Revolution #245, September 11, 2011
Campus Discussion Group on Revolution Special Edition
"The students want a 'socialist renaissance'"
From a reader:
On my campus a small group of about seven or eight students got together to discuss the special edition of Revolution. These students were mostly left leaning who would probably use the words "liberal" or "progressive" to describe themselves. What one person said at the beginning of the meeting was, "I don't know what needs to be done, but I know something needs to change." This student was commenting on the general state of society, and in particular the constant economic disasters that seem to keep popping up today.
The BAsics quote that we probably had the most discussion on was 2:8. This quote really allowed us to go into what revolutionary culture would look like and how it would actually be made. The conclusion we came to as a group was that the Party does indeed need to build a solid core of revolutionary art and culture, but by giving people both the time and resources under socialism the elasticity could be built by people as well without direct interaction with the Party. The point is that everyone has the potential to be an artist, a creator of culture and the students were highly supportive of this idea.
Unsurprisingly, the other quote that really got the group talking was 2:19, which talks about how the privileged intellectual elite has the ability to wrangle with ideas insofar as they stay within certain limits. The group really, really agreed that universities today do not encourage true critical thinking and alternative methods of interpretation. Some students also had more of an academic background in history, including in the history of revolutionary China. One of the main things they said was that it is critical to build up an atmosphere of critical thinking and critical theory, but the point is not simply to flip the scheme of oppression; that is, they don't just want Marxism or the New Synthesis to become "the" interpretation. If ideas are not constantly challenged and struggled with, then we will have completely lost the revolutionary spirit that a socialist society needs. Really, the students want a "socialist renaissance."
As I'm sure we all have experienced, one of the major arguments that people put forward against communism pertains to human nature. That is, humans are just eternally greedy, selfish, etc. This group did not agree with this. It was a main point that people are a reflection of the social circumstances in which they live; the confluence of the social relations of production, the superstructure, and all that. I think it's very telling that there are students in universities today who are at this point intellectually. If this can be acknowledged by students, then they can easily move to the point of actually building a movement for revolution.
This special edition was an absolute success. The group has decided to continue discussions, with an emphasis on reviewing the news in each issue of Revolution along with tackling a piece written by either Bob Avakian or the Party. They were really eager to understand how a movement for revolution can be built and what the Party's method is, so this is probably the direction we will go in next. This issue really did "wake up and shake up" our campus!
If you like this article, subscribe, donate to and sustain Revolution newspaper.