June 26, 2005
The World Can't Wait
by Sunsara Taylor
Revolution #007, June 26, 2005, posted at revcom.us
Every day I think of Dilawar. I picture his 22-year-old body chained to the ceiling of a U.S. military prison in Bagram, Afghanistan as the seconds stretched on into days until finally he couldn't wait any longer. Neither can we.
As men are blindfolded and dragged from their homes in Iraq, as Arabs and Muslims are rounded up and detained in the U.S. without charges, and as youth from South Central to the South Bronx are imprisoned in record numbers, brutalized by police, and targetted for correction by Laura Bush: the world can't wait.
As villages are emptied of people by AIDS in Africa and China, as families in the ghettos and farmlands of the U.S. lose children in a war based on lies, and as immigrants are hunted by racist vigilantes on the Mexican border: the world can't wait.
As religious fundamentalism threatens to enslave women, treating them like incubators and denying them the right to make the most intimate and profound decisions about whether or not to have a child, as gay couples are denied marriage and their children are harassed, as the rule of law is replaced by religious dogma and the rule of the Bush regime, and as science itself is suppressed at great risk to the planet: the world can't wait.
THE WORLD CAN'T WAIT!
THE PEOPLE NEED TO DRIVE OUT THE BUSH REGIME.
Now I know a lot of readers are thinking 'if only we could.' and I can just see some people shaking their heads and saying 'that communist girl has really gone over the edge this time.' But being a reality-based girl-- who is coming from a scientific place in terms of how we are going to emancipate all of humanity--I have some reality- based ideas on how this could be possible.
And one of the most important things people need to do in order to even imagine the possibility of accomplishing such a monumental task is to break out of the confines of the political-process-as-usual.
Everyone who does not want to live in the "world according to Bush" needs to break out of the dynamic where the terms and the issues and the leaders are defined and limited by various representatives and defenders of this bloodsucking system. And progressive people and oppressed people really need to break out of the confines of the institutions, organizations, and political thinking dominated by the Democratic Party.
Frankly, too many people are suffering from the disease of looking-for-leadership-in-all-the-wrong-places. And as a result, too many people who want to change the world remain locked in a dynamic that stifles their ability to really see a whole different world, squanders their energies, and channels imagination into dead-end paths of conciliation with intolerable injustices.
And it is so very urgent that millions of people break out of the death-grip of all this politics as usual and come together to do something really unprecedented. Millions of people need to un-clip their wings from the Democrats and from the strategies that give backing to their efforts and take independent historic political action .
Together we need to create a whole new dynamic based on acting on principle, telling the truth, doing what's right and actually mounting a real fight to save the future and the planet!
Reality check: More than a million people defied a stifling jingoistic atmosphere, repeatedly and courageously taking the streets against the Iraq war. Yet the debate in the presidential election remained over who could make the best Commander-in-Chief, how the war started, and how to continue the occupation of Iraq. Kerry never once said the simple and obvious fact that millions knew in their hearts: that Bush had lied through his teeth about everything .
Over a million people marched in D.C. in a March for Women's Lives and to defend abortion. Yet the debate in Congress and Senate and among presidential hopefuls remained over how much to restrict abortion and how strongly to condemn it, and not a single voice spoke up to say a world where women are reduced to incubators is intolerable!
82% of the country objected to Congress and the President intruding upon Terri Schiavo's deathbed. Hundreds of towns passed ordinances against the Patriot Act. In over 100 cities people organized protests against the end of the filibuster. And yet both ruling parties came together in Congress to pass a "Palm Sunday Compromise" to intervene around Terri Schiavo, to legitimize torture, and to accept a filibuster "compromise" which paved the way for openly racist judges and judges who want to impose biblical law.
What does this tell us? It is time to wake up to reality. Because the world can't wait.
Some have spoken of a pre-civil-war atmosphere in the U.S. And millions of people are really distressed about how the Democrats are unwilling and incapable of mounting any serious opposition to the Bush regime on anything that matters.
My thinking on this whole situation has been informed by the analysis of Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, and based on a scientific analysis of the world situation, he has made a powerful case for the need and the possibility for the masses of people to wrench a dramatically different future out of this dire situation.
Bob Avakian has analyzed the major changes in the world and transformations in U.S. society that have created a situation where the Republican strategy for how the U.S. empire should dominate the world has a certain edge within ruling class circles. These underlying economic, political and ideological factors in the world--combined with an aggressive, arrogant and relentless drive to impose their agenda-- have led to the situation we face today where the Bush regime has cynically used the events of 9/11 to hammer into place a global reality suited to the interests of their bloodsucking system. And they are on a roll.
So the way I see it, either the people in this country remain locked in a deadly dynamic, while all around us a rising crescendo of Christian fascist foot-soldiers provide chilling glimpses of their nightmarish "new normalcy." Or, people urgently and decisively establish OUR own dynamic based on the understanding that the world can't wait and the people must drive out the Bush regime. a different dynamic based on principles, on seeking the truth, and rallying millions to take independent historical action.
We need to spread a spirit of being " politically at war"--which means a commitment that there is no common ground with intolerable injustices and literal horrors. We need to be building mass protest and upsurge against everything this Bush regime stands for. And we need to develop communities of resistance that can have each other's backs and withstand the counterattacks that are sure to come.
On November 2, when the Bush regime will be strutting and celebrating the anniversary of their re-election and bragging about how they are remaking the world in their image--we need a nationwide outpouring to declare: THE WORLD CAN'T WAIT. We need to send a message to the world--that a new movement of resistance has arrived to DRIVE THE BUSH REGIME FROM POWER.
The world can't wait. We need to start now, building a solid core of people whose real and profound discontent, anxiety, and anger about the whole direction of society and the world trumps their commitment to remaining confined within the existing political framework. I am firmly convinced there are today millions and millions of such people. And on the basis of that solid core, through our creative energies, imaginations, and courage, we need to be constantly expanding and drawing in people from every sphere of society and every part of the country--and saying to millions more: "Come with us. We know where to go and we know how to get there!"
We have a choice to make. The world can't wait. Its time to drive a regime from power.
There Is No "They" - But There is a Definite Direction to Things
by Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party,USA
Revolution #007, June 26, 2005, posted at revcom.us
One thing we should understand: There is no "THEY"--no one single, undivided, "monolithic" group that rules society. That's one thing we really have to understand. There are different "They's" striving and struggling to be THEY--to be the dominant and determining force within the ruling class, and therefore within society. But there is no one "THEY."
This is not Moon Over Parador --and even there the Dreyfuss character got out of hand. Remember the Richard Dreyfuss movie, Moon Over Parador , where his character was an actor doing a movie in a (fictional) Latin American country, and then he was brought in to imitate the dictator after the dictator had actually died. There were a tiny number of aristocratic families, of the Latin American oligarchy model, and they were running him-- directing and controlling him in this role as dictator--and then he got off the leash at a certain point. That, of course, is an unrealistic scenario. After all, it's a movie, it's not real life--and in the real world there is not a single "THEY" sitting there deciding everything. Sometimes, some people, among those who recognize that there are financial interests that exercise a powerful role in society, can be very narrow and economist in their analysis (making a connection, too directly and mechanically, between powerful financial and economic interests, on the one hand, and political decision-making on the other hand). And we have fallen into errors like that at times ourselves. Sometimes it happens that things that are not most beneficial, economically, for the most powerful business interests get done by the government anyway--because, in the judgment of those who are making political decisions, those things are in the best interests of the system they serve (however they conceive of that system and those interests). There is a system that is operating--a system whose fundamental, underlying dynamics set the ultimate framework and terms for political decision-making--but it is not a "one-to-one" thing between business and financial interests, on the one hand, and political decision-making, on the other hand. There is not a single, uniform "business class" deciding all this on the basis of its uniform business interests--there is not a THEY--there are political operatives who operate with relative autonomy. George Soros (whose assets are in the billions) is as big as "They" get, but there are a lot of different "THEYs." Soros put a lot of money into the election- -backing Kerry, trying to deny Bush a "mandate" with a second term--yet Soros couldn't prevail.
