Revolution Online, September 15, 2011

Going to an Elite School with BAsics

We received the following correspondence about going out to an elite school with BAsics and a very large artist's banner/painting of the world with information about imperialist penetration of different areas, and quotes from BAsics.

Today we went to an elite campus with the orientation of taking engagement with Bob Avakian and BAsics to a different level. We sold nine BAsics, one Manifesto, 47 copies of Revolution newspaper #245, and got out 75 of the special issue on BAsics. We raised $47 towards a new run of the BAsics special issue. We got 21 e-subs, which include people who want to meet with a representative later, and be contacted about events. We saw a few people we'd met before, and met many new people.

We moved our "spot" to a stretch of the wide main street a little away from the campus entrances, which gave people a little more time to see our display without having to rush inside, and gave us more room to stretch out an amazing piece of artwork loaned to us. A pair of artists painted a 17 x 8-foot canvas with a map of the world, highlighting the crimes of U.S. imperialism, and using four quotes from BAsics, and a drawn image of the cover of the book.

The first quote, reading from the left, is "The essence of what exists in the U.S. is not democracy but capitalism-imperialism and political structures to enforce that capitalism-imperialism. What the U.S. spreads around the world is not democracy, but imperialism and political structures to enforce that imperialism."

Immediately when we rolled it out, people began to stop. About 10 percent of those who studied it pulled out their phones and recorded it completely. Once one person stopped to look, others would be curious, and several times during the day more than a dozen would be studying the map. There were really too many to talk to in depth, and we found that people liked being able to read the map without interruption, but then often wanted to talk about the map and the quotes. Some people walked away not liking what they saw, but surprisingly few wanted to make an argument for why.

We were emphasizing #245 of Revolution, concerning 9/11. It may have been the 9/11 anniversary that made people more interested in talking about the world...or that they read the quote, "Internationalism: The Whole World Comes First." We would say, "This is the book these quotes came from" and hand people a copy of BAsics.

In this way we met students and others from every continent. One had arrived for grad school from Afghanistan days ago. Other students, from Ghana and Nigeria, were surprised to find, first, their countries on the map with pertinent information; and then, that there is a movement for revolution here. One Black businessman emphasized how this country was built on slavery, and no one will admit that. He was glad to find BAsics starting with "There would be no United States as we now know it today without slavery" and bought it, and the paper, while walking away, saying, "The revolution will never happen." An elderly Black woman in the antiwar movement was moved to tears about the wars coming out of 9/11, bought the paper, declined to buy BAsics, and then came back, saying that the idea of internationalism is so needed, she felt she should take BAsics to her book club, "even though they won't read it." An older white elevator repairman said that he is a Christian, but wants to work with anyone who would bring about a world where people will be kind to each other, so he bought BAsics and came back to film the map.

Quite a number of people said they "already knew" about imperialism, because they had talked about it in class. We would ask them if they knew there is a revolutionary leader in the U.S. who says there can be a new wave of socialist revolutions; a new society here that would immediately close U.S. bases in other countries? A "peace studies" professor wanted to keep in touch and got a copy of #245. One of our team overheard a guy walking by, saying to another, "There's the BAsics people. They're in Chicago, too."

As we were packing up the last parts of the table, and after the map was rolled up, a young Black woman pushing a stroller and waiting for the bus nearby inched over and asked one of us, "Is that Bob Avakian on your T-shirt?" Yes! "I just love Bob Avakian. He just wrapped me around his finger with his book Away With All Gods." We dug out a copy of BAsics, and she immediately dug out $10, and then another dollar for the paper. She said she sees the Revolution guys on the corner near her building, and sometimes they get in touch with her. She's graduated college, and wants to become a criminal defense attorney to protect people’s rights. She ran to catch the bus, saying, please, please keep in touch with me. I want to get that paper in my email, and I'll read BAsics right away.

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