Message from Chicago to South Central, L.A.



Dozens of people on the South and West sides of Chicago signed a banner this week sending a message to LA on the eve of the Revolutionary Picnic with the National Revolution Tour there. “From Chicago to South Central L.A., It’s Time to Unite to Fight for Revolution and a Whole Better Way and Stop Fighting Each Other.” It was mainly signed by young people—a lot of highs schoolers—but also people of all ages.

The Revolution Club took this banner out together with the Points of Attention for the Revolution and a display of the 5 STOPS that show this system’s crimes against humanity and why we need a revolution. We decided to make this banner and take it out to people after talking with comrades from the tour who suggested this after summing up that people in South Central who have been moved by Nipsey Hussle’s death are also talking about the violence among the people in Chicago. We know that Nipsey’s death is resonating with people in Chicago who know about the pain and loss and heartache of killings among the people. And there is an additional sense of loss that Nipsey was someone who had tried to get out of that kind of violence and do something seen as positive for the people.

We workshopped what should be on the banner, and came up with something that was grounded in the Points of Attention for the Revolution and which put the question of “stop fighting each other” in the context of the what people actually DO need to do, which is come together to make revolution so we can get rid of this system and get humanity out of this mess. We thought it was important to say not only “fight for revolution,” but also “and a whole better way” because there IS another way the world can be and another way people can be right now as they fight for that. And the lack of people being able to see any way out is part of why people are so stuck in going along with the way things are.

In taking this out to people, though, there was struggle in our crew over a tendency to approach people to sign the banner on the basis of their spontaneous feelings about the death of Nipsey and the violence among the people versus engaging people on the actual message of the banner and the Points of Attention. There was definitely a lot of spontaneous feeling that the banner tapped into, which was not all bad, and there were a lot of written messages about stopping the violence and love for Nipsey. But we were also able to bring forward the question of revolution and a whole better way and this was lofting up what was being projected by the whole scene where people were coming and looking at the 5 STOPS, reading and talking about the Points of Attention for the Revolution, and signing the banner, including getting a sense that this is part of a national movement organizing for revolution.

In all this, we were struggling overall to transform our approach to actually organizing masses of people for revolution, and organizing people right when they encounter us. This was something that was going through changes from one outing to the next, on the basis of studying and discussing the letter from Andy Zee and reports from the tour.

In our first day of outings with the banner, we went to two high schools and then we hung the banner on the outside of the Revolution Club Organizing Center and stopped people passing by. Among some of the students who were more engaged on the whole message, there was a real appreciation for something that was about bringing people together to fight for a better world. One student after reading the POAs asked us to write his message on the banner, “come together, stop the hatred.” Another read the POAs and responded to #3 about fighting for a world without borders by saying “We need to build a new world, not a wall.”

At the same time, they didn’t initially engage too deeply with what was meant by “revolution” and this became more sharply posed as being very different from their spontaneous thinking as the discussions went deeper. One said only people in the government can do something about what is happening with those 5 STOPS, another said she was going to join the Navy after high school so she could have a better start out in the world. And another said she was working on stopping police mistreatment of people by working with a group that is meeting with the police to tell them what they need to change. With all these students we challenged these ideas with the reality shown in the display of the 5 STOPS (and with one student we also shared with her quote 1:24 from BAsics). We talked with them about the need to make an actual revolution to put an end to the system that gives rise to all this hell for humanity, and we told them there is a way they can be part of working to make that revolution, by taking up and spreading the POAs. All three of those students did take extras of the POAs to share with others and gave us ways to follow up with them.

In between those outings and the next time we went out with the banner, we had a meeting of the Revolution Club where we read and discussed the letter from Andy Zee, “The Points of Attention: A Doorway and Guide to Making Revolution.” Everyone had to confront what Andy said in that letter, that we need a “radical re-orientation” to how we approach organizing people. There were a couple rounds of discussion, with people working together on identifying what is the different approach being called for and how does it look different to do that than what we have been doing.

A few things started to get clearer. One is that when people meet us, they think they need to be full-time activists, or have to know a lot more about the revolution before they can get involved. And WE have too much been thinking that too and reinforcing that idea instead of breaking it down! In contrast to that, the POAs actually provide a way for people to start organizing for revolution right away. Not only can people take copies of the POAs and spread them around, but more fundamentally people can get a basic understanding of what the revolution is about and use the POAs to start to fight for it even as they are learning more. A good example was someone in the club who had gone out on his own to put up the POAs in an area he’s familiar with and described arguing with someone over Point #1. The person was asking “what’s in this revolution for me?” And the comrade was using what’s in Point #1 to argue against that whole way of thinking. This person has been in the Club for awhile already, but it’s easy to see how any new person could do the same thing.

Another thing that was getting clearer is that people need to be able to get into Bob Avakian, the leader of the revolution and the architect of the new communism, right away and know that getting further into BA is how they can go deeper into what the revolution is all about. We summed up we tell people about BA, but have not been using the wealth of video clips that could get people into BA right on the spot. And we took note of what the tour has been doing, which is immediately texting people links of BA videos as the first step to follow-up.

