A Reader Responds to Bob Avakian’s Talk:
“Hope For Humanity On A Scientific Basis
Breaking with Individualism, Parasitism and American Chauvinism”

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This new piece from Bob Avakian, “Hope For Humanity On A Scientific Basis: Breaking with Individualism, Parasitism and American Chauvinism,” has had a big impact on me.  There were questions here that have been a struggle for me before but became more sharp after reading this piece.

The part that really struck me was the section “Parasitism, American Chauvinism, and Individualism.”  First off, there is a lot in those four pages. And all those three things come together really blew my mind.  He starts off with a critique of the “status obsessed culture,” “look at me doing this, look at me doing that” and how that culture feeds into the individualism, and the idea of your “brand” which goes hand in hand with the entre-manure-alism which is basically going for getting a piece of the pie and getting in on the oppression. But on its face, you don't see the underlying dynamics of capitalism and how all this is sitting on top of the millions all over the world, and you don't see the conditions of the existence of those people. 

This all made me think of this article I was recently reading on the exploitation of children in Madagascar.  It describes these children living their whole lives mining these minerals called Mica which is used in paint among other things, including glitter on makeup. This article described the horrible conditions these kids are living in, they interviewed a 6 year old, and one of the things he said was that he couldn't imagine life different than what he had been living and he couldn't imagine going to school.  In stark contrast, you think about an American, living off the backs of all that, looking at glittery makeup going “ooh, pretty!” without knowing or thinking about where it all comes from, and why, what is underneath it all.  In the piece, BA ties all this back to the American chauvinism.  He makes the point that people end up “identifying personal interests, prospects and status with the dominant position of – and the plundering of the world and the masses of humanity by – U.S. capitalism imperialism.” The most grotesque manifestation of this is that there is no outcry about the mass destruction and crimes being done by the U.S. on the people of the world, and in our name.

BA makes the point that “there are 3 Things that have to happen in order for there to be real and lasting change for the better: 1) 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. 2) People have to dig seriously and scientifically into how this system of capitalism-imperialism actually works, and what this actually causes in the world. 3) People have to look deeply into the solution to all this.”

All this made me confront some shit on a whole other level: the reality of the horrors that this system creates on the people of the world (not to over simplify it but...) so that Americans can put on pretty glitter makeup! While these children are living their lives in holes where they can hardly breathe to mine the Mica, and the countless other children who have been condemned to a life of misery and brutality, even before they are born!  In the face of this, millions of people are stuck in that individualism, that parasitism, American Chauvinism. I was one of those people, the conditions of people in other parts of the world seemed abstract to me, and I was forced to confront the reality of how people are living their lives right now! It was one of these questions that seemed on the surface like “yeah, I'm aware that there is exploitation of people all over the world” but since I read this new piece, I find myself constantly thinking about these questions and seeing it all around us.  I guess I was forced to confront this on a whole other level.

All I keep thinking about is the people all over the world who can't even begin to imagine life the way Americans live it, and we are able to live that way on the backs of all those people. In that same section BA says that in opposition to the poisonous outlook of American Chauvinism, the orientation that must be fought for is “American Lives Are Not More Important Than Other People's Lives” and “Internationalism – The Whole World Comes First.” This is also taking on a whole other meaning to me and I feel like I get these quotes on a whole other level: it's not abstract!  We are taught our whole lives that all that matters is what is directly in front of you, we get conditioned to not even question why is it that Americans are able to live this comfortable lifestyle, that we end up ignoring the conditions of actual human beings in other parts of the world. The reality is the interests of those people, in Madagascar and other countries where people live their whole lives in horrific conditions, are the same interests of us here in America.  Most of these people here who don't see that, who are stuck in this gross individualism and American chauvinism are capable of breaking free from that shit and coming to see that our interests are the same, and fight for a different and better world.




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