On the National Revolution Tour, we've begun to see—in this whole last week—in still initial, but real ways, what is the process described in the Declaration and Call to Get Organized Now For a Real Revolution.
This is key to getting organized now for a real revolution in a rare moment when that could be possible... and when we need to urgently come from behind to change the fact that, as the Declaration says, “...not nearly enough people know about this revolution and are with it.”
We're still at the beginning of this process, with a lot more experimentation and learning we need to do—especially on going from an initial collective discussion to making concrete plans—but we want to share a few excerpts of field reports and reflections based on applying this from the Declaration:
Organizing people into this revolution means reaching out to all sorts of people—not just where there are protests and rebellions against oppression and injustice, but everywhere throughout society—spreading the word about revolution and getting people together (in real life and online) to grapple with why an actual revolution is necessary, what such a revolution involves, and what kind of society this is aiming for. This will enable people who are new to the revolution to themselves become organizers for this revolution and to recruit more and more people to do the same. On this basis, and through the growing ranks of the revolution acting together as an increasingly powerful force, it will be possible to attract and organize the necessary numbers, and build up the necessary strength, to be in the position to do what needs to be done.
An important thing that comes through in the initial experience is what happens when people are grappling together over these questions—on the basis of the Declaration, debating things out, and wrestling with reality and the burning questions of “why an actual revolution is necessary, what such a revolution involves, and what kind of society this is aiming for.” Digging into these things together with others—in a basic and initial way—is the basis on which they can go organize others. We need to exponentially build up the forces for revolution and this is the process through which that can happen.
At the same time, we are also learning that we still need to make real advances in our organizing —making concrete plans with people on the spot to carry forward these discussions, bringing others into the process.
Reflections from a Member of the National Revolution Tour on the Declaration and Call to Get Organized Now for a Real Revolution—A Scientific, Scalable Process
I learned a lot in the different discussions we've been leading with groups of students of the Declaration and Call. I like the spirit of experimentation and trying to make this accessible where people can feel like they can take this out to others.
From all this I’ve been getting a deeper appreciation for WHY we need to be organizing people in this way—speaking to blocs of people, and gathering groups of people together to “grapple with why an actual revolution is necessary, what such a revolution involves, and what kind of society this is aiming for.” If we really are going to scale up and go beyond the ones and twos, walking through these questions and the Declaration with people together and especially people wrangling together with these questions, is essential. What’s in this Declaration is both very simple... but also, very deep.
One thing I've really learned in this last week is the importance of not skipping over Part 1—the necessity for revolution nothing less! This is so key in the kinds of discussions we need to be opening up now with people where they need to engage what we mean by real revolution, and WHY this is the ONLY way to deal with all the horrors. Leading this process is also part of ourselves deepening our understanding in a living scientific way—it enables us to break down what’s in there. There's a lot to learn from BA on how he is able to break these things down and make them accessible because he has such a deep understanding of complex reality that is hidden from people. Through this process, I see a real basis to unleash masses of people... to break out of the ones and twos with something like this model. I’m not saying we got it all figured out but I do think it’s in the right direction, and it definitely is also pushing us to get to a higher understanding of what is in the Declaration.
Someone made the point recently: people learn science by doing science, especially in this kind of collective process.
Second, I've learned how important it is to leave time to make plans together with people about how they're going to be part of “spreading the word about revolution and getting people together” to grapple with these questions—who can they go out to, can we set up a time and date for the discussion, do they want to lead it by wielding the Declaration or do they want a revcom to lead it and they can learn for the next time. Putting that basic need to people opens up even more discussion—with a necessary process of people struggling with each other. In all the discussions, people raised “I know a lot people, but they're not into this...” or “I know people who care but they're not thinking like this.” So this made people walk through—in their own thinking—a central contradiction we face in making revolution, spoken to in the Declaration:
“Many of the people who can be won to this revolution are not 'into this' now and are not acting in accordance with the methods, principles, and goals of this revolution.” The Declaration goes on though to speak to the fact that, “This revolution is in the interests of all people who catch hell under this system and all those who hunger for or dream about a world where an end to exploitation, poverty, inequality, injustice and oppression is not a bitter joke but a liberating reality.”
