As part of our efforts to Put Revolution on the Map in 2023 through “Operation Saturation,” a small team here has been getting out the We Need and We Demand declaration and the We Are the Revcoms proclamation broadly through stores, laundromats, and other businesses in areas of this city where many people who catch the most hell in this system live—both immigrants and people born in the U.S. We are working towards developing embryonic networks of support for the revolution, and centers of distribution of revolutionary material. There are some indications that this is taking hold in a beginning but potentially significant way: People tell us they have run into the Declaration, Proclamation, and posters in multiple places, and a good number of people are themselves taking the materials to get out to others, and donating funds for the revolution.
Over the past week, 11 businesses have joined the effort to distribute the Declaration and the Proclamation, including three small restaurants, five convenience stores, two barber shops and a laundromat that put up posters and took copies for their customers. Some of these places also donated and a few have become regular sustainers. A good number of other places, from vape stores to dollar stores to auto parts places have also allowed us to leave the materials on their counters.
This effort at saturation has tapped into a latent well of anger and questioning. Many people, when they see and think for a moment about what the Declaration and the Proclamation say, have said to us that the world should not be the way it is now. Some begin to think about revolution. Some have struggled with friends not to accept the way things are. Some have said they are already reaching out to others about the need for a big change. A growing number have taken bundles to distribute and donated small amounts of money to the revolution. Some have said they will spread the word online. A few are giving ways to get back with them.
As this happens, people’s questions get sharpened up. There is debate about this revolution, whether it can really happen, and what it’s about. Controversy gets stirred up around religion, global warming, LGBTQ rights, etc. Underneath what seems on the surface to be indifference, many people are thinking about and deeply feeling the contradictions roiling through society. They have strong opinions, and when they see the Declaration, it often strikes a chord and unleashes their desires for change.
Many people welcome the overall demands of the Declaration, including the six points from the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America. Most are also heavily influenced by religion and other non-scientific thinking. At the same time, many have a broadness of mind and some curiosity about the world, and are concerned about war, climate change, U.S. aggression in the world and other issues expressed in the “5 STOPS.”
Bringing People REAL Revolution and the New Communism
Getting people to watch the Bob Avakian (BA) Interviews is key. We had experiences where even initial and brief viewings of BA made a big difference. One Black woman who had already given a dollar and taken a bundle to distribute, including a few in Spanish for people she works with, gave another 50 cents after watching the Break Out of the Trap clip. A youth who had seen the Declaration challenged us about how we know what's true. He didn’t think people around this revolution really knew how people were suffering because they hadn’t lived it. We stressed that this was based on science. We read the first paragraph of the Declaration, “In the name of the people…” out loud, and played BA’s interview clip on "Woke" Is a Joke, a Bad Joke. While he didn’t take a bundle, a number of other people standing nearby and listening took materials for themselves and to get out to others. Millions of people need to see these videos!
We also learned how important it is for people to get to the six points from the Constitution concentrated in the Declaration, and to make clear that we are living in a rare time when revolution is more possible, that there is a strategy concentrated in Fight the Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution, and we have the leadership of Bob Avakian (BA) and the revcoms… and to challenge people that this can't happen without you!
“Battling for the Walls”
Restaurants and laundromats are both real centers of the community, and have potential to spread things broader. We are beginning to make connections with some owners and staff at different small businesses. Some welcome the materials on a regular basis, and let posters go up in their shops. Some have donated funds, and a few have become sustainers.
Even when people have significant disagreement about revolution, exposure of what is going on in the world, as captured in the first paragraphs of the Declaration, has won several of them to allow us to post it in their stores. This is very much a part of the “battle for the walls,” which is going on more broadly in this community. At some places, through back-and-forth struggle, we have established a continued presence. Others have told us to leave. All this involves struggle, which is ongoing.
A number of youths who go into these places are beginning to be challenged—and some inspired by—this revolution. This is particularly true of young women. A couple of new employees at one place followed us out the door to get their own copies to learn what the revolution had to say. A young Chicana was listening while we talked with another person at an auto parts store. When it finished, she went in the back and returned with $3 for the revolution. She took five packets for herself, and let us leave more for the customers.
A Middle Eastern store worker was really excited by the materials. He watched some of BA’s videos and said he really likes what BA says and how he thinks, but raised several important questions: 1) You can't make revolution here, it needs to happen in poorer countries first; 2) How many people do you have? It's not enough; 3) It takes a very long time to do this.
We pointed out the part in We Are the Revcoms with the analysis of how deeply the rulers are divided, and what that means for the possibility of revolution and how revolutions don't gradually develop, but are a dramatic break with the way things have been. We read the point about Fight the Power, and Transform the People, For Revolution… and BA's internationalism, concentrated in the quotes from BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian, “Internationalism—The Whole World Comes First,” "American Lives Are Not More Important Than Other People’s Lives," as well as Why do people come here from all over the world? He liked all of that, opened the window barrier so we could talk better, and gave a small donation ($2).
Another business owner, who previously said he was too busy to be bothered, recently looked at some of the materials, then let us leave them in his store. He told us that most of his customers can't read. So, we talked about how he could direct people to the RNL YouTube channel. We are going to return with a poster for The RNL—Revolution, Nothing Less!—Show mounted on a card for near the cash register so people can access the revolution through that.
There is still a lot to learn from all this, and how to accelerate it. But all this is adding to the mix where some stores, laundromats, restaurants, and other businesses in deeply oppressed, impoverished, and police patrolled parts of town are beginning to play a role as centers of struggle, debate, support and links to the revolution humanity desperately needs.