There is the powerful positive potential of what it is that Revcoms are—and need to be—fighting for, consistently, boldly, compellingly bringing forward and bringing alive. In this context, the following passage is worth reviewing and reflecting on, from Bob Avakian’s The Coming Civil War and Re-polarization for Revolution in the Present Era, “Religion and the Right to Religion, DARK AGES MENTALITY AND THE LIBERATING OUTLOOK AND METHOD OF COMMUNISM”:
The religious fundamentalists, of various kinds, make a point of recruiting in the prisons, and they come with a heavy ideological message. There is something very important to be learned from the “Losing My Religion” article that appeared in our newspaper within the past year. The author of the article, who comes from a family steeped in religious fundamentalism, says that his own life experiences had provided plenty of reasons to reject religion, but it was only when there was another coherent ideology that he could take up that he completely broke with religion. And that coherent ideology wasn’t another religion—it was the scientific outlook and method of communism, which he was introduced to through writings of mine which he encountered in college. He also commented on that: he said that these writings, and the outlook and method they embody, taught him to do what religion never did—to think critically. It is not at all the case that people can only “lose their religion” by replacing it with another religion in some form. But there does have to be another explanation about the world and existence and why this is the way it is, and how it could be different. And how an individual relates to that. If you want to rupture people out of shit, not only stuff that lands them in prison, but the daily shit they are caught up in, in the society, you have to have a really strong hardcore ideological thing to bring to them. It doesn’t have to be dogmatic—it should not be dogmatic, and it should not be religious—but it has to be coherent and systematic. It has to explain the world—and in our case we can actually explain it in a scientific way [BA laughs]. That ’s an advantage of communism over religion, even though religion has certain short‑term advantages because it can appeal to things we can’t appeal to, things that go along with spontaneity. But we have the advantage of actually being able to make reality make sense for people. That’s a very powerful thing.
We should not underestimate the importance, not only with prisoners but in general, of doing a lot of ideological work to really enable people to see the world in a wholly different way— really the way it is. To take the pieces of this puzzle that are all out of whack and don’t fit together— it’s like looking through a weird kaleidoscope the way most people see reality. And then it’s misinterpreted for them by all these different bourgeois and reactionary ideologies and programs, and so on, including various religious views. But communist ideology and its application to the world is a way of taking reality and having it make sense for people. That’s what the CD1 of my speech on religion aims to do, that’s what we urgently need to do in general. [Emphasis (boldface, italics, and underlining) added here]
1. This refers to a talk on religion given in 2004 by BA which was later encompassed in Away With All Gods! Unchaining the Mind and Radically Changing the World (Insight Press, 2008) [back]