Some people said that organizing on the spot meant giving people tasks and getting their numbers, which unfortunately is too much what we have done when we’ve talked about “organizing.” This is in contrast to people actually engaging what the revolution is about in contrast to the ways they are thinking about what the problem and solution is, confronting the challenge of what they are going to do in relation to what humanity needs, and being brought into working on the problems of the revolution. A key problem we have to put to people is that while we have the leadership, science, and strategy to make this revolution, we don’t have the thousands like you getting organized, and you can be part of going to work on changing that now.

Finally, the basic pathway to organizing people that was outlined in Andy Zee’s letter helped to simplify what it looks like to start organizing people when we meet them, presenting to people the 5 STOPS, 2 Choices (either live with all this hell for humanity and subject the next generations to the same or worse, or make revolution), and 6 Points of Attention.

When we went back out with the banner, one of the places we went to was a neighborhood where a few weeks ago six people, including two children, were injured in a drive-by shooting during a baby shower. One person we talked to was someone we had talked with before and he’s drawn to what we’re talking about, but had a different idea of what we meant by actual revolution, and the more he got clear, the more questions he had. We had the banner displayed and an older man had come up and talked with us and signed it and he read the Points of Attention out loud. The younger guy said he thought #4 was a contradiction, how are we going to tell people not to take revenge when revolution is about revenge? We all talked together some about this, that it is precisely that the revolution is NOT about revenge, and the difference between overthrowing the system that’s oppressing the people, defeating and dismantling their institutions of repression vs. doing to your oppressors what has been done to you. This was part of the process of him getting clearer on what we meant by revolution. Then there was an interesting exchange where the younger guy was basically saying he admired us for what we’re doing and he wanted to learn more. The people in our crew recognized this as being part of the wall we need to break down (between the people who need to be organized and the people who are already revolutionaries) and all threw in to help each other address this. One person asked him how he saw his own role in contributing to making revolution. Another talked about how you don’t have to know everything to get started, you can learn as you go. We watched the video clip from BA on the revolution and the gangs, which also helped to break this down. Then we talked a few minutes more, fleshing out the vision of how a movement for revolution gets organized in all kinds of ways all over the country by people like him spreading the word and organizing others. We reminded him what he had gotten out of the POAs and showed him how he could start with that understanding as he keeps digging into BA. He said he could and would do that.

I’m attaching a letter written by a newer member of the Revolution Club who is also summing up what he is learning and how we are going at these things. One last point here is that the banner did objectively put forward a different pole everywhere we took it, and it was meaningful for people to sign it, including getting an introduction to the fact that there are forces getting organized for revolution across the country and by signing the banner they are contributing to that. At the same time, there was much more potential for people to actually get organized in relation to this banner than what we did with it—engaging more deeply the message of the banner together with the POAs and getting a much more living sense of how it contributes to developing a national movement for actual revolution.

From a Revolution Club Member: Fighting for the Right Approach

So in getting out the POAs for the last week there’s been a lot of development; I say week because I thought it was enough to just get people to get the POAs and pass them out, but how is that organizing people and on what basis?

I do think reading the letter from Andy Zee was really helpful to concentrate on 5 Stops, 2 Choices and 6 Points of Attention (5-2-6).

So we’re out in a neighborhood getting out the POAs up on poles and out to some of the people. People like one older guy read all the POAs and said he liked it, liked how it was about equality and we spoke on how it wasn’t enough of that in society today mostly point 2 and point 3 and he offered to take some the POAs to get out in the area and to talk to others. But my reflection back on this is: We didn’t organize him on the basis of revolution, we organized him on the basis of the difference it would make for others to see these good things. We didn’t know what he thought about a revolution to overthrow this system and the science, strategy and the leadership we have in BA.

Another guy we talked to read the POAs his initial thoughts were “These are actually pretty good,” around point 2 and “Trump has no respect for women and he’s a racist” so we’re struggling with him on what’s the problem and he says, “The youth don’t have structure and discipline so they should have re-initiate the draft,” Me and a comrade start going at how fucked up that is and called out what the Army does to people. The guy brings up his experience in “Vietnam and being effected by Agent Orange.” He wanted some flyers to get out to people, which he kind of did on the spot saying “Hey brother, check this out” to different cars.

Afterwards we summed up, which helped me refocus and sharpen my approach for the next location. I was too focused on (just) getting out the POAs and too content with people just taking flyers and not organizing on the basis of (5-2-6).

So I headed back out with this refocused approach. I talked to a guy who seen the big POA poster we had out and gave him the (POA) flyer and asked him what he thought. He said, “I 100% agree with all of these points, how can I be a part of this?” I wanted to know what he agreed with and dig more into things, the guy talked about “the inequality of points 2 and 3” and said nobody is talking about all of humanity. I said, “You’re right nobody is talking about the highest interest of humanity.” He wants be part of getting the POAs out as part of making revolution. I also put the problems of the revolution to him where enough people don’t know this and aren’t thinking about revolution, the leadership, science and strategy for how to make a revolution; we worked through some of his thoughts together. Solutions that aren’t solutions and he agreed he didn’t “know how far someone could get trying to make revolution but I want a change like this.” He took copies of the POAs with ideas of where he would get them out to and said he would talk to his friends and was interested in coming to the potluck on Sunday. Being able to go back to the 5-2-6 helped and not just letting him take flyers but actually organizing him I thought went better than earlier and seeing the difference between the two.

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