In reflecting more on what we’ve begun with the June 12 marches to Show the World: We Are Getting Organized NOW for Revolution—Nothing Less!, I wanted to underscore my appreciation for what it changes when you step straight up with the fact that we are followers of Bob Avakian (BA), and anyone who wants to get free needs to become a follower of BA too. The Declaration and Call from the revcoms, “TO GET ORGANIZED NOW FOR A REAL REVOLUTION,” says:
To make this revolution a reality, we need leadership with the scientific method, the strategy and program that can shine a light through the madness and chaos that this system is constantly creating and can lead in carving the path forward out of this madness to the radically new world we need. AND WE HAVE THAT LEADERSHIP—IN BOB AVAKIAN (BA). BA is the architect of a whole new framework for the liberation of all oppressed people and the emancipation of all humanity: the new communism. We are followers of BA. And you need to become followers of BA too. There never has been a leader like this in this country and there is no other leader like this in the world now. We cannot afford not to follow this leadership if we ever want to get free and put an end to this madness.
This came through in the speeches and agitation from the emcees on June 12, it came through in our chants, in the banners, the inspiring film about June 12 produced by the RNL—Revolution, Nothing Less—Show... and it came through in the whole way we built for June 12—putting this to people, and challenging them to know about, get into and follow BA. We aren’t bringing this to people as an FYI, or “this is our thing,” or slow-going educational, these are interesting ideas... no! The reality and momentum of real revolution comes through when we make clear: We are followers of BA and anyone who wants to get free, needs to become a follower of BA too.
On that basis, we are introducing the controversy from the very beginning: yes, he’s an old white guy—get over it! Going right up against the identity politics, the behind the back snarking or even polite “can’t we all just get along” relativism that so much predominates in our society and in the “woke culture” that passes for “radical politics” but leads away from what people need to really get free.
Doing this so consistently, boldly and with unmistakable clarity is frankly different and stands in some contrast to some of the work of the revcoms before, and I think represents a tremendous and urgently needed advance. (It’s not that we’ve never done this but I think the consistency, clarity, and frontal challenge that we’ve been doing this with is different and stands out as something important to understand.)
We’re not trying to win people to some general and abstract idea of revolution, we are working NOW to organize forces for revolution. This is always true, but is especially true in these rare times and circumstances where revolution actually could be possible, as discussed in that Declaration and Call.
BA’s work and leadership concentrates the dividing line of revolution vs. the million paths that fall short of and lead away from revolution, the dividing line of the emancipation of all humanity and breaking ALL the chains of oppression vs. going for revenge or getting your piece of this system, the dividing line between the scientific breakthroughs at the heart of the new communism that BA has developed vs. distorting communism into dogmatic religiosity or relativist toothless social democracy. Go down the line on every major question that matters to the struggle for revolution and communism: BA’s work and ongoing leadership is pivotal! This is an active, immediate challenge and term-setting—again, not something educational or FYI—but provoking people to have to take a stand one way or other.
This is connected to the fact that we’re putting the problems of the revolution to people from the very beginning—which the Declaration and Call does all the way through, “...right now only a small number of us have recognized the need for this revolution and are acting to make it happen. So there is crucial work that must be done now to win people to understand the need for revolution and act to make it real—to turn the potential for revolution into a powerful movement and organized force for an actual revolution.” We’re not social workers, or bringing people false promises and illusory hope; we’re telling people the basic reality, that as BA says, “...we have two choices: either, live with all this—and condemn future generations to the same, or worse, if they have a future at all—or, make revolution!”... we’re letting people know the great strengths we have for this and what is missing—what they need to be part of going to work on and taking responsibility for. We’re letting people know their responsibility to take up and follow this leadership, to apply this to all the complex problems we face in making revolution and to protect and defend the leadership we have.
When you put BA straight up to people this way, from jump, all of this is what gets objectively posed and what people are meeting. And the controversy this opens up is controversy that we want to break open—controversy and struggle over revolution vs. reform, over nationalism vs. internationalism, science vs. identity politics and relativism, over what their lives are actually going to be about one way or other, controversy about the ridiculous notion of horizontalism vs. the scientific recognition of the need for communist leadership. Because we’re serious about revolution, and because we’re working urgently to bring forward others who are serious about revolution, we don’t have time to be dancing around those questions... leaving all these wrong ways of “old system thinking” intact. And if you tried dancing around all those questions, as BA himself has emphasized, you wouldn’t end up being any good to anyone because you would’ve turned yourself into thinking along the terms of the very system we’re supposed to be working to overthrow. This may be counterintuitive, but we want all this busted open so people can start to see and come to understand themselves what’s required for revolution—really and truly becoming followers of BA through digging into the scientific method that he’s developed, models, and applies to the biggest and hardest questions of revolution.
Also, when—from the very beginning—people are able to “meet BA”—through video clips, articles, or quotations, knowing that he’s a revolutionary leader that people should look to and follow—they are themselves getting the fullest picture of what this revolution is about. And they are “meeting” the person who best embodies this—whose whole life has been about putting himself to what’s required for humanity, here and all over the world, to get free from all the needless suffering and brutality that’s brought down by this system of capitalism-imperialism, a system that needs to be overthrown at the soonest possible time. Someone whose whole life has been a relentless pursuit of the truth—even if those truths are, in the short term, uncomfortable. Someone who has never lost sight of the potential of the most oppressed to be conscious emancipators of humanity themselves. And someone who, through great difficulties and sacrifice, has never lost his poetic spirit or sense of humor! This comes through in his talks and writings, in his memoir, in the video series on BA for the Liberation of Black People and the Emancipation of All Humanity and in his whole way of leading and his unapologetic determination to fight for nothing less than what humanity actually needs—a real and total revolution that’s about breaking ALL the chains of oppression and exploitation.
As the Declaration emphasizes,
To come back to basics: We need revolution—a real revolution. We cannot afford to waste these rare times and circumstances that could be ripened into a real chance to make revolution. We cannot afford to squander the rare and precious leadership we have for this revolution. We have to get busy, build the movement and the organized forces for revolution all over the country, and work together tirelessly for this revolution, to actively prepare for the situation where this system can be brought down and something much better brought into being.
Why am I—why is my body of work, and method and approach—important? Because this is bringing forward an advanced understanding, a heightened understanding, of what revolution and communism are all about and how to move toward the objective of revolution and communism, as well as a method for engaging and struggling through the contradictions that are inevitably going to be encountered in that process....
If we are in fact being guided by the scientific understanding that human society needs to, and can, advance to communism, that the struggle to achieve this objective must be the conscious act of masses of people, on the one hand, while at the same time this must have, and has no prospect of being realized without, leadership—leadership that, in relation to this goal, embodies the most advanced understanding and methodology—and that what is concentrated in this person, yes, but most fundamentally in the body of work and method and approach of Bob Avakian represents that leadership; then what flows naturally from that is the recognition that this is something the masses of people must be made aware of and acquainted with, and must take up as their own, with the understanding of how crucial it is, in terms of their own fundamental interests and ultimately the highest interests of humanity as a whole. As a document of our Party on the question of revolutionary leadership emphasizes:
“the fact that certain individual revolutionaries emerge as a concentration of this process, and themselves become a concentrated expression of the best qualities of revolutionary leadership—including a selfless dedication to the revolutionary cause and deep love of the masses, as well as a strong grasp of the scientific methodology needed to unleash the masses and chart the path of revolution in line with their objective interests—then the existence of such an individual leader or leaders is not something to lament but something to welcome and celebrate! It is part of the people’s strength.”
Bob Avakian, BAsics 6:11