So how do we deal with that contradiction? “...in working to change the world in this way, people can change themselves—they can be united with in refusing to put up with injustice that no one should accept, and struggled with to see that revolution is the way to put an end to all this—that revolution is what we should live for and fight for.” Through unity and struggle. And people who want to see this revolution can become organizers for this revolution through struggling with others and grappling together with others.
Opening up this question and making concrete plans on the spot, we can equip people with what the actual process needs to be and the necessary role for struggle. We learned a lot about wielding the Declaration which enables them to go wage this struggle with many others. There's also a simple accessible tool in BA's article, This Is A Rare Time When Revolution Becomes Possible—Why That Is So, And How To Seize On This Rare Opportunity, where he walks through how people need to break with thinking and acting on the terms of this system.
An Introductory Zoom with Students—Grappling Together with What Is Revolution?
We had an introductory zoom session with four students on the Declaration and Call. We wanted to focus up the discussion on Part 1 of the Declaration and concretely make plans off of it —continuing to get together to get into the discussion, and brainstorming ideas for what to do in response to the Texas abortion ban.
We read Part 1 out loud and then the students grappled with the content of it together. One student asked if revolution would require violence, and another student responded that “a revolution doesn't necessarily mean violence, we can get rid of this system without violence, this system only survives if people buy into their system, we could boycott every company that is in Texas right now, we can refuse to pay taxes, if only 30 percent of Americans did this, their money would be gone.” The first student who asked the question responded, “Interesting idea, but it's not just a few companies not paying their workers properly. If that's the case how do we boycott every single company? For example, I need to buy groceries, I need to buy things at Target, everything is attached to a capitalist society I can’t just stop buying things we need. I’m also in need of medication? So how do we deal with that?”
She got into this more deeply wrestling with how scary it is to talk about going up against the violent forces of this system, confronting how they violently enforce their rule all over the world... but then she was really walking it through, “look at the whole history of this country where people marched, have fought back... whatever happens, the rulers go after people. We can’t even peacefully protest without them bringing down more violence on people.”
A student who'd been listening up to that point said that “physical violence isn't the only form of violence perpetrated by this system.” She talked about how what's happening right now in Texas with the abortion ban is a form of violence, and overall that “capitalism is formed to benefit just a small number of people and it won't be fixed by just adding tiny reforms to it.” She argued that “we've seen how long it’s taken to just get these small reforms, and we have no time for all this, the planet is being destroyed.”
The other student who'd been listening went back to the first question of what we mean by revolution and asked, “do we mean different forms of protest?”
Here, we re-read what it says in the Declaration about what a revolution is. We stepped back to talk again about what this system is, why you can’t reform it or just boycott to deal with the problems.
We then talked more about the abortion ban in Texas, what is happening and why. Here too there was struggle and discussion among the students themselves about these questions that changed how they were wrestling with what it would mean to act commensurate with this situation, and organize for revolution. We didn't exhaust all this, and here too, needed to get more concrete—going from ideas and proposals to real plans—but there was rich discussion.
A Group Watch of The RNL—Revolution, Nothing Less!—Show: Who's Going to Have the Future?
Four students joined members of the National Revolution Tour to watch The RNL Show episode 68 together. They had all met the revolution the day before and joined a group discussion on the spot – 20+ students reading and discussing the Declaration and Call to Get Organized Now For a Real Revolution.
After watching the episode, three of the students stayed on to discuss the show. They talked about what struck them from the show and then there was discussion about what we face and what to do about it.
