From NYC: When People Step Out...

From a member of the National Revolution Tour currently in New York



I wanted to share a few thoughts... in terms of this historic objective problem, it seems that putting the problems of the revolution to masses of people from the beginning is something that we need, I feel, to transform further, in our orientation, agitation, overall approach. We have gotten sharper in our agitation (although it’s a continuous work in progress), and we’ve had experiences of challenging and inspiring people and beginning ways in which people have stepped forward. In part it was because our agitation sharpened up (the 2 choices, the Points of Attention for the Revolution(POAs) and “the bridge to a different world is revolution” point), for example at the high school, instead of agitating while students just passed us by, we started challenging the students, asking them questions in the form of a provocation and challenge (especially once we wielded more the POAs): do you want to live in a world where women are treated like human beings? (And other variations on this) And demanding students stop and answer these questions. This, along with “5 STOPS” visuals, creates a situation where yes still too many students just keep walking but some actually stop and answer the questions posed, and still others (a minority) stop to talk, engage, struggle, etc.

One particular youth (I’ll call him Benny) stopped and got on the bullhorn (after hearing some of the things we’d been saying, the challenges posed to students, etc.) to challenge his peers, “stop thinking about video games, sex, this is about your future...” Benny on the phone said he had originally stopped because he has personal experience with the things we were saying, he said (I’m paraphrasing) women are not treated right, I have friends who are women who are mistreated and disrespected, also immigrants... He also said he agreed with the BEB newspaper about the “crimes against humanity” from those in power. I’m leaving out much of our conversation (again, mainly the basics of the 2 choices, POAs and his role in solving the problems of the revolution) but the point is that I did pose to him the problems of the revolution, that people don’t know about this and spreading the POAs is (at least one way) how we’re going at this problem, and how all this is part of making revolution. He took extras to pass out on the bus he takes after school.

Last week we planned (and did) a speak out twice at the park where many of the students go thru after school, so I posed to him the importance of letting others know, which he did. Wednesday and Thursday he came by for several minutes and brought a friend here and a friend there. And Thursday in particular he got on the bullhorn and called over friends walking by to come over (friends that were either mocking him or maybe more questioning what the hell was he doing standing with “us”). But Benny was not seeing a separation between “us vs them” when he got on the bullhorn and read POA 2 and 5, he took the first steps in breaking down some of the barriers... but how to go further is the challenge.

To back track, two of the people asking him “Benny what the hell are you doing?” were these young women who passed by, but he called them over and then one of them ended up getting on the bullhorn and started chanting “viva la revolución” and then something in Spanish along the lines of men think they have the right to disrespect women but NO! women have rights...and she ended with “everyone in the world have rights.”

And there’s been experiences of other high school students initially stepping into this thru taking materials (extra POAs to put up, or putting on “The System Has No Future...” sticker, donating some money for these materials). And we are following up this week with a plan to go out with Benny and maybe others in the areas they live or areas they want to go (this is something we put to Benny) to get POAs up (this week is spring break for high schools). After summing this up we also started to read quotes from BAsics together with the POAs as part of people connecting up, straight up with Bob Avakian (BA) and his leadership. A key part of the plan is to engage the students with BA, this spring break and when they get back to school. I’ve gotten the link to BA videos to Benny and other students.

The main point is that we need to be putting the problems of the revolution to people; we should be provoking, challenging and inspiring and parallel to that has to be putting the problems before people where they see they have a role to play and that this very positive transformation of society cannot be done without them and lots more people like them getting involved, in an organized way, and helping to spread this and helping to organize lots of like-minded people into this! Relatedly, we (myself included) don’t enough emphasize the last part of that sentence, the organizing “lots of like-minded people into this!” I’ve been more focused on asking people to spread this and why this is meaningful revolutionary work (which it is!). But the challenge needs to be put to people, and people inspired to do so, to go out and get lots more people into this revolution. This is something I’d like to think through more.


Here I’m just ruminating more broadly although sparked by a few things on my mind (which I’ll speak to briefly below). Our problem is still too much not leading and working together with many others to lead many more others, etc.; but as this transforms, and I feel as part of getting to that transformation, our approach to people needs to be one where ideas and suggestions are not readily dismissed and build plenty of room for people to make mistakes and learn and understand (and lead in a way that comprehends) that people (those whose aspirations has been awakened and see the need to take this up) will come with all kinds of ideas (good ones and even seemingly quirky ones or that actually are quirky or worse).

We should comprehend that people will also make mistakes and that this “process” will be messy, in fact very messy most of the time and not neat. And we should not dismiss ideas just because they seem like we’ve done them before but be open to people taking this up based on what has been inspired and awakened in them (meaning on the basis of going back to the 2 choices, POAs, the point that “the bridge to that better world is revolution” and the role they play to make this happen) and then lead this process, not just one on one but with masses of people, summing up and continually going back with them.

