCE REGIME MUST GO! In The Name of Humanity, We REFUSE to Accept a Fascist America. A Better World IS Possible and the compilation mentioned above, Constitution, Law, and Rights. The compendium is an important collection of writings by Bob Avakian that brings to life, just as the title describes, an understanding of the legal system and the role it plays in reinforcing the oppressive and exploitative relations of this system, up against the kind of Constitution, law and rights in a socialist society that offer the means through which the masses of people can be brought into the radical transformation of society and themselves in the process. BA draws on the historical experience from the first stage of communist revolution, but also departs from that in significant ways, developing a new communism—thoroughly grounded in the scientific method.

We were able to get out very broadly with palm cards of the two works, and a brochure from The BA Institute explaining its mission and a brief description of who BA is and a list of his most important works—at conference sessions and parties. For a whole morning, two big banners were hung directly across from the entrance of the conference and could be seen from the lobby. One said “This System Cannot Be Reformed. It Must be Overthrown!” and the other said “We Don’t Have an Immigration Problem. We Have a Capitalism Problem.

We also spoke from the floor at some important sessions. This included getting up on a chair at the end of one of the largest gatherings of about 2,000 lawyers. The volunteer led a call and response to refuse to accept a fascist America and invited people to talk to us about BA’s work on the roots and dynamics of American fascism, and how we can make an actual revolution. At another session, Tom Steyer, a major Democratic Party donor who has been calling for impeachment, spoke out about the Democrat’s betrayal of the DACA students, and the internment camps for children. He argued for a new social contract within the existing system. His talk was filled with patriotism and how America, if it went back to its founding principles in the Declaration of Independence, could be good again. In the Q&A, the Institute volunteer argued from the floor for the need to step outside of the channels of normal politics that has brought us here and to drive out the fascist regime. More than that, that we have to understand that what is going on is an expression of a system which is not basically good but which was founded on slavery and genocide which still profoundly shape what we are now dealing with. He argued that we need a real revolution to overthrow this system and replace it with a far better system. He talked about The Bob Avakian Institute and BA who has developed a new approach to revolution and communism. Steyer said he agreed with a lot of what was said – including particularly the need to talk about the dark side of U.S. history, and spoke of recently visiting the new museum on lynching, while still upholding his framework of American democracy.

What We Almost Squandered—the Compendium

There was a major weakness during that first day and a half at the conference, which ran counter to making the kind of breakthroughs needed to bring the actual revolutionary content of BA’s work to this conference. At that point, only three copies of the compilation on Constitution, Law & Rights had been sold. Its content is at the heart of what people needed to understand and could have a special impact on those working in this realm—and it was being squandered.

Mid-stream, some of us stepped back and discussed this. And pretty drastically, changed our approach. We talked specifically about the importance of getting BA’s work right into people’s hands and having that direct engagement with BA’s work.

After that, 7 copies of the book were sold at a party that evening. The following day we decided that we would set up book tables. By the end of the day, we sold 16 copies: with a book table on the sidewalk, setting up a small stand inside the lobby and also going to people sitting in the lobby lounge. On the last day, we sold 3 at a short meeting with an attorney who wanted to learn more about us before he left. He bought the book as did two others, a friend who stopped by and ended up joining the conversation and another attorney who was just sitting next to us and wanted to know more.

People would read the introduction, the description of the author and go through the table of contents. Reading the titles of the chapters provoked people’s thinking, and they would comment on what they thought was important. There were a number of people who began to talk about the actual history of this country, what it meant that there was slavery or the theft of the land and the genocide of Native Americans. There were comments about the fact that there really is no “right to eat” under this system, how the laws play a crucial role in the maintenance of an economic system. And when we also talked about fascism—it was in this context of how this served the underlying needs of a system. The book itself also speaks to a number of important questions that came up repeatedly: whether a revolution is actually necessary and the nature of the state under this system. People were very interested in how all of this would be different in a society that was aimed at uprooting all of the relations of exploitation and oppression.

An Imperialism Problem

One other experience we had at the conference came off of our attempt to project the slide show now online at revcom.us—on Imperialism and Internationalism. This is a set of powerful quotes by BA from BAsics. Our projections did not work well outside of a party the first night but we knew that they would have had a big impact on these attorneys. We saw some of this from the response we got when we put on cloth patches with the slogan— “We Don’t Have an Immigration Problem—We Have an Imperialism Problem,” which drew a lot of attention and support—people stopping to talk or wanting to take a picture. In a number of cases, attorneys would talk about how they learned about the histories of the countries where their clients came from and the bloody role of the U.S. in creating the situations that they were escaping—Guatemala, El Salvador, Somalia, Syria, and Palestine. One attorney from Rwanda was agonizing about why things have gone so badly in Africa. He said that imperialism underlies all the civil wars in Africa. In addition to getting the legal compilation, he said he would get BA’s book The New Communism online.

Off these discussions, we asked people to seriously commit to watching the film, or reading the book they got, and to support the work of The Bob Avakian Institute. A number of people from across the country made a commitment to get back to us with their thoughts and ideas.

In sum, we went to a conference where perhaps a handful of people had ever heard of Bob Avakian before and in a matter of days, through a dynamic and multi-layered approach, this changed. We went into a situation where most of the people were not thinking outside of the confines of their work and were very much tied to the system’s processes in the electoral realm. What we found were many, many people who have the gut feeling that something is fundamentally wrong and were open to hearing about a leader who has scientifically gone at the central problem of this system of capitalism/imperialism and developed a new communism that has paved the way for a whole new wave of emancipating revolution.

A number of people commented that this is not something that they have ever talked about before and they were surprised and appreciative. Others said that they were interested in the decades of work that BA has done in summing up the first wave of communist revolution and what it meant to put communism on a thoroughly scientific basis.

What we also found was that our starting point must be the totally revolutionary leadership of Bob Avakian when we step to people, and getting that directly in people’s hands. It makes all the difference in the world.

the Bob Avakian Institute

The Bob Avakian Institute is a nonprofit institute organized for educational purposes. Its mission is to preserve, project, and promote the works and vision of Bob Avakian with the aim of reaching the broadest possible audience.

To donate online, go to: thebobavakianinstitute.org

Checks/money orders can be mailed to:
The Bob Avakian Institute (or The BA Institute), 1016 W. Jackson Blvd., Chicago IL 60607

Constitution, Law, and Rights – in capitalist society and in the future socialist society

This compilation brings a truly unique perspective to a subject that is of critical importance for all those concerned with social justice: constitution, law, and rights.

Read more about this compilation here

View, read or print PDF here

Official Biography of Bob Avakian

American Crime

Bob Avakian has written that one of three things that has “to happen in order for there to be real and lasting change for the better: People have to fully confront the actual history of this country and its role in the world up to today, and the terrible consequences of this.” (See “3 Things that have to happen in order for there to be real and lasting change for the better.”)

In that light, and in that spirit, “American Crime” is a regular feature of revcom.us. Each installment focuses on one of the 100 worst crimes committed by the U.S. rulers—out of countless bloody crimes they have carried out against people around the world, from the founding of the U.S. to the present day.

See all the articles in this series.

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