A letter from Andy Zee

The Points of Attention: A Doorway and Guide to Making Revolution

| revcom.us


Dear Revcom,

Greetings from the Get Organized for an Actual Revolution Tour. Last week I had an opportunity to speak with members of the Tour and the Los Angeles Revolution Club about the special effort to make an impact with and to organize new people into the movement for revolution with a special focus on the Revolution Club’s “Points of Attention for the Revolution (POAs).” People found that this informal talk sharpened up the radical difference the POAs could make in organizing people into the revolution. Since this talk, the Tour has been going out applying and experimenting with this different approach. We thought that it would be helpful to others around the country if I reconstructed this informal presentation. I will do my best to recall what I said.

So here goes:

This two-week effort to highlight and focus work around the POAs has two purposes:

1. A radical re-orientation for how we are organizing people into the revolution right from the start of meeting them. This is a big change from what has been the working conception and practice of organizing people into the Revolution Clubs. So, we should recognize that over the next 12 days going out with the POAs in a concentrated way has, as one objective, transforming how we (the Tour) and the Revolution Clubs step to the masses.

2. And second, through this period we need to change the situation where we turn heads to revolution, to people getting involved with the effort to spread the POAs—impact society with them—and through which we make real breakthroughs in accumulating forces for revolution now, organizing people in new and basic ways.

I want to expand a bit more on the point of radical re-orientation or reset on organizing masses into the revolution. Think about how much a departure this is from what has been Club practice, to be oriented and have a way to go out and organize people from the outset of meeting them. Right after making the basic case for why we need a revolution and that we have the way and the leadership to do so, then as a key part of our “pitch,” we should put forth and give the people a living sense of the right process and basis of unity for them to be a part of the movement for revolution: to get organized and to organize themselves.

This process comprehends the understanding that people don’t go from zero to 60 miles an hour all at once. It comprehends that people act on what they come to understand through a process that involves learning while changing the world—initially through their spreading the word... Again, a process whereby people are out spreading word of, and in that way representing for, the revolution while they are getting deeper into what it’s all about themselves.

And, they should tell people that! The POAs provide a means for people to help solve a big problem for humanity—that most people don’t know there is another way we could live, that there is a way and leadership for a revolution for a radically new world, and that the forces for revolution need to grow now if there is to be a revolution. We are involving them in solving that problem. More, the POAs are a concentration of what the Rev Clubs are (or should be)—these are the principles we uphold and live by today and they embody the world we are fighting for.

The POAs embody a great deal of scientific understanding—they embody a great deal of the new communism and the character and leadership of BA. The Points of Attention are a basic concentration of the principles, methods, and goals of this revolution. The struggle by masses of people to live by and fight for these principles will also serve to “establish” revolution as a different pole in society, causing word of it to spread. It will be an impetus and a means by which people link up, form groups and networks, and get organized into the revolution. The popularization and engagement with the POAs will be an important link in a mass process whereby people change themselves towards becoming emancipators of humanity.

The Points of Attention are a pathway to BA—to the leadership we have in Bob Avakian, to the guidance from his body of work. As people dig into and apply these principles right away they will want and need to know more. In particular, BAsics and the films of BA are an essential “starter kit” for people seeking to change the world and get with the revolution. BAsics is the handbook of the movement for revolution. The film of the speech by BA in the summer of 2018 Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution is foundational to all we are doing right now concentrated in the Tour. The book 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 provides an incredible course in understanding the import and method and approach of BA. In drawing attention to these works it is not my point to undercut or drown the power in the simplicity of the POAs by “piling on the books.” But rather to provoke everyone here to think about how with these POAs as the basic departure and a reference point through which people get into the revolution, there will be a felt need to go deeper, to seek out the science, strategy, and leadership that we have in BA—the ideological and political framework and understanding—the tools—to develop their understanding and to train them to be leaders to win others to the same process.

With this let’s get into what Bob Avakian says in the speech, “Why We Need... and How We Can...”

Spreading the word, particularly as this is done together with others in a planned, systematic way, can be an important step in joining the organized ranks of the revolution and taking part in the process of building the revolution. A crucial next step in making this revolution real is that Thousands need to get organized into the ranks of the revolution now, while millions are being influenced in favor of this revolution.Getting organized into the ranks of the revolution means acting together with others in a unified way, as an organized force, guided by the strategic plan and leadership for the revolution, building the revolution among broader masses of people, while also getting deeper into the principles, methods, and goals of this revolution, the basics of which are concentrated in the “Points of Attention for the Revolution.” A key form of revolutionary organization are the Revolution Clubs, which live by, propagate, and fight for the “Points of Attention.” The core of the Revolution Clubs are people deeply committed to revolution who closely follow the leadership of the Revolutionary Communist Party, which has the basis, in the new communism, to provide overall leadership for the revolution; but the Revolution Clubs also need to reach out to and involve growing numbers of people who are new to the revolution. The Revolution Clubs are a means through which “people can take part in and powerfully represent for the revolution in an organized way, as they learn more about the revolution and advance toward joining the Party.”

