There was a lot of great stuff in the whole episode #78 of The RNL Show—the poem at the beginning, the Colfax massacre American Crime video, the video on the conditions for children around the world, the report on the Ahmaud Arbery murder, the BA clips which are always so sharp and sweeping and the whole section on COP26, the fiasco in Glasgow. Whole articles could be written on each of the segments, but I just wanted to comment on the section on the environment from the video clip of Raymond Lotta and Andy Zee responding to a question.
As I understand it, the question they were addressing was how could the future socialist society actually make the necessary rapid shifts to renewable energy sources and continue to act on the principles of the new society in relationship to the countries around the world that the U.S. had oppressed for decades. Raymond Lotta gave a vivid picture of what it would require for the new socialist society to break out of the complex web of the international imperialist relations with its super-exploitation of what is called “the global South” and the ways the new society will have to deal with those in totally different ways, on the basis of socialist, internationalist principles. “A new socialist society will involve a new renewable ‘energy mix’; decisions will not be based on short-term ‘cost effectiveness’; there cannot be the same level of personal consumption; trade and economic relations will not be based on exploitation. All of this will be in the context of the great destruction the capitalist-imperialists will have visited down on the people rising up against them to make this revolution.” He gave a real sense of the complexity of the contradiction, how many spheres will have to be transformed on the basis of totally different principles and priorities in very difficult conditions. This was all very challenging and was a good materialist foundation for the additional comments Andy made about the increasingly conscious and active role of the masses which is what I want to focus on.
Andy talked about how liberating a successful revolution in this country would be for the oppressed around the world, what that would unleash in terms of revolutionary dreams being acted on by the masses, especially south of the U.S. border. How this revolution would be able to “free the imaginations” of the youth, basic and middle strata, which will be essential in constructing the new society out of the destruction the capitalist-imperialists will have tried to crush the revolution with. He went on to talk more about how the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (CNSRNA) is a concentrated expression of the kind of society that is possible, underscoring the struggle that will be going on in society, that there will be no “forced marching people into the future,” but rather a process of constantly struggling to win the masses to be part of figuring out and then acting on what the way forward is.
Andy painted a picture of how this new society could, and would have to, mobilize all of this potential which is squandered and crushed under this system. You could imagine a society where not only the youth, but the scientists, the activists, the professors, the prisoners—all sections of society—would begin to tackle these monumental contradictions like the climate, the oppression of Black and Brown people, the subordination of women, and others, and have the backing of the state power. Developing the economy in new ways and going to work on the immediate and pressing problems would be critical part of this process, but he also talked about the need to win people to a new way of thinking. For example, struggling with people to take up a new ethos of “serve the people,” not self. The role of education in the CNSRNA really opened up potential for change. There was a sense that if people were being led to collectively pursue the truth where it leads with a spirit of critical thinking, science and curiosity, they could really change the world based on this scientific understanding. Importantly, Andy went on to link the need to win people to new ways of thinking and living to the need for debates of all kinds and the CNSRNA, and how it puts forward the need for dissent and protecting protest and opposition which BA spoke to in the clip they played later.
The whole impact of the segment was to give a concrete and sweeping sense of the “wild and woolly” nature of the new society we are going for, the dynamic role of a people engaged in taking responsibility for transforming society and the critical need for the masses to be involved on every level of society, taking part in these debates, and yes, the dissent and opposition if that is what they think. This is not just “uplifting” or a more “democratic” process. There are real stakes involved. This from an excerpt from “Grasp Revolution, Promote Production, Questions of Outlook and Method, Some Points on the New Situation” by Bob Avakian captures those stakes: “Even if somehow you could imagine a seizure of power, it would only amount in the end to one sort or other of a bourgeois coup if it didn't involve the increasingly conscious participation, activism, and initiative of the masses.” He talks about this again in “Three Alternative Worlds” (quotes that follow are from that essay). This other model would be “where the role of the masses of people is still largely reduced to being producers of wealth, but not people who thrash out all the larger questions of affairs of state, the direction of society, culture, philosophy, science, the arts, and so on.” This is a “social welfare kind of society in which fundamentally the role of the masses of people is no different than it is under the classical form of capitalism.” He goes on to stress how critical it is to change people’s world outlook, not just what they do.
