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Shaking Things Up in the Ivy League

Following Up on Raymond Lotta’s “Disruption” of Timothy Snyder’s Anti-Communist Bullshit at Yale University

A small team of revcoms returned to Yale University to follow up Raymond Lotta’s intervention in Timothy Snyder’s class, where Lotta had called out Snyder’s lies about communism and challenged Snyder to debate the reality of communist experience.

Reverberations from Raymond Lotta’s Frontal Challenge to Anti-Communist Timothy Snyder

This intervention on February 29 had a big impact at Yale and more broadly in academia, capturing the attention of students and faculty for weeks following, and we didn’t want this challenge to simply be absorbed into the daily fabric of campus life, as an interesting “one-off.” Lotta’s challenge had cracked open the possibility of breaking through the bullshit “narrative” promoted by Snyder (and others) that communism is no different than fascism and both are “totalitarian” horrors. We didn’t want to let that opening get slammed shut. We also wanted to learn more about the mood among students at this time of great turmoil and danger.

We decided to lead with the flyer promoting Raymond’s national tour (The New Communist Revolution So Badly Needed… vs. the Anti-Communist Brainwash You’re Getting) and the pop quiz “Everything You’ve Been Told about Communism IS WRONG: CAPITALISM IS A FAILURE, COMMUNIST REVOLUTION IS THE SOLUTION.We reproduced copies of the recent article "Revolutionary Communism vs. 'Decolonization' Theory: Three Huge Differences," the article summing up the initial revcom intervention (above) and announcements for the "The BIG Problem with Netflix 3 Body Problem" program at New York Revolution Books. We had copies of the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America and important revcom pamphlets on the table along with palm cards for the Bob Avakian Interviews and some provocative placards we had made up, including a challenge to take the pop quiz. We staked out a street corner right outside the student union and jumped into it.

Taking the Quiz and Then Going Deeper

Once we got started, it quickly became clear that on this day, we needed to lead with the pop quiz. It seemed that students were much more drawn to the "challenge" of testing their knowledge than the "invitation" to take a flyer, even when posed sharply, and we were in for a roller-coaster day.

One of the posters challenging students to take the quiz was hand drawn on dayglow paper and was readable from a distance. We could see students pointing at it from across the street and coming over to the table. While there was a lot of ebb and flow, during the breaks between classes there were sometimes a dozen or more students crowding around the table. A student might stop, and a couple of their friends would see them, and they would stop. One group of students told us they wanted to go get a friend who knew more about Chinese history, and they brought him back to take the quiz. Others would stop to get a flyer and then end up spending 15-20 minutes talking with us.

One graduate student, who also taught a class focusing on how neoliberal policy impacted the inner city, asked if Raymond could speak in his class.

An undergraduate took the quiz and suggested bringing Raymond into his contemporary China class. At the same time, he talked about the lack of hope that he and his classmates feel looking at the world today.

All kinds of students stopped; both graduate and undergraduates, many from the liberal arts but also from the sciences, with a lot of international or first-generation immigrant students. 

We struggled with every student who stopped to take the pop quiz on the spot and not to just leave with it. While most still took the quiz with them, 16 took the test at our table, and this led to some very intense moments, where, after reading the first question or two together, we would end up in deeper conversations—the vicious French suppression of Algeria, the murder of students at Kent State and Jackson State during the protests against the Vietnam War and more. This, in turn, would often lead to the situation today with the draconian attacks on students and faculty opposing the Israeli genocide in Gaza. Students who began the pop quiz as a lark started wanting to see what the next question was.

The second set of questions, comparing and contrasting the Constitution of the United States with the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, written by Bob Avakian, was more difficult because students hadn’t read the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, and some didn’t fill that section out. One exception was an older Chinese student who carefully read each question out loud and answered them (correctly). When he got to the questions comparing Constitutions, he continued to read and answer them correctly. He told us that he hadn’t read the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic but he knew these statements banning discrimination and guaranteeing employment definitely weren’t in the U.S. Constitution. As he finished, he smiled and said, “You must be the communists.”

Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal)

Authored by Bob Avakian, and adopted by the Central Committee of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA

A Wide Range of Students

We found ourselves constantly challenged. One student, whose family was from Cuba and whose uncle had been persecuted for publishing an anti-Castro paper, was genuinely interested and raised the question, “Yes it seems you have something very positive in your Constitution but what are you going to do in the real world when confronted with big problems?” We ran into a number of students whose families came from countries once dominated by the Soviet Union after it had become a capitalist-imperialist rival to the U.S. and who mistakenly considered their families’ experience to have demonstrated the failure of communism. While we contested their assessment, we also pointed to this as one of the big reasons they needed to hear Raymond Lotta.

In a real stroke of good luck, we met a student who had been in Snyder’s class when Raymond had issued his original challenge. This student was one of several who had stuck around to talk to Lotta after Snyder had herded others out of the classroom. He told us that Raymond’s challenge had compelled his breakout group to focus more on the crimes of Western imperialism than they would have otherwise, including the British government’s enforced starvation of millions of West Bengalis during the second world war and the fire-bombing of Dresden. He said he was still a little torn by the intervention, which he characterized as “a little Stalinist,” but had, himself, been challenged by Raymond and was happy to find us back on campus.