Networks of people, working together to spread the word about and organize people into the revolution, need to be built, and expanded, in all parts of the country—and linked together. In areas where the Party and the Revolution Clubs have not yet established an organized presence, or in circumstances where people have not yet come into direct contact with this organized presence of the revolution but have become aware of the core principles and goals of the revolution, they should reach out to and involve others they can draw forward around those core principles and goals; they should link up with the central leadership of the revolution for assistance and direction in organizing a Revolution Club among the people they are bringing into the revolution, on the basis of the “Points of Attention for the Revolution,” which are included in the pamphlet HOW WE CAN WIN, and are posted at revcom.us. A crucial “connecting link” in all this is the Party’s website revcom.us and newspaper Revolution, which “sharply expose the crimes of this system, scientifically analyze why it cannot be reformed, and give guidance and direction for people to work in a unified way for revolution.” In everything we do, it needs to be clearly kept in mind, and boldly put forward to people, that, whatever part of the country we are in, and whatever the size of our forces at any given time, we are doing all this as part of a national movement, together with people in other parts of the country, aiming to impact all of society and building a revolution to overthrow the whole system, with the whole world in mind.

I have bolded two sections of these paragraphs to reflect the attention I drew to these sentences during the presentation even as I emphasized that these are not separate points from what BA is describing, but to underscore that even as people in the Tour and Club have had this speech for several months, the role of the POAs as described by BA has been overlooked by all of us.

I underscore this here because when the two-week POA focus for the Tour was announced there were tendencies to see the POAs only as a way to appeal to people’s desire for a just world—a statement of morality divorced from revolution. As important as it is that the POAs draw forward people’s often suppressed hatred for the way masses of people are set against each other in this society, the POAs are more than that, they are a crucial pivot in the whole process of making revolution. They are core principles of the revolution—polemical statements of what this revolution is for and what not: Point #1: for the emancipation of humanity, not personal gain... and each of the six sets forth an important ideological dividing line. The POAs set forth the methods of the revolution—guidelines for how we relate to and struggle with each other and critically in Point #5: on searching for and fighting for the truth. And, the POAs concentrate key goals of the revolution—the emancipation of humanity in Point #1 and that as it says in Point #6 since we are serious about aiming for an actual revolution to overthrow the system, “at this stage we do not initiate violence and we oppose all violence against the people and among the people.”

Everything we are doing is aiming for “the time when the masses of people can be led to go for revolution, all out, with a real chance to win.” For this to happen we need to Prepare the Ground—change the way different forces are aligned today: putting this revolution on the map as a pole, an alternate authority in neighborhoods, schools and nationwide. If people knew of these Points of Attention, if they knew there was an actual force all across the country who were living by and fighting for these principles, wouldn’t that go a ways to preparing the ground? 

We need to Prepare the People. How? In one important aspect—by bringing forward thousands of people who are living by and fighting for these POAs—while many more people are appreciative of, looking towards, and supporting those who are today doing so. Recall what BA said in the film REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! about the “church ladies” appreciating someone doing something about these youth out here. And, if there is an organized force around the Points Of Attention—in clubs and networks all across the country—then we will have taken a serious step forward in Preparing the Vanguard, in bringing forward the organized force with the principles, methods and goal that could be forged into a vanguard party to organize an actual revolution and win.

The POAs are not something separate from the strategy for revolution. A key part of the strategy is captured in the slogan, Fight the Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution.

Have you noticed that POA # 2 begins: “We fight for a world where ALL the chains are broken.” Or, that POA # 3 begins with: We fight for a world without borders, and for equality among different peoples, cultures and languages.” And, that the substance of all six POAs is what guides us today in transforming the people—which fundamentally means changing their thinking—and do constitute a great deal of what we are fighting for in this revolution: POA #1: “...the emancipation of humanity...”

The POAs are not a pipe dream, or some utopic scheme to get followers. This revolution for the new communism is real. We have been going out among the masses of people from Sacramento to UCLA to most recently the streets of South Central LA at the corner of Crenshaw and Slauson where Nipsey Hussle was gunned down in front of his clothing store. Everywhere we go, we are bringing alive for people that their lives and the things they care about can NOT fundamentally be solved under this system—even as today they largely don’t know this, or why it is so.  In fact, they have been systematically indoctrinated by the media, the educational system, the culture, as well as the way in which this system sets people against each other, on a world scale; they are locked within frameworks that they need to break from. 

