An Explorer, a Critical Thinker, a Follower of BA: Understanding the World, and Changing It for the Better, In the Interests of Humanity
The following excerpt is from SCIENCE AND REVOLUTION On the Importance of Science and the Application of Science to Society, the New Synthesis of Communism and the Leadership of Bob Avakian, An Interview with Ardea Skybreak
Speaking for myself, I guess I’d say that I’ll always be a critical thinker. I just don’t know any other way to be! [laughs] I’m sure I’ll always be curious about just about everything, both in the natural world and in human society. I am both challenged, and sustained, by the diversity and complexity of the natural world and the social world. I think I am, at heart, an explorer. Exploring the unknown, discovering what has not previously been understood, breaking new ground: In my own view, this is a lot of what makes life worth living.
But I also don’t want to just understand the world. I want to help change it, for the better and in the interests of all of humanity. And that’s where BA’s new synthesis of communism comes in for me. Because thanks to BA’s new synthesis of communism, and especially as it is concentrated in his application of scientific methods and approaches, I feel that I have gained, over the years, a much deeper appreciation, not only of the great complexities of the overall process of revolutionary transformation, but also of the very real possibilities for such transformation. How you could actually do it. How you could actually win. How you could actually bring into being a new society that would be worth living in.
If it weren’t for the new synthesis of communism, I might have gotten discouraged. In my own work on the woman question, in my work on popularizing the science of evolution, and in many other areas where I have tried to make some contributions, I have repeatedly drawn great insights from the new synthesis epistemologically and methodologically, and I have tried to apply this in my work, to good effect, I think. In all of my life’s work, I think it’s clear that I am very committed to spreading basic scientific understanding and methods among the people as broadly as possible, helping many, including from the most oppressed and the least formally educated, to actually enter into and participate in the scientific process in their own right. And I am also committed to bringing to bear all my training and life experiences to bringing a more consistently rigorous scientific approach into every nook and cranny of the movement for revolution and to forging the pathways that go towards a new society, a new socialist transition towards communism. And BA’s new synthesis of communism, and the whole method and approach that most clearly characterizes and concentrates it, has inspired and provoked and challenged my work in many positive ways over the years, and in many dimensions.
Again, more than anything else, it is the method and approach concentrated in the new synthesis, and in particular its epistemological dimensions: its rigorous pursuit of the patterns that reveal material reality as it really is, regardless of how unexpected and how uncomfortable those discoveries might be; and its scientific grasp that it is always the contradictions that exist within a thing or process that provide the material basis for change; and that therefore you will find that the material basis for the radical, revolutionary transformation of society and the world resides primarily right within the handful of the key underlying contradictions, the ones that constitute the core underpinnings and defining characteristics of the prevailing system, which today is the system of capitalism-imperialism that currently dominates the world. All this has not only provided the framework within which I feel one can “ask the right questions,” increasingly, but also pursue those questions to their resolution. It has, in a very real sense, provided me personal sustenance and air to breathe. And I feel that it has enabled me to make at least some significant contributions to the overall process of scientific discovery and transformation in various spheres. Not just for my own enlightenment, or because of my own curiosity, although it does assist in this as well [laughs], but also to help advance the process of radical transformation of society that is needed so urgently and by so many. BA’s new synthesis of communism has challenged me in positive ways, and enabled me to make contributions that I would not otherwise have been able to make. And, speaking not only for myself, but for many others who have been inspired in their own work and in their own contributions by BA’s new synthesis, that once again is a sign, an indication, of what I think of as really good scientific leadership.
A Need for a Big Societal Debate: Reform, or Revolution?
The following is an excerpt from SCIENCE AND REVOLUTION, On the Importance of Science and the Application of Science to Society, the New Synthesis of Communism and the Leadership of Bob Avakian, An Interview with Ardea Skybreak
AS continues: There’s a big mass societal debate that needs to go on among all strata on the question of reform or revolution: Which is the way forward? Reform means you tinker with the system, you try to fix it here or there. An example of reform, for instance, is that you would try to deal with police brutality and murder by things like having civilian review boards, and putting body cameras on policemen, and in other ways trying to fix things within the existing relations in society, within the existing system. And people do try these things. Civilian review boards have been around since at least the 1960s, you know. People keep falling into these traps of these reformist notions that, somehow, if you could just fix and tweak this a little bit here and there, you could get rid of these outrages and abuses. And what that comes from is a lack of profound scientific understanding of why these kinds of outrages are not just accidental or occasional, and why they’re deeply rooted in the fabric of this system, in its very foundation, which has everything to do with the white supremacist origins of this particular society in the United States, how this country was founded on slavery, and everything that came from there that’s never been surpassed. It’s not just a question of backward racist ideas on the part of some white people. That is in the mix. But much more deeply, there is an institutional fabric in how this capitalist-imperialist system is structured and how it works, in such a way that it cannot resolve these deep, deep divisions and problems, that requires that certain sections of society be kept down and oppressed, in particular, Black people in this country, and other people of color as well.
