Revolution Online, October 10, 2010
Getting Out the Message and Call on Campuses
One morning recently, we took the campaign to a Midwestern university in an outlying town from our area. A lot was accomplished by mid-afternoon—the RCP's Message and Call became a major topic around campus, 2,700 fliers were distributed, we got a list of new contacts, and renewed ties with professors and students we've known from the past. We even hit the main strip of shops downtown.
Curiosity and interest were high among students, with the majority of students wanting to grab up the message as they headed to class, a lot of openness to revolution, some coming back to talk with us after they had read it, and many others seen reading it in the cafeteria. There was opposing "visual interest" out on the walkway that day where we stood during class changes: a guy with a huge screen urging people to get with God. One student who spoke with us at the end of the day made the point, "Thanks for NOT being from another religious group—they are everywhere around here!!"
In addition to being out on the main walkway for class changes, two people roamed to other key buildings, including the art building, the building for Black studies, and numerous others, flyering students and stuffing the mailboxes of professors, interns and part-time faculty. The Bob Avakian image card appeared on bulletin boards throughout the art building and in the political science and several other departments. We took the Message and Call to various spots in the student union, including stuffing the mailbox of every student group. Students in a populated area of study tables were each given the image card, and when that was done, the palm card about Bob Avakian's Revolution DVD was handed out.
By noon, some students had already encountered the Message and Call several times. A woman came by after having read half of it, saying "I am kind of torn—I do understand the brutal history and how it's produced, and what has brought us the wealth...and the conditions in a third world country." She was weighing this against the obvious advantages of living in this country. "I don't know what to tell my kids..." She was interested in learning more and gave us her contact info. Another woman came back for more after she had gotten one and said, "I think it's funny." We asked, what do you mean? She said she thought that communism is a good idea, but it doesn't work. The ensuing interaction got her considering that this is for real and communist revolution actually HAS worked, and we CAN do even better. An anthropology student was confronted on his views on human nature, utilizing anthropological examples of how human nature changes through history, along with social wants and needs. He did acknowledge that society can't go forward as is because of the way capitalism works. There were numerous comments from people along the lines of, "Something is seriously wrong with capitalism, that's for sure," or "capitalism DOES suck!" One person who stopped said they were definitely against capitalism and all the lies, and wanted to know what communism was all about, and took a stack of 20 of the Message and Call and gave contact information at the end of the encounter.
The main contention was not along reactionary lines. If people strongly disagreed, they were mostly not very vocal about it; they just refused to take the information, or gave it back once they saw what it was. One student did call out, "My parents left communist China, and they wouldn't want me to grow up in a communist country!" More, we were getting disagreements accompanied by a desire to engage. Some students who had some knowledge of Marxism debated against its effectiveness, that it is outdated, doesn't really change anything. One woman who had studied what she called "libertarian communism" said the Message and Call tells what is wrong but not why. She wanted to keep in touch and continue the discussion, and we also referred them to revcom.us and revolutiontalk.net.
By mid-afternoon, we decided to hang out in the plaza and have more interaction. One woman who works at the cafeteria saw our messages all over the tables and "cleaned around" those areas, so the messages stayed on the tables. We asked about the mood and political awareness on campus, and she said that she thought there was a lot less cynicism this year, and a real desire among students to be active and to bring about change. She thought part of it was that the younger students had not been involved in the surge of anti-war activism that then died down, while the wars went on. They were not demoralized in the same way by that, and were impatient for change. She also said there was a lot of concern and outrage against reactionary morality.
A woman came up to us to thank us for being there (mentioned above her comment on religion). Her first question was, how would we deal with drugs in socialism? Her main basis for comparison had been Cuba. She was very conscious about the billion dollar drug industry and the white collar drug kingpins who go unpunished, while the mass incarceration of Black youth for drugs is the most extreme. She also brought up the Tea Party, who came to campus recently. She and other students organized a tea party of their own in opposition to it—dressed up as characters at the Mad Hatter tea party—and sat mocking the reactionaries as they tried to rally the students. She brought a sign saying, "I am here because Fox News told me to." Her thinking was that a revolution was needed, but she was sorting through what that actually meant. We made plans to stay in touch, and she took Revolution newspaper and a bundle of the calls with her.
After this, we went to the local food co-op. One person there commented that they had seen a lot of "revolutionaries" lately—referring to the fact that the Tea Party people had also been around. He said that they have a very strong following in a nearby town. He took a stack of the calls to leave out for people. We also put small batches of the Message and Call at other stores on the strip where the patrons were open to it; about eight stores.
We only raised a few dollars, though we had buckets prominently displayed and called for people to support and contribute to the campaign, and a small number did. Only a few newspapers were sold. But given the contacts we now have, there is a good basis to follow up and generate some real contributions and participation on many different levels.
We have been taking out the Message and Call at a local community college. This college has a diverse amount of students from literally all over the world and from different backgrounds. In the morning time, we set up a huge tent that had a banner with the Revolution masthead on it, as well as enlarged visuals from the Message and Call. We also had two enlarged visuals of Justice for Oscar Grant and Justice for John Williams, both with pictures of them on it. We strung the Bob Avakian image posters on a bungee cord. Many people were coming up to the table off of the John Williams poster, saying they had heard what happened to him and how fucked up it was. Surprisingly, not many people had heard about Oscar Grant and were very angered when they heard the story for the first time. People were also coming up to the table because they straight up wanted revolution or radical change. One student talked about how he was very concerned about the ways that this government is taking away people's basic rights like with the Patriot Act and asked how our society would be different around this. I showed him the foldout in the paper for the Draft Proposal for the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America and how not only would people's rights be protected but in a different society with a radically different state power, people would be drawn into the process of running society. He was really interested in this and didn't have money to get a Constitution but asked me to get in touch with him when it came out. There were people who expressed concerned about the planet and the ways that people live, and also feeling frustration about how people are so into material bullshit. One young woman, who said her father participated in the Iranian revolution, told us that she knows things are bad but the real solution is getting people educated. We pointed out the Message and Call where it talks about education being twisted to serve the needs of capital and she said she really agreed with this. She likes the idea of revolution but thinks that people are just too involved in their own lives and not thinking about any of this. This was something a couple of people were saying, that everybody is into drinking their Starbucks and they are too comfortable to care about what happens to other people. We answered this by getting into how a revolutionary people could develop, out of all the contradictions of the system and how this can create a situation where people in the millions begin to question the ruling class's right to rule and that revolutionaries can hasten a situation like that by acting on these contradictions and organizing people ideologically and visibly into this movement for revolution. A lot of interesting questions came up, like, what does the Revolutionary Communist Party do? How do you make a revolution? Do you guys sit around and read Marx? How will you change people who like capitalism? How are you different than other parties?
We went into the halls and passed out the BA image cards and told people it was their mission to find out who this is. A couple of people were really going crazy because we wouldn't tell them and said they had seen it everywhere. Some people asked, "What do I get if I find out who this is?" I answered, "If you really find out who this person is, something that you thought was impossible might seem possible." I had my BA shirt on at school and all throughout the day, people were coming up to me and asking me who it was. It actually kept making me late for classes so I ended up just telling people to google Bob Avakian and they would find out.
* * *
If you like this article, subscribe, donate to and sustain Revolution newspaper.