The Bay Area Revolution Club hosted a discussion on Bob Avakian On Fascist Lunacy and “Woke Folk” Insanity: A New “Two Outmodeds” at Revolution Books in Berkeley. Attendees included about eight students from UC Berkeley, a high school student, and a young woman who said she came because she felt compelled to attend after seeing what's happened in the last two years in this country.
We started with an intro about the Revolution Club—that we are getting organized now for an actual revolution, that people should get into the A Declaration, A Call To Get Organized Now For A Real Revolution and join the Revolution Club now even as they are continuing to learn. We identified the leader of this revolution and architect of the new communism, Bob Avakian (BA). The two of us leading the discussion introduced ourselves by briefly walking through our own political journeys that saw us taking up and fighting for identity politics to becoming revolutionary communists. We shared about finding BA and confronting, as BA himself said, wanting revolution bad enough we became willing to be scientific.
Our introduction focused on reading a few excerpts from BA's work on the current moment, and the importance of science and truth to the struggle for total emancipation. We read from BA's New Year's statement, A New Year, The Urgent Need For A Radically New World—For The Emancipation Of All Humanity, on how the recent election bought a little time but not much time so we can't squander the time we have and need to get busy organizing for revolution—nothing less. We then played an audio excerpt from BA's article on CONSPIRACY THEORIES, FASCIST “CERTITUDE,” LIBERAL PARALYSIS, OR A SCIENTIFIC APPROACH TO CHANGING THE WORLD (Longer Version—The Truth Elaborated) where he talks about how truth is objective, not whether you like or dislike the person saying it! We wanted to play this to introduce the scientific method and also to respond to the anticipated relativism in the room (which bore out!). And finally, we also read an excerpt from the “Bob Avakian On Fascist Lunacy and 'Woke Folk' Insanity: A New 'Two Outmodeds'” article.
When we opened up for discussion, the contradictoriness of people’s thinking came out immediately—in a good and lively way, with everyone there grappling together. On the one hand, people put out unscientific ideas and thinking: that all “narratives” are valid, that truth is relative, that you can't apply the scientific method to politics. People argued for “standpoint epistemology” vs. science (that your “standpoint” based on your life experience, gender, race etc determines what you understand, in other word; as one woman said, “I think that my perspective is very much based on my own position as a cis-gendered white woman.”) After being provoked by the Revolution Club members present, the same people also admitted that they did agree on some objective truths such as evolution, the pending environmental apocalypse and that Jesus was not in fact going to come down and save everyone. Recognizing this contradiction in their own thinking did force people to go more deeply into these questions of method, and whether and why you need a consistently scientific method to know and change the world.
A lot of the struggle got focused up on why we follow BA, and why they should too! Someone said they agreed with what BA was saying in these articles, but still “I feel like the leader of a successful movement is probably going to be Black and trans.” One of us responded that if that was her criteria, why doesn't she follow Kamala Harris? No, we have to go with the content of where people are leading, not their identity. Another Revolution Club member shared her own initial reaction to learning about BA saying, “I was a feminist, I thought, there is no way I am going to follow a white man.” But she had to confront that BA was the only one really and consistently calling out Trump’s fascism and actually fighting for a revolution to end the horrors of this system. She pointed to the display showing BA’s memoir and shared what a profound effect reading it had on her. She told the young woman raising these differences about leadership, “You have to check BA out.” The young woman responded seriously, “OK, I will.”
The Revolution Club members challenged the students to confront the stakes of the current moment by reading from BAsics and BA’s recent COVID piece. And to show the real potential of applying a scientific framework to objective reality, and what becomes possible with a revolution, we read the section from the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America on the oppression, and liberation, of women.
People appreciated hearing this vision, but there was still an argument: “that sounds great, but I'm sure a Black woman has probably written something like this before.” We interjected that actually no! This line, this understanding, this concrete plan, strategy and vision could not be found anywhere else but in this leadership—Bob Avakian—that, as the Declaration from the revcoms says, “There never has been a leader like this in this country and there is no other leader like this in the world now.”
I think we would characterize the evening as an opening. This was the first time most if not all of the attendees have had to confront the epistemological contradictions of their positions. It became even clearer to us in leading this discussion how this “woke lunacy” is misdirecting and stagnating people. We also learned more deeply that, as it says in the Declaration, we need to struggle hard with people and challenge them to walk through their understanding measured against the science BA is fighting for. We are excited to carry forward from this discussion—continuing this necessary debate and engagement.
At the end of the program, everyone there signed up to continue these discussions, and the woman who argued the hardest for identity politics wanted a copy of BAsics to get more into what BA is actually saying and fighting for.