The first to speak said what struck her about the show is that all the opinions were backed with up with proof. And she said that what’s happening in Afghanistan is heart-breaking and she wants to see a more peaceful world. Another student said every segment was heavy and scary. She gave as an example what was said about a 17-year-old girl in Texas not being able to get an abortion. The third student commented on the visual picture that was painted of women rushing to clinics ahead of the Texas law going into effect.
Then they wrestled some with what we now confront and what to do about it. One woman talked about how frightening the forces are that are doing things like this Texas law. She said Trump gave a military command to a white nationalist group when he told the Proud Boys to stand by, they have the police, they are in the military, they have networks of churches. She said: “I’m a 19-year-old college student and it doesn’t feel like there’s much I can do.”
In response, one of the other students said that she was feeling small, that voting is all you can do, but now that she’s met the Revolution Club, she can put her thoughts into actions. The third student agreed, saying people adapt to things that are no good, but felt with the Revolution Club our voices can be heard.
One of the revcoms leading the call put things back to the students in a very lofty but also sharp and down-on-the-ground way. She said the potential exists to transform the people for revolution. She went on to say that revolution will require sacrifice, and yes, the fascists are scary. But what’s scarier than these people getting the future? She argued that struggle with people is needed to break from thinking about themselves and thinking as Americans, but instead thinking of the people of the world—humanity and the planet is our responsibility. And she said there can be a positive resolution of this, quoting from Bob Avakian about “what if the world doesn’t have to be this way,” and posed that things are going to change whether we’re comfortable with it or not, which way it goes has to do with what we do now to get organized for revolution.
Before the call ended, plans were made for getting back together and bringing people together on campus to get further into the Declaration and Call.
Revolution Club Meeting—Why Revolution Is Necessary... and the Need to Struggle with Others
We had our monthly Revolution Club mass meeting where we gave an overview of the Declaration, but really honed in on Part 1—the necessity for this revolution, leaving time to talk about getting organized. We're coming to appreciate ourselves how fundamental that question is especially in this situation. Spontaneously, a lot of people – including too often us – want to step over that question because “yeah, we all know you need a revolution.” But then you'd be surprised to find out how differently people do and don't understand the basics of why, as the Declaration starts, “Let’s get down to basics: We need a revolution—nothing less!”
We laid out briefly what's in the Declaration and then explained that we were going to focus on the first part, and read that part of the Declaration out loud. The first question that came up was, “ok what's the plan?” We mainly said we'd come back to this, but that you do first have to answer, “A plan for what?” What is it we're trying to do and why?
We went back to the first paragraph, and walked through again what it says in the Declaration and asked people to speak to this. One person spoke up about being a vet and said they agreed with what the Declaration says about the military. They said, “there were untold atrocities carried out in the name of 'democracy,' if people see the images, they wouldn’t be so proud.” A young person who was there said he agreed with this and talked about how a friend of his was in Afghanistan and talked about how he sometimes had to stop other soldiers from raping and killing civilians. This was important to get out on the table. We brought it back to what is this system of capitalism, why we say these military are carrying all this out in the service of the biggest oppressors in the world, the rulers of this country.
We then moved the discussion to speak more directly to “what's the plan,” and read Part 4 of the Declaration. We opened the question of who are groups of people we can take this to—to bring people together to themselves grapple with these questions. Doing this actually opened up an important discussion about how to deal with the problem that, as it says in the Declaration, “Many of the people who can be won to this revolution are not 'into this' now and are not acting in accordance with the methods, principles, and goals of this revolution.”
One guy talked about how there are very few people he can talk about these things with, and sometimes people will walk out of a room if he starts to raise things that make people question. The anti-American vet said that people are more concerned with themselves and things they are dealing with. They also raised the problem of fear, that people get worried if they step into this now, how might that impact their ability to get a job or the state might come after you. Another woman said she has been agonizing about all of what is happening in the world, but how do we take this to others who want to care but have allowed themselves to become dead inside.
This was important for people to put on the table—and grapple with together.
