Revolution #212, September 26, 2010
Taking Out the Message and Call to a Major City College
We received this correspondence.
At a major city college we distributed 1,100 copies of the Message and Call the first day out. Some people had heard of Revolution Books but for most students this was something brand new. We were telling people, "You are coming to college at a time when it seems like the world is going insane, the oil spill wrecking our planet and the government lying and covering it up, fascist attacks on immigrants, the police brutalizing and murdering people again and again, women still oppressed, this is not the best of all possible worlds! If you came to school to be part of changing the world, don't scale down your dreams, you need to know about this movement for a total revolution to get rid of the whole system of capitalism imperialism. And if you came to school to be challenged and learn about new ideas you need to know about Bob Avakian, the leader of the revolution, and you need to learn about the revolutions of the past and what communism is really all about. We don't have to live this way, we're building a movement for revolution and we have a strategy, we have a leader, find out about it."
Out in the quad where people hang out, skateboard, and eat lunch we were getting out the Message and Call and without warning we heard a young male voice yelling out in celebration of the objectification of women and supposedly to be funny, "I love titties!" All his friends, men and women were laughing and this egged him on and he carried on further in this vein. I turned to him and said, "That's fucked up. Women are not objects, they aren't things to be used for your pleasure, they are human beings."
This made him yell even louder and even more degrading things.
A young woman sitting near by pointed and exclaimed, "I agree with her!" She shook her head at the guy.
We told her that we were about revolution and getting rid of the oppression of women, that we're told everywhere in this society that women are objects, their bodies are commodified, but it doesn't have to be this way and we are creating a culture that resists that and fights for relations between men and women which are different and she should read this Message and Call and find out about this revolution.
This spurred us on and one of us got up in the middle of the quad and did the agitation so it echoed through the area to hundreds of students while two of us were getting out the Call. One young woman said, "I agree with everything she's saying" and gave us her contact information. Then after the agitation was finished, the young guy that had been yelling all this bullshit came up to me.
"So, here's my question," he said very genuinely and in a serious tone, "How would you make a revolution?"
He wanted to know if we had a strategy and whether or not this revolution was peaceful.
I told him that revolution is a very serious matter and should be approached very scientifically, and that right now was not a revolutionary situation. I explained that what you need is a greater crisis in society and a revolutionary people in their millions, with real leadership and that in that kind of situation the revolutionary struggle would need to meet and defeat the violent, repressive force of the old, exploitative, and oppressive order. I told him there is a strategy that has been theoretically developed for this. I explained that right now is not a revolutionary situation, but that we are politically preparing for the emergence of a revolutionary situation, and working to bring forward a revolutionary people on a mass scale and we are also doing work in the realm of theory on strategy. I said he could learn more about this in materials from the Revolutionary Communist Party.
He very seriously listened to all of this and then asked if I had heard of Zeitgeist. He said that he had watched the film and learned a lot about how the government lies and that he always thought about revolution, but didn't know how it could be done.
I said, well this isn't zeitgeist, this is different than that, this is a real movement for revolution to get rid of the system, and yes we do have a strategy for how that could be done. And, I continued, "If you want to be for revolution, you can't break all the chains but one. You can't be for getting rid of all the exploitation and oppression in the world and not be for the liberation of women. Despite what we're told women are actually oppressed: one in three women is raped in this country."
He smiled and said that he really agreed with all that but he was just making a joke. We went back and forth on this, about how jokes have content to them, and why is that considered humorous and to "joke" about that in this society in a way that is not challenging it but really upholding it is not neutral, and similarly it's not neutral to use the N word in a society where racism does still exist and it's brutally enforced, and I held up the front page of the paper.
As we were having this friendly debate about this, his friend came up and while he also disagreed about making jokes about women, he said that he often times doesn't use the N word and will call his friends "brother" and he really agreed that racism still existed and got expressed in all kinds of subtle and overt ways. He described that in a relatively progressive well off neighborhood the basketball courts were being torn down because they were "attracting the wrong crowd."
This was not the only time throughout the day where we heard stories about sections of young people which are discriminated against by having their space, and with it a sense of belonging and worth, ripped away from them.