That’s a whole bigger discussion, there’s a whole deep analysis of why that’s true. This has been deeply gotten into by Bob Avakian and the RCP, and people should check that out. I’m not going to try to get into it more here. But in the context of what we’re talking about right now, I’m saying that, if people are just looking for some ways of making a few token reforms, a few “tweaks” to the system, or looking for ways to maybe improve a few things in just one neighborhood or local area…it’s not that all those kinds of projects and plans are really bad in themselves, but it’s that they won’t lead to the fundamental change that’s needed. For instance, look at the environmental movement. What is happening with the environment is a global emergency that requires big-scale measures of restructuring the way the economy, and society overall, operates, to prevent the constant exploitation and degradation of the environments of the planet that’s going to end up leading people to extinction, you know. I firmly believe that humanity is either going to find the ways to transform its forms of social organization in the direction of viable socialism and eventually moving towards planet-wide communism, or humanity’s going to go extinct because of what it’s doing to this planet. I can make scientific arguments about why I think that’s really true. And time is getting short. So that’s just one example: Why the environmental problem has to be tackled on a really big scale, by making really fundamental, radical change in the whole way society is organized, structured and run. Just a little more enlightenment and just a few tweaks and minor reforms of the existing system are simply not going to cut it.
But a lot of progressive-minded middle strata people…often they’ll get into things like, “it might be better not to use plastic bags at the grocery stores,” or “let’s have green light bulbs,” “let’s recycle more,” or “let’s see if we can work on hybrid and electric cars to reduce pollution, and let’s have more solar panels, for clean energy.” There’s actually a lot that can be learned from a lot of these initiatives, and many of those kinds of changes are things that you would actually want to implement in a new society. And I’m not saying that it’s bad to be encouraging some of those small steps even today. But what I would like people to recognize more honestly is how puny, limited and tokenistic these changes are, especially relative to the actual scope and scale of the environmental crisis. It’s not even scratching the surface of the problem. What is needed is much more profound, radical change. And I think a lot of the middle strata people are always looking for these “little ways of tinkering,” trying to reform just a few things, in a way that seems more comfortable and manageable, rather than confronting the need for a total dismantling of the system and institutions that are necessarily driven, by their own underlying laws of functioning, to despoil and degrade the environment. The system of capitalism-imperialism cannot stop doing this, it is structurally unable to stop doing this–that’s what you have to confront. People sincerely concerned about the global environment really should seriously study Bob Avakian’s analyses, which make the case, and provide evidence, for why problems such as these are so deeply rooted in the very functional core of this capitalist system that they can’t be dealt with just through a series of minor adjustments. What is required is a profound and radical overhaul of the whole way society is set up at its foundations, of the whole way it functions in a comprehensive sense. But to effect this radical restructuring it is necessary to have an actual revolution– so that, more than anything else, is what people genuinely concerned about the global environmental emergency should be working towards.
These arguments are backed up by a lot of sound and concrete scientific evidence. Nevertheless, a lot of these middle strata people are uncomfortable with the prospect of such radical change. In some cases, it’s more that they just haven’t yet encountered these analyses, they’re unfamiliar with them, nobody’s ever talked to them about this, they haven’t yet explored the revcom.us website and Revolution newspaper or the works of Bob Avakian. But I’m sure many of them–especially among the younger people who are not so invested in reformist methods and approaches–will find their way to these resources, and will start seriously digging into all this themselves, and I think many will end up being willing to confront “the logic of the logic.” In other words, when they seriously dig into the analyses, they will increasingly recognize that, “Yes, this does makes sense, this is what the evidence points to.” And even though revolution is not an easy road, and there will necessarily be sacrifices, it would all be worth it to have a genuine possibility of making a much better world, of constructing much better societies, on a new basis and foundation that could very quickly address the major problems of capitalist society, and which would greatly benefit the vast majority of people. The irony is that all those middle class people who constantly complain about the way things are today but who shy away from radical change and revolution…many of them, most of them in fact, would, I am quite sure, end up very much benefitting from, and appreciating, life in a new socialist society, especially a socialist society of the type envisioned by Bob Avakian’s new synthesis. Once again, on the foundation of that solid core, but with lots of elasticity based on the solid core, there would be air to breathe for these people in such a society. They would not be pushed to the side or crushed or stifled, as long as they were not trying to actually destroy the new society, and they would find that they could themselves help institute a lot of the progressive social changes that they get so frustrated at not being able to implement under conditions of the current system. So they should look forward to it, and help work towards it.
But again, right now, especially among the middle class, a lot of these people are more inclined to stick with what they’re more familiar with–the known rather than the unknown. They haven’t dug into any of this, really. They haven’t checked it out. They haven’t discussed and debated it. Many seem more content with puttering around with little reformist schemes, making little minor criticisms, and just basically complaining about the way things are, but without really doing anything that’s substantial to get beyond this. And the crime is that, meanwhile, while they do that, while they cultivate and promote their illusions, and when they try to tear down a revolutionary leader like Bob Avakian and try to prevent him from getting his message out broadly to the people–while they’re doing all that, the world continues as it is, with the unrelenting grinding down of the masses of people here and around the world. The blood and the bones–this is real, it is ongoing, and it will continue to go on, on a daily basis, as long as this system is allowed to persist.