We talked about the importance of struggling with people about all this... there are a lot of people who are described by that opening to the Declaration, but who are going along with things in the way people were describing. I read from BA's article, Rare Time, where he wages deep struggle with people:
Instead of “staying in your lane,” and “going for self,” while this system is moving to even more decisively crush any hope for a world worth living in, people need to be looking at the bigger picture, focusing on the greater interests of humanity and the possibility for a far better world—and acting to make this a reality.
Instead of finding excuses to go along with the way things have been, standing apart from (or even bad-mouthing) the revolution, people need to get with this revolution, and not throw away the rare opportunity to be part of bringing something much better into being.
I talked about the need for them to use these points when people raise these things—they need to challenge others with the need for revolution and the fact that this is a rare time when revolution becomes possible. As BA says: “All this is reality, and no one can escape this reality, either we radically change it, in a positive way, or everything will be changed in a very negative way.”
Someone else with the Revolution Tour also spoke about the process we're in right now, the need to build up thousands right now, organized for revolution, how that can put us in a different situation in this rare time to bring forward the millions needed to make that revolution. This Declaration, and the process it lays out, is the essential tool we have to understand and act in this situation, to “get organized now for a real revolution.” One person there wants to run with the revcom recruiters on a campus, and has some ideas about people they might be able to pull together and a few others there want to get into this more deeply, with an upcoming zoom scheduled to walk through the Declaration together with others systematically.
Discussing Why We Need Revolution, and Why We Need Leadership at a State College
We had a small team out at a state college where they were having a “welcome week” with different student organizations. We were at first wrestling with how to create more of a scene but before we could do that, students started coming up to gather around our table and get into discussion.
There was a small group of students at the table ranging from three to four people at any given time, some would cycle out while others stayed and then others joined in. There was a good dynamic of people who were more radical and serious, those who care about the world but who'd never thought about revolution, and those more ready to poke holes in revolution all debating with each other—based on the Declaration.
The person leading the discussion used the board we have that lays out the “four basic truths” laid out in the Declaration and Call to Get Organized Now For a Real Revolution and repeatedly brought things back to what's in the Declaration. One student also played a good role throughout, struggling with others on a range of questions including why we need leadership (she said her dad was part of Occupy* and his big criticism was that there was no centralized leadership) and why we need to go straight up with revolution (here she argued that people need to know we're recruiting for revolution because we want those who are ready now). Through discussion there was someone who was more anti-communist who was arguing that maybe revolution is too extreme, which other students had to respond to. One student was torn about this, raising concerns about what's involved in a real revolution and whether that's really necessary. The first student answered back on the violent nature of this system and the need to figure out how to get rid of that.
There was also controversy about leadership and about BA in particular, one student was a more cynical movement type, others had never heard of BA and were kind of hesitant because of that... we got into Part 3 of the Declaration on who BA is and why, if you're serious about real revolution, you need to be serious about the kind of leadership needed for this. The student whose dad had been part of occupy made the argument about why fundamental, radical change requires leadership. It was also important to speak straight-up to the controversy that surrounds BA and why we're unapologetic about him being “an old white guy” because of the revolutionary leadership he's providing... because as the Declaration says, “Unlike so many who considered themselves revolutionaries at that time, BA has never given up, never departed from the road of revolution.” This also divided out people who were more serious about revolution and those who wanted to more “check it out.” We made sure to distribute the print out, Bob Avakian Answers Accusations of “Cult”: IGNORANCE, AND COWARDICE, to everyone there and made concrete plans with people about starting a Revolution Club on campus and getting others together in a zoom discussion of the Declaration.
* Editors’ Footnote: "Occupy" was a movement in 2011 against injustice and inequality perpetrated by this system. It involved people occupying public spaces for days or weeks, starting with Wall Street in New York City and spreading to many other places. Ultimately it was violently crushed by the police. You can read Bob Avakian's analysis of this movement when it was still going on here. [back]