You have to think in dynamic terms, even with regard to what goes on in the ruling structures and ruling circles. Yes, there is a ruling class. A ruling class is like a solid core--it has a lot of dynamism within it. It's not a monolith, and that's especially true these days. We have to really, in our conception, not fall into thinking in crude terms of some kind of "THEY." Sometimes descriptions like that have a certain usefulness, as a kind of shorthand, but this is like a lot of "shorthands" in science and other things--it can also lead you into the wrong kind of thinking. There's not one "THEY" sitting there doling out power to various people. Yes, I have made the analogy that when you run for office it's like auditioning--auditioning for the ruling class, which holds the ultimate decision-making power--but that is a dynamic thing. It's not literally that you have something like the Fox American Idol panel that sits there, going "thumbs up" or "thumbs down" for the different candidates. It's much more dynamic than that. We can describe things metaphorically to help people understand important aspects of reality, but we shouldn't vulgarize it to them--and we shouldn't vulgarize it to ourselves. We should enable people to understand--and we ourselves must understand--the complexity of this.
There is right now a certain dynamic in terms of the politics and the contradictions within the ruling class, and how that relates to the direction of society (and, to a very significant degree, the world) as a whole. This can be changed by what happens internationally--it could be changed by things that aren't under the control of the imperialists. The author (a long-time CIA operative) who wrote the book Imperial Hubris , he argues that it's inevitable that there will be another attack like September 11--and quite possibly an attack with weapons of mass destruction. What do you think that would do to the dynamics inside the U.S?
That brings me to a key point in relation to all this: We are not, we must not be, passive in the face of this whole situation. We must work to bring about a radical change in the political terrain. This current dynamic is not good for us, not good for the revolutionary proletariat, not good for the oppressed people, not good for the masses of people, within the U.S. and throughout the world. And, if it continues on the trajectory it is on, it will get worse--and then, if the same kind of reactionary religious forces who were involved in the September 11 attacks launch another attack on the U.S., and especially if that attack is even more devastating, things will go to a whole other level, will be in a whole different ballpark. And, yes, things like this could lead to a situation where the imperialist rulers of the U.S. suffer a very serious setback as a result of being overextended internationally--but, if that occurs in a situation where the current dynamic has gone ahead on the trajectory it is now on, all this will most likely lead to a far worse situation than exists now. So, again, this emphasizes the great importance of working urgently to mobilize masses of people in political struggle to make leaps in radically transforming the political situation, the political terrain and the political terms, in a more positive direction.
Once Hitler consolidated power, it took a whole world war to bring him down, and then he was not brought down by any internal dynamics and struggle from within German society itself (even though there were assassination attempts against him by people in the German ruling class, after a certain point in World War 2, when things started going badly for Germany). Well, we don't want to be determinist and sit around and wait for something like that--you know what the next world war is going to be like if it comes. Who knows who is going to survive, if anybody does. There is still that question. There is not the Soviet Union anymore, but you can have weapons of mass destruction flying around without the Soviet Union, I'm sorry to say. I'm pointing to something that I think is a real, and very dangerous, dynamic here. But it can change--and, we must recognize, it can change to be even worse than it is now. Left to itself, it almost certainly will change in that way, in one form or another.
And so, we have to get in there and change this. There is a dynamic at play which holds not only very negative and extremely dangerous possibilities but also potentially positive and favorable elements, and we have to seize on this and work on this to transform it into something entirely different. Right now, the positive side--that is, the opposition of various kinds to what is represented by the whole Bush agenda, for short--is just about entirely in the framework of bourgeois democracy. And the interests of the masses of people, in the U.S. and throughout the world, are not going to prevail if things stay in that framework, if the positive side of the polarization is largely left at that and defined by that. There will be many elements of that kind of opposition--resistance that has not yet broken out of the framework of bourgeois democracy, fundamentally--if things are repolarized to a more favorable configuration. And this will be true, in a certain sense, even if things are repolarized all the way to a revolutionary situation. But if things are left as they are now, politically, with the polarization essentially being what is represented by Bush, on one side, and simply bourgeois-democratic opposition (of various kinds) on the other side, good things are not going to result, and the real interests of the masses of people are not going to win out.
There are many people who are being forced to confront the world they're being dragged into as a result of the current dynamic--they're staring it in the face now. And what the dominant core of the ruling class (grouped around Bush, in basic terms) is aiming for is a reforging of a consensus that is definitely different than what Clinton was aiming to do. In the aftermath of the Cold War, with the collapse of the Soviet Union and its empire, Clinton was aiming to recast things in the U.S. within an essentially secular bourgeois-democratic framework. Even though he was making more concessions to religion, even to religious fundamentalism, he was still operating within a secular bourgeois-democratic framework, a "post-Enlightenment" secular bourgeois-democratic framework. And that is being opposed by a whole other framework, which is not yet completely dominant and consolidated as the ruling class framework--as the form in which things are being run, to put it simply. But it has got a lot of initiative, and it is a monster that can never be fully fed--and is not going to stay on its leash if it's not fed. So there you go. That doesn't mean this fascist, and in particular Christian Fascist, framework, and the forces determined to impose that framework, are bound to win out, even if we do nothing. But there is a definite dynamic at play which is very heavy.
We really have to recognize that there is a kind of a conjuncture here--a coming together and heightening of major contradictions--but at the same time this is not static and frozen and divorced from larger forces in the world. It is not bound to remain as it is, it almost certainly won't remain exactly as it is now--in fact, we can say with a great deal of certainty that it won't remain exactly as it is now. But things are posing themselves a certain way--there is a definite dynamic at play--and this is not a matter of that famous (or infamous) notion of the "political pendulum" that will somehow "swing back the other way." Things are being taken to extremes, and right now this is in an overwhelmingly negative way. At the same time, once again, there are favorable factors within this. We have to urgently work on those potentially positive elements within this situation and this dynamic--and we have to work on the negative factors, too, and transform them and repolarize things. And then if, or when, there are major turning points in the world, because of what other forces do and how the ruling class of the U.S. responds, the result of all that can be very different than the definitely negative outcome that would occur if this current dynamic is not radically transformed.
We have a tremendous amount of responsibility, politically and ideologically, in this regard. We have to unite and struggle with--and we must not tail--the many progressive people and forces who find themselves still desperately trying to find a solution to all this within the framework of the capitalist system and bourgeois democracy. We have to unite with their sentiments of hatred for what is represented by the current regime in the U.S. and the direction in which it is taking U.S. society, and the world; but we also have to struggle with them and transform the current opposition and resistance into something else, something radically different. And we have to bring forward a powerful, revolutionary movement among the basic masses. That is a decisive element within all this.
We cannot sit around and let this "faith-based" stuff, and all this religious shit that's leading people to act against their own fundamental interests, have free rein. I will have more--a lot more--to say about that, but here my main point is that the polarization that is shaping up now is, in its main aspect, very negative, but it is not all one- sided and static: there are definitely positive, and potentially very positive, elements and factors within all this. This current polarization is part of a very dynamic and volatile mix, and it can change radically, in one direction or another. But, even if this Christian Fascist element ceases to be, at a given time or for a certain period, the major feature within all this, it will never completely disappear, or never cease to be a major feature of the terrain and of the "configuration" within ruling class politics--until there is a revolutionary transformation of society as a whole.
The fundamental question is this: What are going to be the dynamics of all this, and where will they lead? To horrible consequences and more and more negative polarization-- or to a situation where the masses of people are wrenching a different repolarization out of all this, and bringing into being a different dynamic, leading toward a radically different resolution of all this?
That is where we come in--that is the challenge, and the responsibility, we must take up.
Check Revolution online (revcom.us) next week for the next article in this series from Bob Avakian: Not Being Jerry Rubin, Or Even Dimitrov, But Actually Being Communists: THE CHALLENGE OF DEFENDING FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS--FROM A COMMUNIST PERSPECTIVE, AND NO OTHER.
Revolution #007, June 26, 2005, posted at revcom.us
On June 10, the Valencia Street Books in San Francisco's Mission District hosted an event for Bob Avakian's memoir, From Ike to Mao and Beyond: My Journey from Mainstream America to Revolutionary Communist. The event featured readings from the memoir--including by former Oakland City Councilman Wilson Riles, Jr., activist Patricia St. Onge, actor Lucia Marano, and Larry Everest, Revolution correspondent and author of Oil Power and Empire --and a conversation about the book between Insight Press managing editor Quetzal Ceja and Maoist political economist Raymond Lotta.
This event was recorded for broadcast by the cable channel C-SPAN2 for the "Book TV" program. The video of the event is scheduled to be aired in early July--the exact date and time have not been announced yet. To find out when the show will air, call the Viewer Infoline: 765-464-3080, or check online at www.booktv.org/schedule
Not in Our Name
Revolution #007, June 26, 2005, posted at revcom.us
This statement appears on the Not In Our Name web site, nion.us
As George W. Bush is inaugurated for a second term, let it not be said that people in the United States silently acquiesced in the face of this shameful coronation of war, greed, and intolerance. He does not speak for us. He does not represent us. He does not act in our name.
