I’m writing to fellow revcoms about science, leadership, and what it means to be a revolutionary vanguard. But I think everyone who wants to see a better world can learn from some of these lessons.
To accomplish making a real revolution aiming for the emancipation of humanity, you have to take up the new communism that the revolutionary leader Bob Avakian has developed and that he's providing ongoing leadership for. The heart of this is a scientific method and approach.
It takes science to look beneath the surface to see that all of the horrors flow out of this system of capitalism-imperialism and nothing short of an actual revolution will put an end to that in the interests of humanity. To deal with all the complexity from now until what’s required to seize power… and all the challenges after that—you need science, and you need leadership. And without that science, you’re going to be whipped around with no ability to see what’s true or false.
I’ve reflected a lot on what it means that we are taking on the tremendous responsibility of leading masses in one of the most significant, difficult but absolutely necessary tasks: to lead millions in making this revolution. A revolution that goes all the way to overthrowing and abolishing this system of capitalism-imperialism, with all its oppressive institutions, and establishes the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, and all the challenges after that in getting to a world free of exploitation and oppression. Thinking about all this in the context of the situation in the world today, the special urgency, possibility and responsibility this poses especially now as things are sharpening up, and as the revolutionary leader Bob Avakian (BA) analyzes, this is a rare time when revolution becomes more possible.
“Revolution: Building Up the Basis to Go for the Whole Thing, with a Real Chance to Win: Strategic Orientation and Practical Approach” is our strategy, our real working document that we need to be measuring everything we are doing up against. It says:
In an all-around way, and especially in broadly promoting what are truly extraordinary Interviews with Bob Avakian on The RNL Show, we are doing the necessary work and waging the necessary struggle so that masses of people know about and get with the leadership we have in Bob Avakian: learning about the inspiring vision and concrete blueprint for a radically different, emancipating society he has brought forward, following the concrete guidance he is providing, taking up and applying the scientific method and approach of the new communism he has developed, in order to really make revolution and finally get free.
The full scope of this is more than I can speak to here, but look: BA has spent decades learning from the experience of the first stage of communist revolution, what was positive and negative, and from that, has actually developed a blueprint for building up a society on the road to ending all exploitation and oppression. He's written a Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America. That's a big fucking deal!
BA recognizes the struggle you have to wage with people—not just to make revolution, as important as that is, but to become emancipators of humanity who are leading the whole process to get all the way free. How does a revolution not get pulled off track? How to fight through all the challenges we're going to confront? That even the revolution in one country has to be contributing to the world revolution. All this is not going to be easy. But there is an understanding that BA has brought forward in the new communism that is essential.
Again, the full content of the breakthroughs he has made is way beyond what I can get into in this correspondence. But in basic terms, being a follower of Bob Avakian means taking up this new communism. It means consistently applying this scientific method and approach to everything we are doing. In writing this I went back to, and I encourage everyone reading to go look at “The New Synthesis of Communism: Fundamental Orientation, Method and Approach, Core Elements—An Outline.”
When you think about the problems that BA has dedicated his life to working on, the leadership he is providing NOW, and the thousands that urgently need to take this up to make this revolution, it really gives you hope on a scientific basis. We can actually have a shot at getting this beast of a system off the necks of the people and get humanity on the road to real emancipation.
But again, this takes work. And it means taking up this scientific approach yourself.
One of the things that struck me when I first read the book The New Communism was the whole discussion on the Cultural Revolution that BA waged among the revolutionary forces. BA has been very open in talking about the struggle he has waged for decades about whether this vanguard is going to be a real revolutionary vanguard or a knife in the backs of the masses, giving up on revolution. BA has said that without this vanguard, the masses are left at the mercy of this merciless system. That is how real and how great the stakes are.
When we have the BEST player for the game ON OUR TEAM! Not only on our team, but he’s also the MVP and he’s fighting with us about how to take the team to victory, then WHY in the fuck would we say “oh that’s right, I agree with that,” “I appreciate that,” but then on the court, we go and do another play? Well, in a way we have done exactly that!
