Revolution #251, November 27, 2011
From a Reader
Holiday Fund-raising for the BA Everywhere Campaign
We recently attended a family gathering and found a great deal of openness to the fund-raising campaign to get BA Everywhere. There is a great deal of deep concern with the state of the economy—both national and international levels of crisis—(and this includes anguish over environmental sustainability), there is disillusionment with Obama, and there is a real attraction to the Occupy movement—and even where people have serious reservations about its viability, it is setting terms.
In this environment, we were able to have a number of significant discussions with people. We learned a great deal, and several people have found ways to significantly contribute to and/or participate in the campaign. We want to quickly draw a few lessons as people prepare for the holidays:
1) If you can, try to set up talks with people separate from the “big holiday dinner.” Our experience has been that the setting of the big holiday dinner can and should be a time when there is some discussion of bigger social questions. But it is also a time where people are paying attention to kids, eating, drinking, joking, reminiscing, catching up on the news, and so on—all of which is very important! In addition, some people are shyer in big groups and may not feel comfortable getting into their questions. We were able to set up significant times apart from the big dinner with nearly everybody we asked. In some cases these meetings were only 45 minutes; in others we talked for several hours. In some cases, four or five people got together with us; in others, we got deeply into it with one person.
2) Meet with everybody. There is a lot to learn from the concerns and views of those relatives and friends who not only disagree, but have deep disagreements. And often, these disagreements are rooted in fundamental misunderstandings. The engagement you have today with them will not only enable you to understand more deeply how people are thinking and what they are concerned about, but will also impact them—even if that impact may not show up until later.
3) Lay out very clearly at the very beginning of any discussion that because of Bob Avakian and the work he has done over several decades, summing up the positive and negative experiences of the communist revolution so far, and drawing from a broad range of human experience—there really is a viable vision and strategy for a radically new, and much better, society and world, and there is the crucial leadership that is needed to carry forward the struggle toward that goal.
Make sure that people understand that this alternative is not only a good idea, but has been concretized in the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal).
Make sure to state clearly that there is an actual strategy for how you could go from where we are today to a situation where thousands could actually win millions to revolution and organize them to carry the struggle through to revolution. You will very likely need to return to these points: that, due to the work that BA has done, there actually are very concrete answers to both these big questions. You may also need to stress that while you can say some things about both of these, people are not going to really get what it is all about without getting into it themselves.
Make sure that people understand that there is a book—BAsics—which gets into just that—the fundamentals of this vision, and that people should get into it. Have these materials with you.
Emphasize that there is a huge need for these ideas to be available to, and engaged by, millions of people, and that this would change the whole idea in society as to what is possible and desirable.
Particularly if you yourself are new to all this, you should not feel that you have to be able to explain or defend these at length—part of the purpose of this campaign is to enable people to hear these alternatives explained and debated in much greater depth, and you yourself are just beginning to learn about this and sort out your own thoughts in relation to it... and that you think it would be great and very important for millions of others to have that chance.
If you use the videos—and they can be very helpful—you should do it after you have made these core points. This intro doesn't have to be more than a few minutes but it does help people understand what the videos are part of.
4) Keep coming back to the basic point: that getting what BA represents out into every corner of society and introducing him and what he represents to millions would make the whole social political culture breathe more freely. People would wrangle passionately over big questions concerning the direction of society, and the times will once again resonate with big dreams for fundamental change and the emancipation of humanity.
5) Let people know that there are a number of projects, giving some particular emphasis to getting BAsics to prisoners, involved in this—that they will all work together to have a greater effect than any single project could have—but that people can contribute to, and participate in, whichever ones particularly appeal to them. Make the materials on each project available to people. These include both BAsics and the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal), and also Revolution newspaper and other materials posted at revcom.us.
6) Be open to people not only contributing themselves, but to having house parties to raise funds. Let them know that these parties can and should include people of different points of view, who want to wrangle with these ideas. As we brought up this idea with one couple, one of them became very enthusiastic as we got into thinking about different people who might come, saying that it sounded like it would be a lot more fun than the Obama party they had four years ago. It helps to think with people about who they might invite—people often begin with a narrow vision of who might be interested. And it helps to help them with some ideas on how to frame it—sometimes people think that they have to frame it as if they agree with everything and if they don't, they aren't sure how to make clear both that the party has a very specific content, but its purpose is to wrangle with that content and find out more about it and contribute to getting it out there. You may need to return to the point that you don't have to agree with or even understand everything about what BA stands for to be part of getting this projected, engaged and debated in every corner of society.
7) Once you get into this, people often have ideas for fund-raising and they have ideas that they think the Party should do. Listen to these ideas and draw them out further—there is a lot to be learned, and unleashed, in the process. Make sure to let them know you are going to follow up with them, send them further materials, consolidate the things they might have offered to do or perhaps to make further suggestions as things develop.
8) Make sure that you DO have time to play games with kids, have a cup of coffee with someone who recently had a bad loss or a big triumph, have a laugh with someone you see all too rarely and just generally catch up with people's lives!
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