No election, whether fair or fraudulent, can legitimize criminal wars on foreign countries, torture, the wholesale violation of human rights, and the end of science and reason.
In our name, the Bush government justifies the invasion and occupation of Iraq on false pretenses, raining down destruction, horror, and misery, bringing death to more than 100,000 Iraqis. It sends our youth to destroy entire cities for the sake of so-called democratic elections, while intimidating and disenfranchising thousands of African American and other voters at home.
In our name, the Bush government holds in contempt international law and world opinion. It carries out torture and detentions without trial around the world and proposes new assaults on our rights of privacy, speech and assembly at home. It strips the rights of Arabs, Muslims and South Asians in the U.S., denies them legal counsel, stigmatizes and holds them without cause. Thousands have been deported.
As new trial balloons are floated about invasions of Syria, or Iran, or North Korea, about leaving the United Nations, about new "lifetime detention" policies, we say not in our name will we allow further crimes to be committed against nations or individuals deemed to stand in the way of the goal of unquestioned world supremacy.
Could we have imagined a few years ago that core principles such as the separation of church and state, due process, presumption of innocence, freedom of speech, and habeas corpus would be discarded so easily? Now, anyone can be declared an "enemy combatant" without meaningful redress or independent review by a President who is concentrating power in the executive branch. His choice for Attorney General is the legal architect of the torture that has been carried out in Guantánamo, Afghanistan, and Abu Ghraib.
The Bush government seeks to impose a narrow, intolerant, and political form of Christian fundamentalism as government policy. No longer on the margins of power, this extremist movement aims to strip women of their reproductive rights, to stoke hatred of gays and lesbians, and to drive a wedge between spiritual experience and scientific truth. We will not surrender to extremists our right to think. AIDS is not a punishment from God. Global warming is a real danger. Evolution happened. All people must be free to find meaning and sustenance in whatever form of religious or spiritual belief they choose. But religion can never be compulsory. These extremists may claim to make their own reality, but we will not allow them to make ours.
Millions of us worked, talked, marched, poll watched, contributed, voted, and did everything we could to defeat the Bush regime in the last election. This unprecedented effort brought forth new energy, organization, and commitment to struggle for justice. It would be a terrible mistake to let our failure to stop Bush in these ways lead to despair and inaction. On the contrary, this broad mobilization of people committed to a fairer, freer, more peaceful world must move forward. We cannot, we will not, wait until 2008. The fight against the second Bush regime has to start now.
The movement against the war in Vietnam never won a presidential election. But it blocked troop trains, closed induction centers, marched, spoke to people door to door -- and it helped to stop a war. The Civil Rights Movement never tied its star to a presidential candidate; it sat in, freedom rode, fought legal battles, filled jailhouses -- and changed the face of a nation.
We must change the political reality of this country by mobilizing the tens of millions who know in their heads and hearts that the Bush regime's "reality" is nothing but a nightmare for humanity. This will require creativity, mass actions and individual moments of courage. We must come together whenever we can, and we must act alone whenever we have to.
We draw inspiration from the soldiers who have refused to fight in this immoral war. We applaud the librarians who have refused to turn over lists of our reading, the high school students who have demanded to be taught evolution, those who brought to light torture by the U.S. military, and the massive protests that voiced international opposition to the war on Iraq. We affirm ordinary people undertaking extraordinary acts. We pledge to create community to back courageous acts of resistance. We stand with the people throughout the world who fight every day for the right to create their own future.
It is our responsibility to stop the Bush regime from carrying out this disastrous course. We believe history will judge us sharply should we fail to act decisively.
Over 15,000 people have now signed this statement. Among the signers are:
Rabab Ibrahim Abdulhadi [director, Center for Arab American
Studies, U. of Michigan- Dearborn]
James Abourezk [former U.S. Senator]
As`ad AbuKhalil [Cal. State-Stanislaus]
Janet L. Abu-Lughod [prof. emerita, New School]
Michael Avery [president, National Lawyers Guild]
Rosalyn Baxandall [SUNY at Old Westbury]
Medea Benjamin [cofounder of Global Exchange and Code Pink]
Phyllis Bennis [Institute for policy studies]
Larry Bensky [Pacifica radio]
Jessica Blank & Erik Jensen [playwrights, The exonerated ]
William Blum[author of Rogue State]
Blase Bonpane [Director, Office of the Americas]
Wayne C. Booth[Professor emeritus, U. Chicago]
St. Clair Bourne
Yvonne Jacquette Burckhardt
Judith Butler [UC, Berkeley]
Leslie Cagan [national coordinator, United for Peace and Justice]
Kathleen & Henry Chalfant
Ben Chaney [president, James E. Chaney Foundation]
Bell & Paul Chevigny
Ramsey Clark [former U.S. Attorney-General]
Marilyn Clement [Campaign for a National Health Program NOW]
Blanche Wiesen Cook
J. Keay Davidson
Diane di Prima
Carl Dix [Revolutionary Communist Party]
Tom F. Driver [Prof emeritus, Union Theological]
Ronnie Dugger [Alliance for Democracy]
Michael Eric Dyson
Nora Eisenberg [author of The War at Home ]
Nina Felshin [author of But is it art? The Spirit of Art as Activism ]
Lawrence Ferlinghetti [City Lights Bookstore]
Lynn Gonzalez [Military Families Speak Out-San Diego]
Kélina A. Gotman [Columbia]
Michelle Gross [v.v., Communities United Against Police Brutality]
Sam Hamill [Poets Against the War]
Donna J. Haraway [History of Consciousness, UC-Santa Cruz]
Christine B. Harrington [Politics and Law & Society Program, NYU]
David Harvey [anthropology, CUNY]
Rev. Louise B. Higginbotham
[Pastor, United Church on the Green, New Haven]
Julia Butterfly Hill [Circle of Life Foundation]
Connie Hogarth [Connie Hogarth Center for Social Action]
Thomas Dudley Hurwitz [verger, Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine]
Abdeen Jabara [past pres., American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee]
Alice Ann Jardine [Harvard]
Bill T. Jones
Rickie Lee Jones
Evelyn Fox Keller [history of science, MIT]
Robin D.G. Kelley
Mark Kesselman [Columbia]
Bill Keys [pres., Madison (WI) School Board]
C. Clark Kissinger [Refuse & Resist!]
David Korn [author of Kornshell]
David C. Korten [author of When Corporations Rule the World ]
Joyce & Max Kozloff
Rabbi Michael Lerner [editor, TIKKUN magazine]
Phil Lesh [Grateful Dead]
Rev. Davidson Loehr [First Unitarian Universalist Church of Austin]
Raymond Lotta [author of America in Decline ]
Reynaldo F. Macías [chair, National Association for Chicana & Chicano Studies]
Holly Maguigan [Co-President, Society of American Law Teachers]
John Mallinckrodt [Cal. State Polytechnic Institute]
J. Patrice Marandel [Chief Curator, Los Angeles County Museum of Art]
Maryknoll Sisters, Western Region
Rep. Jim McDermott [Member of Congress, Washington State]
Robert Meeropol [exec. dir., Rosenberg Fund for Children]
Robert R. Merritt [Physics Dept., Ohio State]
Arnold Mesches & Jill Ciment
Efia Nwangaza [Afrikan Amerikan Institute for Policy Studies & Planning]
Frank Quimby Orrall
Mary Pallant [Pres., Valley Democrats United]
Sheldon Patinkin [Theater Department, Columbia College]
Janice Elaine Perlman [The Mega-Cities Project]
Rosalind Petchesky [Hunter College & the Graduate Center - CUNY]
Eric L. Peters [Ecology & Environmental Biology Chicago State Univ.]
Guy Picciotto [Musician/Fugazi]
Fred L. Pincus
Howardena D. Pindell
Frances Fox Piven
James Stwart Polshek
John T. Racanelli [Retired Presiding Justice California Court of Appeal]
Michael Ratner [pres., Center for Constitutional Rights]
Howard A. Rodman
Matthew Rothschild [editor, The Progressive magazine]
Bernard & Jane Nicholl Sahlins
Juliet B. Schor
Peter Dale Scott
David Michael Seaborg [World Rainforest Fund]
Roberta Segal-Sklar [comm. dir., National Gay and Lesbian Task Force]
Regina & Peter Serkin
Gregory G. Sholette
Sister Annette Marie Sinagra, O.P.