In The New Communism, BA talks about how people would read his works, “appreciate it” but then put it on the shelf to collect dust and go and do something else. This has haunted me because it was one of those things that I found so shocking, and yet here we are, doing exactly that.
For a few years there was a way I read BA where he always starts his speeches, books, articles, with problem/solution. I would turn the page, or quickly read it (not studying it) and think to myself, “Why does he always say the same thing?” and then move on to the rest of the speech.
But... wait a minute! WHY does he always start his speeches there? And why did I skip it or just say, “Yeah, I already know that”?!
When I was reading BA with this method, I had all the things that needed to “get done” in my mind but I wasn’t proceeding from working back on making revolution. So, I wasn’t going to questions of why is BA writing what he is writing? What does this have to do with making a revolution? Why is he identifying this contradiction? How do we go to work in society, what he is giving us guidance on? And when we are doing this, how are we summing up and learning every lesson we can, to feed into a scientific process where he is also learning what obstacles we are running into, how we are going to work on it and what we are learning?
See, this is what I think a team of scientists looks like, taking the lead from the leading scientist on an experiment, and leading us to carry out the same experiment. What I was doing, ignoring his leadership, and not asking the question, and skipping over the parts “I already read before” or thought I knew, was the opposite of what he is working on, it was an anti-scientific approach.
Why he starts off his writings with problem and solution has to do with fundamental questions. He goes to the source of all this oppression and unnecessary suffering for millions around the world—this system of capitalism-imperialism. And what is the solution? A real revolution.
These are key questions which we must go deeper on and understand scientifically. It's not a question of whether we are repeating the same things he is saying, that isn’t the point. But the heart of the matter is: Are we working on the same moving and changing reality he is working on? From the same place? With the consistent scientific method and approach of the new communism, to make a real revolution? To go to work on that requires not just reading his pieces, but taking up this leadership, going to work on the same problems he is working on.
Think about the content of his writings up on the website (and if you aren't familiar, go check them out now!). During the 2020 uprising, he was writing almost daily, sometimes more, hitting at the frameworks that keep people's thinking tied to this system in various ways. How different sections (fascists & democrats) were responding to the situation, what people needed to understand and break with (BEB [bourgeois electoral bullshit], conspiracy theories, religion). I could almost hear him screaming out the screen of my computer “Mode of production! Mode of production! Mode of production!” saying very simply and right to the heart of the question “If you don’t know what this means, and how important it is—you are out of it, and you need to learn about it!”
I was in a discussion recently with comrades hitting our heads against a wall on how we are going to make real leaps in organizing people. What is the different process that people need to be brought into where they aren’t going from 0 to 60, but are brought in where they are going to work on the problems of the revolution themselves? And in the discussion, it started to feel like “let's try to come up with a better tactic.” But we were stepping over the actual crucial determining role of people directly engaging and, YES, becoming students of BA right from the start.
The BA Interviews from The RNL—Revolution, Nothing Less!—Show are such an important way for people to get an introduction to who this leader is, and get an inspiring sense of what this revolution is all about.
Let's face it, if you've come to see the scientifically grounded need for revolution and made the rupture to being an emancipator of humanity, serious engagement with BA was crucial in that transformation. Are we somehow special? No! We keep learning the same thing time and time again: what a game changer the direct engagement with BA actually is. So why do we keep looking for gimmicks or different new things to bring people into? Why are we not going out in the world straight up with BA?!
I am so proud to say I'm a follower of Bob Avakian, a leader who has brought forward a real way out of this madness of a system through a real revolution! And hell fucking yeah, we are here to tell you that this is exactly what you need to be doing as well! But I think in order to make a real transformation in this will require us to really be followers of BA, internalizing BA’s leadership, and training ourselves and others to be followers of BA without a hint of defensiveness. It will require consciously struggling against pulls to go in a different direction, and most of all taking up a consistently scientific method and approach to all of this.