May 22, 2005
Revolution #3, May 22, 2005, posted at revcom.us
On April 21 the international proletariat lost a great leader when Zhang Chunqiao died at the age of 88. Zhang was a close colleague and follower of Mao Tsetung and a prominent leader of the Cultural Revolution. He was arrested when the counter-revolutionary forces in the Chinese Communist Party staged a coup after Mao's death in 1976.
Zhang never wavered from revolution. in its brightest hours and in its darkest moments.
Zhang Chunqiao is not widely known to the fighters and dreamers of today. For decades the regime that imprisoned him hid information about his status from the people in China and the world. And even in his death, Zhang is slandered by reactionary forces and pundits the world over. But he had an immense impact on the course of revolution and the cause of human emancipation. His is a life to celebrate, to learn about and learn from.
Maoist China was a far cry from the corrupt capitalist China of today that is socialist only in name. It was a China of genuine socialism and all-the-way revolution. A revolution that ended exploitation, that was digging up the roots of oppression and class division, breaking tradition's chains and meeting the needs of the masses. It may be hard to imagine in today's world that on this planet there was a liberating society and economy in which the masses were ruling and increasing their collective mastery. That there was an inspiring example to the oppressed of the world and a base for promoting world revolution. But this was the reality of revolutionary China—beginning with the triumph of the revolution in 1949 and reaching unprecedented heights during the Cultural Revolution of 1966-76, until Mao's death.
That such a society existed was inseparable from the fact that the proletariat in power had Mao Tsetung as its leader and heroes of its cause like Zhang Chunqiao.
Zhang Chunqiao occupied high positions of authority in the party and state structures—he was a member of the Political Bureau of the Chinese Communist Party, a vice premier, and head of the political department of the People's Liberation Army. And he used these positions to lead the masses to challenge entrenched officialdom, the hierarchy and inequalities of class society, and the ideological deadweight of the past. This is quite remarkable.
Zhang was a communist leader who combined a sweeping grasp of Marxist theory with a living, developing sense of the contours and dynamics of class struggle under socialism. He fought for Mao's line of continuing the revolution until all enslaving relations and ideas are overcome on a world scale. Basing himself on the science of revolution, he dared to lead the masses to seize new ground and break new ground in emancipating themselves.
Zhang was intellectually alive, a rigorous and innovative theorist who had no taste for pale doctrine. He looked to the new and captured the imagination of China's new generation of revolutionaries who came forward during the Cultural Revolution. His revolutionary leadership and writings have influenced revolutionaries around the world.
The bourgeoisie would have us believe that revolutionary leaders invariably succumb to the privileges and corruptions of power. The life of Zhang Chunqiao proves otherwise.
It was Zhang's role in the Cultural Revolution that marked his emergence as a major leader and standard- bearer of Mao's revolutionary line of continuing the revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat to achieve classless, communist society.
Mao summed up the experience of the Soviet Union, where a new exploiting class, still calling itself socialist, had come to power. He was struggling against revisionism, the betrayal of revolution under the cover and in the name of Marxism. He analyzed that a neo-capitalist elite was arising within the political and economic structures of China, and headquartered within the Communist Party. A radical solution was required: to mobilize the masses to criticize and challenge bourgeois and reactionary authority, to wage mass political struggle to overthrow the new bourgeois forces in commanding positions of society—the "capitalist roaders"—and to carry forward the process of transforming the economic, political, social, and ideological relations of society. And through all of this to further empower the masses to be the masters of society. This was the Cultural Revolution Mao launched in 1966.
Zhang Chunqiao was drafted by Mao to join the Cultural Revolution Group in Beijing to give guidance and direction to the unprecedented "revolution within the revolution." Zhang was in the thick of some of its most complicated and breakthrough episodes—including the dramatic events that came to be known as the Shanghai January Storm.
In late 1966, rebel students and rebel workers in Shanghai mounted a challenge to the city's entrenched and oppressive ruling apparatus, raised criticisms of the local party leadership, and pressed demands for a new political order. Ferment and struggle intensified. Zhang followed developments in Shanghai with great attention and returned to the city several times, bringing support from the Cultural Revolution Group and assisting and providing leadership to the rebels. The revolutionary movement grew and an alliance of rebel forces took control of the city's vital communications and administrative centers in January 1967. This was the first "seizure of power" by the masses in the Cultural Revolution. It set an example and set the ideological tone for power seizures in other parts of the country during the Cultural Revolution.
Zhang helped systematize and spread the lessons of the Shanghai Storm. And he was deeply involved in summing up the experiences and experimentation of forging new revolutionary administrative and political institutions to replace the old order.
Zhang made an enormous contribution to the international proletariat's understanding of the nature of socialist society and its economics, and the character and goal of proletarian revolution.
Zhang further developed Mao's insight that the mere conversion of the means of production to state property does not guarantee that society is socialist. The true nature of ownership is determined by what political and ideological line is in command: are the economy and society being led and moving in the direction of restricting and eliminating the significant differences and inequalities left over from capitalist society; or is society on a road, and moving in a direction, that would bring back the old order even in the disguise of socialism? Ownership, Zhang emphasized, is a question of power: who is really running society, do the masses have the ability to continue to make revolution and transform society?
Zhang analyzed that there are still capitalist aspects in the production relations of socialism. The relations between people in production are still class relations. Do managers and leading state and party functionaries take part in productive labor with the masses; and more broadly, are the masses taking part in important spheres of administrative tasks and the spheres of education and culture? Or are differences hardening and the gulf between mental and manual labor widening? Zhang explained that the division of labor cannot be overcome all at once—but at every stage in the development of the revolution it must be restricted and transformed to the greatest degree possible.
Zhang's essay "On Exercising All-Round Dictatorship Over the Bourgeoisie" explains that the proletarian revolution is a thoroughgoing revolution that must persevere in exercising all-round dictatorship over the bourgeoisie. This means in all spheres and at all stages of development of the revolution. The proletarian revolution aims, with Zhang citing Marx's famous description, to eliminate "the 4 Alls": all classes and class distinctions generally, all the relations of production on which they rest, all thesocial relations corresponding to them, and all the ideas that result from these social relations. This revolution must continue until it banishes these "4 Alls" from the earth.
These were not theoretical issues for discussion by a small section of party leaders. These were questions put before the masses in China. And revolutionaries throughout the world also took them up.
Zhang Chunqiao was a pivotal figure in the struggle between revolution and counterrevolution between 1973 and 1976. In the early 1970s, Deng Xiaoping and other revisionist forces in the Communist Party began mounting an offensive to overthrow proletarian rule. Mao relied on Zhang and a core of revolutionary leaders (including Jiang Qing, who was Mao's wife) to politically arm and mobilize the masses to wage a life-and-death struggle to preserve and advance proletarian rule. Zhang rose to the challenge with vision, with scientific understanding, and with indomitable courage.
Zhang had strategic confidence in the ability of the masses to grasp their role as the makers of revolution and to grasp the science of Marxism that would enable them to do so. He acted on the understanding that the key to the defense and advance of revolution was to arouse the conscious activism of the masses. And he and the other revolutionary leaders entered the fray and gave direction to sharp and complicated struggles on many different fronts: education, industrial management, economic strategy, science and technology, and other arenas. They were continually summing up experience, drawing lessons, and applying Marxism to new problems. They were hewing a path forward and politicaly and ideologically arming the proletariat worldwide. They kept to this orientation and maintained their resolve—even when they made mistakes, even when sections of people were influenced for a time by backward ideas, even as the balance of political and international forces turned more unfavorable for the revolution in China.
And so, when the revisionists in China's Communist Party staged their armed coup after Mao died in 1976, they moved, and had to move, decisively against the revolutionary headquarters within the Communist Party. The defining act of the coup was the arrest of Zhang Chunqiao and Jiang Qing (and the two other members of the so-called "gang of four"). This set China on the course that would turn it into the sweatshop for world capitalism that it is today.
But isolation and threats of death could not break Jiang Qing and Zhang Chunqiao. At the show trial organized by the revisionist regime in 1980-81, Jiang Qing confronted and exposed her inquisitors and Zhang sat in defiant silence. Zhang received a death sentence that was later commuted to life imprisonment; and after more than 25 years in prison, he remained unrepentant.
With the coup of 1976, the revolution in China was defeated, but the revolutionaries were not defeated politically and ideologically.