Jack Steinberger [Nobel Laureate, Physics]
Michael T. Taussig [Columbia]
Mary Ann Tétreault [Trinity University]
Concepcion Monreal Valadez [UCLA]
Rev. Dr. Marlene R. Walker
Peter Weiss [pres., Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy]
Martha Wilson [founder of Art Space]
Mike & Bonnie Wisniewski [Los Angeles Catholic Worker]
Krzysztof Wodiczko [director, Center for Advanced Visual Studies, MIT]
Damian Woetzel [principal dancer, New York City Ballet]
David Zeiger [Displaced Films]
[ Organizations for identification only ]
Contact Not In Our Name at:
305 West Broadway,
New York, NY 10013
by Toby O'Ryan
Revolution #007, June 26, 2005, posted at revcom.us
The article in Revolution #5--"The Brutal Logic Behind the Torture Madness"-- reminded me about a play I saw last fall, Guantánamo.The dialogue of Guantánamo comes from the actual testimony of prisoners who were held in Guantanamo, the notorious U.S.-run prison camp in Cuba. In watching this play, you come to see very dramatically how people with no real connection to any sort of anti-U.S. movement have been rounded up, held incommunicado, and tortured into giving false, and sometimes ridiculously absurd, confessions.
After the play I talked with one of the actors, a very progressive person who expressed confusion over the whole thing. "It's so counterproductive--they're just taking innocent people and making more enemies, and they're not even getting good intelligence. I don't see why they're doing it even from their own standpoint."
But the seemingly senseless and often-random character of their violence and torture is very much part of the imperialist plan. I thought of this again when I read of the torture of the Afghani taxi driver Dilawar, in the Revolution article "The United States of Torture," and the fact that the U.S. troops who tortured him to death at Bagram prison had already concluded that he had no useful information! In other words, they did it just to show that they could.
And that they would.
This is one of those great American traditions they don't talk about on the 4th of July--their tradition of killing oppressed people who have done nothing but draw a breath. There is a method to the madness--the aim of terrorizing whole peoples, instilling in them a dread fear of their oppressors, an understanding that you can be killed for anything at any time and that you best stay away from these madmen and don't even dare think of resisting them.
This was the logic of the countless massacres that U.S. troops and settlers carried out against the Native American Indians. This was the logic of the over 5,000 lynchings of Black people in the decades following the Civil War, and this is the logic of the hundreds of murders carried out by police every year in today's ghettos and barrios against unarmed and innocent people. This was the logic of the My Lai massacre in the U.S. war against Vietnam, as well as the murders of over 2 million other non-combatants by the U.S., and the still greater and mind-numbing totals of all their other colonial or imperial wars. And this is the logic that drives the perverted grinning torturers of Abu Ghraib, the sadistic murderers of Bagram prison, and the sealed-off steel tomb that is Guantánamo.
This is the method of a power that must subjugate and oppress people and break their spirits--all in order to carry out its robbery of them, whether that robbery be of land or labor or both.
This is the logic of imperialism, defended by its leaders. Bush and Cheney angrily responded to the proof of torture offered in the press and by various groups--in one breath saying it couldn't have happened because the U.S. is for "democracy," while implicitly admitting it out of the other side of their mouths and justifying it as part of "keeping people safe." Their callous scowls, their double-talking denials and their attacks on their accusers speak volumes on the kind of system this is, as well as the kind of democracy that it generates and the kind of "safety" it promises. To them, any means, no matter how monstrous, is justified by the end goal of defending the right of the U.S. to dominate the world, so long as the rhetorical dust of "democracy" and "safety" is sprinkled over that domination.
Imperialist logic. Imperialist morality. Imperialist madness.
This logic can be opposed, it can be resisted, and it can be--and it has been, in the past--defeated. That must happen now.
Revolution #007, June 26, 2005, posted at revcom.us
This article was written by a group of comrades who read reports from around the country on the huge effort last winter to distribute the RCP statement "The Battle for the Future Will Be Fought From Here Forward." The statement is available online at revcom.us/future
"I think we are in for the battle of our lives right now."
"If it's true what you are saying that there's a leader like this, then I could see how we could change things...I had no idea there's a revolutionary leader in this country."
An immigrant woman in Los Angeles
"Two futures confront each other. Will imperialism force a future of darkness and suffocation onto the people? Will tens of millions more needlessly suffer and die? OR, will the critical spirit be unleashed in a way that does a great GOOD for humanity? Will society move forward in a revolutionary direction and set about removing the great suffering and misery cast down on the people by capitalism?
"To put it another way, which vision will prevail: that of George W. Bush? Or of Bob Avakian?"
From the RCP statement "The Battle for the Future Will be Fought From Here Forward"
Last winter, in the bleak days after Bush's re-election, the Revolutionary Communist Party put out a manifesto that not only told the truth about the Bush regime but put forth a vision of communist revolution and let people know about a unique and outstanding revolutionary leader, RCP Chairman Bob Avakian.
The Party aimed to circulate the statement among millions of people, to engage and change the thinking of many, and draw forward new revolutionary fighters and sympathizers. The idea was to radically affect the political terrain, working toward changing the bad polarization that now exists to one more favorable for revolution.
Through a mighty effort, at least 2.3 million copies of the statement went out--1.5 million as printed flyers, the rest in the form of newspaper ads and over the internet. At least a third of this total was in Spanish. In addition, comrades got out 1,500 DVD samplers of Bob Avakian's speech "Revolution: Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About," along with Bob Avakian's memoir, other works and talks by Bob Avakian, and the Party's newspaper.
A great deal was accomplished and learned. Above all, we saw dramatically that, yes, millions of people in this country are agonizing over the future and seeking a way out, and that our Party and, in a concentrated way, Bob Avakian have a great potential to deeply connect with these millions.
Zoom out. The scene is broad, diverse, and vital.
Trucks meander down the West Coast, dropping off bundles of flyers along the route all the way into Mexico...a California musicians' collective discusses the statement and watches the DVD, and they distribute thousands of statements as they continue to debate.farmworkers carry bundles of flyers back across the border.in church congregations around the country--both progressive and fundamentalist--the statement is distributed and many people take up discussion...a physicist sends the email flyer out to 3,000 scientists...an online Palestinian newsletter with thousands of readers posts the manifesto...in the heart of a debate over evolution in Dover, PA, copies of the statement are sent to people on both sides...a mechanic and junk man in a Midwestern city drops off flyers among diverse sections of people...a poet/performance artist comes down from upstate NY to pass out the statement at the Gates art installation in Central Park...the two opposing visions of the future are wrangled over at a geophysicists conference, a high school debate tournament, at workshops at a MEChA conference, at movie lines for Kinsey and Coach Carter .
Zoom in--important things are happening....
During Bush inauguration week in DC, people gather at an African restaurant to watch sections of the Avakian DVD. The owner had discussed the statement with people a few days before, borrowed the movie, and stayed up till 3 a.m. watching it. "I was wondering where the dialogue was going on," he said, "and now it's going on right here."
Two prominent East Coast clergy initiate a letter to members of the religious community: "We are writing to encourage you to study, share, discuss and debate with others the enclosed statement issued by the RCP,USA. We believe that whatever one's political orientation or religious background, this analysis of the very stark dangers and challenges we face in this Moment needs to be wrestled with by millions of people in this country."
In California, a Black man moves from project to project visiting his friends living throughout the city, across cultures and life experiences. Together with friends, old and new, he distributes more than 10,000 copies of the statement--in English and Spanish--along with scores of DVD samplers.
A one-day effort in a progressive Midwestern suburb puts the statement in the hands of thousands. Some youth at a high school talk about how to unleash the resistance described in the flyer, and incubate the idea of a protest on inauguration day--and there is a walkout at the school a few weeks later.
The statement was printed in several newspapers around the country as paid advertisements, including in El Diario, Chicago Reader, La Opinión, Rock City, S.F. Bay Guardian, and S.F. Bay View.There was an important synergy between people reading the statement in the press and then bouncing off its content with letters to the editor and other forms.
For example, the day the statement was published in New York City's Spanish-language newspaper El Diario,a regular columnist had a piece titled "Fascismo Cristiano Made in USA." The column and the statement elicited a continuing conversation in the letters-to-the-editor page over the values and hypocrisy of Bush and the Religious Right. One person quoted sections of the statement in a letter to the editor, which was given op-ed treatment.
Radio, too, played an important role. Michael Slate, a Revolution correspondent, interviewed Bob Avakian for Pacifica station KPFK. Sections of it were played over several weeks, followed by comments and questions from callers. (redfuture.com and bobavakian.net) Two other radio stations in California interviewed Party spokespeople. Spanish-language stations in Texas and California read sections of the statement on the air.