We also met our fair share of “haters,” mostly Zionists. They wanted to take the pop quiz to somehow poke holes in it. While most of this was also bullshit, they sometimes posed provocative questions like, “Wasn’t it true that Stalin and the Soviet Union supported the creation of Israel?” (yes) or, in response to question 5, “Does that mean you are opposed to religious freedoms” (no, but we will struggle fiercely against reactionary religious practices). Another person challenged us—“Yes, Stalin and the Soviet Union passed legislation protecting the rights of Jewish people, but didn’t they also imprison and murder tens of thousands of their own people in the purges leading up to the World War 2?”

Book Cover-You Don't Know What You Think You "Know" About... The Communist Revolution and the REAL Path to Emancipation


Proceeding from the New Communism

Even though these questions were coming from backward and sometimes reactionary individuals, some of them hit at real contradictions we feel we need to dig into and grapple with more. And they pointed to the fact that we need to do a better job of bringing forward Bob Avakian, BA, and the new communism, specifically in regard to the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, but more overall. That’s a question of us proceeding fully and consciously from the framework of the new communism brought forward by BA. Bob Avakian broke with some of the unscientific ways of thinking that had persisted in the approach of the previous revolutionary thinkers, societies and movements and has forged a qualitatively more scientific way to go at the problems that will face any socialist society moving to eliminate all oppression and to “free the spirit from its cell.” (See, for example, BA on “Truth is…truth” in his social media message Revolution Number 23.) The pop quiz actually gives us the basis to do that.

We also thought we needed to think more strategically about using @BobAvakianOfficial. We brought a sound system but in all the hubbub around the table, there never seemed a good way to start playing an excerpt. We have to work on that. One idea is simply to say that at a certain point we are going to take a break from everything else to play one or two of the dispatches and work off them.

Despite the shortcomings, this turned into a very significant outing, where we all felt that we were just scratching the surface and had us thinking about the possibilities—including of getting back to Yale once more before the end of the school year.

From the Six Resolutions of the Central Committee of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, January 1, 2016

Resolution 1

The new synthesis of communism [new communism] brought forward by Bob Avakian, on the basis of 40 years of revolutionary work, represents a qualitative advance in the scientific approach to making revolution and emancipating humanity. It provides the foundation and point of departure for a new stage of communist revolution that is urgently needed in the world today.

Where there is oppression, there will be resistance—the masses of people will continually rise up against their conditions of oppression and those who enforce this oppression. But, without the necessary scientific theory and leadership, the struggle of the oppressed will be contained, and remain confined, within the system which is the source of oppression, and the horrors to which the masses are subjected will go on, and on. The new synthesis and the leadership of Bob Avakian represents and embodies the scientific understanding and approach the masses of the oppressed need to make the revolution they need—a revolution whose ultimate goal is a communist world—to emancipate themselves and ultimately humanity as a whole.

As Bob Avakian himself has emphasized, the new synthesis:

represents and embodies a qualitative resolution of a critical contradiction that has existed within communism in its development up to this point, between its fundamentally scientific method and approach, and aspects of communism which have run counter to this.


What is most fundamental and essential in the new synthesis is the further development and synthesis of communism as a scientific method and approach, and the more consistent application of this scientific method and approach to reality in general and in particular the revolutionary struggle to overturn and uproot all systems and relations of exploitation and oppression and advance to a communist world. This method and approach underlies and informs all the core elements and essential components of this new synthesis.

As with all scientific approaches to understanding and transforming reality, communism must continue to develop, and it has undergone a qualitative development with the new synthesis, which is a leap beyond, and in some important ways a rupture with, what has gone before. Recognizing this is the essential dividing line today between genuine revolutionary communists and those who may profess to be for communism and revolution, but who in fact are not. Just as, in 1975, being a communist meant being a follower of Mao and the path that he had forged, so today being a communist means following Bob Avakian and the new path that he has forged.

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From the genocide in Gaza, to the growing threat of world war between nuclear powers, to escalating environmental devastation… the capitalist-imperialist system ruling over us is a horror for billions around the world and is tearing up the fabric of life on earth. Now the all-out battle within the U.S. ruling class, between fascist Republicans and war criminal Democrats, is coming to a head—likely during, or before, the coming elections—ripping society apart unlike anything since the Civil War. 

Bob Avakian (BA), revolutionary leader and author of the new communism, has developed a strategy to prepare for and make revolution. He’s scientifically analyzed that this is a rare time when an actual revolution has become more possible, and has laid out the sweeping vision, solid foundation and concrete blueprint for “what comes next,” in the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America

The website follows and applies that leadership and is essential to all this. We post new materials from BA and curate his whole body of work. We apply the science he’s developed to analyze and expose every key event in society, every week. posts BA’s timely leadership for the revcoms (revolutionary communists), including his social media posts which break this down for people every week and sometimes more. We act as a guiding and connecting hub for the growing revcom movement nationwide: not just showing what’s being done, but going into what’s right and what’s wrong and rapidly learning—and recruiting new people into what has to be a rapidly growing force.

Put it this way: there will be no revolution unless this website not only “keeps going” but goes up to a whole different level!

So what should you give to make 2024 our year—a year of revolution? 
Everything you possibly can! 
DONATE NOW to and get with BA and the revcoms!    

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  • Promotion of BA on social media and the Bob Avakian Interviews on The RNL—Revolution, Nothing Less!—Show 
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