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A special treat for you today: This is a guest post from our friend Harrison Hopkins. Harrison, a Georgia native, is starting a brand new SSA affiliate at Presbyterian College in Clinton, South Carolina, where he will begin as a freshman this fall. Enjoy!
Anyone who attended the Secular Student Alliance Annual Conference (July 29-31) probably had some sort of… “encounter”, we’ll call it, with the people running the Revolution Books table. I did at least, and I’ve read a few other accounts of them walking up to people uninvited to talk about the Revolutionary Communist Party.
In my case, I guess I lucked out. When they talked to me, I didn’t get Communism pushed onto me during the conversation (though it was mentioned). What I got was showered with compliments about how great it is to see young people getting involved, and how I should check out this flyer, oh and this one too, and here check out our newspaper as well. Here, now that we’ve filled up your hands, want to sign up for our email newsletter?
Ugh. I managed to get away without giving them my email (made up an excuse about missing a talk I wanted to see) and shoved all that they gave me into my backpack.
Recently, I decided to take a look at the things they gave me.
First is the flyer talking about bringing Sunsara Taylor to your college campus. It describes her as someone who can speak on the importance of atheism, problems with religion, LGBT rights, abortion, evolution, and then it says she can talk about pretty much anything. Then it goes on to mention that her two favorite topics are “Bob Avakian’s AWAY WITH ALL GODS! Unchaining the Mind and Radically Changing the World” and “End Pornography and Patriarchy; the Enslavement and Degradation of Women”.
Moving on, the next flyer is peddling two of their books, with a coupon to get both for $15. The first book is BAsics: from the talks and writing of Bob Avakian, and a few quotes from it are listed.
The notion of a god, or gods, was created by humanity, in its infancy, out of ignorance. This has been perpetuated by ruling classes, for thousands of years since then, to serve their interests in exploiting and dominating the majority of people and keeping them enslaved to ignorance and irrationality.
Bringing about a new, and far better, world and future for humanity means overthrowing such exploiting classes and breaking free of and leaving behind forever such enslaving ignorance and irrationality.
Every religion in the world believes that every other religion is superstition. And they’re all correct.
Minus the bit about overthrowing, my first response was “Hey, this might be a bit interesting”. It seemed relevant enough, being against religion and all.
The next book is Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America. No quotes from it are listed (I wonder why?). Unlike BAsics, there wasn’t really a reason to care about it, seeing as I really have no interest in bringing about Communism in America.
The last thing I received from them was Revolution, their newspaper.
Oh, this newspaper… It just SHOUTS the intent that is only hinted at on the flyers, and I’m imagining that it echoes the sentiments of their books and the talks by Sunsara.
I suppose I’ll start at the beginning. On the inside of the front page is a primer about “What is Communist Revolution?” and “Who is Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party?”
The second one is a bit laughable, seeing as it answers itself in the question. Here’s an excerpt from it:
In Bob Avakian, the Chairman of our Party, we have the kind of rare and precious leader who does not come along very often. A leader who has given his heart, and all his knowledge, skills and abilities to serving the cause of revolution and the emancipation of humanity.
It goes on and on about how he founded the party, how he’s developed theory and strategy for revolution, how he’s developed theory and strategy for revolution, how he’s developed theory and strategy for revolution… It does get rather repetitive.
The first five pages of the newspaper are mostly articles about or by Bob Avakian, about how to plan for revolution, where BAsics needs to be given out (hint: high schools), how terrible the world is now, and how magnificent humanity will be after the revolution.
The next few pages have articles about black youth having no future under our current system, abortion doctors, and a hunger strike at a prison against solitary confinement. These are actually somewhat interesting articles, if you look past the incredible slant they have.
Finally we get to a page with a few letters from people who read BAsics. One stood out to me:
This following letter from a prisoner was forwarded by the Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund
Postmark: 27 JUN 2011
Prisoner’s Revolutionary Literature Fund. (Respect and love for our leader Bob Avakian)
Thank you for receiving this letter, With-in the past month I was sent a copy of BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian. I Am Writing to Report that the book was an instant success in the Restorative justice class that I teach! For the past 2 weeks my student’s have been passing the book around and wrangling over the statement’s of power Bob Avakian made to trance-form the People for Revolution. When asked to take the word “BAsics” and scientifically transmute it into acronym’s related to what they’ve learned, this is what they said:
Bob Avakian Says Injustice Can Stop
Bob Avakian Says I Can Soar
Bob Avakian Says Imperialism Cant Survive
Bob Avakian Says I Can Serve
Bob Avakian Says I Can Speak
Bob Avakian Says Independence Can Start
BAsics Are Samples I Can Study
Bob Avakian Says I Can Succeed
At this point, I set the paper down and said “Holy shit”. It goes on though:
I am very proud of my student’s and the creative energy they put into completeing this task. I think what they’ve done is equally as unique as the book. And the last task I gave them was to give life to the book by spreading it’s core
message amongst the inmate population of 2000 prisoners. There is no doubt that our leader is leading. Bob Avakian is the truth! We are with you 100%, In the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America we trust! Learn the basics–join the struggle, become a part of the change.
This doesn’t seem to be casting away “ignorance and irrationality” as Avakian wanted in an earlier quote. Or maybe ignorance and irrationality is only a bad thing when it’s not for your own cause? That’s what it seems like in this case, as all this is doing is transferring the blind worship of a god to blind worship of him.
Am I mistaken, or isn’t this the kind of thinking what the secular movement is against?
Maybe Revolution Books and the RCP didn’t quite understand the kind of people that would be at the SSA conference. Or maybe, just maybe, they were hoping to lure us in with their anti-religion stance, so that we’d be more open to their bullshit.
Harrison Hopkins is an atheist student leader, founder of the new SSA affiliate at Presbyterian College, and friend to the regular SASHA contributors. Thanks, Harrison, for your guest post—you’re welcome here anytime!