One Spanish-language show, Proyecto Americano, initially was going to play just five minutes of a recording of the flyer. After the hosts heard it, however, they played the whole thing and then opened up the phone lines for the remainder of the hour.
From youth in the projects to scientists, clergy, and garment factory workers, this statement made its way across the country. Through grappling with the contents of the statement, and often through fierce disagreements and intense strategizing over how to make the two visions of the future broad social questions, hundreds and then thousands of people took it upon themselves to be a part of distributing the statement and calling on others to take part.
Our experience with the clergy indicates something profound going on. Many wanted to grapple with the urgent need to build resistance against Bush's vision of the future and to engage with us over revolution, socialism, and communism. Some immediately agreed that we were staring at Christian fascism. Others felt that things were bad but couldn't possibly go that far. And many feared a horrible future if we didn't build a broad, united resistance to win over clergy who were falling behind Bush's vision and "peel away" people in the Christian fundamentalist congregations.
Among the brutally oppressed in society--farmworkers in the South, proletarian youth in cities all over, young mothers, garment workers, and others--we found a deep, burning hatred for Bush and the conditions of life. Fierce defiance was intertwined with a sort of resignation about the possibilities for real change, often in one and the same person. For many, reading the statement, taking it out to others, and struggling with them to become a part of this process was a first and important step toward taking the future in their own hands. In one area, dozens of proletarians joined in to get out hundreds of thousands of statements.
People who got the statement wanted to debate questions of morality, religion, and democracy. And the question of leadership was huge. People really wanted to discuss what kind of leaders are needed and why communist leadership, and specifically the leadership of Bob Avakian, is at the heart of being able to wrench a radically different future out of the current and coming storms. Can communism unleash the critical spirit--or is it inherently dogmatic and unscientific and unable to provide a society people would want to live in? Millions need to know that Bob Avakian has been wrangling over these and other crucial questions and making new breakthroughs in the science of communism, building our collective understanding of the past socialist experiences and bringing forward a radical reenvisioning of the whole communist project. And then there is the question of what it means to have someone like Bob Avakian, a leader who has taken the responsibility to lead the struggle to get society to a whole new place. This was both inspiring and controversial--raising profound questions and starting important conversations.
There were embryos of new forms of organization that sprung up--of people working and struggling together. These new forms manifested themselves in things like salons, reading groups centered around the revolutionary newspaper, and DVD showings in housing projects, barbershops, boxing gyms, and in the homes of artists and intellectuals. Some areas developed new distribution places for Revolution newspaper and Bob Avakian's books and DVD.
People who saw something good and important in the content of the statement were inspired to take it up themselves and take it further. In one border city, a handful of people turned to another handful, who in turn went to others. Through wrangling, visioning, and wrestling with the obstacles in the way, they were able to multiply their force--beyond even their own knowledge--and distributed 100,000 flyers throughout the entire area in just a few weeks. Key to doing this was making and systematically summing up concrete plans.
This example, and many others like it, enabled this effort to ripple through society. And you could also see through this an outline of a future society--masses being unleashed by revolutionary leadership to take responsibility for pressing social needs and to act for the emancipation of humanity.
In all, much was accomplished and much was learned through this great effort to distribute the RCP statement. Telling the story of what happened is an important part of following through on the effort--to put all this on a higher level in order to learn from both the advances and the shortcomings. We will have more to say in future issues of Revolution to further bring to life what went on.
Note to Readers: Given the breadth of this effort, the full story of what happened has still not been brought together. We ask readers of Revolution to fill in the blanks and help write the missing chapters. Let us know (send correspondence to Revolution) about the many ways the RCP statement went out and impacted people--how it touched souls, challenged thinking, and sparked debate.
Revolution #007, June 26, 2005, posted at revcom.us
We received this correspondence from a reader:
The U.S. government, through a new federal law, now requires that every school in the country--elementary, high school, colleges, and graduate and professional schools, must, starting this year, hold "educational programs" about the U.S. Constitution. They call it "Constitution and Citizenship Day," and it is intended to be held every year on September 17 (September 16 or 19 this year, since the 17th is a Saturday). The official content of the "education" to be provided at the schools is certain to feature a lot of mandatory "patriotism"--flag-waving, the pledge of allegiance, the singing of the national anthem--and a lot of hype about the wonderful "freedom and democracy" we all "enjoy."
It is no accident at this moment in time that the government sees the need to attempt to step up and nationally coordinate its propaganda about the system, given the increasing exposure of the lies and hypocrisy behind the war in Iraq, the growing opposition to military recruitment in high schools, and the shameful spectacle of torture, degradation, and death of prisoners in known and secret U.S. military detention camps.
If conscious opposition forces seize the opportunity presented by this significant widespread event, however, what was intended as a bludgeon to trample dissent can be turned into something else.
WHAT IF, while the attention of students throughout the country and the media was focused on this new "Constitution and Citizenship Day," there was widespread leafleting raising questions about just what the Constitution has and does stand for? What if there were organized counter-events and teach-ins? What if opposition forces made serious efforts--or demands--to get some good honest speakers even onto the official podiums? What if there was a demand for open discussion about the true history of the Constitution, and its real application in the world, rather than the empty clichés? What if there were anti-war activities that day at schools and campuses, or the fall kick-off of organizing to toss the increasingly fascistic Bush regime out where the sun don't shine?
Raising the fact that the Constitution is a document that protected the "property rights" of slave owners, that its promises of "democracy" even in a formal sense were denied to African-Americans, to women, to non-property owners, and to poor and working people generally? Raising the fact that while it says that treaties the U.S. enters into are part of the "supreme law" of the land, that every single treaty ever entered into with Native American peoples was trampled into the dirt and ignored at the convenience of the government to grab land and commit murder?
Raising the fact that people of color today still face random and arbitrary stops by brutal police for the "crimes" of Driving While Black, Driving While Hispanic, Walking While Black, Walking While Hispanic, Standing Still and Breathing While Black, etc. and in thousands of instances are gunned down by cops acting as judge, jury, and executioner for such "crimes" as reaching for a wallet or being at the "wrong" place?
Relating the true history of the U.S.--that any limited "rights" the people have were not "gifts" from the drafters of the Constitution, but rather temporary victories won through ceaseless struggle and paid for in blood, which the politicians and the rich bloodsuckers they represent always stand ready to try to take back.
Tell Jose Padilla--a U.S. citizen--now held for over three years, not only without a trial--but without even any charges!--about the glory of the "rights" of "citizenship." Welcome to the U.S., where a mere signature on an executive order or the arbitrary decision of someone in the "Justice" Department locks you up for an indefinite period of time without even having articulated particular suspicion of anything at all! Tell it to the Arab, Muslim, Southeast Asian, and Palestinian people rounded up and detained because of who they are and to promote a hysterical atmosphere of fear, racism and xenophobia, in the service of preparing the conditions for endless wars for empire.
Tell it to the artists, musicians, and college professors being told to "watch what you do and watch what you say." Freedom of speech, as long as you don't say anything.
If "Constitution and Citizenship Day" is supposed to be designed to instill "pride" and "loyalty" to this "legacy," couldn't it be turned into an all-around day of exposure of the crimes of this system? Shouldn't it?
Days of G-8 and Live-8
Revolution #007, June 26, 2005, posted at revcom.us
Our world today is intensely lopsided--with great wealth concentrated at one pole and, at the other pole, large sections of humanity trapped in a deep and intolerable poverty. The World Bank estimates that half of the world's 6 billion people are poor, and that fully a sixth of humanity, over 1 billion people, are in the most extreme poverty--trying to live on less than $1 a day. Africa has the highest proportion of such extreme poverty--with nearly half its population in those desperate conditions.
The raw suffering behind such mind-numbing statistics is all too real: Children waking up and going to sleep in constant hunger. People dying of epidemic sickness without any access to medicine or doctors. Families often living without safe water sanitation, or even rudimentary shelter. Millions of children growing up illiterate--without any chance of going to school.
Extreme poverty kills--more than 8 million people around the world die every year for reasons directly connected to their poverty, that is 20,000 dying every day. (Time magazine, March 14, 2005)
And looking more closely at Africa, we can vividly see some of what this means:
Between one-quarter and one-third of the people of sub-Saharan Africa are chronically malnourished. (Africa Action report, Hazardous to Health: The World Bank and IMF in Africa, April 2002)
4.8 million African children under 5 years old die each year of easily preventable causes--9 deaths a minute. And that horrific death rate is rising. (United Nations Development Program, June 9, 2005)
17 million African people have died in the current epidemic of HIV/AIDS, leaving behind 12 million "AIDS orphans"--often living desperate lives with little adult care.