The Cultural Revolution was the highest pinnacle reached so far by the proletarian revolution. And Maoism must continue to learn from this experience and from the example of leaders like Zhang Chunqiao. The proletarian revolution must sum up the great strengths as well as the weaknesses and limitations of the Cultural Revolution, in order to go further and do even better, to make and continue the revolution worldwide until the historic mission of the proletariat—a communist world free of exploitation, oppression, and class distinctions altogether—has been achieved.
Revolution #3, May 22, 2005, posted at revcom.us
Trained as a scientist, I have been closely following the sweeping attacks on science and the outrage in the scientific community, and both are without precedent in modern times.
After reading the letter last week on the Kansas evolution hearings, I'm reporting on some other aspects of the Bushite assault on science and the protest from the scientific community—in particular the scientists' statement Restoring Scientific Integrity in Policy Making and the report issued by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) in conjunction with that statement.
Bush government policy is running rampant over science. And it is no exaggeration to say that the earth is in danger.
On a planetary level, the potential impact of global warming is catastrophic—from flooded coastlines to drastic shortages of fresh drinking water for billions of people. Yet scientific evidence on the nature and causes of global warming is being suppressed and distorted because the Bush administration's horizon on this subject does not extend beyond near-term bottom lines of the energy industry.
The Bush government is essentially redefining fish and wildlife species to over-inflate population counts and thereby remove protections for endangered species. Government environmental and biological scientists who publicize or uphold scientific findings that protect ecology from corporate interests face threats of retaliation from political operatives.
Notions of traditional morality and the overall Christo-fascist "faith" agenda of the Bush government is redefining the scope of scientific research.
Stem-cell research could potentially unlock cures for debilitating and fatal diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, along with figuring out how to replace damaged tissue. Despite these compelling possibilities, research on stem cells has been de-funded by Bush—acting on Christian fundamentalist doctrine that equates embryos with full human life. HIV/AIDS prevention studies that even mention words like "anal sex" are being blocked and restricted—with genocidal implications, given the epidemic proportions of HIV/AIDS in Africa and other parts of the world.
Bush political operatives have forced official government health web sites to comply with the Christian fundamentalist agenda—over the objections of scientists. An egregious example of this was the posting of spurious links between abortion and increased risk of breast cancer on the National Cancer Institute's web site, until massive scientific and public pressure forced its removal.
Key governmental scientific advisory panels are being purged of researchers who disagree with the Bush administration. Ideological and political allegiance are replacing scientific credentials as criteria for appointments in science.
Scientific panels with oversight on reproductive health are increasingly stacked with Christian fundamentalists bent on furthering a theocratic agenda at the expense of women's health.
Industry representatives are being appointed to scientific panels advising the government on issues ranging from acceptable lead levels in house paint to the environmental impact of stripmining.
And there is much, much more.
Alarmed by the unprecedented nature, scope and scale of such abuses, 62 prominent scientists in the United States initiated and issued a joint statement in early 2004 titled Restoring Scientific Integrity in Policymaking—exposing and protesting key aspects of these attacks on science and calling for an immediate end to " the distortion of scientific knowledge for partisan political ends ." (See box.)
Co-signers of the statement now number in the thousands (around 6,000 and still counting), from all scientific disciplines, including 48 Nobel Prize winners, 62 National Medal of Science recipients, and 135 members of the National Academy of Sciences. Signatories include scientific advisors to past Republican presidents.
In conjunction with the scientists' statement, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) released a detailed report, Scientific Integrity in Policymaking—Further Investigation of the Bush Administration's Misuse of Science,backing up the scientists' charges.
According to the UCS, the systematic and sweeping nature of these attacks on science across all areas of governmental policy came to light when UCS specifically commissioned a veteran investigative journalist to examine and verify scattered reports of abuse. The report is filled with case after compelling case of the administration's " egregious disregard of scientific study,...censorship and distortion of scientific analysis, and manipulation of the scientific process, [and].distortion of scientific knowledge " and offers " new evidence about the use of political litmus tests for scientific advisory panel appointees. "
Science is increasingly being forced to conform to corporate interests on one hand and a Christian fascist agenda on the other hand. Editorials in scientific journals are exposing and calling for an immediate end to these attacks.
Scientific American titled one of their editorials "Bush-League Lysenkoism—The White House bends science to its will."
Some scientists even organized themselves into a group called Scientists and Engineers for Change and launched a pre-election campaign to expose the Bush administration on these fronts.
Organized political activity at this level among the scientific community is not common and has not been seen since the mobilization in opposition to nuclear weapons. While this phenomenon is part of the greater movement among the intelligentsia who are not down with Bush's lies—from the war in Iraq to Arctic drilling—it also has its own particularity in that they are organizing as scientists.
These current initial efforts from the scientists are even more significant because scientists have started coming together to defend their very own calling—at a time when Bush is making increasingly clear that truth, as we understand it—i.e., correspondence to reality—does not matter.
Scientists are objectively being forced to defend science itself—and the scientific method and approach—which has emerged through centuries of humanity's search for knowledge about life, our planet, and the universe.
As in Kansas, the question is being posed about the very nature of science itself: will it be "natural explanations" or scriptural narratives; scientific method of starting from reality or metaphysical precepts and religious dogma?
This harks back to the days of Galileo-a time in history when scientists were murdered, tortured, and threatened with excommunication from the Church for arriving at truths contrary to the Church's official doctrine.
Sensing the trajectory, Dr. Kurt Gottfried, the Chairman of UCS and a prominent physicist in his own right, recently commented on the current ideological climate, "There are powerful constituencies that reject the premises of the Enlightenment." Other scientists are freely using the term "Taliban" to refer to occupants of high political offices.
When scientific knowledge has been found to be in conflict with its political goals, the administration has often manipulated the process through which science enters into its decisions. This has been done by placing people who are professionally unqualified or who have clear conflicts of interest in official posts and on scientific advisory committees; by disbanding existing advisory committees; by censoring and suppressing reports by the government's own scientists; and by simply not seeking independent scientific advice. Other administrations have, on occasion, engaged in such practices, but not so systematically nor on so wide a front. Furthermore, in advocating policies that are not scientifically sound, the administration has sometimes misrepresented scientific knowledge and misled the public about the implications of its policies...
Across a broad range of policy areas, the administration has undermined the quality and independence of the scientific advisory system and the morale of the government's outstanding scientific personnel.
Revolution #3, May 22, 2005, posted at revcom.us
On March 9, 2001, scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sent the White House an official memo titled "Global Warming Science is Compelling," stating that "the science is strongest on the fact that carbon dioxide is contributing, and will continue to contribute to global climate change." Four days after the memo was issued, and in direct contradiction to the findings of the scientists, Bush flatly stated that "given the incomplete state of scientific knowledge of the cause of, and solutions to, global climate change," it was okay for the government to reconsider limits on power plant discharges of carbon dioxide. Bush political officials completely edited out the phrase "global temperature much warmer than average" in a 2003 press release headline from the governmental scientific agency responsible for climate science.
Frank Luntz, a top Republican strategist, was quoted in Critical Inquiry saying, "The scientific debate is closing against us... Should the public come to believe that the scientific issues are settled, their views about global warming will change accordingly. Therefore, you need to continue to make the lack of scientific certainty a primary issue."1 In other words, Luntz is advocating deliberately lying to the public.
Dr. James E. Hansen, a climate expert and director of the NASA Goddard Institute of Space Studies, told the New York Times , "[Bush's approach to global warming science is] something I've been worrying about for months. If I don't do something now, I'll regret it... [They're] picking and choosing information according to the answer that they want to get."
In an unprecedented rejection of recommendations by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA), a high-ranking FDA official, under White House pressure, declared the emergency contraceptive Plan B "not approvable" for nonprescription status, overturning the recommendations of his own staff and two independent FDA scientific advisory committees that overwhelmingly declared it safe. Plan B has nonprescription status in 33 countries, and this is crucial as emergency contraceptives are more effective the sooner they are taken after intercourse. Plan B's switch to nonprescription status in the United States was also endorsed by some 70 scientific organizations.
A panel of six leading ecologists recommended that wild salmon be distinguished from hatchery-raised fish in determining protection of the Coho salmon as an endangered species—because hatchery fish quickly "lose their ability to survive in the wild." Lead panelist Robert Paine, a world-renowned ecologist, told UCS, "The members of the panel were told to either strip out our recommendations or see our report end up in a drawer," and the central recommendation was deleted from the final report.