To make this come alive and be sharply present in people’s thinking we bring them 5 STOPS—five horrific forms of oppression that this system can not eliminate, that can not be reformed away. This provides the material basis for making revolution including that people do care about one or all of these 5 STOPS.

These 5 STOPS present TWO CHOICES to the people: Either live with this and the oppression will go on and on, or, as BA says in the speech, Make Revolution.  And, if you want to be a part of making revolution, you need to spread the word of the revolution and GET ORGANIZED—and the 6 POINTS OF ATTENTION provide the principles by which you can do that.

So, as one of the people from the Tour put it: We have 5 STOPS, 2 CHOICES, AND 6 POINTS OF ATTENTION. Easy to remember and concentrating the path to getting organized for revolution.

We can recognize that this is vastly different than what has been common practice in the Rev Clubs. The Tour has been going out to provoke people out of the frameworks they have been living in—whether elections, the dog eat dog of entrepreneurialism (legit or not), intersectionality, etc… We have been putting forth problem and solution, leading with BAsics 3:1 and how that presents two choices: live with this system or make revolution. But, then while we may say what’s missing is you, the agitation and how we are oriented towards involving people does not break down the divide where people say, “I’ll check it out,” or, “I admire your dedication, it's good you are doing this,” and then we just get their contact information or invite them to an event. Our agitation, our “pitch,” has not given people a way in, a way to take this up and run with it.  

Instead, we have had a model where to get with this movement people have to be a full time activist on short notice.  More, they feel they have to know a lot about revolution and communism to be a part of this. If you think for five minutes about this, with this method and approach we will at best aggregate scores of hundreds of people, one by one. This will not a revolution make. Actually, it is antithetical—opposed—to the revolution we need where people are working on the problems of the revolution including organizing for it!

The point is not that we don’t have to lead. But, rather lead how? The POAs provide a way right from when we meet people for them to get into what this is all about, what it’s for and how to think about it. It provides a way for people to go out to others with these POAs and discuss them. We should find the right ways to lead and assist—being sure people have the tools they need from the website or in print to go deeper. In this way we should develop networks of people and beginning Revolution Clubs. People need to be connected to BA right from the start—giving them the science and understanding they need. We should be connected to learn from their questions and to guide them. A measure of how we are doing is whether and how people respond to calls that the revolution makes—such as for this POA picnic on April 28.

As people take up the POAs and start getting them around, linking up and talking with others about them, and forming beginning organization, what do they need to understand in a basic way? They should be getting a real living sense of the strategy for revolution, the critical importance of advancing through lively ideological struggle, including having a sense of how to do battle with the backwardness from different sections of the people such as posturing opportunists (see the fire extinguisher award to Al Sharpton)—even coming to see how sometimes these people assume the words of revolution. New people really need to be able to increasingly recognize bullshit wherever they encounter it, and use their developing networks, or groups of like-minded people, to regularly discuss and sum up these encounters, and advances forged through them, all as part of building scientific revolutionary “muscle”! 

We have work to do ourselves to incorporate all of this into our agitation and beginning encounters with people and into our work overall. There is a lot of thinking and experimentation we need to do. All of it aimed at getting to a situation where millions can be led to go for revolution, all-out, with a real chance to win.

Points of Attention for the Revolution

1 We base ourselves on and strive to represent the highest interests of humanity: revolution and communism. We do not tolerate using the revolution for personal gain.

2 We fight for a world where ALL the chains are broken. Women, men, and differently gendered people are equals and comrades. We do not tolerate physically or verbally abusing women or treating them as sexual objects, nor do we tolerate insults or “jokes” about people’s gender or sexual orientation.

3 We fight for a world without borders, and for equality among different peoples, cultures and languages. We do not tolerate insults, “jokes” or derogatory names about a person’s race, nationality, or language.

4 We stand with the most oppressed and never lose sight of their potential to emancipate humanity—nor of our responsibility to lead them to do that. We work to win people of all backgrounds to take part in the revolution, and do not tolerate revenge among the people.

5 We search for and fight for the truth no matter how unpopular, even as we listen to and learn from the observations, insights and criticisms of others.

6 We are going for an actual overthrow of this system and a whole better way beyond the destructive, vicious conflicts of today between the people. Because we are serious, at this stage we do not initiate violence and we oppose all violence against the people and among the people.

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