Closing Remarks at the “Revolution School”

Learning and Applying the Method and Approach of Bob Avakian to Change a Changing World

Andy Zee, Sunday August 11, 2019



Editor’s note: During the first week of August, the National Get Organized for an ACTUAL Revolution Tour hosted a “revolution school” (or “summer science camp” as some nicknamed it), attended by 15 or so revolutionaries from around the country as well as Chicago. At the end of the week, Andy Zee gave an informal talk to the participants at a going away celebration which we think readers who want to understand the process of this school and the Tour will find illuminating. Following is a lightly edited transcript.

First of all, everybody who came here for the school in the science of revolution and who worked with the National Tour—why don’t you stand up. [applause] And what about the people from the Revolution Club in Chicago standing up with them. [applause]

Look, we should applaud ourselves—but we should do so because we understand, and are coming to understand more deeply, what we’ve done in the last week. And for those who are here for the first time today, or who are veterans of three days in the movement, I’m talking to you too—to understand what it is you stepped into and what it is we’ve done over the last week. I want to say one thing about the times we are living in. This is perhaps one of the rare moments in history where the future of humanity is posed in a way that could either lead to incredible horrors—where the 65 million refugees fleeing climate change and wars of genocide, wars of conquest, wars between sections of the people fighting each other instead of fighting the system that creates these wars could make the 65 million refugees of 2015 look like just the first people coming in the door of a program. This could cascade to include a third of humanity when Bangladesh, the entire delta, goes under water because of what this system has done. This is a time when the most powerful imperialist country in the world has concentration camps at the border and children in cages. This is a serious time in the history of humanity.

So we have to look at what we’ve done. At another juncture in the history of humanity—at the dawn of imperialism and its first consolidation and the beginning of the contours of the conflicts between the imperialists that eventually led to the first World War, the great revolutionary leader Lenin, who led the first time the slaves rose up in a revolution to get rid of capitalism, said, paraphrasing: We need to understand the special features of our time and we must not imitate the activists (he actually used the word Marxists) of whom Karl Marx the founder of the science of revolution said: “I have sown dragon’s teeth and harvested fleas.”

For those of us who have been part of this movement for an actual revolution, we, over the last 15 years have been and are continuing to grapple with what has been brought forward by the person who is on my shirt—Bob Avakian, the leader of the revolution—who said to each of us and to all of us collectively: we need to go back to what we came here to do which is to overthrow this motherfucker! [applause] If we don’t lead people to make an actual revolution, then what happens? The world stays as it is. That’s on us and what you who were part of this school this week, what you who’ve been part of the National Tour, what you who are part of the Chicago Revolution Club, what those of you who have stepped into this for the first time and are beginning to learn about it, and what we have done in this last week is potentially to sow dragon’s teeth. But the question remains—what are we going to harvest? Are we going to continue on that path? Are we going to bring everything out that we can so that masses of people have a way out of the madness of this world and are able to make an actual revolution to bring into being a radically new society on the road to real emancipation? Are we going to bring them the science of revolution, which is what this school was about? Are we going to bring them the strategy to overthrow this system? Are we going to bring them why this system can’t be reformed in the 5 STOPS? And when some people say back to us, I don’t want to hear that, are we gonna say: Well, you’re in this society and you’re just saying you’re going to put your mouth in the trough and you’re going along with great crimes, do we then say I’m sorry for you but there’s people out here who do want to emancipate humanity and we’re going for those people now. So, do we say, as BA says: Stop opening your mouth and letting the system come out? Do we pose these 2 Choices and do we give them something to live and fight for in the 6 Points of Attention?

So I just want to say that what you’ve done, what we’ve done collectively, is a chance that comes rarely in history. We stand on the cusp of enabling humanity to take a giant step into the future and cast all these centuries of tradition’s chains, all these social relations of patriarchy, of the hatred of the “other,” of xenophobia, of white supremacy, of wars of conquest, of the despoliation and degradation of the environment—we have a chance to throw that off humanity, not by ourselves but by leading people in struggle. This is what we’re doing. This is what you began this week. You began to get into how that could be done and what’s been brought forth by Bob Avakian in the science of revolution and the strategy and the vision and the plan for a radically new society.