Dr. Sharon Smith, an expert on Arctic marine ecology and a nominee to the Arctic Research Commission whose mandate covered the debate on oil exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), was directly asked, "Do you support the President?" On answering that she did not support Bush's economic and foreign policies, the interview abruptly ended and she was removed from consideration immediately. Nobel prize winner in medicine Torsten Wiesel was rejected for a scientific advisory position at the National Institutes of Health because he had "signed too many full-page letters in The New York Times critical of President Bush." On the other hand, Dr. David Hager, a Christian fundamentalist who recommends treating PMS with prayer and who refuses to prescribe contraceptives to unmarried women, was appointed to the FDA scientific advisory panel with oversight on all reproductive health matters, including emergency contraceptives—regardless of his lack of scientific research experience.
by Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA
Revolution #3, May 22, 2005, posted at revcom.us
Bush has no legitimate mandate. The will of the people was not expressed in the 2004 election—not only because of voter intimidation and fraud, which there definitely was some of, but beyond all that, and most essentially, because the people were not given a real choice. They were not given a real avenue in which they could express their opposition to what is represented by Bush. The real story of what is happening and the alternative to it was never presented in the election—certainly it was not presented by Kerry and the Democrats.
Bush was never straight-up called a liar and called to account for his lying, just to take one basic thing. There were three presidential debates and one vice-presidential debate, and yes, "misleading" was tossed around by Kerry and the Democrats, but never was Bush called out as a liar and called to account for his lying around Iraq and other things. The Democrats refused to do it because, especially on the most crucial issues such as the war in Iraq, they shared the same fundamental program as the Republicans.
So, the fact that nobody can really dispute is this: never was this whole program of Bush's frontally opposed, never was a real alternative offered to people, and particularly never over such crucial things as the war in Iraq or the Patriot Act. Kerry and the Democrats did not say, "Get rid of the Patriot Act"—Kerry said, "We should fix it." Kerry and the Democrats did not say, "Bush lied, about weapons of mass destruction and other things, to get us into Iraq, and we should get out." Kerry said, "Bush made a mess of it and now you need to elect me so I can win this war."
It is clear that the will of the people could not possibly be expressed, because they were not given any real alternative.
And people who supported Bush were never really confronted with the fact that Bush is a fucking liar—that he took the country to war and has killed thousands and thousands of people in that war on the basis of flagrantly and brazenly lying before the whole world. He was never called to account for that. So people who thought they could rely on Bush to protect them were never even confronted with that fact—of his outright lying and everything that goes along with that—in any real way. Certainly not in the context of this election—not by the candidate, Kerry, who was supposed to represent the "realistic alternative" to Bush.
A lot of exposure can and must be done around all this.
The central message is that we do not accept this election and its so-called "mandate," we do not accept this whole program, and we need to manifest a massive repudiation of it in all kinds of forms. And in this we have to build a very broad unity, with a wide diversity of forces. We should try to unleash a lot of creativity around what that would mean—in the cultural sphere, in the overtly political sphere, in whatever spheres people are in. We should not aim low. We should aim high. We should call on people by saying: "This is too important just to go along with it—there is too much at stake for the whole world to just go along with this." As we pointed out in our Party's statement, right after the election1, we have to have not just the attitude of letting it be known that we don't agree with this, but an orientation of actually stopping it. This program of Bush's is completely unacceptable.
And then we do need to go deeply into the basic point that the people were denied the chance to really express their will in this election. That question is going to come up, even from people who hate this program represented by Bush: "Well, yes, but people voted for it." So we need to speak to that. At the same time, there is already a broad and deep sentiment—"No Mandate!" We need to build on that and give it the maximum possible, most powerful political expression.
And there needs to be struggle with many progressive people to help them sum up correctly what happened through this election. Some of them got caught up in trying to blame Nader—even in advance of the election—for Bush's staying in office. But the real point is that Kerry and the Democrats did not—and, more fundamentally, could not —offer a real alternative. It is crucial that people, as broadly as possible, draw the appropriate and correct lessons from all this, and that will take struggle, even as we are uniting with people to carry forward resistance in the circumstances where Bush remains in office and is aggressively accelerating his program in every sphere of society, and throughout the world.
In a lot of cases, when the masses turned out to vote in this (2004 election), even though they were not given any real alternative, it was a positive thing—or had a very definite positive side—it was a politicizing of the masses on a not so terrible basis. The bourgeoisie partly created the atmosphere—they created a politically charged atmosphere for their own reasons—but it hasn't all been, or remained, on their terms completely. The atmosphere is very politicized, and there is a lot of potential to turn this into something very positive, in more immediate terms and looking beyond that toward strategic revolutionary objectives. But, again, that will take work, and struggle.
Wednesday, May 25, 2005, 7 p.m.
Los Angeles Central Library, Thornton Courtyard
630 W. 5th St., Los Angeles
free and open to the public
Contact : 323-492-8529
The Los Angeles Central Library, Social Science Department, and Friends of Insight Press will host an evening of readings, performance, and commentary by authors, artists, and academics in celebration of the release of From Ike to Mao and Beyond, My Journey from Mainstream America to Revolutionary Communist, a Memoir by Bob Avakian.
A growing list of participants include:
Special to Revolution
by Michael Slate
Revolution #3, May 22, 2005, posted at revcom.us
In March and April, Revolution correspondent Michael Slate traveled all over Sri Lanka, one of the places hardest hit by the tsunami of December 2004. Slate talked to many different people about the tsunami and the oppression and suffering that continue to unfold. This is the second in a series of reports by Slate that will appear in Revolution over the coming weeks.
The heart of the city of Galle is an old Fort built as an anchor for Dutch colonial rule in the 1600s. Over the centuries, the Dutch came and left as did the Portuguese and the British. But the Fort remains and inside its walls lie the center of tourism in Galle town and all the people who keep the tourist machine well oiled and running.
Just outside the walls of the Fort, on the back side of it, sits a large outdoor bus terminal and a haphazard marketplace where people sell boiled gram (a grain), fruits, King coconuts, vegetables, lunch packets, and deep-fried snacks. At night little oil-fueled torches light up the vendors' carts.
On December 26 all this was wiped out in a matter of minutes.
On the other side of the Fort is a small fishing beach. In the best of times 80 boats used to launch from this beach each evening and return again in the morning with the catch. An entire community has been built up around the work of the beach. The fishermen don't live on this beach but their lives are centered here. Equipment is stored in sheds that dot the beach. There are people who mend the nets and fix the engines. Some wield hammers, chisels, and long knives to carve catamarans out of tree trunks. Others repair the fiberglass day boats. Along the sides of the road fishmongers peddle the night's catch. The Fisherman's Association meets on this beach. The tsunami hit this beach hard.
We arrived at this beach just at the time the fishermen usually come back home from the sea. Instead of the 80 boats that would've come ashore few months earlier, now only a handful were being pulled up onto the sand. Crews of six to ten men strained every muscle on their arms, legs and backs as they leaned into logs laid across the width of the boat to provide leverage for pushing the boats up onto the beach. A work-gang chant provided the rhythm for their task; an old half-gallon plastic Coke bottle filled with water served as a roller underneath the boat to ease its path through the sand.
As soon as we arrived a group of fishermen gathered around. Linus, in his early thirties, spoke first. "We start fishing about 4 or 5 in the evening and end at about 9 or 10 the next morning. You can't say for sure what you will catch—sometimes you come back with 1500 rupees worth of catch and other times with nothing.
"When the tsunami came I was at the lighthouse and somehow managed to escape from that. There was a whole body of water that kept coming at us. After that I found my way to town and to this site here. We came to the site to recover whatever we could. None of our stuff was here. There were nets, machines, and boats all over the place. So we just tried to salvage what we could. Fourteen boats were completely lost and other boats were damaged, and people are trying to repair them."
Amin joined in, "I do a small boat. I leave in the evening and come back in the morning, that's how I live— catching fish. We were at home when the tsunami hit and when we heard the news we came here. Everything was gone. All of the sheds got washed away. My own boat got crushed there."
Amanthi, well into his forties, was the old man on the beach that day. He leaned back on one of the broken boats and told his story with a nervous laugh. "I was here when the wave hit. This is the remains of my boat. The wave hit and I climbed this tree, and then with the wave I swum over to the other tree. My intestines came out and I was in hospital."
