What do you say about a leader of a revolutionary party who can analyze the style of play and attitude of one of the teams in an NCAA basketball championship game in order to draw lessons about revolution? And what do you say about a self-described communist and Marxist-Leninist-Maoist who can address some fundamental questions to Carl Sagan and Stephen Jay Gould concerning the character of intellectual inquiry and debate in socialist society, while at teh same time he can decry the ossification of Marxism into a state religion? Well, you can say his name is Bob Avakian and that he is one of the most original and provocative thinkers of our time.
Reflections, Sketches and Profocations is a collection of articles and messages written over a period of seven years, a kind of political compass of the 1980s. Consistently fresh and vibrant in his perceptions, Avakian can look at a movie like Fort Apache, The Bronx and launch into a discussion of liberalism; or take the opening lines of a speech by Ronald Reagan and tear apart its historica, even its geological, assumptions; or contrast two very different kinds of "festivals" occurring simultaneously in Miami: the Orange Bowl hoopla and a rebellion in the Black community.
Yet as broad-ranging as these writings are, certain basic themes run through them: the obscene hypocrisy of the imperialists, the limits of reformism, the shifts in the world since the 1960s and the strategic weakness of imperialism, the need to oppose war with revolution, and the nature and necessity of revolutionary preparation. And if Avakian is passionately concerned with the revolutionary seizure of power, he is no less absorbed with the difficulties of exercising that power and of advancing to communist society where there would be no class distinctions and no state - no power exercised by one part of society over another.
From a piece that extends no more than a paragraph to an expansive essay, Avakian has that rare ability to not only offer up insights but to force his reader to argue with him. For those unacquainted with the work of Bob Avakian, this collection will serve as a splendid introduction. For those who have encountered him before, here brought under once cover of some of his most engaging writings.