With that comes responsibility and I want to read one thing here from this book The New Communism, which is what Bob Avakian has developed. A number of years ago, I think probably many of you know, Freddie Gray, a young man from the hard streets of Baltimore, was tossed in the back of police van after being brutalized and sat on by the police and they took him for what they call in Baltimore a “rough ride.” By the time he got out of that van he was paralyzed, they dragged him out to the hospital, and he died. And after that the masses in Baltimore rose up for a night, for two nights, and Noche Diaz and a couple other people from this movement went down there to lead those people. And Bob Avakian introduces this book on the new communism with the following. He says:

And I was thinking about something even heavier when reading about the work being done in Baltimore: the comment of a woman, one of the basic masses in Baltimore, who said, “I am getting worried”—when people were bringing revolution to her—“I’m getting worried.” Now, you might say, why was she getting worried? She explained: “Because I am beginning to hope.” Now, think about what that means for the masses of people, that they are afraid to hope. Afraid to hope that maybe the world doesn’t have to be this way, that maybe there is a way out of this. Afraid to hope, because their hopes have been dashed so many times.... We have seen it already again in Baltimore, for example: Oh, all of a sudden there’s a crime wave, they say; and they insist that they have to come down even heavier with the police and that they need the federal authorities to come in and help out the police, because the masses are running wild, and the police can’t go out and kill them with impunity, right now.

So, all this is why people say, “I’m getting worried.” They are afraid to hope. And if we don’t intend to meet the responsibilities that we have, if we don’t intend to follow through when we go to people and say there is a way out of this, we should get up and leave right now. Because the masses of people do not need anyone else who comes along, fly-by-night, and leaves them to the miserable conditions they will be subjected to, and the even worse horrors of this system coming down on them. We have to mean it when we say we’re serious about revolution.

So, that’s the stakes of what we began this week—is how BA begins the work that is the scientific explanation of what this new communism is. This week we took the journey, we began a process. Some of you were on it before, but we began a process, we took a journey here. And the question is posed: Are you prepared to scale those heights? To continue on that road, to not get deterred by those who would lead you off it, who would say: “Don’t you have to think about yourself?” Maybe it’s your parents who are saying that: “Well, I agree with what you have to say but somebody else could do that, not you... Because after all, you’re my kid.” Or those who would lead us onto paths of painless progress—that is no progress at all but leaves us and humanity right where we are. Are we prepared to risk being unpopular and going against the tide of our friends, people at work, our families, and struggle for what we know to be scientifically true, which is to say, what’s actually true. We began, and everybody’s going to have to, if you will, and not to wax philosophical, search your soul about this. But when you’re doing that soul searching you need to be scientific and proceed from reality and that’s one of the most important things we learned this week.

So, let’s get into what we did. We got together a week ago—people were flying in last Sunday night. And on Monday we watched the film of the talk by BA, Why We Need  An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution—2½ hours—and we talked and we discussed and we struggled over it. And, we also watched the clip of a Q&A from Bob Avakian, where he discussed why we needed a Cultural Revolution in the Revolutionary Communist Party—which is still going on, in new forms—and why he did the speaking tour last summer, which in some ways gave birth to this Tour. It’s true, as one of you brought out, that in one of the original taglines promoting the film, that there’s never been a speech like this on this subject. There’s never been anyone who has made the case as scientifically, as truthfully as this, for why anything short of revolution will leave the world the way it is—and what the stakes of that are. And there has not been till this point a strategy that could actually win that revolution, which after all if you don’t win, then the world also stays as it is. Not that it would be wrong to try and maybe you don’t succeed, but you do have to try to win, and now there’s a strategy in the pamphlet HOW WE CAN WIN and gone into in this film as to how to do that.

And there’s a goal of this revolution, not just for ourselves, not just for our family, not just for our people, not just for our country—definitely not for that!—but for humanity. That’s why we’re doing this. And there’s a vision of how we could get to a world beyond all exploitation and oppression that is in the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, and that in itself is the beginning of yet another new stage, a continuation of the road of human emancipation, another journey under new conditions that we would achieve by making a revolution.

So, we did this on Monday, we had this discussion. But if you remember, on Saturday one of these racist white supremacists traveled from Dallas and went down to El Paso, went into a Walmart to shoot Brown people, to shoot immigrants, people who are part of the “invading army” that Trump spoke of. And the same day, later that day, this misogynist, racist—I think that seems to be fairly accurate—in Dayton went into a nightclub and committed another mass murder. And all of this followed a mass murder in Gilroy, California at a garlic festival, also of people of color, aimed at Latino immigrants. At the same time, this followed Trump saying: “Go back” to where you belong, “go back to your countries,” your countries are “shitholes,” once again. And there was immediate horror and the beginning of a seething among people.