Rahul, a net repairman, cut in here and told a story that rang in my ears a few weeks later as I sat talking with people inside Galle Fort. "I was seated here at this spot and I saw this wave of water coming. First I just saw everything being washed away. Then I looked at the sea and I saw this huge wave coming at me. I ran but the wave caught up with me. I tried to swim with the wave, trying to get up to some of those trees up there. Fortunately for me the wave went into the Fort and I was swept into the Fort where I was able to stand up and get out of the water. Then I was screaming for people to look out at what was happening. Now once a week I can do something, but nothing is reliable or steady. All these weeks there has been no income for me."
Galle Fort is a mammoth structure built to withstand anything and everything thrown at it. The walls of the Fort are 30 feet high and 15 feet thick, forming a formidable border between the poverty and desperation of the rest of Galle and the relative ease of the tourist and European expatriate community inside.
The Amangala Hotel, formerly the New Oriental Hotel, is the heart of the Fort. It is the oldest hotel in the country, built in the 1600s as the Dutch Governor's residence. After a major rehab job the hotel reopened in November 2004. Olivia, a British expatriate who fell in love with the old hotel and directed the rehabilitation of it, is now the manager. The hotel comes off a little like a bit of heaven—sitting on the veranda you can easily forget what the rest of Galle is like. The women and men who work there glide silently across the lobby and the hotel grounds, dressed in elegant colonial era gowns and suits.
Olivia invited us to lunch and told her story. "On the day of the tsunami I came early to work. It was Boxing Day. I was really annoyed to be at work nursing a hangover. We had guests in the hotel, and we were serving breakfast. In front of the hotel is a rampart wall with a 30-foot drop down to the fishing beach below us. Extraordinary noises, cracking sounds, were coming from the beach below the wall. We all ran from the veranda and looked over. The buildings below the wall—the sea was over the roofs of the buildings and the cracking was the roofs coming off. Boats and cars and people were sweeping towards the base of the wall. It was a surreal sight, hard to believe or understand. At the time I thought it was high tide or a drain had burst. I had no comprehension of what had happened.
"I have a house about 400 meters away, down at sea level, and my 14-year-old daughter was asleep on the ground floor there. So I ran towards there. There is an old gate through the Fort walls down at sea level and the water was coming through that like a huge fire hydrant, just shooting through, with cars and boats, and hitting the building opposite and flooding the lower part of the Fort. I did manage to telephone my daughter and tell her to get out of bed and get on the roof. But actually she was fine; the walls of the Fort protected her. These were built by the Dutch in the 17th century, and my house had no water in it. It is 10 meters from the beach. I did have a boat outside my front door. It came from outside the Fort, a kilometer down the street, and it took the U.S. Marines to move it two weeks later. At that stage, though, I was very unaware that this had happened everywhere, that it had affected the whole town. In the Fort at the time it seemed like a disaster to us but, in comparison to what had happened outside, we were really very unaffected. The walls saved us from that."
Olivia isn't an uncaring person. Nor is she intentionally oblivious about the world outside the walls of the Fort. She just hasn't had much interaction with it or knowledge of it. The relationship between life inside the Fort and the rest of Galle is an eerie shadow of the way the world is set up—so many people in the imperialist world blind to the lopsidedness imperialism enforces and what it means for the masses of people in oppressed nations.
The tsunami helped open Olivia's eyes. And once her eyes were opened she really strained to do what she could to help the people. She let volunteers crash at the hotel. She helped feed people and raised funds to help the fishermen replace their lost equipment or the local tuk-tuk driver replace his three-wheeler taxi.
"The first inkling that this was bigger than just here was a telephone call we had from friends who live in Tangalle, which is two hours south of here, going `Did that happen to you?' They already had information that there had been an earthquake, and this was the wave that came from that.
"People started gathering here. This is at the highest point of the Fort and so the community of the Fort all came here. We had thousands of people, cars—then people appearing from the town soaked, shocked and terrified. We realized we had to feed them. We had so many people here that day; we cooked for everybody, made tea, looked after them. Then a crazy German guy turned up and sat and played the piano—which was a real `playing while Rome burned,' but it calmed everybody.
"It wasn't until the morning of the next day that I walked out into the town. We had looked from the ramparts down and could see fishing boats and buses and water everywhere—in the middle of the cricket pitch, in places that they would normally never be. The next day I walked out and around to the bus station—those are the clips of film that I think everybody saw. The chaos and devastation—a place where you recognize things was gone. The guy who mended my shoes was gone. The fruit market was gone. The fish market was gone. The streets were devastated. There were cars in the second stories of buildings. I then went into complete shock.
"The initial reaction when we saw bodies in the water from here was to throw ropes over the walls to people. We tried to find things that would float to go and rescue people. The initial reaction is just to do—and for the first month afterwards it was just doing, doing things that you would never ever do and had never done before in your life and never thought you would do.
"I don't have a feeling of desperation. I'm here in the Fort, and here you can forget that it happened. Out there it is right there in front of you. But in the people we've helped and the livelihoods we've helped and the positive things we've done, it is giving people some hope."
Olivia recommended that we take another drive up the coast to the village/camp called Peraliya. She told us about a crew of volunteer doctors from Germany and Denmark who were working with some volunteers from the U.S. in a medical clinic set up as part of rebuilding after the tsunami.
We met Alison soon after we arrived in Peraliya. She's an Australian woman who was living with her boyfriend on the Upper Eastside of New York City when she saw the first reports of the tsunami on CNN. At one point Alison, who had been a nurse, felt she couldn't just sit in New York and passively watch so much suffering on TV. She and her boyfriend had spent the last few years making documentary films about the lives of people in rural areas of different African countries. Now they pulled together a small crew of friends, flew to Colombo, rented a van and loaded it up with food, other materials and medical supplies they brought from New York. They drove down the Coast highway and found Peraliya.
Alison has been in Peraliya since early January, and it is beginning to take a toll. She cries often during the day and worries that this is a sign she needs to take a break. But she feels she can't leave, there is still so much to do. As we talked Alison took us on a walk back to the lagoon and the river. Three months after the tsunami the signs of broken lives and death are all over this area. A white wedding dress on a hanger is laid out in one part of the lagoon. Suitcases and briefcases, belonging to both the villagers and the passengers on the tsunami-wrecked Queen of the Sea train, lay bent and broken open along the edges of the lagoon and sometimes partly submerged in it. Children's clothing and toys were tangled up in tree roots, as are notebooks with washed-out writing. In the middle of all this—in between the debris, the tree roots, and the swamp grass—every now and then bodies still surface.
"There was a 20-foot wave that came through this village and it went three miles inland. Even to this day I got 67 bodies this week, and there are still thousands in there. It's just too much to do, and the police have just given up on it. Once a day someone comes with a bagged body—they think I'm the body lady and they bring a tooth or a mouth or a leg or something.
"There are about 2,500 bodies buried on the beach across the street. They were deteriorating so fast and smelling and just totally unrecognizable so they had to bury them quick. The spot they chose is right in front of the beach and it's only about two feet deep and there are 2,500 bodies. And there are about 60 bodies over there at that spot. It's just too shallow. A few months ago Interpol came through, the Germans and the British, and they dug all the bodies up with bulldozers, looking for Europeans, to identify them. This is a very Buddhist area and it is disrespectful to dig up bodies again, and people were all very upset.
"We are just wondering what is going to happen to the bodies. They actually have to be moved to another spot. But if they are gonna do it, they better do it quick because they only have a few weeks. That ocean is going to come through there, and that can lead to a whole bag of other problems—disease and contaminated water."
Back inside the village clinic, Alison set about closing down shop for the day. All along one of the makeshift walls the staff had hung a series of children's crayon drawings about the tsunami. They were incredibly moving and impossible to look at without tearing up.
