Revolution #220, December 19, 2010

Taking Out the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal) to Spanish-speaking Immigrants

From a reader and distributor of Revolution

Revolution newspaper, in announcing the release of the Constitution, said, "Beginning on that day, everything that people think is possible, and impossible, will come under radical challenge." And indeed it has. That has been our initial experience in taking out the Constitution to immigrants. For many, life here is a living hell—but revolution, especially here in the belly of the beast? "Not possible" has been their view. Yet we found many who welcomed this getting challenged. And for others who didn't initially welcome that challenge, it opened up a much-needed and continuing dialog.

We went to a concert of a radical band that drew Spanish-speaking youth. We got there early to try to connect with the band and to talk to some of their most ardent fans. Referencing some of the band's most radical material, the challenge was posed: "Imagine North America without 'Tio Sam' [Uncle Sam], with instead a state not based on feasting on people around the world and destruction of the planet, but where the economy had been completely changed, and which is supporting people around the world to also get free."

Eyes lit up, people loved it and wanted to hear more.

One high school student originally from Mexico immediately bought the Constitution, and from then forward he was on a mission to get our message to the band. He said: "You are my heroes, this is what I have been looking for ever since my family came here from Mexico. I was starting to think that everyone here [referring to people who were not recent immigrants] was reactionary and so I didn’t think I would find something like this." Later he emerged, excited and waving his copy of the Constitution, now with the autograph and message from a band member written on the inside cover. And we learned later that a band member bought the paper, and we were told that he announced to the crowd during their set that "part of our purpose of being here in the U.S. is for a socialist and egalitarian republic in North America."

As fans were lining up, we went down the rows getting out the newspaper and talking about and showing people the Constitution. At one point in talking with some people about imagining a society as envisioned in the Constitution, and talking specifically about the change in the economy and sustainable socialist economic development to be real caretakers of the planet, two people raised, "All this sounds really good, but to get this won’t we have to trade in our freedom of speech and have to be careful to watch what we say?" We got into a whole discussion of why this Constitution is so path-breaking—providing a framework for how the new revolutionary power will carry out all the transformations we had been talking about, while welcoming and valuing dissent as an important source of new discoveries and insights in the new society. People from Spain, Colombia, Mexico and two from Italy joined the discussion at various points and looked through copies of the Constitution. Some said they would check it out on-line once it is posted there, taking the palm card on the Constitution.

Going to this concert was the beginning of a broader effort to take out the Constitution among concentrations of radical-minded Spanish-speaking immigrants. Two dozen copies have been sold so far.

Not everyone we talked to wanted their thinking challenged. Several have dismissed it, declaring that it was premature—"first you have a change, then the people will decide how to change the Constitution," and pointing to recent events in Bolivia and Venezuela. These were people who two decades ago would have argued that no real change could occur without a revolution, yet in this debate they admitted that what is happening in Bolivia and Venezuela does not represent a destroying of the old state, or a sharp break out from the economic stranglehold of the whole capitalist-imperialist system. But they responded that such a radical change was sadly not possible in today's world and that reforms within the framework of the global capitalist-imperialist system was the best that could be done now. But through this debate some important questions are being put on the table for further debate and discussion in some circles.

In another discussion, one person said, "Not even Fidel told people about what they were going to do before the revolution—this is great."

Among a group of young Mexican immigrants, the fact that this Constitution is out NOW, as we are building a movement for revolution, was seen as both unprecedented AND welcome.

This is just a beginning of what can be uncorked when we really get this into people's hands.

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