So on Tuesday morning we began what was going to be a brief discussion of BAsics 3:30, and then the statement that had been posted on Revcom about these killings. We recalled the point from the film the day before and the discussion that followed about how the struggle between the section of society fighting to implement fascism and those opposed, from various directions, is setting the overall terms in society, including it is the ground upon which we are fighting for an actual revolution.

We posed: What are we gonna do? We got our plans, we got a whole plan for a presence on Saturday at the Bud Billiken parade. We got classes laid out for the rest of the week. We’re gonna go to transit stops, we have our leaflet. But then there was reality that was sitting there. And we said we have to engage that.

For those of you who are in the school, those of you who have been in this movement for a while—what you did that day was being a team of scientists to figure out what do you do with the changed reality. We had to change our plans. We didn’t change our plans to say never mind revolution; we changed our plans to say: how do we apply what we’ve learned that a revolution is necessary, and we got to work on how to bring and apply that understanding to the situation that’s now developed in a different way then we anticipated. And we had to engage: Can we just go out there and talk about it? That’s good, we’ll go out and talk about it some more. We’ll fix up a few lines in the leaflet. Well, some questions were posed from those of us leading the meeting. But then one of you stood up and gave an impassioned speech: We have to act commensurate with the movement for revolution we’re calling for. And then it was on. And we had a struggle here that was an important struggle, which at one point got concentrated on: Should we take Lake Shore Drive? Should we go here? Should we go there? If we go to Lake Shore Drive, are the masses of people going to follow us there? That was a serious and important question to ask. It wasn’t a wrong question to ask—it wasn’t that “whoever said that, they’re not down.” No, it was an important question to ask. What happens if we take to the Drive and nobody follows us and we all get arrested? That’s also an important question—we have a lot to do. But we struggled this through. This is what I’m trying to bring to you in these remarks. We actually struggled this through to say: There’s a moment here where there could be really conspicuous change where people are ready to act in the way they haven’t been ready to act over the last few months that’s so frustrated so many of us. And if we got out there, not just saying: “What do you think we should do?—this is really bad what happened in El Paso”—but instead if we go out there and say, “Look, this white supremacy unleashed by this regime is a product of this system and we need to overthrow it, we need a revolution to get rid of this system, and part of doing that is we need to get everybody out in the streets, those who believe that change could happen within this system and those of us who understand that the system that has brought forward this Trump/Pence regime must be overthrown. What we’re doing out here today is part of organizing a movement for an actual revolution and you too need to be a part of it. There’s a leader, there’s a leadership, there’s a way out, and you need to get with it as we take to the streets together.”

And as it turned out, that was an accurate scientific summation of what was possible. Some people came, they heard about it in one form or another—I’m going to check this out and see what it is. And they listened carefully. I watched the people who were listening carefully: Is this for real? Do these people know what the hell they’re talking about? Is this serious? Are these the kind of people I want to be next to, I want to be with? And you saw young people, different nationalities, different gender affiliations, different ages—who took to the streets. Not in the thousands we need, maybe all told 70 or 80 people before we were done. But the crowds that gathered around... they didn’t say: Why you talking that shit? People were cheering, people were applauding. And those who weren’t were challenged. I’m not talking about the fools who just went walking by, but there was a lot of positive resonance to this message. And then there were those who saw that on TV, cuz it did break through the sound barrier and make the news.

So, what we did on that day represented not only a beginning of the kind of struggle that’s needed on a far greater scale, but it also represented the beginning of a forging of each of you, and all of you, and those who went to the school into a team of scientists that are able to analyze reality as it’s changing and help be part of a process with other people in the Revolution Clubs in whatever city you’re in or on the Tour in figuring out: How do we act on this stage and bring forward the masses of people for what is so needed.

I’m trying to walk this through because I want to be sure that we all understand what it is we did here and what we accomplished. I know we felt good. It felt very sweet here Thursday night, it really felt sweet. And of course somebody made us a wonderful dinner, which made it all the better. But that dinner wouldn’t have tasted as good had we not stood up in the way we did. And when you have a taste of what’s possible, what the masses of people can do, there is nothing sweeter than that. And it does offset all those days that you go out there and people walk on by. And of course, that, too, you should interrogate by applying science so that the next day that doesn’t happen again, that you actually reach more deeply into the masses’ hearts and their minds and into the reality to be able to motivate them and move them to where they need to go.

