Revolution #225, February 27, 2011
...and for the April 11 Celebration of Revolution and the Vision of a New World
Last issue, we announced two big upcoming events in our centerspread. These were the release of the book BAsics, from the Talks and Writings of Bob Avakian; and a major event on April 11, "On the Occasion of the Publication of BAsics: A Celebration of Revolution and the Vision of a New World." Taken together, these initiatives can have a major impact on people's thinking at a time when, suddenly, new possibilities are in the air.
BAsics will concentrate more than 30 years of Avakian's work on everything standing between humanity and complete emancipation into a single concise book of essential quotes and short essays.This book can not only introduce many many more people to the thinking of someone who has put communism back on the agenda as a vital and viable force—it can play a major role in bringing forward and forging a new wave of revolutionaries. To look at the table of contents (on this page) is to look at the key questions that present themselves to someone agonizing over the question of whether and how they can actually change the world in a fundamental and meaningful way. We're going to be talking more about BAsics over the weeks to come—for now, though, we want to alert people that we expect the book to be out sometime in mid- to late March and to encourage people now to get out there to raise money to enable the book not only to be printed, but to be promoted in a serious way.
The $200 "BAsics Challenge" printed in Revolution #224 should be a major tool used by every regular reader of this paper with everyone they know. Enabling people to contribute to making sure this work has the needed impact means giving people a chance to make their resources count for changing the world. You are also informing them about this book—and you should definitely use the table of contents, along with some of the quotes we've printed on the back page of this paper over the past year or so, to give people a flavor of what to expect, and to bring home the fact that..."you can't change the world if you don't know the BAsics!"
April 11—A Time to Celebrate
The host committee for the April 11 event, still in formation, includes
Aladdin, actor and playwright; Herb Boyd, journalist and author; Elaine Brower, National Steering Committee of World Can't Wait* and anti-war military mom; Carl Dix, founding member of the Revolutionary Communist Party; Nicholas Heyward, Sr., father of Nicholas Heyward, Jr. (murdered by the NYPD in 1994), Russ Jennings, theatre producer and writer; Erin Aubry Kaplan, journalist and author; Rev. Earl Kooperkamp, St. Mary's Church, Harlem*; Mike Ladd, mc and poet; Philip Maysles, visual artist, co-director, Maysles Cinema*; Matthew Shipp, musician; Cornel West, Professor of Religion, Princeton University* and David Zeiger, film maker.
(* for identification purposes only)
To mark this book's publication, on Monday, April 11, Harlem Stage will be the venue for a major cultural celebration: "On the Occasion of the Publication of BAsics: A Celebration of Revolution and the Vision of a New World." This event will bring together well-known musicians, writers and actors, and people from the community and the youth. People from different perspectives and different spheres—but all animated by celebrating revolution and the vision of a new world, and taking the publication of BAsics as a very appropriate time to do that—will come together.
The night will include poetry, music, visual arts, and readings of letters from prisoners responding to Avakian's words and to the ideas of revolution and bringing into being a new world. These will be interspersed with people's own reflections (from the stage or via video) of what it means to them to celebrate revolution and the vision of a new world, and will include some readings of quotes from BAsics as well.
Already the over a dozen hosts for the event and the growing list of artists who will perform gives a sense of the potential for a celebration like this. (Go to www.revolutionbooksnyc.orgfor these lists.) How often do people come together to celebrate revolution and the vision of a new world? How often do people—and all of society—get to see a range of viewpoints and all kinds of different art coming together with the voice of a leader like this and the content of what is in this book? Even to raise these questions is to underline how unique and unprecedented this event is going to be and how, especially in today's landscape, this should be able to really stand out and offer a vision not only of a new world, but of a world in which people would really want to live. There's going to be a message coming out of Harlem that night—in short, that revolution and the vision of a new world is something to celebrate... and that this author needs to become much more broadly known and his ideas and works need to become a major point of reference among people who are disturbed about the state of the world and seeking (or seriously engaging with the question of whether there could be) another, better world. That's a powerful and very important message linking up with and amplifying a powerful and important book.
Unleash the Potential
But for this celebration to be what it needs to be, for it to reach its potential, for it to play the role it has to play in shining a light on this important new book, a lot of work must be done—AND YOU NEED TO BE PART OF DOING THIS NECESSARY WORK!
Here's some of what needs to be done:
- Go to www.revolutionbooksnyc.org for PDFs of promo cards to print out and distribute all over, and to email around as well.
