Conversation with a Grad Student:
“You are really going all-in on this!”

| Revolution Newspaper |


From a member of the Revolution Tour:

Since it was a very sunny spring day with students lounging on the grass and studying in the outdoor eating areas, we sent teams to engage with students, in addition to the agitation and the BEB sign on Bruin Walk.

I was part of a team at UCLA focused on the cafeteria and the outdoor eating area. We were randomly approaching people with the leaflet and asking them what BEB means, and asking also if we could record their answers/guesses. Given that this included people who did not stop out of interest, there was an element of social investigation in it and close to half the people we approached declined to be recorded not because they did not want to be on camera for political reasons but because they had no idea and did not want to appear foolish. Lots of sheepish shrugs of shoulders and apologies for having no idea—because they don’t follow politics and didn’t know who many of the people in the pictures were. Some of these were foreign students but not just that—there were people who said I just don’t follow politics. We gave them clues—first look at the pictures and see what they may have in common, see if you can work it out, and, second, who the leaflet was from.

There were students who really gave it a go and got a big kick out of it: what might it be—why were all these people on the same page? They would say, I figure it might be all politicians are bad, or corruption, but why are some of the good ones here? We’d tell them they had till Friday to figure it out—when it was going to be announced at City Hall and on the radio. Spread it to their friends and keep working on it—think it through. One young woman waiting in a food line as we were leaving was saying to her friend, “Bev, we’ve got a puzzle to solve by Friday.” An Iranian student who thought this was great took a picture of it to send out on social media on the spot. A woman with a great sense of humor went over each picture with a guess: “Well, it’s the revcoms, so it has to be something radical. Let’s see... why is Kamala Harris on here, I thought she was one of the good ones but maybe she’s not, maybe they are all bad... hmm—how am I doing? It has to be something bad.” A student who had a radio show on sex mused on how could she fit this in and took a stack to get out to all the other shows on the radio station.

One conversation worth reporting on was with an Asian-American doctoral student who said, “I’m familiar with revcoms, and I’m glad that you exist.” We asked why and she said she had been on the edge of the big open-air debate on intersectionality the week before and agreed with us. When we asked what she agreed with, she basically had interpreted this as we were challenging people who think they are woke but who don’t know anything about the rest of the world and are content with that—but basically she was thinking we were expanding or broadening the quality of intersectionality. She agreed that people are just sleepwalking through a nightmare.

My squad comrade laid out that this is a polemic against intersectionality as a framework and why—and the woman we were talking to took it in and said she’d never thought about it that way. There was back-and-forth on this and then she said, OK, I’m going to go on a rant—and she did about all these people who think they are woke but don’t know shit and how they are not at all interested in speaking to people who are not, whose minds need to be changed and who don’t know anything because everyone is so brainwashed. She said, “I have to tell you I saw the poem in the stall1 in the bathroom and I stayed there and read the whole thing.” My comrade told her what had happened at the poetry reading and why they stopped the poem—because a white man had no right to speak about something that was not his own experience, and she said, “I am so sorry that this happened to you—my husband is white and heterosexual who is very empathetic; that is so bullshit.”

The conversation turned to what this has to do with reform and revolution and she said, “You know, I vote and send money and even volunteer but, you know, this isn’t going to change anything—it’s like all you are doing is dusting the counters when the room is a mess—the room is still a mess.” The conversation then turned to how she is taking a look at capitalism and then we had an exchange over what is revolution and why the system has to be overthrown, who is Bob Avakian and what he’s done, and that there is a strategy (HOW WE CAN WIN—How We Can Really Make Revolution) and a new communism. At which point she said that someone she knew has just been getting into this and he and a friend have decided they are full-out socialists and that we need a revolution, and he had come home and asked her if there was a revolution to overthrow the government, would she be with him and she had told him yes.

The conversation then turned to the Tour and what we were doing with this—that people are here and need support, need to be fed, which she thought was awesome—“you are really going all-in on this.” We suggested she invite some of us over for a meal and to talk with her friend who raised the “overthrow” question to her—that it’s likely he is working with people who have differences and a different strategy over how to do this, but let’s debate it. We made arrangements to follow up. Then a friend of hers who is visiting from Arizona and teaches in a really conservative part of the state chimed in and there was discussion of how polarized the state is and polarization more generally—which went back to what we were doing on campus, the need to challenge the frameworks and the polarization on this as necessary and good—that the people who could and should be on the right side of the larger polarization in society right now are paralyzed and locked into all this bullshit that keeps things as they are—concluding with how much they hate all the smugness of the supposed wokeness.

1. A week earlier, a member of the Revolution Club was stopped from reading a poem he wrote on the oppression of women at an open poetry reading. The Club put out a statement exposing this, and the Club called for an open-air debate on it. For more on this, go here. [back]

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