What makes all of this especially intolerable is that it is happening--and even worsening--at a point in human history when none of it is necessary any longer. Now highly developed means of production, advanced new technologies and great pools of accumulated wealth exist that could potentially meet the basic needs of everyone on the planet.
But instead, poverty grows alongside wealth. Starvation spreads alongside unprecedented food production. Epidemic sickness rages despite unprecedented medical knowledge and resources.
These stark conditions have stirred outrage across the planet.
Many people, perhaps a million, are expected to gather on July 6 in Paris, Berlin, London, Philadelphia, Rome, and Edinburgh for Live-8 concerts demanding an end to global poverty. And at the same time many different political forces are planning to protest the summit meeting of leaders of the G-8, the world's wealthiest countries.
One of the major themes of these actions is "Make Poverty History."
Look at the dynamics that are forcing former peasants into vast shantytowns of the Third World--the rapid capitalist mechanization of agriculture in India and Indonesia's island of Java, the flooding of cheap food imports into Mexico, Haiti, and Kenya, the consolidation of small agricultural holdings under the pressure of capitalist competition.
As hundreds of millions of people are driven into slums, some find only gruesome exploitation in sweatshops, while many fall into the desperation of permanent unemployment.
And meanwhile, such workings of global capitalist economics are intensified and facilitated by the policies of governments, banks, and international institutions acting to make investment conditions as profitable as possible.
For example, at the end of the 1970s, when rising oil prices and crisis hit Africa's economies, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (WB) lent money to African governments. These new loans often went to servicing earlier debt or developing the infrastructure (roads, dams, ports, etc.) needed for more profitable extraction of wealth. And they also meant much more direct intervention by international institutions in the social and economic policies of African governments.
Soon the IMF and WB imposed "structural adjustment programs" (SAP's). Nationalized enterprises were privatized--and new sectors were opened up to direct foreign ownership. Money from thread-bare social services was demanded to help pay debts. Spending on health care fell by 50 percent in the 42 poorest countries in Africa. Hundreds of clinics and medical facilities were closed. In 1997, as people were suffering from raging epidemics of AIDS, tuberculosis, and other diseases, sub-Saharan African governments were spending four times as much on paying debts as they spent on the health care of the people. (Africa Action)
Similarly, some governments were forced to end free grade school education and charge tuition fees--which immediately ended the schooling for millions of students, especially girls.
These are the operations of a murderous capitalist-imperialist system dominated by the banks, corporations and governments rooted in the most wealthy countries--a system where the labor of the many and the resources of the world are exploited by a very few.
In early June, George Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair announced an agreement to cancel $40 billion in debt owed to international institutions by the most impoverished African countries (with potential expansion of the deal to be $55 billion to 27 countries). Finance ministers of the G-8 approved the deal. One of its provisions (predictably) is that to qualify for such "debt relief," debtor countries must eliminate remaining "impediments to private investment, both domestic and foreign." Even some G-8 finance ministers admitted that the agreement had more to do with the needs of the international financial institutions themselves to salvage their credibility and lay the basis for a profitable new round of loans. (Jubilee South/Americas, June 13, 2005)
And yet, some people promote the idea that globally poverty can be abolished relatively quickly and painlessly, merely through mass pressure on these oppressors.
For example, the opening page of the Live-8 website claims,
"8 world leaders, gathered in Scotland for the G8 summit, will be presented with a workable plan to double aid, drop the debt and make the trade laws fair. If these 8 men agree, then we will become the generation that made poverty history. But they'll only do it if enough people tell them to. That's why we're staging Live-8... To get those 8 men, in that 1 room, to stop 30,000 children dying every single day of extreme poverty."
In a very profound way, this misunderstands the situation and challenges that face humanity. It is necessary to look with clear eyes at how the extreme lopsidedness of our planet is created and enforced by the world system of capitalist ownership, trade, and investment.
Nothing done by Blair or Bush or the G-8 will do anything but defend and enforce that system. Nothing they are doing will touch a hair on the root causes of the massive dying of children in Africa--because this dying is ultimately caused by the workings of this global capitalist-imperialist system which they serve and represent.
And after all, looking across the world, we can all see these very same imperialists, Blair and Bush, directly involved in unleashing major horrors precisely to defend and enforce the global capitalist interests they serve--including by bombing, nuclear blackmail, war, occupation, and globally organized torture.
It is true this whole system is profoundly and truly outmoded. And over the last couple centuries it has become increasingly possible, for the first time in history, to see the means and potential for actually abolishing poverty, exploitation, and the domination of whole nations. This should be a source of great hope and inspiration.
And on the other hand, the murderous and worsening conditions facing billions of people cannot actually change without breaking the hold of international capital over the world's people and wealth.
It will take revolution--breaking the entrenched military and political domination of the major imperialist powers (like those meeting at the G-8 summit in Scotland). It will take the overthrow of capitalism and creating a whole new and different kind of economy on a new and socialist basis--at first country by country, and then ultimately defining social and economic life on a world scale.
It will, in short, require the most radical process in human history--creating the basis for a whole new stage of human history, for a liberated global society without classes, oppression, war or the domination of one nation by another.
"If one is conscious of the fact that the world is dominated by imperialism and if one has any inkling of the consequences of this for the great majority of the world's people, then one should feel compelled to help shatter the whole imperialist system and its entire framework, to remake social relations on an international scale."
Bob Avakian Chairman of the RCP, from Bullets--from the Writings, Speeches and Interviews of Bob Avakian
A Refutation of Harper's Article on the Maoists in Nepal
by Li Onesto
Revolution #007, June 26, 2005, posted at revcom.us
Eliza Griswold's article, "It's Not Easy Here in Kathmandu--Caught between the Maoist rebels and the king's army" appeared in the May 2005 issue of Harper's magazine. I have traveled into the guerrilla zones in Nepal and closely follow developments in this conflict, and I'm constantly angered by this kind of journalism which contributes to a growing mountain of harmful disinformation.
People like Eliza Griswold are very disturbed by the reality that the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) now controls most of Nepal's countryside, their People's Liberation Army is able to mobilize thousands of guerrillas in battle against the Royal Nepalese Army (RNA), and in areas run by new revolutionary governments, they are radically changing the economic, political, and cultural life of millions of poor peasants.1 The Maoists began their People's War in 1996 and, ever since, Nepal's ruling class has been in constant crisis over how to deal with this insurgency which is now threatening to seize power. But instead of a serious discussion about why the Maoists have grown so rapidly, Griswold's theme, indicated by her subtitle, is that the majority of people in Nepal are caught in the middle--between a brutal government guilty of horrendous human rights abuses, and Maoists who are even worse.
To paint this scenario, Griswold introduces: an 18-year-old girl in the RNA; an RNA Brigadier General trained at Fort Leavenworth; the editor of a conservative Kathmandu newspaper; the U.S. ambassador to Nepal; a doctor and several people at a center set up only for "victims of Maoist torture" (no victims of the RNA); villagers in a contested area in the Terai; two girls and the principal at Kathmandu Valley school who say they were "abducted by Maoists"; a human rights researcher who says "no one wants to abandon Nepal to the Maoists."
Almost all of these two dozen or so people are by definition hostile to the Maoists and were in cities or other areas under government control. Sweeping censorship and systematic disinformation by the Nepalese government2 have had a huge impact on people's opinions and what they know and don't know about the Maoists, not only internationally but within Nepal itself, and this is especially true among many of the people Griswold quotes.
Griswold talks to three Maoists--two rebels she arranges to meet along the roadside and a journalist who left the Maoists, was imprisoned and tortured by the government and now writes for a Maoist newspaper. There is a quote from a leader in the CPN(M). But other than this, there are no views from Maoist supporters and no conversations with people living in Maoist base areas.
In Griswold's "caught in the middle" scenario, Maoist supporters are simply written off as if they are not part of the people. But the People's Liberation Army is made up of tens of thousands of common peasants who are not "caught in the middle" but have joined the insurgency. And many more are participating in the new revolutionary governments.
In Nepal over 85% of the people are peasants in the countryside, desperately poor, malnourished, and exploited by corrupt officials, landlords, and moneylenders. Lower castes and oppressed ethnic groups face systematic discrimination under a rigid caste system. Women are intensely suppressed and treated as inferior in every facet of society. A king controls the army and an oppressive monarchy is deeply embedded in the ruling structures of society. The whole country is subordinate to, dependent on, and dominated by India and imperialist countries like the U.S.
