Reaching for the “Power of Science” in Turbulent Times



Editors’ Note: Below are edited excerpts of wrangling and reflections from a newer member of the National Revolution Tour. They have been part of the Beautiful Rising protests, inspired by people “putting their individual interests of fear aside and actually feeling a stronger calling to fight back against these oppressors after experiencing the violent attempts at repression,” while at the same time grappling with the ugly, violent—and inhumane—repression of the police, the fascists and others.

The comrade began by recounting experiences in the recent uprising following the lynching of George Floyd:

“People took to the streets standing together to demand, ‘Black Lives Matter’ and with the heart and spirit set heavy with a determination to end the way Black people are indiscriminately dehumanized, and lynched by the police. Thousands of people had been out around the country and soon after around the world. This continues in a mass and sustained way although the demonstrations have ebbed a little. In the first few weeks there was heavy repression by use of force by the police. Rubber bullets, tear gas, batons, flash bangs. Some people were very frightened by this. I was pretty frightened by the potential physical harm. But like many people I talked to, standing beside comrades and beside strangers with a common sentiment, the sentiment of NO MORE lynchings, no more murder by police, no more institutionalized racism, standing shoulder to shoulder with people who were willing to put aside what individual risk there was to stand for something bigger I found strength. I felt the strength of righteousness—standing on the right side, and the kind of force used against us gave me more confidence in the position we took. ‘These fucking pigs.’ I have a lot of disdain. I took a lot of footage of the lines being held. Their line, armored and weaponized and ours, righteous and determined, half cowed at times with the fresh masses being very new to protests thinking that by cowering and cooperating the pigs would be nicer. With this footage you can see the kind of contempt these pigs have for us. Some are smirking, flexing, twitching, jaws clenched. Maybe some are scared. I wonder and muse and try to see if there is empathy, if the indoctrination isn’t fully set. Who might come to our side. Part of me keeps pleading with them after arrest. In my head mostly. I say a short stint out loud. ‘Do you see which side you are on? How can you live with yourself? You are shooting at, beating and arresting kids. Do you see what side you are on? Are you not human?’ My outrage is an expression of disbelief that there can be such cruelty in this world and people who carry it out. It’s a part of my feet being in many places at once.

“The protest went on in a sustained way after this. People who were interviewed by the RNL Show stated that the fear of repression wouldn’t keep them away, like I expressed above, a lot of people were feeling that same sentiment of putting their individual interests of fear aside and actually feeling a stronger calling to fight back against these oppressors after experiencing the violent attempts at repression. The lines drawn of ‘which side’ became sharper....”

The comrade went on to reflect further:

“[Reflecting on] the bulk of horrendousness and unnecessariness of ‘it all’ the question surfaces, ‘Why are there mean people in the world?’ Why is there so much ugliness? I think it’s okay to start there, with those questions however it would be wrong to sit atop all that pain and ferment in it for too long as I have before, just woe-ing. Something I have gained in my interacting with the Revolution Club and the new communism is the inclination to pursue and investigate with a purpose, to find truth, to try to locate the source and begin a process of working to change things with a new confidence and sense of direction in that undertaking. I’m not completely set or trained in this but that night I was falling into it a little, I was reminded of the tools and the way to move forward. I think about the process we are trying to involve others in, and the process I am taking up, using a scientific and materialist approach to examining reality and changing it for the better, in the interest of humanity. It’s a kind of hope and lifeline and tool that humanity really needs.

“I’m really digressing, but to round this out, early into joining up with the tour I was feeling fucked up about thinking about the opposing forces in a kind of flat way, not specifically the situation with the pigs suppressing the protests but before that, thinking about the lynchings and other manifestations of the 5 Stops like rape and people who take joy and find power in hurting others. I was initially taking it as this ‘cycle of abuse’ that is ‘nurtured’ into people, but also almost thinking about the ways these behaviors materialize as a result of ‘human nature’ and not external contradiction. That is where the ‘hopeless and defeated’ pain came from—trying to understand why there is some kind of ‘inherent cruelty’ in people. Why and how is there a world where other humans want to inflict pain on each other ‘just because.’

“It wasn’t that much of a scholarly leap to pull myself to a more reasonable and scientific approach. Partly because I was being quite a 5-year-old in my initial emotional response to the fucked-up-ness of the world. ‘Why!?’ with a big sad face. Then there was the part of me telling myself to stop being a baby & figure it out. Look at the way society has developed. What kind of necessity posed itself. With what tools did people set out to understand the world and secure the means to live and reproduce? In the past due to limited technology, understanding and preparedness there was scarcity and insecurity of the resources to live and reproduce and societal structures formed in a way. Hand to mouth, to agrarian societies, to feudalism to capitalism. This is a cheap way of putting things, I know this isn’t a thorough or super accurate analysis but as I’m trying to work through this it may fall short. Anyways, at some point humans developed better tools and technology to secure ways to reproduce the means to live. The models of scarcity are imposed on masses because of an outmoded system of capitalism-imperialism that runs on exploiting masses that can and should be done away with. It’s long, long past its time. This was a helpful and less defeatist way of approaching reality.

“I didn’t have to turn to god or sin or whatever. There is a lot of power to science. Even as I’m just learning about dialectical materialism, I kind of have a love for it. It feels like a lifeline. The point is to get better at using the tool of dialectical materialism and struggling with, inviting and empowering others to take up a process of examining reality in this way. I can relate this further to the two-part talk by BA on under collected works/audio: “The Material Basis and the Method for Making Revolution.” He goes into the need for ideological struggle and the importance of working with the masses. He goes into the Enriched What Is To Be Done-ism 6 paragraphs. I want to write more about this tomorrow. I took a lot away from a summary of Lenin’s WITBD and relating it to the way we (Rev Club) take up both ideological struggle with the masses and the—often on my end—neglected need to get further into theory and history. Neglected due to prioritizing ‘tasks’ and trying to make revolution based on that flatness, being task oriented and lacking initiative or bowing down to spontaneity or necessity. I’m not sure which one of these is most accurate but I mean taking up some kind of 1-1 approach and feeling kind of dragged around without proper planning. With these uprisings posing urgent necessity and demand on time we have re-evaluated often in hindsight.

“Re-evaluating in hindsight or summation is good but there should be an advance in what we learn from these observations and how we act in the future. There is a balance between needing to be flexible in a quickly changing environment and needing to plan more than one or two days in advance.”

Revcoms at protest in Los Angeles, June 6.

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The Material Basis and the Method for Making Revolution
by Bob Avakian

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