Revolution Online, July 20, 2009
Observations on Taking the Message Out in Harlem
July 20, 2009
I had an opportunity to be out this past Saturday at the Harlem Book Fair with Revolution Books. Blue skies, hot sun, and a lot of opportunity to meet and talk with people — hooking them up with the message and call from the RCP: “The Revolution We Need and The Leadership We Have.”
Not surprisingly, there was enormous excitement in the wake of the sold out Dialogue between Cornel West and Carl Dix on the “Ascendency of Obama . . . and the Continued Need for Resistance and Liberation.” People wanted to find out when they could get a DVD of the event. Several people said: finally someone spoke to what they’d been thinking and feeling about Obama — that the people have been anaesthetized while the same disastrous oppression continues. For others, Carl Dix’s revolutionary analysis and program gave them a new lifeline. They wanted to know more about Carl and his leader Bob Avakian. Scores more told of not being able to get tickets and listening on WBAI. All this indicated the beginning of cracking open a more radical and revolutionary discourse, and it evidenced the increased profile of Carl Dix, revolution, and the RCP.
This set the stage for the current special issue of Revolution Newspaper, the RCP’s major new statement which aims to put the whole thing before millions of people – straight talk about this revolution and the leadership we have. Connecting people with this statement, spreading it everywhere is crucial to beginning a whole new stage of revolution, here and around the world.
I want to share a few observations about how the revolutionaries did getting this out. The Revolution Books table looked sharp, big signs, flags, and a tent. At 3:30 PM the Revolutionary Summer Youth Project marched through Harlem Book Fair – the multi-national crew with their revolutionary chants and style turned heads and opened eyes. This was all to the good – signaling that the revolution and the revolutionaries were here.
Yet, lots of people gathered around the store table all day, not enough them left on a mission, as the statement puts it, to
“spread the word to every corner of this country…giving people the means to become part of this revolutionary movement, and organizing into this movement everyone who wants to make a contribution to it, who wants to work and fight, to struggle and sacrifice, not to keep this nightmare of a world going as it is but to bring a better world into being.”
All too often, it was easy to get into lots of discussion about people’s dissatisfaction with and/or questions about Obama. Yes, this is a crucial part of the political terrain — and revolutionaries need to engage it, it was the subject of the Cornel West / Carl Dix Dialogue — but, how are we going to stop the wars, the lock up of our youth, the degradation and brutalization of women, the destruction of the planet? What is really going to open people’s understanding of the basis, possibility and the means to bring into being a whole other world? The statement brings home that “it is this system that has got us in the situation we're in today, and keeps us there. And it is through revolution to get rid of this system that we ourselves can bring a much better system into being.” That takes leadership, really good revolutionary leadership. This is what this statement brings to people. If the revolutionaries are focusing the majority of their efforts on critiquing Obama, they are failing to bring people the news that they need.
This statement changes that — and revolutionaries need to change with it. Out at the Harlem Book Fair, most people had never heard of Bob Avakian. When we got right into it – who Avakian is and what a difference his leadership means for the prospects of revolution, here and around the world — it was a whole different ball game. This opened up serious and deep discussion about the revolution we need, it’s communist goals and the strategy to get there. There is a crucial method to the statement – unfolding the need for revolution out of the horrific conditions and the system that gives rise to them, but this must not become a detour, or way station, to never bringing forward the leadership we have. There is not “one way” to bring out the content of this path breaking statement. However, at least on this first day, I observed that when we got right to the reality that there is an incredible revolutionary leadership in Bob Avakian, and a Party that this bringing this to the people, then the seriousness, urgency and possibility of revolution opened up in new ways for people. That conversation provoked those who were ready and wanted to engage this, to buy Bob Avakian’s DVD: “Revolution Why It’s Necessary; Why It’s Possible; What It’s All About” along with a 10 Week subscription to Revolution Newspaper.
Finally, we did not make the case for why spreading this statement everywhere is pivotal to forging a new revolutionary movement. For one example, the Revolution Books table did not have pre-prepared bundles ready for people to distribute themselves. There is every basis for people, especially youth, to be spreading this revolutionary message as they are learning about the revolution. The wider the word gets out, the more “revolution” is on people’s lips, circulating in their thoughts... the more people are asking about and learning about Bob Avakian and his leadership ... the more youth and others begin to take up this revolution themselves, ready to fight to bring this new future into being... then, a new revolutionary movement will be taking root and contending with and influencing the whole political landscape. Then, people's horizons will open -- on a whole other level -- to a future worth fighting for.
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