So, what we saw, what we accomplished, speaking of where we were at Thursday night, is one: when a team of scientists does engage the theory that’s been developed by an extraordinary leader, Bob Avakian, as to how we could actually go about making revolution, how we could awaken this mass of people in this country who think they’re relatively content but beneath the surface they’re not; how we could actually prepare today, prepare people’s minds, organize them, prepare the ground and prepare the people and prepare the vanguard for revolution, for the time when we could actually lead people to go all out and actually win—how we could do that. We engaged that theory, applied it to reality and developed a plan that was consistent with that and commensurate with that and went out and changed the world and we learned a lot about the conditions. I know I certainly learned a lot in terms of different kinds of people, how they responded—whether it was from these young high school students who I was so glad to see, as well as older people putting their fists up, and a family from Michigan leaving their car on Lake Shore Drive—they left their car and came and joined us. OK, it was one family, but I believe there’s thousands of families like that right now who could be involved in supporting the movement for revolution, and actually the people who feel that hunger for a big change, who are willing to take that risk, cross that line need to find out about this movement, support it, get into it—and they could become revolutionaries too. But for damn sure, they could get involved in Refuse Fascism and drive this regime out. We’re not indifferent to that.

So, point one: theory/practice/theory—that’s what you saw, what you, what we, did. And what I’m doing today is trying to sum up some of the basic theoretical lessons we learned. Because this is a school, a school of revolution which is not an academic, a scholastic exercise; it’s actually an exercise in how to and an actual part of radically changing the world.

And the other thing we learned is that when you accumulate some people—we had a few people. We took who we had accumulated and we went out and we went to the masses and we took a determined stand. We had a plan, we were going to march up to this Drive, and some other people apparently were going to take the road, and all of a sudden everybody’s fucking running, everybody’s running to the highway. [laughter] We’ll talk another time about following instructions... I don’t want to get into that today, but there is a point to doing so. You did create some necessity that we were able to fortunately deal with in a certain kind of way that wasn’t part of our original plan. I don’t want that to escape people’s attention here. The key point is that we touched a nerve and that nerve is a nerve that needs to be touched. It needs to be excited, then it needs to be built on.

Now it’s important here that we didn’t just say at any time, “Oh, we gotta do something about El Paso and then we gotta do this parade on Saturday, so later for all that study and discussion that we came here to do and had scheduled.” No. We actually got into a Q&A from BA’s speech on fascism and civil war and the Democrats on Wednesday to give some further grounding for what we were about to do. And then on Friday, we all took the time to reread “The Crucial Importance of the New Communism and BA’s Leadership” in a discussion that both focused on what was in the actual article itself and through that got very honest and very deep, right down to where people really “live.”

And it wasn’t like we just patted ourselves on the back for Lake Shore Drive and said, “Oh wow, that was perfect, couldn’t have been better.” Actually, we said, “You know what—our agitation wasn’t enough bringing out our solution, and it wasn’t enough bringing out BA.” We wrangled with that directly but also indirectly through that study session on “Crucial Importance,” and the next day at Billiken the agitation being led from the truck—even the chants—were on a whole different level in that regard.

So, we accumulated a few people, we impacted society. And off of that we accumulated more people. Now, it’s still embryonic. What does that mean? It’s just at the beginning. We’re talking about... I guess a dozen, or 15 people, joined us at the parade, the Bud Billiken parade yesterday. This needs to be amplified 2, 3, 4 times that over the next months. We have to take this lesson that we learned this week and really go some place with it. It’s right to celebrate our small victories and we have to understand—more important than celebrating, or just as important, is to then understand what we actually did.

See this is important. What we actually did is we acted on a changed objective situation, we identified it, we applied science to it, we developed a tactical plan that was a concentration of our strategy for revolution, we went out and we acted with determination, defiance, and a plan and brought forward more people. And we changed the situation. We put before the city of Chicago that we’re not going to tolerate this and neither should you. And that matters.

But it will come to nothing, it will not mean much, if we don’t continue with the objective of this Tour, of this Revolution Club, of the organization that Bob Avakian is endeavoring to build, a party that’s an actual vanguard that’s preparing to lead an actual revolution and not some little talk-shop off to the side of the day to day struggles. Rather, forging a people who are serious about leading the masses of people to overthrow this system and build a society worth building, people who are not filled with revenge and personal glory but are filled with a burning desire to see the yoke of tradition and all forms of oppression thrown off.