Alison sighed as she talked about one of the hardest things she had to do that day. "A lady came to me and she was crying and crying. She was a lovely lady, and she lost her daughter. She came to me and said that she knows that I have seen all the bodies and that I have been walking back there and finding bodies. She said that she had seen thousands and she said she saw everybody looking for her daughter. She asked if I remembered one with a denim skirt and she described what the child was wearing. What do you say? I tried to reassure her and told her to think that maybe that day a beautiful dolphin took her daughter away and now she's in a beautiful place. But she is obsessed with trying to find the body. And I understand that cuz I was at the World Trade Center when it came down and I collected about 67 bags of bodies and body parts. I went through a year working down there and all the relatives were trying to find their relatives and sometimes they would only find a finger. One day we found a heart sitting on a piece of metal, somebody's heart. And people were so happy just to get one little thing back, just for closure. But I don't remember...when I find the bodies these days, even though the organs are all still intact, the skull is unrecognizable. So I can't tell if it's her daughter or not out there. What do you say to them?"
Alison's question haunted me for quite some time. It was a question that would be asked time and time again as we pulled out of Galle and made our way east and north—to Ampara, Batticaloa, and Trincomalee—the places hardest hit by the tsunami.
by Mao Tsetung
Revolution #3, May 22, 2005, posted at revcom.us
This poem was written by Mao Tsetung in May 1965, shortly before start of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. Chingkangshan is the mountain where the first revolutionary base area in China was established under Mao's leadership in 1927.
I have long aspired to reach for the clouds.
Again I come from afar
To climb Chingkangshan, our old haunt.
Past scenes are transformed.
Orioles sing, swallows swirl,
Streams purl everywhere
And the road mounts skyward.
Once Huangyangchieh is passed
No other perilous place calls for a glance.
Wind and thunder are stirring.
Flags and banners are flying
Wherever men live.
Thirty-eight years are fled
With a mere snap of the fingers.
We can clasp the moon in the Ninth Heaven
And seize turtles deep down in the Five Seas:
We'll return amid triumphant song and laughter.
Nothing is hard in this world
If you dare to scale the heights.
From Setting the Record Straight
Revolution #3, May 22, 2005, posted at revcom.us
The following is taken from "The Truth about the Cultural Revolution" by the Set the Record Straight Project (See RW #1251 for the full article)
The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution of 1966-1976 was a mass revolutionary upsurge involving hundreds of millions of people. It was a kind of "revolution within the revolution."
In 1949, China's worker-peasant revolution overthrew the old order. The revolution established a socialist political and economic system that empowered the masses and brought great benefits to people. But significant economic differences and social inequalities still existed in the new socialist society. Most dangerously, a new privileged elite had emerged. Its political-organizational center was right within the Chinese Communist Party, and its political and ideological influence was growing.
By the mid-1960s, the top capitalist-roaders (so called because they were high-ranking Party leaders who used a watered-down Marxism to justify taking China down a political-economic road that would lead to the restoration of capitalism) were maneuvering to seize power. Their goal was to re-institute systems of exploitation and to open China back up to foreign domination—in short, to turn China into the "sweatshop paradise" that it is today!
Far from being a "palace power struggle," the Cultural Revolution was a profound and intense struggle over the direction of society and over who would rule society: the working people or a new bourgeois class.
Mao and the revolutionary forces in the Communist Party mobilized people to rise up to prevent capitalist takeover and to shake up the higher levels of the Party that had become increasingly cast in a bourgeois-bureaucratic mold. But the Cultural Revolution was much more than that. The masses were carrying forward the revolutionary transformation of the economy, social institutions, culture, and values and were revolutionizing the Communist Party itself. This is what Mao called continuing the revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat.
The Cultural Revolution was not about "round-ups," people being sent to "forced-labor camps," or "totalitarian group-think." The methods of the Cultural Revolution were quite different. Workers, peasants, and people from all walks of life engaged in mass criticism of corrupt officialdom. They engaged in great debates about economic policy, the educational system, culture, and the relation between the Communist Party and the masses of people. Mao wasn't interested in "purges." He was calling for mass action from below to defeat the enemies of the revolution.
Mao called on the masses to "bombard the headquarters" and overthrow the handful of capitalist- roaders who were trying to lead society back into the clutches of capitalism. These were overwhelmingly political up— risings. Mass debate, mass criticism , and mass political mobilization —these were the main forms of class struggle during the Cultural Revolution. Party and administrative officials at all levels were given the opportunity to reform and participate in the struggle.
Artists were encouraged to engage in the revolutionary movement. This included carrying out self-examination of how their works either advanced the revolution or held it back, and viewing their work in the context of the struggle to create a new society. The Cultural Revolution was aiming to foster revolutionary art that would portray the masses and help the masses propel history forward.
One of the objectives of the Cultural Revolution was to break down the cultural lopsidedness that existed in China. It was a social situation in which artists, intellectuals, and professionals were concentrated in the cities, and in which their work was largely divorced from the greater society, especially the 80% that lived in the countryside at the time. The Cultural Revolution spawned society-wide discussion about the need to narrow the inequalities between mental and manual labor, between city and countryside, between industry and agriculture, and between men and women.
Artists, doctors, technical and scientific workers, and all kinds of educated people were called upon to go among the workers and peasants: to apply their skills to the needs of society, to share the lives of the laboring people, to exchange knowledge, and to learn from the basic people. Great numbers of youth and professionals answered Mao's call to "serve the people" and go to the countryside.
The Cultural Revolution was an historic event without precedent. In a situation in which a socialist system had been established, Mao and the revolutionaries in the Chinese Communist Party mobilized the activism and creativity of the masses to prevent the restoration of the old order and to carry forward the socialist revolution towards communism: the elimination of classes and all oppressive relations. History has never seen a mass movement and struggle of such scale and guided by such revolutionary politics and consciousness. History has never seen so radical an attempt to transform economic relations, political and social institutions, and culture, habit, and ideas.
Were there mistakes and shortcomings in the Cultural Revolution? Yes, even some serious ones. But viewed in the context of its enormous achievements, and certainly set against the horrors of capitalist society, these are secondary.
But the communist revolution cannot stand still. It has to critically learn from its experience, not fear to interrogate itself, and advance further and do better. Bob Avakian has been providing the pathbreaking Marxist- Leninist-Maoist understanding to do just that.
Bob Avakian has been bringing forward a vibrant vision of socialism and communism. He has been enlarging the understanding of the tasks and contradictions of revolutionary leadership and how the masses can be unleashed to rule and transform society. He has been speaking to the indispensable role that dissent plays in socialist society, especially in contributing to the critical spirit that must permeate all of society. And he has drawn attention to the importance of the intellectual and cultural spheres under socialism and that socialist society needs—and must foster— great intellectual ferment, creativity, and experimentation.
The rulers constantly bombard us with the message that "communism is dead," that it hasn't worked and cannot work, and that revolutions in power lead to tyranny. One aspect of their ideological crusade is to systematically distort the revolutionary experiences of the Soviet Union and China, especially the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. And the lies and slanders they put out often have the veneer of factuality.
The RCP has initiated a project to Set the Record Straight . Its aim is to bring out the truth of these revolutions—their great achievements and victories, along with their mistakes and shortcomings—and to bring forward the works and insights of Bob Avakian in summing up these experiences and pointing to lessons for humanity today. The campaign will focus on colleges and universities. We invite all who are interested to take part.
Shanghai January Storm
Revolution #3, May 22, 2005, posted at revcom.us
Zhang Chunqiao was born in Anhui Province, in East China, and began his revolutionary activities in the 1930s. As a young man, Zhang Chunqiao was most active in the literary field as part of the underground party in Shanghai.
After the liberation of Shanghai in 1949, Zhang Chunqiao became part of the administration of the party and the city. For years he was Deputy Secretary of the Municipal Party Committee and Deputy Minister of Propaganda. He was also one of the heads of the Shanghai Committee for Friendly Relations with Foreign Countries and met with guests from around the world.
When the mayor of Shanghai, a supporter of Mao, died in 1965, Zhang Chunqiao was shoved aside and actually demoted by powerful forces who opposed Mao's line of building socialism.
In 1965, an article criticizing a play that attacked Mao by allegory served as the opening shot of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. Zhang Chunqiao, as director of the Propaganda Department, made it possible for this to be published in two newspapers in Shanghai. Mao made Zhang a Deputy Leader in the Cultural Revolution Group—the national body responsible for leading the Cultural Revolution. And this put Zhang in direct opposition to the leaders running the Party and the government in Shanghai who opposed Mao's revolutionary line.
The top party leadership in Shanghai were revisionists—who upheld the revolution in words but were doing everything they could to betray the revolution and bring back capitalism. They tried to sabotage and block the actions of young Red Guards who were sent from Beijing to carrying out the Cultural Revolution. Under Zhang's leadership, rebel youth and workers organized to "seize power back from those in authority taking the capitalist road." This became a model for the whole country, known as the January Storm.
