Correspondence from Revcoms at Standing Rock:
Standing With Struggle, Connecting People With Revolution
November 7, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Standing Rock encampment , November 5, 2016. Photo: Special to Revolution/revcom.us
November 3: 300 clergy and lay people from all over the country, answering a call that was put out for the religious community to come to Standing Rock for an action to stand in solidarity with the Native people. Photo: Special to revcom.us
On November 5, delegations from Hopi and Lakota tribes arrived at the main camp at Standing Rock. The Hopi Tribe from Arizona ran all the way. A powerful impact! Photo: Revolution Club, NYC @NYCRevClub
Since our last reporting, after the vicious pig attack at Turtle Island where unarmed water protectors were standing in the water on the shores of land containing sacred burial grounds, which DAPL [Dakota Access Pipeline] occupies, a lot has happened! (See “At the Cannonball River: Bold Move by Standing Rock ‘Water Protectors,’ Vicious Pig Attack“)
We have continued to spread the message, “HOW WE CAN WIN“ and are meeting a lot of interesting people and learning a lot off this, and we have made some significant advances in building a core of people here who are getting with the movement for revolution.
The day after the Turtle Island action, over 445 clergy members came to Standing Rock for an action to stand in solidarity with the Native people to stop DAPL. Throughout this action, helicopters and planes flew overhead, and as the clergy walked and sang their way onto the road that is blocked by National Guard tanks and police vehicles, more police vehicles quickly arrived on the scene. The next day, we learned that 14 clergy members were arrested while demonstrating in the Capitol Building in Bismarck, and there has been a deafening silence on this powerful action by mainstream media.
The role of the police is not to serve and protect the people. It is to serve and protect the system that rules over the people. To enforce the relations of exploitation and oppression, the conditions of poverty, misery and degradation into which the system has cast people and is determined to keep people in. The law and order the police are about, with all of their brutality and murder, is the law and the order that enforces all this oppression and madness.
Also, on Saturday, delegations from the Hopi tribe from Arizona and the Oglala Lakota Nation arrived at camp, raising their fists to people cheering and raising their fists back in celebration. It was an incredibly exciting and powerful moment. More tribes continue to join this struggle, including from an Apache tribe, and this is extremely important.
Something Very Important Is Happening at Standing Rock
Something very important is happening here at Standing Rock. This struggle is drawing all kinds of people who want to stand up and fight, both Native and non-Native, many traditional and some more rebellious. From professionals, to students, to young people working in the framework of “my reality vs. your reality” and “love your oppressor,” to people who want to take direct action to stop this. The point is, they are all here, they have all come to take this righteous stand, and many are meeting the movement for revolution.
People drive 25 hours non-stop from the West Coast to spend less time than that here because they feel they have to come and be part of this heroic and historic struggle. Others come planning to spend a few days and two months later are still here. We have spoken to person after person, from people in their early 20s to 70-somethings who have put their lives on hold, leaving family, friends, jobs or retirement to throw themselves into this struggle. People tell us of leaving family and friends who just do not understand why they have come, while others have been joined by their loved ones. One middle-aged man who drove with a group from Los Angeles to spend three days here said he is going to convince his 72-year-old retired father to drive his RV from Southern California to stay here through the winter. People deeply feel that they have to be here, that they have to take a stand to stop the genocide of the Native people and the poisoning of the water and the environment globally.
We met and spoke a couple of times with a young white man from a Michigan college town. He has been here a couple of weeks. He had answered the call for people to come who had the skills to help people prepare for the brutal North Dakota winter of below-zero temperatures. He came by himself. When we talked with him the second time, he had read “HOW WE CAN WIN” and united with a lot of what was in the statement. He said that he felt a revolution was in fact necessary and past due. He talked with us about how he lost many friends before coming to Standing Rock, over struggling with them to confront reality and to do something about the horrors going on in this society. He felt that the culture and the mainstream media had a lot to do with what people think, and people like his friends having the space to not deal with this ugly reality, and basically just tune out. We got into how at moments like this, sudden “jolts” in society can change how a lot of people think, what people normally accept, and how these jolts can even then have an impact on the mainstream media, culture, etc.
We read from the introduction of THE NEW COMMUNISM, which we kept referring to in our conversation in terms of the real breakthrough that this represents, to give him a sense of the book.
With him, and everyone we met, we got into the leadership of Bob Avakian—who he is, what that leadership means. That BA’s new communism is a breakthrough in the scientific approach to making revolution and emancipating all humanity. And telling people about who BA is as a person, and his role leading the revolution here.
And we also read from the strategy statement in BAsics, which gets into this question of “jolts” in society, and the need for it to be the case that through such situations, leaps are made in building up the movement and the organized forces for revolution, creating in this way a stronger basis to work for further advances. And we put this challenge to him, to be part of the thousands discussed in the “HOW WE CAN WIN” statement, and to seriously engage this work and be part of spreading it.
We spoke to one of several African-American ministers who participated in the clergy action, who talked about the connection between enslaved Africans and the Native peoples in this country, and how this system is built on this oppression. We got into this with her, and she had a lot of unity with what we were putting forward with this revolution and felt that many more people need to imagine a radically different kind of world. We strongly agreed with her on this, but that we don’t have to just imagine it, we could actually make that real, and we gave her a copy of “HOW WE CAN WIN” and showed her the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America. She was very interested in this and was looking forward to reading the statement and staying in touch.
