How Bob Avakian Became a Revolutionary Communist Leader: A Review of His Memoir
Bob Avakian is a radical activist and communist leader who has dedicated his life to the cause of human emancipation. In his memoir, From Ike to Mao and Beyond: My Journey from Mainstream America to Revolutionary Communist, he recounts his personal and political journey from his 1950s middle-class upbringing to his involvement in the tumultuous movements of the 1960s and beyond. He also shares his insights on what it takes to lead a revolution and how such a leader is made.
The book is divided into two parts: the first covers his childhood and youth, from his birth in 1943 to his founding of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA (RCP) in 1975; the second covers his leadership of the RCP and his development of a new synthesis of communism, which he calls the \"new communism\". The book is rich with anecdotes, reflections, and analyses that reveal the complexity and diversity of Avakian's experiences and influences.
Some of the highlights of the book include:
His early exposure to racial injustice and social inequality, as well as to progressive ideas and culture, through his parents, who were teachers and activists; his attendance at an integrated high school in Berkeley, California; and his fascination with sports, music, literature, and history.
His radicalization in the 1960s, as he joined the anti-Vietnam War movement, became a supporter of the Black Panther Party, and participated in various struggles and debates within the New Left. He also describes his encounters with prominent figures such as Malcolm X, Huey Newton, Eldridge Cleaver, Stokely Carmichael, Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, Tom Hayden, and others.
His formation of the RCP as a result of his critique of the revisionism and opportunism that plagued the communist movement in the US and internationally. He also explains his vision of a revolutionary party that is based on scientific principles, democratic centralism, and internationalism.
His elaboration of the new communism as a continuation of, but also a qualitative leap beyond, the previous communist theory and practice. He discusses his contributions to various fields such as philosophy, epistemology, ethics, political economy, strategy, culture, religion, and more. He also addresses some of the challenges and controversies that he has faced as a communist leader in the most powerful country in the world.
The book is not only a fascinating autobiography of a remarkable individual, but also a valuable source of learning for anyone who wants to understand the history and theory of communism, as well as the prospects and challenges of making revolution in the 21st century. It is a testament to Avakian's courage, integrity, creativity, and dedication to the cause of humanity.
The book also contains many quotes from Avakian's speeches and writings that illustrate his sharp and provocative style of expression. Some of these quotes are:
\"The essence of what exists in the U.S. is not democracy but capitalism - imperialism. What the U.S. spreads around the world is not democracy, but imperialism and political structures to enforce that imperialism.\"[^1^]
\"If you try to make the Democrats be what they are not, and never will be, you will end up being more like what the Democrats actually are.\"[^1^]
\"No more generations of our youth, here and all around the world, whose life is over, whose fate has been sealed, who have been condemned to an early death or a life of misery and brutality, whom the system has destined for oppression and oblivion even before they are born. I say no more of that.\"[^1^]
\"The Marxist outlook ... represents the most consistent and systematic application of the scientific outlook and method.\"[^1^]
\"American Lives Are Not More Important Than Other People's Lives\"[^1^]
The book also features a foreword by Cornel West, a prominent scholar and activist who has engaged in dialogue with Avakian on several occasions. West praises Avakian's \"uncompromising commitment to truth\" and \"deep love for everyday people\". He also acknowledges their differences on religion, democracy, and other issues, but affirms their common ground on opposing injustice and oppression.
In conclusion, From Ike to Mao and Beyond: My Journey from Mainstream America to Revolutionary Communist is a compelling and enlightening memoir that offers a rare glimpse into the life and mind of a revolutionary communist leader. It is a book that challenges readers to think critically about the world we live in and the possibility of changing it for the better. aa16f39245