The Maoist revolution aims to get rid of all this. The Nepalese regime rules over, enforces and is fighting to preserve all this. Are the masses of people, as Griswold argues, caught between these two fires? No! The Maoists are organizing and providing leadership to millions who are brutally and systematically oppressed by the system AND who are inspired by and support the Maoists' vision and concrete program for building a new liberating society.
Nepal's ruling class has not and cannot solve the basic problems of food, water, sanitation, and health care because this requires tearing up the existing economic, social, and political relationships within Nepalese society and between Nepal and other countries. While Griswold acknowledges the dire situation of the masses, she wants us to believe the Maoists are cynically "taking advantage" of and manipulating this. In truth, the Maoists have support in Nepal exactly because they are addressing the deeply embedded oppression people face. In areas they control real changes are taking place: redistribution of land, equal rights for women, end to the caste system, autonomy for oppressed ethnic groups, healthcare, education and the building of roads and bridges. Even a young woman in the government's army tells Griswold: "The Maoists have high principles.so they attract everyone who is interested in struggling for equality. Some of my friends from my village have joined them. If I lived in the village, I'd be a Maoist, too."
When I was in the guerrilla zones in 1999, I was very struck by the composition of the PLA squads and platoons. They were overwhelmingly made up of those on the very bottom of society--lower castes, ethnic minorities, peasant youth and many, many young women. This says a lot about the nature of this revolution.
Let's get right down to it. People like Griswold may talk about government repression, deep poverty, and powerlessness among the poor. But they don't uphold the right of the people to really struggle against any of this. And what they hate a lot more than the oppressive status quo is revolutionary authority being exercised to actually transform the prevailing economic and social relations, as well as the culture and thinking that goes along with this oppressive setup. In effect, this is an argument that the people should just accept their horrible conditions and ends up justifying crushing the revolutionary struggle.
Griswold mentions that the Maoists hold power in 73 of the 75 political districts, but is content to stay in the disinformation zones and never goes into areas under Maoist control--which constitute most of Nepal! She doesn't even talk about what's happening in these areas. Instead, the view running through her article is that Maoist rule is a totalitarian and horrible thing.
But what is actually being accomplished under Maoist authority in Nepal? Another way to pose this is: What is the power the Maoists have achieved through armed struggle good for?
I could go into a lot of examples here. But just take the question of women--which revealingly Griswold doesn't talk about, even though the huge participation of women in this revolution is a fact widely acknowledged.
Feudal traditions like arranged marriages, dowries, and polygamy are enforced in many ways and under a mixture of feudal and capitalist rules; women's bodies are owned, controlled, and bargained over in everything from marriage to sex trafficking. Religious and cultural practices promote and perpetuate male domination. And everywhere a woman turns, her freedom and independence is policed and smothered. For women to be free of all this, the basic economic relations of land ownership in the countryside have to be upended. Control has to be taken out of the hands of the religious, political, and military forces which back up the tyranny of local landlords, corrupt politicians, and moneylenders. Social and cultural institutions which provide a foundation for the patriarchal control of fathers, brothers, and mother-in-laws have to be done away with. The whole education system has to be revolutionized.
And this is exactly what revolutionary authority and power is good for! In the Maoist base areas land is being redistributed, and for the first time women own land. Arranged marriages, polygamy, and other feudal traditions oppressive to women are no longer practiced. Wife beating and rape are severely punished by people's courts. Women are given the right to divorce, go to school, and fight in local militias as well as the People's Liberation Army. And women are equal participants in the new economic, political, and social life of the villages.
Extremely significant and liberating changes are taking place in the Maoist base areas, but Griswold cynically writes them off. When she sees men building the roof of a new school, her only response is to question why the Maoists charge a $3 tuition. For literally hundreds of millions of people around the world, life is dictated, ruined and suppressed by horrible caste distinctions. No amount of capitalist globalization and westernization has gotten rid of this. But Griswold doesn't even comment when she hears that in the Maoist areas caste distinctions have been abolished and intercaste marriages are common.
The Nepalese people need revolutionary change--not a "solution" within the present order which has as its foundation exploitative economic relations and intense social inequality, as well as an entrenched dependence on foreign powers. Daily life for the majority of people concretely and repeatedly demonstrates this--which is why the Maoists have real support.
Griswold's analysis includes quoting a man who tells her, "99 percent of the country don't like the Maoists"--a ridiculous claim given the growth of the insurgency, which even those unsympathetic to the guerrillas admit. But this goes along with Griswold's claim that the Maoists only get support through coercion and terror. She says: "The Maoists have begun to demand that every family sacrifice one person to their cause."
A reporter in Nepal for the Maoist newspaper Janadesh responded to Griswold's charge, saying,
"The Maoists do not force anybody to fight. How can anyone force a man or woman to fire a gun? You need courage, dedication and spirit of sacrifice to become a fighter in the People's Liberation Army. It's not like playing video war games on a computer. It's a life and death struggle. Only the most courageous men and women can prepare themselves to fight for revolution. There is a saying in Nepal that 'a carried dog cannot hunt a deer.'"
Think for a moment. The guerrillas started off small and up against the brutal coercion of a regime backed by India and the U.S. How could the Maoists have achieved their current military and political strength without the genuine support and participation of thousands who believe in the goals of the revolution and on this basis are willing to go into battle and risk their lives?
There is video, photographs, and reports of massive Maoist rallies in the countryside.3 Reporters who have been in Maoist-controlled areas have written about the guerrillas organizing people to build roads, bridges, and schools.4 During the 2003 negotiations 30,000 people attended a Maoist rally in Kathmandu.5And the RNA has engaged in battles where they faced thousands of guerrilla fighters. Can anyone seriously explain this as just "coercion"?
Most of the poor peasants in Nepal's countryside are illiterate and uneducated-- but they are not stupid and childishly naãve. They have experienced one system and are now beginning to see and live under another, revolutionary, system and are siding with it. The tens of thousands fighting against the government and the millions living under Maoist control are fundamentally NOT doing this because they are "intimidated and coerced."
Griswold quotes someone saying, "The Maoists torture roughly 60 percent of those in their custody, but the army tortures 80 percent."6 She talks with a doctor at a center for "victims of Maoist torture" who claims torture is increasing on both sides. She then writes, "His theory was that local Maoists and government forces were engaged in a game of one-upmanship over who could be more brutal. He cited the now familiar torture statistics for the Maoists and the government." (Note how Griswold gives a "now familiar" adjective to an unsubstantiated statistic.) This passes for "theory" about a serious conflict-- that the Maoists and RNA are having a contest over who can torture more?!
The Maoist guerrillas, unlike the RNA, do not believe "the ends justify the means." Their actions reflect their goal of bringing into being a new consciousness among the people that will lead to building a society aimed at getting rid of oppression and inequality.
One way this comes out is in how the Maoists treat prisoners of war in a humane manner along the lines of the Geneva Convention. The PLA has released many captured POWs in good health to the Red Cross or other human rights organizations.7 RNA soldiers and police captured by the Maoists have told reporters that while they had to listen to propaganda and were asked to join the revolution, they were not harmed. They were warned that if they were captured again, they would be severely punished, but they were given money and food so that they could go back to their village instead of returning to the RNA. This reflects the Maoists' policy of politically struggling with even those who are working with the government. I have heard numerous stories about the rebels giving such people at least three warnings, asking them to stop their counter-revolutionary activity, before administering any punishment.
The Kathmandu Post , reporting on 18 captured police, said, "Their release has a human ring about it. In fact the rebels had set them free only after handing out sums ranging from Rs 800 and Rs 1500 as expenses for their return journey... The freed hostages have said that the rebels did not misbehave with them throughout the period they were under their control. 'Don't involve in vile deeds. You would certainly have killed had you taken us under your control,' rebels have been quoted as saying. They also had sent two of their cadre to guide the cops out safely."8
Griswold paints a picture where "both sides" are killing innocent people. But let's compare the policy and practice of the RNA and the PLA. The vast majority of the 12,000 killed since the start of the war have been civilians murdered by the Royal Army, along with suspected revolutionaries also tortured and murdered. And like the U.S. policy, from Vietnam to Fallujah, of "destroying the village to save the village," the U.S.-trained RNA has carried out human rights abuses against a wide swath of the population, killing thousands suspected of "supporting the Maoists," which could mean simply providing food and shelter for the guerrillas. Human rights organizations have documented how the police and RNA have burned whole villages and rounded up, tortured, murdered and jailed thousands of people. In 2003 and 2004, Nepal recorded the highest number of new cases of disappearances by security forces in the world.9
On the other hand, the vast majority of people killed by the Maoists have been police and soldiers in combat. When others, like informants, have been targeted, this is because their actions have directly led to Maoists and others being jailed or killed.