Zhang Chunqiao described the intense debate and struggle that was unleashed: "We used to hold joint discussions. We would ask the rebels to come to our meeting to discuss each problem. One day 40 organizations might be represented and the next day a hundred. Nobody knew anyone else. Although we were very busy and often in a state of chaos, we felt that this sort of thing was liable to happen in a revolution and this was the way to get problems solved. It would have been wrong to be too hasty."
The struggle drew thousands of people into a huge debate over the aims of socialist society and the danger of forces right inside the Party and government using their power to restore capitalism. Young Red Guards initiated much of this struggle and thousands of workers joined in.
Zhang Chunqiao later became a member of the political bureau of the Communist Party. In 1975, he was appointed vice premier of the government and director of the political department of the People's Liberation Army.
Zhang Chunqiao's crucial role in the Cultural Revolution is highlighted by the famous November 1966 "Anting incident," which led up to the 1967 January Storm.
The Cultural Revolution and the struggle against "those in authority taking the capitalist road" involved the broad masses of people in Shanghai. Representatives of many factories and colleges formed a broad alliance of rebel organizations. They went out all over the city, explaining their stand, rebutting false charges, and calling on the masses in posters, meetings, and demonstrations to resist the revisionist leaders and sweep them from power.
The Shanghai party authorities tried to keep the workers out of the struggle, particularly by distorting the revolutionary slogan, "grasp revolution, promote production," emphasizing only the second part. The workers were told that they must "obey this slogan"—by not leaving their jobs to join the demonstrations. Despite such efforts, a Shanghai-wide organization of rebel workers was formed. It first functioned underground and then in early November declared its existence with an inaugural rally of tens of thousands of workers from the city's 800 factories. This was the birth of the Shanghai Workers Rebel Headquarters.
Before the rally the rebel workers sent a delegation to the city authorities. They wanted the Party Committee to officially recognize their new organization, and they demanded that the Mayor come to the rally to hear criticisms from the people. These and other demands were rejected and instead the revisionists issued instructions that "those loyal to the party will not participate or support the Workers Revolutionary Rebel Headquarters." Spies were sent into the crowd, the platform was bugged, and provocateurs tried to break up the rally.
The rally of students, cadres, peasants, and workers lasted seven hours. Then the crowd marched to the city Party Committee, where they demanded to see the mayor. When the mayor refused to come out, the rebels decided to go to Beijing to present their case directly to Mao Tsetung.
2,500 Workers Headquarters members converged at the Shanghai railway station and took over a Beijing-bound train. Another group of rebels set off to walk the 900 miles to Beijing!
When the Shanghai party leaders ordered the train stopped at Anting, about 20 miles north of the city, those who had set out on foot joined those on the train.
The Shanghai party leaders sent relatives to urge the rebels to go home. But many of these relatives were won over to support the rebellion and workers from nearby factories and farm communes brought food and water to the rebel workers. The party and city officials called on the workers to return to their jobs—once again mis-using the revolutionary slogan "grasp revolution, promote production" to argue that the workers should go back to work. They said the workers could participate in the revolution—after working hours. But 1,000 workers said they would not leave until their demands were met and occupied the train for the next three days.
It was at this point that the Central Cultural Revolution Group (CCRG) in Beijing intervened. Zhang Chunqiao from the CCRG went to Anting, and during a nine-hour meeting, he listened to the rebels' demands and discussed with them the complex question of how to handle the contradiction between "grasping revolution" and "promoting production" in the course of waging the class struggle. Zhang assured the workers that they had support from Mao and top party leaders in Beijing and convinced them to return to Shanghai—to continue the struggle there.
Then, in a rather "in your face" move, Zhang Chunqiao held a mass meeting in Shanghai with the workers who had returned from Anting and formally signed their demands. Zhang said that Mao and the party's Central Committee knew about the situation in Shanghai, that the CCRG recognized the Workers Headquarters as a revolutionary organization, and that the Standing Committee of the Central Committee had confirmed this decision. Such news was immediately spread far and wide by the rebels as wall posters and leaflets by the thousands declared and greeted this important support from Beijing.
The Mayor of Shanghai, who opposed Mao's line, was enraged and, upon hearing that Zhang had signed the workers' demands, remarked: "Zhang Chunqiao signs and catches us all with our pants down"! Attacks against Zhang's leadership intensified—he received threats on his life, his house was broken into, and rebels under his leadership were physically attacked.
In fact, Zhang's support of the rebel workers, given that he was considered a direct emissary from Mao, shattered the credibility of the mayor and his Party Committee and played an extremely important role in creating public opinion in favor of the rebel workers. And Mao himself openly and specifically approved the "Shanghai January Storm" and called upon his supporters all over the country to emulate this action wherever it was needed, to prevent the restoration of capitalism and push forward the building of socialism.
Revolution #3, May 22, 2005, posted at revcom.us
As early as 1920, Lenin, basing himself on practical experience in leading the Great October Socialist Revolution and directing the first state of proletarian dictatorship, pointed out sharply, "The dictatorship of the proletariat is a most determined and most ruthless war waged by the new class against amore powerful enemy, the bourgeoisie, whose resistance is increased tenfold by its overthrow (even if only in one country), and whose power lies not only in the strength of international capital, in the strength and durability of the international connections of the bourgeoisie, but also in theforce of habit , in the strength ofsmall production . For unfortunately, small production is still very, very widespread in the world, and small production engenders capitalism and the bourgeoisie continuously, daily, hourly, spontaneously, and on a mass scale. For all these reasons the dictatorship of the proletariat is essential."Lenin pointed out that the dictatorship of the proletariat is a persistent struggle—bloody and bloodless, violent and peaceful, military and economic, educational and administrative—against the forces and traditions of the old society, that it means all-round dictatorship over the bourgeoisie. Lenin stressed time and again that it is impossible to triumph over the bourgeoisie without exercising a protracted, all-round dictatorship over it. These words of Lenin's, especially those he underscored, have been confirmed by practice in subsequent years. Sure enough, new bourgeois elements have been engendered batch after batch, and it is precisely the Khrushchev-Brezhnev renegade clique that is their representative. These people generally have a good class background; almost all of them were brought up under the red flag; they have joined the Communist Party organizationally, received college training and become so-called red experts. However, they are new poisonous weeds engendered by the old soil of capitalism. They have betrayed their own class, usurped Party and state power, restored capitalism, become chieftains of the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie over the proletariat, and accomplished what Hitler had tried to do but failed. Never should we forget this experience of history in which "the satellites went up to the sky while the red flag fell to the ground," especially not at this time when we are determined to build a powerful country.
We must be soberly aware that there is still a danger of China turning revisionist. This is not only because imperialism and social-imperialism will never give up aggression and subversion against us, not only because China's old landlords and capitalists are still around and unreconciled to their defeat, but also because new bourgeois elements are being engendered daily and hourly, as Lenin put it. Some comrades argue that Lenin was referring to the situation before collectivization. This is obviously incorrect: Lenin's remarks are not out of date at all. These comrades may look up Chairman Mao's On the Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People published in 1957. There Chairman Mao shows by concrete analysis that after the basic victory in the socialist transformation of the system of ownership, which includes the achievement of agricultural co-operation, there still exist in China classes, class contradictions and class struggle, and there still exist both harmony and contradiction between the relations of production and the productive forces and between the superstructure and the economic base. Having summed up the new experience of the dictatorship of the proletariat after Lenin, Chairman Mao gave systematic answers to various questions arising after the change in the system of ownership, set forth the tasks and policies of the dictatorship of the proletariat, and laid the theoretical basis for the Party's basic line and for continuing the revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat. Practice in the past 18 years, particularly in the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, has proved that the theory, line and policies advanced by Chairman Mao are entirely correct.