How to apply solid core with lots of elasticity based on the solid core? This is something worth grappling with and ruminating with further, among ourselves in the Revolution Club and those coming forward, and more broadly. As more and more people step into the revolution, and aspirations awakened, many ideas will be flowing and so how not to tail and how not to shut down things? I’ve noticed among the Revolution Club sometimes we do that, we shut things down too quickly among ourselves and with others. But the contradiction is that while some of us have been around longer and know some things, the reality is that this is uncharted road and we must remain open to things (including to ideas people have) and approach things with science and imagination. We need more experimentation, etc. The point is that we are solving problems in the real world, and reality is very complex, but that’s what we are doing and must lead many more people, in fact thousands and thousands to do exactly that.

I was recounting the story of struggling with some high school students where I challenged them to take up the POAs, distribute them but also wield them, if they see a woman being harassed or someone being made fun of because of their language other than English, use the POAs and say no that doesn’t go here, we’re part of a movement for a real revolution that’s fighting for a world where all the chains are broken, all that degrading stuff doesn’t go here (something like that). Relatedly several Revolution Club members made a video posted on FB about “what if” we’d had the POAs back in high school, when youth have to deal with so much of the degrading culture and so suffocated with the idea that there is nothing you can do or that there is no alternative to this system of capitalism/imperialism. This was good, and we need more of this; and especially we need all kinds of initiative taken that’s aiming to and grappling with (among other things) breaking down this “us versus them” contradiction.

As an aside, the question of “revenge” versus emancipation has been coming up recently in discussions with the Revolution Club and more broadly. A member of the Revolution Club told a story and recounted the advice his older brother gave him back in the day, if someone does something to you then “do what they do to you but twice as hard.” Another person pointed out in a discussion about how common revenge is as a unifying approach in many countries and really around the world. And nobody else on the planet speaks more sharply to this then Bob Avakian in many of his works and it’s something we should wield more often, among many of the people we encounter (from the different strata since this is a question up and down all strata even if it takes different expressions). I’d be surprised if this hasn’t been a big question in L.A. with the murder of the rapper and the different gangs and others who’ve come out. The striving to unite right now is very positive... but how do we not let things “re-assert” themselves given this system really has no future for the youth and that the Nipsey model (the entrepreneurial model) won’t lead to liberation. Again, I was really glad to see the clips from REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! and from Revolution: Why It’s Necessary, Why It’s Possible, What It’s All About where BA goes deep at this!

And we do have to keep coming back to what is the material basis for doing what we’re setting out to do with this National Revolution Tour as key to building this movement for revolution, making revolution and getting to a radically different world. Going back to the excerpt “The Five STOPS” from Bob Avakian’s speech Why We Need An Actual Revolution, And How We Can Really Make Revolution and keep grounding ourselves and others in the entire film and Q&As is key in all this.

Briefly (but relatedly), I teamed up with someone recently and went around to talk to people who work in this important part of town. He put on the BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! T-shirt as we talked with and handed out the POAs and the BEB [“Bourgeois Electoral Bullshit”] newspaper. Most discussions were brief but positive. One important lesson here is that the person I teamed up with was really grappling with this “us versus them” contradiction, he couldn’t understand why not many more people were getting with this. His ideas on approach had lots of insight, mixed in with other things I didn’t necessarily fully agree with.

But the main thing I’m trying to highlight is that aspirations were awakened through his engagement with videos and other materials from the National Revolution Tour (for example the video of Noche Diaz calling out Al Sharpton’s role in always trying to put out and extinguish the righteous anger of the masses of people every time there is a cold blooded murder by the police of Black and Brown people) and other things as well. He was deep and grappling on a problem that we need to solve, how to bring many people forward into the movement for revolution. And while in the main people we talked to responded positively, there was one occasion that was not so positive. We got into how do you deal with people who don’t want to hear it, even getting nasty about not wanting to hear it. I told him we shouldn’t and don’t take nonsense from people and it’s important to come back sharply ideologically, “ok you wanna keep them mental shackles and keep the world as it is, ok then, go on then, we got nothing to say to you.” Bob Avakian goes into this in a sharp way in the speech REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS!

Other deep questions came up as we summed up, having to do with the strategic approach to revolution, what about certain sections of the middle class, can they be won to revolution and how? How about “friendly neutrality”? He said, “this is my first time going out with this, so I’m bound to learn new things!” But another main lesson I wanted to draw was that as people take this up, they’re bound to run into opposition and a lot of bullshit. And as people run into difficulties it’s important that we fight to not let assert the strong almost gravitational pull towards the “us versus them” divide—that because there is bound to be negative experiences in taking this out that perhaps I can’t do this and maybe I’ll stay over here supporting from afar and you (revcoms) be over there. We have to challenge the notion that those stepping into this, taking those initial steps, (the many people that need to step into this from all kinds of backgrounds) couldn’t do this. Again, what is the material basis to do what we’re setting out to do? Continually coming back to this and grounding and re-grounding more and more people in this (in BA's scientific method and approach) will be fundamental in making some breakthroughs.

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