Revolution #212, September 26, 2010
A Kaleidoscope of Revolutionary Ideas
The following is correspondence from a reader:
"What are you going to be revolutionizing this year?" asked the very first student we approached in the park this morning on the first day of school. Two of us distributed 600 cards with the image of Bob Avakian to students and staff from several high schools in the Black community. Two of us returned after school and distributed 525 copies of the Message and Call.
In the morning, we asked people if they knew who the person on the card was. No one did. We told students the person on the card is the leader of the revolution and their first assignment of the year was to find out who he is. One student guessed U.S. Grant; another asked, "Is he a political prisoner?" Another person raised Martin Luther King as a revolutionary leader. One of us agreed that King was a leader but not a revolutionary leader. King believed that Black people and poor people could get a fairer deal under this system and we don't have to make revolution and get rid of the system. Fred Hampton, the Black Panther Party leader, believed the whole system of capitalism is no good and has to be overthrown by the people and a new system built by the people. That's revolutionary leadership. One of the youth listening said, "I'm with that one." That, we told people, is why you should check out the person on this card and they should find out who he is by the end of school. He is the foremost revolutionary leader on the planet today. There was some excitement about solving the puzzle. We told teachers their students might ask them about this person. More teachers than usual took the card and the broadsheet after school.
Some students, high school and college, started by arguing that communism has failed but left vowing they'd read the broadsheet and come back to debate us.
Something we heard about today: When students walked into the park this morning, a business-as-usual walk through the park was turned into a kaleidoscope of revolutionary ideas. Chalked in rainbow colors on the sidewalks, steps, and a large stage-like gathering area were dozens of questions, challenges and words: "Do you know who Bob Avakian is?" "What is communism?" "What is capitalism?" "What is human nature, really?" "Who is your leader?" There were powerful words about the oppression of women and Black people and also about morality—challenging people to confront the world as it really is. There was much more, including quotes from the Message and Call: "Communism: A world where people work and struggle together for the common good... Where everyone contributes whatever they can to society...." The chalking on the ground directed people to websites where they could find out more.
I heard that this had a jaw dropping impact on the scene.
This morning we distributed 700 of the short versions of the Message and Call at an intersection near the high schools. We asked students if they knew who BA is. It has become more of a question after the mysterious chalking that appeared Wednesday morning. This morning we put the question at the forefront of what we were doing. "Do you know who Bob Avakian is?"
Most people answered honestly that they didn't know. That meant, we pointed out, that they had not read the Message and Call. We gave them another one.
Some tried to fake it.
- "I know who he is. He's black right?"—"Wrong—aank!"
- "My mom told be about him but I forgot."—"aank!"
- "Yeah I know about him but refresh my memory."—"aank"
Some knew something.
- "He is the leader of the revolution," assertively shot back a youth we know from last year. His friends looked at him a bit surprised.
- "I know who he is. I saw his name on the sidewalk."
- "I know, he's the leader of revolution... the Russian revolution." One kid offered.
- "He's the revolutionist, right?" another youth we know from last year said.
- "I know it's about communism."
- "Some kind of leader?"
- One student said he had gone online and read an article at revcom.us.
The percent of people who knew BA is a revolutionary leader was still very small but there is important motion.
More teachers are taking material from us. One teacher had passed by me when I said, "This is what your students are talking about." She did a quick 180 and came back to get the broadsheet. Comments along these lines got teachers to take the statement.
This afternoon we distributed 250 cards advertising a showing of the Revolution Talk in a park downtown. Again leading with something like, "Have you found out who Bob Avakian is yet?" the response this afternoon was better than the morning.
"The leader of the revolution!" the same kid from the morning said with three friends around him.
"Oh" said one of the friends, "that solves the mystery."
Our response: "Well, you've turned on the lights, but you still don't know what's in the house. Go to this website."
"He's a communist and communism is no good," one African youth said indicating he was not going to take the card. But the two youth with him took the cards, then he did. The exchange involved him asserting he knew about communism and us daring him to go to revolutiontalk.net and test what he knew against what the foremost communist in the world had to say. One of the friends said that he was not scared to check it out.
"Are you Avakian?" asked one middle aged white guy. "I've been seeing that name everywhere."
"I'll tell you two things—I'm not Bob Avakian and if you go to this website you will find out who he is."
"I saw him on a program with Cornel West last year," another middle-aged white guy said. He had picked up a card someone else had thrown away.
"That was Carl Dix and Cornel West."
He was excited to hear there will be another exchange. He said he'd check out the website.
Something is beginning to happen. What impact will it have if there is a broad popular basic recognition of who BA is in a focus population? How could this give more space to the more advanced? It is possible to have a situation where students broadly—not just the more advanced—when asked about communism in their school work, or when they hear it mentioned in society, go to Bob Avakian for answers. If teachers actually check Bob Avakian out, they too can find him a unique resource.
This afternoon we got out 200 copies of the four-page Message and Call, 40 cards for the downtown film showing, and 250 copies of a quote from Bob Avakian's memoir. We led with: "This is a challenge from Bob Avakian" (the memoir quote attached at the end here), immediately followed with: "You know who Bob Avakian is don't you?" We guess-timate that 10% of the people we talked to said they knew who Bob Avakian was and used words like leader, revolution, revolutionary, communist or communism in their description of him.
Today we were still insisting that people read the Message and Call to learn about Bob Avakian. Next week we ourselves will talk a lot more about who Bob Avakian is. I think the recognition factor will leap many times in a couple of days going out this way.
If you have had a chance to see the world as it really is, there are profoundly different roads you can take with your life. You can just get into the dog-eat-dog, and most likely get swallowed up by that while trying to get ahead in it. You can put your snout into the trough and try to scarf up as much as you can, while scrambling desperately to get more than others. Or you can try to do something that would change the whole direction of society and the whole way the world is. When you put those things alongside each other, which one has any meaning, which one really contributes to anything worthwhile? Your life is going to be about something—or it’s going to be about nothing. And there is nothing greater your life can be about than contributing whatever you can to the revolutionary transformation of society and the world, to put an end to all systems and relations of oppression and exploitation and all the unnecessary suffering and destruction that goes along with them. I have learned that more and more deeply through all the twists and turns and even the great setbacks, as well as the great achievements, of the communist revolution so far, in what are really still its early stages historically.
From Ike to Mao and Beyond
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