Getting into BA—“It’s Reality Based!”



The following letter from a Tour member responds to a conference call discussion of “David Brooks—The Not So Great Pretender—and the Profound Differences Between Trump, Sanders and Actual Socialism” by Bob Avakian.


From the bottom of my heart, I appreciate such beautiful, scientific leadership, in general, but more specifically I’m appreciating the discussion we’ve had. Today we got into the David Brooks article by Bob Avakian. One of the things that strikes me with BA, a line that runs through his work and gets to the method and approach—it’s reality based! He doesn’t just make assertions but also provides evidence. It has been important to dig deep into BA’s recent articles because they are so prescient. But most importantly because there is an urgent need to grasp the APPROACH he takes. And it is also important to respond to what Brooks, a prominent, influential individual, puts forth because it is not “his” views but the views of many in society.

Here, it is important, from a strategic commander perspective, to understand that Brooks puts forth a class outlook, so in responding to the article, BA is addressing a class outlook and we have to understand the importance of it. Why? This has to do with being a strategic commander of the revolution.

Brooks and people like him are fighting for a certain program—capitalism, and we revolutionaries fight for a different program—a communist revolution! And the ideas Brooks puts forth are harmful. Let’s look at why.

First, Brooks equates Bernie Sanders to Trump. The truth is that, ultimately, Bernie and Trump are actually advocates of this capitalist system, which Bernie, until recently, was running to rule over. But it is dangerous not to recognize the vast difference with Trump’s fascist program versus Bernie’s social democratic program. Trump is a racist to the bone and promotes misogyny, vile prejudice, and violence toward LGBTQ people, anti-science, and is ravaging the environment by stripping away environmental protection laws. Sanders does not promote these ideas and programs. Muddling the difference can paralyze people from resisting the immediate danger of this fascist regime, which poses an existential danger to all of humanity and the planet.

Although there is truth to Bernie saying that the super-rich wield undue influence over society in general, the fact is that to implement the reforms Bernie speaks about (free health care, education) will be difficult to implement under this system of capitalism. Why? Before I get to that, I want to say that the group discussion on this piece shed a light about basing ourselves on reality and not divorcing theory from practice. For example, when answering this question, you can get into just talking about theory, the mode of production or just talking about the horrors of this system. Instead, we need to talk about both. How does the mode of production play out in real life? BA in the piece pulls the lens waaaaay back and speaks to what is happening to people around the globe, “with 2.3 billion people lacking even rudimentary toilets or latrines and huge numbers suffering from preventable diseases, with millions of children dying every year from these diseases and from starvation, while 150 million children in the world are forced to engage in ruthlessly exploited child labor, and the whole world economy rests on a vast network of sweatshops, employing large numbers of women who are regularly subjected to sexual harassment and assault, a world where 65 million refugees have been displaced by war, poverty, persecution, and the effects of global warming....”

This is what this system of capitalism-imperialism creates and can’t do without, until the system is overthrown and replaced by a different system. And we have to point to the American chauvinism of too many people, including Sanders and his program for Americans, and not thinking of the people of the world with his comment that the U.S. cannot have open borders because there are too many poor people in the world. BA comes from internationalism, the world comes first.

Another key aspect that jumped at me was Bernie’s unapologetic regard for the U.S. military, and the reality that any candidate who runs ultimately needs to be pro-imperialism. And the role of the U.S. military is to brutally occupy a dominant position in the world and thus their role is indispensable to enforce this system, specifically for the U.S. to remain a dominant force over the world. So, essentially the reforms Sanders is calling for are dependent on the enforcement by the U.S. military for America to maintain its position, with all the bombing, rape, killing of innocent people, and destruction of people’s homes. If you don’t take this stand of supporting the military, how and who will enforce the capitalist system? Yuck! To all Bernie supporters, we can do much better!

OK, so insofar as Bernie and people like Bernie locate the problem of society in the sphere of distribution, which is why his solution is to tax the rich. Fundamentally the horrors this system creates, oppression and exploitation of billions of people around the planet, reside in the relations of production—most essentially the ownership of the means of production. Under this system where the means of production are privately owned by capitalists, those who don’t own means of production are forced to work for the capitalists. This private ownership is what creates feverish, cutthroat competition. Capitalists are FORCED to exploit, at any cost (child labor, sweatshops, destruction of the planet), or face the potential to go under. So an actual revolution aims to transform the means of production into the common ownership of society, which eliminates the competitive-driven characteristic of this exploitative capitalist system. This provides the foundation to carry out what, under this system, seems impossible, such as the ability to eliminate homelessness and starvation, work toward eliminating the oppression of women, and transforming ideas and culture that are part of enforcing exploitation and oppression.

To come back to being strategic commanders of the revolution, it is our responsibility to lead the masses to take up a scientific approach to be able to figure out what is true from what is not true, otherwise the masses will get bamboozled and not be able to grab the only tool, the scientific method and approach, to understanding reality which provides the basis to get to work to change it. This is what BA models in this article, and in general, consistently applying the scientific method and approach, and for us to strive to do the same. Now more than ever with a fascist in power, and with a more immediate danger the coronavirus, there is need for science! So there is an urgent need for this article to get out widely for masses of people to engage and grapple with the content.


To Those Who Put Their Hopes in Bernie Sanders

With so much in the balance for humanity, we are reprinting and extending to you this invitation from Bob Avakian, first published in 2012.

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