So, that’s our objective. Our objective is: now, over the next year, to bring forward thousands of people into organized relationship to this revolution. And each of you who are part of this school, each of you who have been part of the Tour, need to think deeply tonight, need to do some reading, and if you’re taking a plane out of here, think on the plane. What is my life going to be for? Or at least, what am I going to do for the next three months or a year? And that will help you settle the question of the rest of your life. I’m actually serious about this, that the immediate question is: Am I going to continue this and work with the Revolution Club in the city I’m from, am I going to really try to not just be an activist, but actually be a revolutionary scientist and study some theory and try to apply it? Not just go back to what was before—because that going back is not just about you, that’s about the whole movement for revolution, about humanity, that’s what’s in the balance right now. Are we going to go from a couple dozen people to many dozens of people, and then the thousands? Or is it always going to be a rotating cast of characters? OK? I know, some of us are characters! And, we need more characters, OK? And there’s nothing wrong with being a character, but you need to get more people into that process.

And that starts with each of you—and I’m sure there’s things that you’re going through right now about: wow, this is heavy. But the way to deal with that is not... alright, there’ll be a sleepless night but not just inside your own head. Go talk to people who are part of this in the Revolution Club. Go talk to people who are part of the revolution. Put out what you’re thinking, struggle over it, and then decide what it is you’re gonna do. And there’s a place for everyone here in this movement. We really need people to become conscious revolutionaries, conscious in the sense that they become advocates for, and people who are willing to apply the new communism developed by Bob Avakian, who want to get out there in the world and say: There’s a way out, there’s a leader, there’s a way out—we can do this. It’s a rare thing to have somebody like Bob Avakian alive at a time like this who can actually chart this course. There’s a few of us, trying to apply this. But, believe me... I don’t want you to just take this on faith... but scientifically... I can make the case that it makes a big difference for those of us who want to shoulder this responsibility to have a leader like this today. He’s involved in everything we’re doing. [applause] People say: “Where’s Bob Avakian—he wasn’t out here.” But in a real way, he was out here. He’s leading each of us who’ve taken this upon themselves and changed their lives. He’s in all of us collectively, he’s there. He’s presente because he’s developed the framework in which we’re going at making revolution. That matters a lot, but it’s not just the framework that we have now, but we have the ongoing leadership in BA. This is what we need, and we have it. Let’s not squander it at a moment like this in history.

So, this is what you need to consider, and we’ll help you do that. We’ll help you. I understand people need help with different problems, they’ve got families, they’ve got illnesses in their families, people count on them for support, people have student loans to pay off, people are carrying the expectations of generations that have toiled in fields and crossed borders to come here to send you to school and now you’re going to go... do what? Are you going to throw it all away you may be told... or, is your answer going to be that you’re going to apply it to actually make a difference in the world, to free humanity? And you have to struggle with the people who want to pull you back and say don’t go too far, don’t go there. And say no, this is necessary, it’s possible and it’s definitely desirable—and you should get into it too, mom, dad, brother, sister, neighbor, friend, or whoever.

So, that’s upon us right now and we have to make good on it. But if it turns out that you’re not able to at the current time make the full commitment, that doesn’t mean you need to disappear. If there’s things you don’t agree with, we have to find the ways that you can make this movement possible, what you’re going to do with it and we have to continue to struggle. But that’s not where I want to actually be today. Because speaking for myself and I think for others who are leading this movement, both those who have been more on the ground every day, as well as the others of us—I’ve seen the change in so many of you. I’ve seen the potential. We’ve collectively recognized how people have matured over a period of just four months which is... on the one hand if you’re young, it’s a lifetime, but it’s just the blink of an eye. And you should really appreciate—appreciate, not just in the sense of satisfaction, which is part of it—but appreciate in the sense of understand what it is you’ve been led through and what it is you’ve done and learned and where you could go and what that would mean for the future of humanity.

So it comes back to the question of the woman in Baltimore when she says to us: Will you be there? She’s saying it to each and every one of you and she’s saying it to all of us collectively. We went out and we represented. We put on the shirts. If you put on the BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! shirt you have to mean that. You can’t betray that. You have to struggle for other people who put it on to mean it too. If you put on the shirt of BA, you have to do justice to it, recognizing what it means to have this leader and this leadership. So the question is: Will you be there? And the answer is: We can do no less.

And I just want to say to everybody who’s been part of the school, to those who’ve come for the first time, those who are not here tonight whose face is turned towards us and who we have to get back with right away, I really appreciate and we appreciate what you’ve done—not for itself but for what it could actually mean for the future of humanity at this moment when the two futures hang so sharply in the balance. So that’s what I have to say. Thank you very much.

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