Revolution, Intellectuals and the Beginning of a New Approach



From a member of the National Revolution Tour:

As part of the National Tour for Revolution, we have been meeting professors on campuses. While too soon to draw firm conclusions, these very initial observations are worth sharing:

* THE 2 CHOICES, A RADICALLY DIFFERENT APPROACH: As someone who has been involved in this movement for a while, what was striking was the radically different approach to the professors—proceeding straight up with revolution, the 2 choices resulting from BAsics 3:1, what we do have in the strengths of the revolution and what we don’t have in people we need, involving them and getting their thinking on the problems of the revolution in this context. This is a different framework and approach than anything in the past and it opens up an entirely different conversation with very different questions, unleashing a different process on different terms. Proceeding from this, and the 5 Stops setting forth the need and basis for revolution set terms on what is objective, and what is objectively needed, versus remnants of “our thing.”

*A RELATIVE OPENNESS, SERIOUSNESS AND THE ATTRACTIVENESS OF THE NATIONAL TOUR: In this process, a couple of factors on relative openness come into sharper relief. To be clear: this is a relatively small sample, and somewhat "self-selecting" in who were intrigued by and "turned their faces" toward the National Revolution Tour, but still worth noting.

First, most are shocked and horrified by the moment, and where things are headed, with everything Trump represents, and a dawning realization that nothing fundamentally good—or lasting—came off Obama. Compounding all this, global warming is a major factor, a real sense of the scale and scope of potential devastation, the systemic nature of this versus “small problem/solution” being proffered and nothing remotely commensurate. Second, with all the contradictions, like heightened “individualism” among students, a few sense a perceptible shift in how students are looking at things. Concentrating this is a comment, You don’t see it on the surface yet, but if there is a moment to organize for a revolution, this is it,” talking about a very perceptible shift in mood among the students’ “instinctual response to capitalism,” saying it’s much more “of course, capitalism is bad” and “a beginning openness” to alternatives that she has “not seen in decades of teaching and interacting with students.” Third, there is a genuine curiosity, to varying degrees and in different ways, about Bob Avakian (BA), the revolution, and the National Tour to organize for an ACTUAL revolution, the last being a compelling factor in actually meeting.

Given the leading approach, BA comes into sharper relief, including around the positive alternative concentrated in the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, the strategy for revolution and the overarching framework of the new communism. A few asked up front “tell me about Bob Avakian” and had a lot of serious and substantive follow-ups. Others who had some familiarity wanted to learn more about the new communism, with probing questions.

They were all intrigued by the tour, what it is doing, especially on “crossing the tracks” as one put it, and that even while we were on campus, we were out at Nipsey Hussle’s funeral and neighborhood. Most really wanted to know, “what was your message, how was it received, etc.” This was very attractive to them, and some would go on to comment on how insulating the campus is, etc.

In different ways, the bankruptcy of other solutions and frameworks, among the more thoughtful, was starkly evident. When I mentioned what Bernie Sanders had said about the border and immigrants, one of the professors put his head in his hands. I said all that this means and reveals is “they have NO ANSWER,” and he said, “I know, but it’s still distressing to hear it being said so baldly.” Another said the Green New Deal is lying to people about what it will take in radically changing U.S. consumption patterns. On identity politics and intersectionality, one professor commented that this “just reflects back the world we live in.” When we pointed out the harm, he readily agreed, especially the focus on “me, me, me.” Another ranted on “oppression Olympics,” it’s about “who is going to be a winner,” and “this is a debate long overdue,” “I am really glad you guys are finally taking this on.” Others were more reserved, seeing how this challenge to a dominant framework on campus plays out.

Some “immediate” follow-up questions on the necessity, viability and strategy of making revolution revolved around whether we can actually win, given their strengths in repression and weaponry; on how do you go about transforming people’s thinking en masse when “they” have control over mass media and the internet; and can you consciously work towards a revolutionary situation like the sixties or does it just emerge spontaneously. Those who were serious were intrigued to watch the film from BA on why we need an actual revolution, and how we can really win, and to learn more, even while some initial answers were provided, that they found serious and provocative. One thing I further realized is that the intangibility of “seriousness” counts for a lot, not posturing but plainspoken about what we DO and what we DON’T have goes a long way... especially, that there are principles, there is strategy and then there is need for people, to go to work on and solve these problems, applying the overall strategy. I mentioned the “tech wizards” example from BA’s speech, the real need from the perspective of making revolution, and this had a good effect.

When I posed the question of “how do we crack this campus,” attracting and cohering students, people, and “what stands in the way,” there were many who commented on “individualism,” further exacerbated with social media, and people not feeling in any way “part of the collective.” Identifying this puts it much more in the collective realm for grappling, as part of building this movement for revolution.

* MOVING FORWARD: While too many of these have begun as individual meetings, WE have to figure out how to forge “NETWORKS” with COLLECTIVE forms, contributing to the aims and objectives of the tour. We are in the beginning phases of unleashing a process, what we have not done ever before with this approach or in any consistent fashion, and there is the need to lead this as part of an overall COLLECTIVE process.


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