Connecting, and Struggling, Over “HOW WE CAN WIN”
“HOW WE CAN WIN” is spreading among different circles here. Word is getting out among some Native youths that revolutionaries are in the camp. Some are reading “HOW WE CAN WIN” and have written down a list of questions that they have for us. A couple of youths, one Sioux and one white, stopped to talk and were very excited to hear people talking about revolution. They talked about both the genocide of the Native people and the destruction of the environment and how we need a revolution. Their conception of revolution has a lot of anarchist influences of people working without government interference. They really did not know what communism is, but one of them was talking about the bad rap it has but said that it sounds good.
While talking with them, a young Native man they know came up and started listening. When he heard us say, “We are with Revolution newspaper, revcom.us, the voice of the Revolutionary Communist Party,” he got very excited, exclaiming, “You are those people?!”, and shook our hands. He had seen the website, revcom.us. We read out loud the first paragraph of “HOW WE CAN WIN,” and the first paragraph and first two sentences of the second paragraph in the “What We Need To Do Now” section. (revcom.us/a/457/how-we-can-win-en.html) The second Native youth responded that what we need to do is stop the pipeline and protect the Native people. Well into the conversation, the white youth said, “I have to admit, I used information from revcom.us in a college policy debate.” They told us where they are staying and we made plans to get more into “HOW WE CAN WIN.”
One college student, from southern Colorado, took a month off school to be here and cover what was happening on the ground, and he talked to us about reading The Communist Manifesto in school, and having this feeling, along with his classmates, that there was something to this idea of communism, but that we were “too deep in this shit” as far as this horrible society we are living in today, and that this idea of communism was just that, a good idea. He spoke of the frustration of just reading this and discussing it as just ideas; nothing actually realizable. We got into the statement “HOW WE CAN WIN” and he thought this was very good, different in that it was actually dealing with the real world, and talking about ways to make this real. We got into questions of what a revolutionary crisis is, how to transform people today, and the importance of people stepping into this revolution now.
We have been “pre-emptive” in anticipating that BA is going to be a contentious question among people, including the bullshit people are going to run into on the Internet and getting into the kind of leadership people actually need and how BA measures up in those terms. We had a little experience with that on the spot while we were discussing “HOW WE CAN WIN” with a couple of young Native women. Someone passing by made a snarky comment about “Oh, the RCP.” We challenged him to come join and say what his strategy for revolution was, and he said “not cult of personality.” In this instance, the young women we were talking to at the time were furious that some asshole was being so dismissive and disruptive while they were grappling with such an important question.
The revolution is meeting Native people who have gone through the horrors of alcoholism and drug addiction that plague so many and have turned to Christianity for help. We met a man at breakfast one day who had this kind of experience, and was now very religious, and he asked why we were here. We told him we were here to stand with the Native people who are standing up, to report from the ground, and to spread the statement “HOW WE CAN WIN,” and get into this with people.
He felt that what we were putting forward would just put people in harm’s way, and we responded with putting forward that the ones who are putting people in harm’s way—and the planet itself—is this system, but that when they do these things, when they make these moves like what they are doing with the pipeline, by the terms of this system, they are just “smart businessmen,” and he responded, “Yeah, like Trump!” Then he asked us what we believed in. We responded that we believe in humanity and their potential to radically change the world. He asked, “So you don’t believe in a higher power?” We responded, no, that we apply a scientific method and approach, an evidence-based approach, to understanding the world and the real pathways for change.
We got into the question of evolution, as he started to pose his understanding of “intelligent design,” and we suggested that he get into the book by Ardea Skybreak, The Science of Evolution and the Myth of Creationism—Knowing What’s Real and Why It Matters, and broke down scientifically how human life actually evolved, and that there are a lot of real scientific connections between human life and the Earth itself, which many people here say they feel spiritually, but we got into how we can understand this scientifically, and that it is actually an incredible thing to be able to understand! That it doesn’t take away any of the awe and wonder of the connections between humanity and the planet but gives us a materialist grasp of that connection.
Stakes for the Future of Native People, the Planet, and Humanity
One night, while enjoying an incredible dinner made at the famous Grandma’s Kitchen (where you get a delicious dinner and a hug from Grandma!, a Paiute from Bishop, California), we met an older couple from far Northern California. The woman told us about how she was a licensed health professional, and just kept seeing posts on Facebook about Standing Rock, and would cry every time she saw these posts, feeling so strongly that what was happening to the Native people was outrageous, and one day she decided to take a leave of absence from her job, and that was about a month ago, and she has no intention of going back any time soon and in fact does not want to go back. She talked about how her whole life had changed since coming to Standing Rock and how connected she felt to this struggle.
She was recently joined by her partner, a guy who described himself as a full-time activist. He is cataloging the rapid extinction of species in the world. He spoke of his many experiences fighting against the crimes of this system, and his frustrations over the fact that things have not changed; that this system continues to do what it does to the masses of people, and in particular he spoke of the crimes being committed in the Middle East. In the face of the continuing crimes of drone attacks by the U.S., his group has gone from advocacy to nonviolent direct action.
We brought out “HOW WE CAN WIN” and they were both very excited to hear about this, as they had never heard of BA and this Party. They were interested in Bob Avakian’s background.
And we discussed the question of “Why We Need a Revolution” as they both felt that was basically true, but still believed that the most we could do was vote for Jill Stein. So we got into this and walked through some examples of why this system cannot resolve these big problems, in particular the environmental crisis, because of this fossil fuel economy that can’t factor in the damage being done to the environment, as that is an externality to the need for accumulating more and more profit. They thought seriously about this point and ended up getting THE NEW COMMUNISM and the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America. And we plan on getting more into this with them.
This struggle is not slowing down or giving up. It continues to grow and more people are needed to take a stand with the Native people, for their land, for the planet as a whole, and for the future of humanity.
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