Here is a question that might seem simple but is actually really important to stop for a minute to think about:
Why, after more than 50 years on the revolutionary road, does Bob Avakian (BA) continue to be so prolific?
Why, for instance, has he written all of the many articles that he has just since early 2020 alone?
Why does he continue to write articles covering topics very broadly encompassing—just to give a few quick examples—the struggle for abortion rights and the emancipation of women more generally; the Beautiful Rising against murder by police in the summer of 2020 and the oppression and liberation of Black people more generally; the continually increasing dangers and many manifestations of fascism in the U.S.; the poisonous pitfalls and obstacles presented by many different strains of “woke” thinking and identity politics; the devastating impacts of parasitism, religion and defeatism among the most oppressed in society—again, this is just a small sampling of the many broad topics BA has taken on in the past couple of years, all from the vantage point of what these particular questions have to do with making revolution.
But again, why does BA continue to do all of this work?
Why does he not simply conclude that since he has already advanced the science and developed the framework, method, strategy and vision that humanity needs to make revolution and bring a radically different world into being—all embodied in the new communism he has developed—the sole task now is simply to get the work that he has already done out broadly in society in order to win millions to this and to the revolution that he is leading?
To be clear, doing all of the above IS not only important but decisive in whether or not humanity will have a future worth living.
But why does BA continue to do all of the work and write all of the articles that he does?
Again, take a second to think about that question, even if perhaps you think you already know the answer...
It seems safe to say that BA does not do this “for his health,” as the expression goes. It is doubtful that he does so just because he finds the topics that he writes about “interesting” in the abstract or because he is trying to “educate” or “persuade” his readers in a vacuum.
No, I would argue strongly that the answer has everything to do with how we understand what leadership—and BA’s leadership in particular—is, and what it truly means to follow that leadership.
In our society, the way people so often think of leadership is all wrong. Leadership is commonly perceived and presented in very narrow, immediate and strictly practical terms: In terms of providing guidance for what people should be doing in one particular situation, one particular context or one particular moment in time. However, while this form of leadership more broadly in society can sometimes be important, depending on the nature and aims of that leadership—and while in the case of BA specifically, he is in fact providing critically important and ongoing practical leadership to the movement for revolution—leadership in the most fundamental and important sense is something much deeper than that:
The most essential and important aspect of BA’s ongoing leadership is in the way that he identifies—in the most sweeping and lofty sense—what humanity is up against; why we are in that situation; where we can and need to go; how to get there; and all of the obstacles that stand in our way.
And here is something that is not adequately understood, even within the ranks of the revolution: All of the elements listed above, including “what we are up against” and “the obstacles that stand in our way,” are not just a matter of the capitalist-imperialist state and its armed enforcers, although that is obviously extremely significant.
NO. “What we are up against” and “the obstacles that stand in our way” also very critically include the thinking of people. All the completely wrong and harmful ways of understanding and approaching reality. Not just among the revolution’s enemies, but among its friends—in fact, among those who most need this revolution and will comprise its backbone forces.
It is worth re-reading the paragraph above, because it is so fucking critical to understand if we want to have any chance at taking advantage of this rare time when revolution is possible.
To put it simply: We have zero chance of bringing forward millions of people to make revolution without massively and radically transforming the thinking of the people.
And we have zero chance of massively and radically changing the thinking of the people without fierce, uncompromising ideological struggle to wrench people out of all of the bullshit—and there is a lot of it!—that they are caught up in and winning them to revolution.
That is the most fundamental reason why BA writes all of the articles that he does. With any question and wrong way of thinking that BA tackles, he is doing it because that question or wrong way of thinking represents a major obstacle standing in the way of winning people to revolution—an obstacle we must transform by struggling like hell with people ideologically to radically change their thinking on a massive, societal level.
Furthermore, BA is providing leadership in how to conduct this ideological struggle—the method and principles with which to take on these ideological obstacles, to break down and bring alive the depth and substance related to various questions and contradictions in a way that is simultaneously simple and complex.
Want to know what it means to be dialectical and materialist—to apply dialectical materialism, the understanding that all of reality consists of matter in motion that contains contradiction that in turn encompasses within it the potential for radical change—to every question and every aspect of reality, on the highest possible level and in the most advanced way? Study what BA is doing and how he does it.
All of us should be doing this, and all of us should be not only be studying and absorbing BA’s method and leadership but also applying this method and leadership as we go out into the streets and out into the broader world—in real life (“IRL”), online and through social media—and wage the necessary, fierce ideological struggle to wrench people out of the framework of this system and into the framework of revolution and human emancipation.
No, we are not going to do this on the same level as BA—he has forged an entire new framework for revolution and human emancipation over the course of decades and is continuing to apply and even further develop and enrich that framework at the highest level.
But we do urgently need to be doing the same thing that BA is doing at the highest level possible—studying, discussing, and deepening our understanding of the ideological questions and barriers that he takes on and the scientific method with which he goes at them, and applying all of this to what we are doing in all of our revolutionary work and in struggling to bring forward a revolutionary people.
With every piece that comes out from BA, we should be asking and deeply examining—and leading those we are bringing forward to deeply ask and examine—key questions like:
Why did BA write this particular piece addressing these particular questions?
What does this have to do with making revolution and with what we are up against in that endeavor?
With what method, approach and principles does BA take on these questions? What lessons should we be learning and applying from this?
How is the way that BA goes at these questions vastly different from the ways of approaching them that are popular or “trendy” in our society?
This is what it means to be critical thinkers in the most meaningful sense.
This is what it means to not just be a fan of BA—which we definitely need—but even more importantly a scientific follower of BA.
This is how we are going to equip ourselves ideologically—and bring forward, orient and train many others—to wage the necessary struggle to wrench people out of thinking on the terms of this system and thinking as emancipators of humanity.
This is how we are going to make revolution.