Historical experience shows us that whether the proletariat can triumph over the bourgeoisie and whether China will turn revisionist hinges on whether we can persevere in exercising all-round dictatorship over the bourgeoisie in all spheres and at all stages of development of the revolution. What is all-around dictatorship over the bourgeoisie? The most succinct generalization is found in a passage from a letter Marx wrote in 1852 to J. Weydemeyer, which we are all studying. Marx said, "...no credit is due to me for discovering the existence of classes in modern society, nor yet the struggle between them, Long before me bourgeois historians had described the historical development of this struggle of the classes, and bourgeois economists the economic anatomy of the classes. What I did that was new was to prove: 1) that the existence of classes is only bound up withparticular historical phases in the development of production ; 2) that the class struggle necessarily leads to thedictatorship of the proletariat ; 3) that this dictatorship itself only constitutes the transition to the abolition of all classes and to aclassless society ."In this splendid observation, Lenin said, Marx succeeded in expressing with striking clarity the chief and radical difference between his theory on the state and that of the bourgeoisie, and the essence of his teaching on the state. Here it should be noted that Marx divided the sentence on the dictatorship of the proletariat into three points, which are interrelated and cannot be cut apart. It is impermissible to accept only one of the three points while rejecting the other two. For the sentence gives complete expression to the entire process of the inception, development and withering away of the dictatorship of the proletariat and covers the whole task of the dictatorship of the proletariat and its actual content. In The Class Struggles in France, 1848-1850, Marx deals in more specific terms with this dictatorship of the proletariat as the necessary transit point to the abolition of class distinctions generally , to the abolition of all the relations of production on which they rest, to the abolition of all the social relations that correspond to these relations of production, and to the revolutionizing of all the ideas that result from these social relations. In all the four cases, Marx means all . Not a part, a greater part, or even the greatest part, but all! This is nothing surprising, for only by emancipating all mankind can the proletariat achieve its own final emancipation. The only way to attain this goal is to exercise all-round dictatorship over the bourgeoisie and carry the continued revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat through to the end, until the above-mentioned four alls are banished from the earth so that it will be impossible for the bourgeoisie and all other exploiting classes to exist or for new ones to arise; we definitely must not call a halt along the path of the transition . In our view, only those who understand the matter this way can be deemed to have grasped the essence of Marx's teaching on the state. Comrades, please think it over: If the matter is not understood in this way, if Marxism is limited, curtailed and distorted in theory and practice, if the dictatorship of the proletariat is turned into an empty phrase, or all-round dictatorship over the bourgeoisie is crippled by amputation and exercised only in some spheres but not in all, or only at a certain stage (for instance, before the transformation of the system of ownership) but not at all stages, or in other words, if not all of the "fortified villages" of the bourgeoisie are destroyed but some are left, allowing the bourgeoisie to expand again, doesn't this mean preparing the conditions for bourgeois restoration? Doesn't it mean turning the dictatorship of the proletariat into a thing that protects the bourgeoisie, particularly the newly engendered bourgeoisie? All workers, all poor and lower-middle peasants and other working people who refuse to be plunged back into suffering and woe, all communists who have dedicated their lives to the struggle for communism, and all comrades who do not want China to turn revisionist, must firmly bear in mind this basic principle of Marxism: It is imperative to exercise all-round dictatorship over the bourgeoisie, and absolutely impermissible to give it up half-way. There are undeniably some comrades among us who have joined the Communist Party organizationally but not ideologically. In their world outlook they have not yet over-stepped the bounds of small production and of the bourgeoisie. They do approve of the dictatorship of the proletariat at a certain stage and within a certain sphere and are pleased with certain victories of the proletariat, because they will bring them some gains; once they secured their gains, they feel it's time to settle down and feather their cozy nests. As for exercising all-round dictatorship over the bourgeoisie, as for going on after the first step on the 10,000 li long march, sorry, let others do the job; here is my stop and I must get off the bus. We would like to offer a piece of advice to these comrades: it's dangerous to stop half-way! The bourgeoisie is beckoning to you. Catch up with the ranks and continue to advance!
by Osage Bell
Revolution #3, May 22, 2005, posted at revcom.us
Right now, a very important case is in front of the Supreme Court that could determine whether or not journalists can be jailed for not revealing their sources.
Two journalists, Judith Miller from the New York Times and Matthew Cooper of Time magazine, are facing up to 18 months in jail for refusing to testify before a grand jury as part of an investigation into who divulged the name of a covert CIA officer. Disclosure of an undercover intelligence officer's identity can be a federal crime.
The ability of a journalist in this society to guarantee someone confidentiality, promising to keep their identity safe, is integral to being able to tell the truth while not endangering someone's job, or even their life. This is, after all, America, where people do face recrimination for telling the truth.
This case involves the question of whether or not journalists will be able to write scathing, exposure-laden pieces about, say, the Bush administration, while protecting the sources who give them the dirt.
Remember back when the President of the United States went on TV in front of a global audience and knowingly lied that "Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa"?
Well, according to the New Yorker magazine, about a year before his speech, the CIA had sent retired Foreign Service Officer Joseph C. Wilson to Niger to assess the reliability of the uranium rumor. Wilson had served Bush Senior as charge d'affaires in Baghdad and as Ambassador to Gabon, and President Clinton as the National Security Council's Africa specialist.
What Wilson found out cast serious doubt on the "truth" of the rumor.
Then, after the United States went to war, Wilson wrote a bold op-ed piece for the New York Times , concluding that "some of the intelligence related to Iraq's nuclear weapons program was twisted to exaggerate the Iraqi threat."
Shortly after this piece was published, columnist Robert Novak, who cited unidentified senior Bush administration officials, outed Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, as a covert CIA officer. Novak was apparently trying to discredit Wilson. It is widely believed that this "outing" was a move by Bush operatives to punish Wilson for discrediting the administration.
Then Cooper, Time 's White House correspondent, wrote that "some government officials have noted to Time in interviews (as well as to syndicated columnist Robert Novak) that Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, is a CIA official who monitors the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction."
The irony here is that Novak has not been charged while Cooper has. And Miller, who never wrote a piece on all this, has also been charged. A federal judge held the reporters in contempt last fall, and an appeals court rejected their argument that the First Amendment shielded them from revealing their sources.
Most recently, the full federal appeals court in Washington declined to reconsider a unanimous decision of a three-judge panel of the court who sided against the journalists. This leaves the journalists with one final appeal.
It is now up to the Supreme Court to decide to hear the case.
Chicago U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald, who was appointed special prosecutor to determine whether a government official knowingly leaked Plame's name, has outraged the media and press advocates by aggressively seeking testimony from reporters. He has subpoenaed everyone from Cooper and Miller to President Bush himself.
Cooper and Miller, citing common law, and what they saw as the First Amendment privilege of confidentiality, declined to name their sources. A federal judge found them in contempt and ordered that they be imprisoned for up to eighteen months, a directive that has since been upheld twice.
Now all that stands between jail and the two reporters is the Supreme Court, or a sudden bout of prosecutorial discretion.
Reporters Without Borders, an organization which fights against political suppression of reporters around the world, has said, "Sending these two reporters to prison because they refused to name their contacts is both a serious infringement on the practice of the journalistic profession and a violation of press freedom. It is imperative that the supreme court should accept the case and recognize the right of journalists to protect the identity of their sources, without which they cannot work."
Apparently, while most of the states recognize this right of journalists, there is no federal law protecting it.
Another irony here is that Judith Miller defended the Iraq war up and down, eagerly promoting on the front page of the New York Times the lie that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. She has been a relentless cheerleader for what Bush has been doing around the world. But even that hasn't saved her from being eaten up.
Some readers—who have been furious over the lies perpetrated by journalists like Miller—might say it's just a case of chickens coming home to roost for Judith.
But being a broad-minded communist girl, I think we should demand that the government back off this legal lynching of these journalists.
Think about Watergate, the torture at Abu Ghraib, etc., etc. One has to wonder if these stories ever would have been told if journalists didn't have the right to not name names.
In the last few decades, the media has played less and less this investigative/exposing role. Further reducing a journalist's ability to get secret information, or speak to "people-in-the-know" without exposing them, will only buttress those who want to silence the media even more. And this will affect all the media—from mainstream to independent.
Considering how the Bush administration is infamous for being the most secretive in history, and their accelerating rampage on the world, the potential damage of a ruling against these two journalists is quite immeasurable. One can imagine the immensity of crimes that would go unreported and hidden. So many already do now.
After all, this whole thing started when the President of the United States was caught lying—big time—leading to the deaths of more than 100,000 people in Iraq and turning hundreds of thousands of U.S. soldiers into murderers and occupiers—and he has not been charged with anything!
by Luciente Zamora
Revolution #3, May 22, 2005, posted at revcom.us
Throughout the entire month of April, several hundred retired border patrol agents, ex-Marines, former corrections officers, neo-Nazis, white separatists, and others answered a call from the "Minuteman Project" to protect the "homeland" from "the invasion of illegal aliens." The Minutemen vigilantes patrolled a 23-mile stretch of the Arizona/Mexico border.