The CPN(M) is leading a mass armed revolution which is unleashing thousands of poor, angry peasants. Their families were suffering and dying under "normal times." And now, the RNA and police are carrying out horrendous crimes against the people. When the people rise up against their oppression it isn't "nice and neat" and leadership is necessary for the struggle to go beyond bitter revenge. This is exactly what the CPN(M) is providing. On several occasions, the Maoists have issued criticisms of actions they felt were wrong and have even changed some policies after being criticized.10
Griswold quotes James Moriarty, the U.S. ambassador to Nepal, saying he is "appalled by how easily they [the Maoists] move through the country, how much terror they spread." And Griswold notes that "The United States has placed the Maoists on the State Department's terrorist watch list, one step below those groups that, in the ambassador's words, belong to 'The Great War on Terrorism.' " Moriarty says,
"It's not Islamic fundamentalism, obviously. but it is a very fervent brand of Maoism that could cause great trouble in this area. They've said they're going to invade the United States. I'm not too worried about that, but you ignore what they say at your own peril. You can't pooh-pooh the Maoists and the threat that they represent."
I find it ludicrous that I even have to refute this ridiculous claim that the Maoists in Nepal have said they are going to invade the U.S. And I actually think Moriarty and probably Griswold know this is a lie. But this little lie is part of a bigger lie--that the Maoists in Nepal are terrorists, so backing the regime in Nepal is part of the "war on terror."
In 2002, Michael Malinowski, then U.S. ambassador to Nepal, stated that the Maoists in Nepal are "fundamentally the same as the globally recognized terrorists."11 And the 2002 proposal by Bush for $20 million in economic and military aid to Nepal said, "We currently do not have direct evidence of an al-Qaida presence in Nepal, but weak governance has already proved inviting to terrorists, criminals and intelligence services from surrounding countries."12 The Maoists in Nepal have nothing in common with groups like al-Qaida, but this has not stopped the U.S. from trying to fabricate some kind of comparison or arguing that if the "terrorists" are not stopped in Nepal, the country will become a "safe haven" for other terrorists.
Griswold goes on to fuel an argument for more U.S. military aid and intervention. She interviews an RNA General and writes, "Peace, the general thinks, will be forged only through more military spending, particularly by the United States. 'More troops and better weapons will reduce the loss of human life,' he said. 'If we're weak, the Maoists will keep fighting. Unless our American friends help us, the Maoist problem may not be solved. Whether it's in the name of politics or religion, terrorism is terrorism whether you like it or not.' "
Here sits Griswold, talking to a general of an incredibly vicious army, and she is not only totally uncritical of what he says, but actually provides a forum for him to argue his case for even more weapons of murder and torture!
So now, in the page of liberal Harper's, we've come to this: From an article that begins with a premise that "the masses are caught in the middle" between "two evil" forces, we come to the conclusion: one side should be crushed--the Maoists. These arguments in Griswold's article are hardly original. They aim to convince people--including those who might support such a liberation struggle--that while the government may be bad, the Maoists are worse, so there is no other choice but to support the regime. And they are an outright apology and justification for the bloody U.S.-backed war against a genuine, mass struggle for liberation in Nepal.
Li Onesto traveled deep into the guerrilla zones of Nepal in 1999 and is the author of the book, Dispatches from the People's War in Nepal (Pluto Press and Insight Press 2005), available from: Pluto Press, www.plutobooks.com; University of Michigan Press, www.press.umich.edu; Insight Press, insight-press.com; amazon.com; Revolution Books stores and outlets. Go to lionesto.net for photos, updates on news, reviews, and speaking engagements.
2. Under a state of emergency declared in November 2001, Maoist newspapers were raided and closed down, their staffs arrested. Editors and writers in the mainstream press were interrogated for simply quoting Maoist leaders in their publications. In the first nine months, 130 journalists were taken into custody. When King Gyanendra suspended parliament and grabbed total power again on February 1, 2005, soldiers were literally sent into newspaper offices to "edit" articles before they went to press.
3. The DVD "Eight Glorious Years of Nepalese People's War" is available from BM BOX 7970, London, WC1N- 3XX, England or e-mail email@example.com
6. An article in the Kathmandu Post (September 20, 2004) on the report by the Center for Victims of Torture reported different statistics saying, said, "In recent years, almost 60 percent of the people detained by the state, and 40 percent of those abducted by the Maoists have been physically tortured, inflicting a serious psychological blow on them besides causing them physical damage."
7. See International Committee of the Red Cross Web page http://icrc.org/eng
9. Human Rights Watch report: "Clear Culpability --Disappearances by Security Forces in Nepal" available at: hrw.org/reports/2005/nepal0205
10. See: "Nepal Rebels 'regret' bus deaths, launch probe," Reuters, June 7, 2005; "Nepal: Maoists offer self criticism after bus bombing," AWTWNS, June 13, 2005; and Dispatches from the People's War in Nepal by Li Onesto, the section on "Revolutionary Policies," pages 121-124.
12. FY 2002 Foreign Operations Emergency Supplemental Funding justifications available at http://www.fas.org/asmp/profiles/aid/aidindex.htm
Revolution #007, June 26, 2005, posted at revcom.us
The autopsy results were released this week for Terri Schiavo. What was revealed only underscored what medical science had already shown about Terri Schiavo's condition. What doctors had testified to over and over again-- that the person known as Terri Schiavo had been gone for a very long time. Nothing would have brought back the thinking, conscious person she once was.
The autopsy confirmed Terri's diagnosis of persistent vegetative state (PVS) and showed more deeply the extent of her brain damage. Her brain weighed half of what it should have. The vision centers of her brain were gone-- she was blind, making it impossible for her to have recognized anyone despite claims to the contrary.
"This damage was irreversible," Dr. Jon Thogmartin, the pathologist who performed the autopsy, said at a press conference. "No amount of therapy or treatment would have regenerated the massive loss of neurons."
It's not clear what made her heart briefly stop 15 years ago, but there was no evidence that Michael Schiavo had anything to do with it--despite endless claims of abuse hurled at him. There was no evidence of the broken bones of which her family claimed to have proof.
So now what has been the response among all of those who refused to let her die in peace?
What do George Bush, Bill Frist, Tom DeLay, and the rest have to say now? After the way they tried to reverse laws, judges' rulings, public opinion, legal precedent, to force through their agenda? Do they acknowledge the truth?
No! They all say their actions were right. This reveals more deeply the two totally different views on reality that battled it out in the Terry Schiavo case. One view proceeds from science and reason, and seeks to understand reality. The other view, unrelentingly promoted by the Christian Fascist leaders, promotes "knowing" without investigation, without facts, and a profoundly anti-science approach.
Jeb Bush's response to being proved wrong was to launch yet another attack on Michael Schiavo--this time for supposed negligence from the night 15 years ago when Michael found his wife unresponsive on the floor. This vicious attack reveals how few limits people like Gov. Bush really have.
And what about the doctor, Senator Bill Frist, who used his credentials as a former heart surgeon to diagnose Terri based on a home video?
Two months ago he said:
"Persistent vegetative state.I question it based on a review of the video footage which I spent an hour or so looking at last night in my office.that footage, to me, depicts something very different than persistent vegetative state." (Bill Frist to Congress, March 17, 2005).
He used this diagnosis to justify calling for federal intervention to block any efforts to let Terri die. Now he sputters that "I never made a diagnosis" and claims that he never made statements like "She certainly seems to respond to visual stimuli," which he did make, and on the floor of the Senate, but which present a bit of a problem now that it's revealed she was blind.
This is a man who won't even admit the basic medical fact that HIV can't be transmitted through tears or sweat. He proclaimed to the world that he didn't think Terri was in PVS, when she clearly was, and that she could see when she couldn't. Now, either he's a) a very incompetent doctor or b) a cynical liar who manipulated the truth to further a dangerous agenda. You all decide.
Revolution #007, June 26, 2005, posted at revcom.us
In 1852 Frederick Douglass, a former slave and a leader in the fight against slavery wrote:
What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July?
I answer: a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim.
To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciations of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade, and solemnity, are, to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy--a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages.
There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices, more shocking and bloody, than are the people of these United States, at this very hour.
Go where you may, search where you will, roam through all the monarchies and despotisms of the old world, travel through South America, search out every abuse, and when you have found the last, lay your facts by the side of the everyday practices of this nation, and you will say with me, that, for revolting barbarity and shameless hypocrisy, America reigns without a rival.