Key to a revolutionary socialist society, one on the road to communism, is the increasingly more conscious and active role of the masses in the big questions of society, the running of society overall. “There is the question of are we really going to transform society so that in every respect, not only economically but socially, politically, ideologically, and culturally, it really is superior to capitalist society. A society that not only meets the needs of the masses of people, but really is characterized increasingly by the conscious expression and initiative of the masses of people.” BA goes on to compare this liberating kind of society with the other model. “Achieving that kind of a society, and that kind of a world, is a very profound challenge. It’s much more profound than simply changing a few forms of ownership of the economy and making sure that, on that basis, people’s social welfare is taken care of, but you still have people who are taking care of that for the masses of people; and all the spheres of science, the arts, philosophy and all the rest are basically the province of a few. And the political decision-making process remains the province of a few.” (From “Three Alternative Worlds”)
It will be a struggle on many levels to foster and fight for this kind of process. It will take struggle, sometimes fierce struggle, with the masses—both those who want to move society forward and those who have more opposition to socialism. There will be obstacles—new conditions both material and ideological and many pulls to old ways of thinking and acting. Think about the huge changes in the economy, in public policy, in levels of societal consumption that will be what will be required in order to effect the changes Raymond Lotta laid out: “A new socialist society will involve a new renewable ‘energy mix’; decisions will not be based on short-term ‘cost effectiveness’; there cannot be the same level of personal consumption; trade and economic relations will not be based on exploitation. All of this will be in the context of the great destruction the capitalist-imperialists will have visited down on the people rising up against them to make this revolution.” Those changes are not going to be all figured out ahead of time, and there will be opposition to them from a number of different sections of society, coming from different places.
It will take struggle for those who have taken responsibility for leading as well—the solid core—to continually reground in and constantly apply this method, not giving in to the pulls for “short cuts,” or “we know what’s best so we’ll just do it,” which is basically a form of “the ends justify the means” which BA has dug into repeatedly. As BA has also pointed out, “…we've got to be willing to go right to the brink of being ‘drawn and quartered,’ without allowing that to actually happen, in order to move all this forward.” And that’s if we are doing it right! It will only be through all the debate, ferment and dissension—all in the context of the solid core striving to lead forward to a communist society—that it will be possible for the solid core to come to a deeper understanding of reality and on that basis to win increasingly numbers of masses to act in the interests of humanity, here and around the world, now and for future generations. BA talks repeatedly about the critical need for this dissent and for winning those who disagree with it to protect that opposition. If “we”—a growing and increasingly more conscious “we”—don’t value that contention, that wrangling, being led with the solid core of aiming to get to communism, we will not actually be engaged in the process BA has forged, applying the new communism to those knotty contradictions that the first wave fell short on or had an incorrect understanding of.
The leading core under socialism can develop the policies and principles and approaches based on scientific, internationalist principles—all of which are absolutely necessary—but unless the masses of people in the new socialist society are struggled with, led, and unleashed around those principles, approaches and policies, then that society will not be fighting to go forward on the road to communism. It might meet the immediate needs of its “own” people, those within its borders—even that is unlikely in the world as it is today—but the people will not be led to be straining to consciously figure out how do we go forward to communism, a world that humanity so desperately needs. And in that case, the leadership will increasingly have to rely on coercion to make people do what they are not won to do. And we would be back to the horrors of where we are now, but worse, because there would have been so much wasted sacrifice and opportunity.
These principles apply today as well in relationship to the importance of really learning how to dig into the three questions posed in the Declaration and Call with the masses and really fight with people to become followers of BA which is what is actually necessary for humanity to be free. We aren’t just aiming to organize people to go to the next protest, or discussion, or even just to win people to be part of a movement for revolution to seize power, as critical as that is. All of that has to be in the context of training people as leaders now, as part of making people “fit to rule,” and as leaders of the future society as well, as part of the process that people need to “raise their heads and broaden their sights,” and “take up the scientific method of the new communism” (THIS IS A RARE TIME WHEN REVOLUTION BECOMES POSSIBLE— WHY THAT IS SO, AND HOW TO SEIZE ON THIS RARE OPPORTUNITY). They need to take up the big questions of the revolution and society as a whole as part of an increasingly conscious and active revolutionary force. There is both a process of people broadly learning more about the nature of the system we face, the society we live in and the possibility of a different future and breaking with and rupturing with the paralyzing and stultifying ways of thinking they are currently locked into. They have to go beyond what they are “comfortable” with, including in terms of solutions, they have to break with the illusions that we can accomplish what needs to be done without sacrifice and daring. They need to become enthusiastic and creative followers of BA. A challenge to us, but a very exciting one which will be necessary in order to lead to a whole new world!