Revolution #245, September 11, 2011

On the Phone with BAsics

From a reader:

I attended one of the recent summer music festivals as part of a crew of people out to introduce the concertgoers to BAsics and Bob Avakian, as well as Revolution newspaper.

Beginning the week following the concert, I began to make phone calls to both those who had stopped by the Revolution Books booth or had signed up with one of our crew because they wanted to be contacted. I was able to reach close to 20 people.

A number of the conversations I had were short and consisted of just making sure we had the correct email and asking if it would be fine to keep in touch with them about upcoming events and get their thoughts on what they may be reading from us from time to time. These mainly said fine, "I support the cause," and were friendly. These were mainly folks who indicated on the sign-up list that they were giving their names because they wanted to "stay informed." But I concentrated my time on trying to draw out the folks that marked "get involved" on the sign-up sheet. Oftentimes the conversation began with why and in what ways would they like to get involved. I'm writing to share how some of these conversations went.

One thing I found out through the conversations was that many of the people we met outside did not make it to the area where the booths were. I wasn’t surprised about that because of its location and the massive crowds with so much going on.

Here are some of these conversations.

"K" met us at the beginning of the day. She did not make it to the booth but did keep the sticker with the website to check out later. (We were getting out stickers that said, "I'm With the REAL Revolution" and had the website for Revolution newspaper.) She has more recently been finding out about a lot through online sources on conspiracy theory websites. She has been astonished by the conditions of poverty which a large portion of humanity live under, with a beginning grasp that these horrors are all connected. She was surprised to hear about the prisoners' hunger strike and what led to it. She seemed thrilled to find out that there was such a place like the bookstore and figured she would come by soon to check it out. I spoke to her about the need for "Friends of Revolution Books" and she said she would be willing to donate on a monthly basis.

"P" was friendly but couldn’t talk much because she was at work. She did mention that she would be checking out the website and the bookstore blog to stay on top of things. She encouraged us to go out to a free weekly concert series in the city because of the large crowd and she thinks many there would be open to checking out what we are all about and supporting it.

"G" first got involved through following Wikileaks. Through it he learned about "We Are Not Your Soldiers/World Can't Wait" and wanted to check out their booth and the bookstore booth, but he never found the location. "There were no visible signs to follow," he said. He found out about the bookstore through his favorite band, Outernational. He follows the band on Twitter and the lead singer has posted things about the store. "G" is one of our followers on Twitter. He wasn’t in a rush to get involved and said he would check out the store when he gets a chance. I have seen him at every show Outernational had in the city and he's a big fan.

"F" had begun to get our emails. He knew about one event at the store and really wanted to come but searched online and knew the book featured at the event would be expensive and he couldn’t afford to give a $10 donation at the door. I explained that it shouldn’t keep him from coming because he wouldn’t be turned away for lack of funds. The main thing was to check out the speaker and interact with others at Revolution Books. He met us at the end and bought BAsics, along with a packet of newspapers. While he hadn’t taken a look at the paper, he did begin to check out BAsics and had almost completed Chapter 1. He was excited about what he had been reading.

The conversation took off and went on for quite a while with quote 1:5 about the one percent and 99 percent. He himself is an Iraq War vet. This quote really captured his attention, I can't explain how much feeling he had in his voice. "I went there for nothing!" We spoke some about the Ethan McCord speaking event at the store and what I learned through his story. "F" said it was very much true, being forced to do things you didn’t want to do and "all for what?" The other quote that he appreciated was 1:9, "This was the choice I had, the streets or the military, I never wanted to go!" He understood the impact that BAsics could have on the younger generation and expressed in many ways the point made recently in the paper about the difference it could make for a generation... "if I only had this." There were several friends that he thought of right away who should have the book and he wanted to consider getting copies for them though he had to figure out how he would get the money. I suggested he sell it to them. One of these friends was "R."

"R" is F's sister's boyfriend. I found this out after telling "R" about the conversation I had with "F." "He sounds very familiar! What a small world!" He got a copy of the Message and Call from the RCP after the show and he said he had read all of it. He liked the exposure and agreed "things are fucked up, but communism???" "It hasn’t worked, look at Cuba and North Korea." "I know capitalism isn’t working but neither would communism." I asked where he had gotten all these ideas from, to which he answered, "from school." Not much later he acknowledged how fucked up the educational system in this country is with a few facts. I asked him to think back to the Message and Call and if he recalled the definition of communism that is in it. I read it aloud to refresh his memory and followed it by saying, "does that sound like what is going on in the countries that you pointed out?" He answered with "that’s why I want to read that book BAsics, it seems that there is a lot that I need to learn." He had kept the palm card on BAsics. He said he would get the copy of the book from F and asked to keep in touch.

"D" bought the Science of Evolution book because he wanted to get different opinions to form his own. He said he would look into the newspaper online and come to the store when he is "ready to get off my butt."

"N" said he liked the facts in the book, "It's all true." He said he would help spread the word and volunteered to get out the special newspaper issue on BAsics when it drops. He had so far finished Chapter 1. Our conversation was cut short because he had to go back to work.

"J" had begun reading BAsics and plans on sharing it with four other friends who all put in $2 each to get a copy of the book to share. They are waiting patiently to read it too.

I was able to have an extensive 45-minute conversation with a recent grad from high school who plans on going to one of the local community colleges in the fall. He had just begun to read BAsics and liked it a lot. He commented that this is something that youth need. He pointed out what a difference it made to have a teacher who took the time to explain current events that mattered. "If it wasn’t for him, I and many other students who were inspired would have never known about what was happening in Egypt." When I asked him about what he has been following lately, he said the events in London. His question was how could something like that go on here.

I began to tell him about the plan to get out 100,000 copies of the special issue of Revolution onto the college campuses. We got into what difference it would make if this was what was informing many of the youth, heightening their level of understanding and resistance. I took the opportunity to get him deeper into BAsics. He put me on hold and went to get his copy of BAsics to read along as I read him a section from "On the Strategy for Revolution" on Fight the Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution, along with the importance given to the leadership of Bob Avakian and the newspaper. I recall what got him to buy the book at the bookstore booth. He said a guy came up to him and handed him the book and told him to read the first quote in it on slavery in the U.S. This hit him hard. He said he had never thought about things in that way. He grew up only knowing that this was the land of freedom and opportunity and didn’t ever make a connection with the enslavement of Black people. This was enough to have him get the book.

We spoke some about what it would take for people to begin to resist on a different level in this country. He grew up and lives in one of the oppressed areas of the city and is Latino. World events have been what has his attention. I brought in police brutality which wasn’t something on his mind. I gave him a few examples captured in the latest issue of Revolution which astounded him, he had no idea. I brought this up to partly focus some attention on key concentrations of social contradictions and how it could lead to a further rupture among people. Conveniently, I directed him to the latest issue of the newspaper and the excerpt from Bob Avakian's "Birds and Crocodiles" talk on alternate authority. He also read along with me BAsics quote 1:24, wanting to highlight how this is a system of oppression over the people to enforce the continuation of the relations of exploitation. He really liked this quote because he had never looked at it that way.

By the end of the conversation he had gone online to check out our website to begin reading the editorial. I briefly mentioned that he should think of people to go out to around this and for him to gather his thoughts since we would love to hear ideas he has on how to run with this issue. I told him that I would call back the following week.

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