Later, in the middle of a busy class change a young Black guy with a bright smile full of energy tapped me on the shoulder. He was holding the message and call in his hand. "Is this just something you are handing out, or are there ways I can get involved and be a part of this?"
"There are a lot of ways! This is a movement for revolution." I replied, and I got into how the Revolutionary Communist Party is on a campaign, what the objectives of this are, and some of the concrete ways he can contribute.
He filled out a contact card and explained that he has done a lot of work around LGBTQ rights, particularly around a battle to save a community space which was being closed down. He described the experience of traveling outside the U.S. this summer and how this gave him a lot of perspective on what America is really about and how it's viewed in the world. He said that he realized he hated what this country represented and what capitalism is all about and wants to be part of doing away with this.
When I hear about these stories I can understand and even appreciate the inclination of many students, particularly on the more elite campuses, to be inclined towards and into philosophies that have to do with creating liberated space in society. Reclaiming, occupying, and liberating spaces is on the one hand a logical response to this, because yes, in this world you are told literally and figuratively, there's no room for you, keep out, there's not even anywhere for you to just be. Including the fact that the spaces students are provided with are increasingly regimented and infused with a whole repressive big brother atmosphere. For example at this very city college that has previously been very open, there's now a higher level of security and you have to present I.D. and go through metal gates to enter the building, and non-students are not allowed.
At the same time, the perspective of this student is really important. And that's true whether you travel out of the country or have some kind of experience that stretches your mind and pulls the lens back, or whether that is done more metaphorically speaking in the realm of politics and ideology. If you step back there is a whole system whose dynamics and motion are bearing down on and shaping the situations that whole sections of people find themselves in, and the larger question becomes, can this as a whole be fought, and eventually can those very dynamics be halted, which does require the proletariat and its political and literary representatives getting state power.
State power—what it's good for, and the challenges it poses. This was another conversation I found myself having, lo and behold with a young fraternity brother wearing a t-shirt that says "Communism." The shirt was just for fun to be provocative he said (I believe Lil Wayne recently wore this shirt in one of his videos), but this kid was for real about being part of opposing the whole direction of society right now. He said that his fraternity does a lot of activism especially around LGBTQ rights which is a big issue at the school. He said that this was controversial amongst other fraternities, but he didn't care, he grew up with his sister who knew she was gay when she was 11 and to him it was just a way to be, completely natural, and that he didn't realize until he went to Texas (yes Texas) that he realized how much hatred there is towards gay people. He said his sister, who was dressed "like a guy" so to speak, was harassed and very afraid; he couldn't understand why people lived like that, and he acknowledged you had some exception to the rule in this city and that this was something that had to be changed in society broadly.
I talked about how these attacks on the rights of gay people are part of the forceful reassertion of patriarchy, and how in a revolutionary society this would not be allowed to go on, this would be outlawed and the laws would be enforced. And then he brought in freedom of speech, he said he didn't believe in full freedom of speech for anyone to say whatever they want because why should backwards people be able to harass gay people. I said this was an important truth he was putting his finger on that not a lot of people understand, that there really isn't any such thing as absolute freedom of speech and if you thought about what kind of society it would be if everyone could have some kind of absolute freedom to "say whatever they wanted" this wouldn't be a good society anyways. Then I got into how in a socialist society there would be a different kind of dynamic where racists and bigots could not go around spouting their hatred because it would be an impediment on people lifting their heads, even while you would have space for even reactionaries to advocate for and express their views as part of a process that more and more people are increasingly coming into, of critical thinking, dissent and ferment in society around many different questions, all to get at the truth and move towards communism. He was really digging on this and said he definitely wanted the fraternity to bring the revolution for a discussion on campus to get into all of this.
Now that I'm thinking about this, I have to point out one shortcoming here is not bringing into the discussion the announcement that the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal) will be coming out soon, and this will bring alive in a concentrated new way, the possibility of this whole revolution and what it's all about. We need to be telling people about this in conversations and finding ways to bring this out in a bigger mass way with the centerfold from the paper.
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