- A lot of money needs to be raised to both publish the book and put this event on. (Go to www.revolutionbooksnyc.org for more information.) Make a generous donation yourself, and go to others to do the same. Take up the BAsics fundraising challenge. (See issue Revolution #224, February 6, 2011.)
But take up other ideas as well, and make this a question for people very broadly—in fact, fundraising should be a major way that people get to know about this. In one area, some people who work with the "revcoms" came up with the idea of a day when they would make and sell pre-ordered dinners for people as both a fundraiser and a way to publicize the upcoming book and the event. There are all kinds of creative and communal ways that people can raise money for this.
- Buzz and anticipation need to be created for the celebration. Wherever you live: make this known about among artistic and intellectual circles. Invite people to travel to be part of the night itself, to send video messages, to join the host committee, to strategize with us about who to reach out to. Let's not be bound by geography!
And let's also build this very big in the communities into which this paper reaches. Let's work with people in those communities to raise money to send delegations from around the country to this event and where a whole lot more people are able to be there in spirit, even if they can't travel all the way to NY. Statements from these delegations on why they are coming can be a major part of the buzz that is needed.
- Key neighborhoods and campuses need to be blanketed with posters, palm cards and other promotional materials. Clubs, cafes and other gathering spots need to have stacks of cards promoting this event.
It is also very important to make real efforts, starting now, to reach out to teachers and talk with them about this book and about this celebration. See what their ideas might be on how to promote this...on how to link this up with the young people they teach...and what they see as the potential here.
- This event and the book need to get way out there in the media and online. Print and electronic media outlets, large and small, need to be covering this—addressing the fact that a celebration like this is being held and noting the new and surprising artists and others who are getting involved in it. The word needs to be spread through Facebook pages, Twitter feeds and e-lists. It needs to be blogged about and taken up in other ways. Advertisements in key media need to be lined up.
- People need to be gotten into the house on April 11. This can require more than just letting everybody know it's happening. Tickets have to be sold in advance. In some cases, people should be organized to gather and come to Harlem together on that night. And again—if you're not in NY, you can organize people to raise the funds to send a delegation to the celebration and to bring the reverberations from the event back to your area.
- In all this work, familiarize people with Bob Avakian himself. In other words, don't just tell them about Avakian—make sure that they have a chance to watch the Revolution talk DVD (also available at revolutiontalk.net), or to get into the memoir, or to read the recent statement on Egypt, for example. One very good and important tool: Avakian's recent spoken word piece "All Played Out," available for downloading online atsoundcloud.com/allplayedout/all-played-out-by-bob-avakian. Playing this in classes or with individuals who may not have even heard of BA until now is an excellent introduction.
A Call To Prisoners—Celebrate the BAsics!
Let us hear from you your thinking on the publication of BAsics, and on celebrating revolution and the vision of a new world, as contributions to the April 11 event called for above.
And be sure to spread the word to ties on the outside about this event, this book, and this leader.
All this will require a broad range of people contributing their time and energy in the ways and on the level that they are able. It will require the collective efforts of everyone who recognizes that it is crucial for what Bob Avakian has been bringing forward to become a major part of the discourse in this society.
BAsics will have just gotten published when the April 11 celebration occurs. People will be starting to read it in the projects, on campuses and elsewhere. So think about this book, and its author, becoming a significant point of reference in society and in the world. Think about those whose eyes are opening to new possibilities as they witness the massive upheaval roiling Egypt, Libya, Iran and other countries finding out about Avakian and the work he's been doing. Think about how this could both fuel the inspiration they draw from these events and give guidance for realizing the most positive aspirations that are sparking these upsurges—providing a solid, scientific basis for both hope and daring among a new generation rising up, and among more than a few from the previous generations who maybe had given up their dreams of there being any better way for people to live. Think about this, and then act to make it happen!
Taken together, Basics—and the celebration on the occasion of its release—will introduce many, many new people to the most radical revolutionary on the planet; to a leader whose sense of humor is as sharp as his hatred for oppression is fierce; to a visionary who deeply understands that humanity can and must radically transform the world without "turning out the lights" on artistic and intellectual experimentation. The night of April 11 will bring together a broad range of people—including prominent, influential voices—who want to celebrate revolution and the vision of a new world and who have an equally broad range of reasons for wanting to see Avakian and his work become a mass question in society.
So...let's make it happen!