Bob Avakian, chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, presents a critical analysis of American social problems in this 136-minute video, the first installment of a four-part, daylong lecture that’s also available on VHS and DVD. This may sound forbiddingly dry, but Avakian (making what’s reported to be his first public appearance since 1979) is skillful, lucid, charismatic, and less dogmatic than you might imagine. This first part lacks the sort of tactical information found in the later ones, and to its detriment Avakian focuses on American horror stories such as lynchings while ignoring the victims of Stalin and Mao. But his dissection of contemporary America is often strong and never condescending; come with an open mind and you might be surprised. (JR)

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