In the week after the month-long Minuteman Project ended, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger commended these vigilantes on a right-wing radio station, KFI AM. He said, "I think they've done a terrific job... They've cut down the crossing of illegal immigrants a huge percentage. So it just shows that it works when you go and make an effort and when you work hard. It's a doable thing."
What does it say about the times we are living in when the governor of the largest state in the U.S. (and a state with a huge immigrant population) openly praises vigilantes who hunt down immigrants and says that these Minutemen—many of whom are neo-Nazis and white separatists—are "exemplary citizens"? Isn't it similar to how Hitler praised his stormtroopers for beating and murdering Jewish people?
Schwarzenegger also condemned human rights groups who set up water stations in the desert to help immigrants crossing the dangerous terrain. He said, "What we're doing basically is, by not really securing the borders, we're saying: `Look, here are the various water stations. Here are the places where you can cross the borders. Here is where we're going to help you.' The whole system is set up to really invite people to come in here illegally, and that has to stop."
Again, this is reminiscent of Nazi Germany, when Hitler persecuted those who helped the Jews. Schwarzenegger not only reveals his cruel inhumanity—he is also setting these people up as targets for legal action as well as targets of the vigilantes.
What kind of a depraved monster would say such things about immigrants who are desperately trying to cross the border in search of means of livelihood, and people who are trying to do what they can to help prevent poor people from losing their lives? Schwarzenegger's cold-blooded words stem from the outlook of the class he represents. To him and those who rule this society, undocumented immigrants and people who try to help them are "criminals"—while vigilantes and Migra agents who hunt down the immigrants are "heroes."
Schwarzenegger's support of the Minutemen is another indication that these human hunters are getting backing from powerful sections of the ruling class. Colorado Republican Congressman Tom Tancredo recently invited Jim Gilchrist and Chris Simcox—founders of the Minuteman Project—to Washington, DC, to attend a Congressional "Immigration Reform Caucus," which hailed the Project as a success.
Simcox and Gilchrist have said that the response to the Minuteman Project has been so great that they are planning to embark upon a national fundraising campaign to spread Minuteman chapters across the country—especially border states like Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, and California—to patrol the border and to protest businesses that hire undocumented workers.
Immigrants have been under attack and even killed at the hands of vigilantes and ranchers along the border for years. But there is a new momentum to what Simcox described as "a civil defense type movement in the absence of a government which can meet the basic needs of citizens"—in other words, a fascist "grassroots" movement.
In California, the Border Watch—a project launched by a group calling itself the Friends of the Border Patrol—is organizing on a "grassroots" level to patrol the San Diego/Mexico border this summer. Border Watch is signing up police officers, ex-military personnel, Minutemen, and other vigilante forces. They are also trying to enlist volunteer pilots to patrol from the air. They are set to begin training sessions this June and plan to dispatch patrols in August to the mountainous and beach regions in San Diego.
The group is headed by Andy Ramirez, the former executive director of the Save Our State initiative (S.O.S.). In 1994 S.O.S. put Proposition 187—a measure making it illegal to provide undocumented immigrants education, health services, and other social services—on the California ballot. There was massive opposition to the proposition, which passed but was later overturned in the courts. However, the reactionary movement behind Prop 187 did not go away—in fact, it has gained even more force.
Ramirez, whose grandfather was a Mexican immigrant, says the government is not doing enough to "protect the homeland." He wants the Border Patrol and the U.S. military to basically seal the border—and in the meantime, he says the mission of Friends of the Border Patrol is to get "ordinary citizens" to do the job the government isn't doing.
Ramirez also calls for intensified repression against immigrants beyond the border area: "Let the U.S. Border Patrol and U.S. military patrol our borders, and resume sweeps for those who have illegally entered the U.S."
Travis Morales of the Revolutionary Communist Party, San Francisco Bay Area, points out, "People need to stare at this straight in the face. In Arizona, for several years, the Border Patrol has been cooperating with vigilantes who hunt down immigrants crossing the border to survive. Now this has gone much further with the deployment of the armed Minutemen. The governor of the largest state gives his approval and invites them to patrol the border while Congresspeople promote them as a success.
"While Bush and company are pushing to institute a right-wing Christian fundamentalist theocracy, armed fascists are being unleashed at the border with high-level backing and support as part of the overall fascist program. Sections of the ruling class are politically and organizationally mobilizing armed fascist stormtroopers and training them to go after immigrants and others seen as threats to `national security.'
"These latest moves remind me of what Chairman Avakian discusses in the article `The Coming Civil War and Repolarization for Revolution in the Present Era.' In it he refers to Newt Gingrich talking about how never has the country been so divided as it is now since the 1840s and 1850s in the period before the Civil War. In other places Avakian also discusses Pat Buchanan's worry, coming from a reactionary point of view, that deep cultural and social divisions are tearing the U.S. apart. The Minutemen and other fascist thugs are one part of the solution to this dilemma- -outright brutal suppression of opponents and those seen as problems for the ruling class.
"If the legitimacy of armed fascist thugs is established and they are allowed to hunt and attack immigrant without intense and determined opposition that knocks them back on their heels, this will be further horror heaped upon the millions of immigrants driven from their home countries by U.S. domination. And does anyone think this will stop here? Given the moves toward Christian fascist theocracy, this will be just the beginning. This is not the future. This is now."
These fascist groups need to be hit hard politically. They cannot be allowed to gain the upper hand and establish themselves as the "new normalcy." People need to figure out the ways to take on these American-style stormtroopers.
Think about what happened when Hitler and the Nazis were not stopped. Think about what will happen if the fascist tide we're confronted with today is not stopped.
Revolution #3, May 22, 2005, posted at revcom.us
On May 12, students at Princeton University concluded a 384-hour protest against the "nuclear option"—the elimination of the Senate filibuster being pushed by Senate leader Bill Frist (a member of Princeton's class of 1974) and other Republicans. Taking the form of non-stop speak-outs (or "filibustering"), the protest began on April... and spread to other campuses.
The Princeton students held the mock filibuster for over 350 hours in front of the Frist Campus Center, a campus building funded by Frist and his family—and then carried out the last... hours of the protest in front of the Capitol Reflecting Pool in Washington, D.C., joined by students from Georgetown, Howard, Trinity, George Washington, and American Universities.
Filibusters are a way that small groups of legislators have historically blocked laws that they strongly opposed. Now, a huge fight is brewing over the approval of new judges appointed by Bush. The Republicans are pushing to do away with the filibuster so that any ultra-reactionary monster in robes can get quickly approved without real challenges. This is the opening skirmish of an even bigger fight over the next Supreme Court nominees. Ultimately, this is a fight over what the whole legal framework of the United States will be—and it will have a deep impact on culture and politics in this society.
In a press release on the third day of the filibuster protest, the Princeton students said: "Speakers have continued overnight, despite rain, drunken heckling, and attempts by campus security and Princeton borough police to shut down the protest.
"Protesters have read from biographies of the judicial nominees, poetry (Robert Burns), parts of the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, Princeton's `Rights Rules and Responsibilities' policy, the Princeton University student phonebook through middle of the Bs, several articles and editorials on `Justice Sunday,' some environmental quality articles, children's books, as well as some lighter moments of ad-libbing."
Among the participants in the filibuster protest were various politicians and professors (including Nobel Prize recipients). The students set up a "live blog" of the protest as well as a webcam with a live video stream of people speaking, reading, rapping, and doing their own forms of filibustering. The protest was covered by CNN, MSNBC, the New York Times , the Guardian of London , the AP news wire, and other media.
Students at campuses across the country have followed the example of the Princeton students—including Harvard, Wellesley, Cornell, Dickinson, Boston College, Boston University, Northeastern, Tufts, Yale, Carleton, Howard, U.C. Berkeley, and Stanford. Princeton students say that they plan to continue the protest—starting on May 14, they will be out in front of the Frist Campus Center again for a "cellular filibuster"—urging people to call senators to oppose the elimination of the filibuster. Information about the filibuster protest by Princeton students and others is available online at FilibusterFrist.com.