Revolution #027, December 19, 2005

Revolution #027, December 19, 2005

voice of the revolutionary communist party,usa

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Statement by Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, on the Occasion of the Death of Willie "Mobile" Shaw

Revolution #027, December 19, 2005, posted at revcom.us

Bob Avakian
Bob Avakian

The death of Willie "Mobile" Shaw is a terrible and bitter loss. Willie wanted his life to be about something--something beyond the dog-eat-dog and the murderous madness this system brings down on people, and catches them up in, in a thousand ways every day. He joined the revolution, became a communist and dedicated his life to the liberation of all people who are oppressed by this system--not just people of one race, or in one neighborhood, but men and women of all races, nations, and languages, all over the world. Most of them Willie had never met, but he came to see that they shared a common fate and could bring a much better future into being. Willie's life is proof that those this rotten system tries in every way to drag down--can rise up; that those the system treats as less than human--can become the liberators of all humanity.

Wille Mobile Shaw

Willie "Mobile" Shaw

Willie never turned his back on people who had not yet come to see the world as he had come to see it--as it really is; he never gave up on winning them to the fight for a radically different and much better world. Willie brought to the revolution a gigantic heart, a wealth of life experience and great wisdom drawn from that experience. I consider myself very fortunate to have met Willie and spent time talking with him. He asked me many questions--and he helped me learn many things. Willie said to me: "You are the only hope we have." I have kept those words in my heart, with a deep sense of responsibility to live up to them. But Willie, and all the people like Willie in the world, are also the ones who give me hope--they represent the hope of humanity for a better world. Willie's whole life experience, and his all too early death, cry out the need for revolution. And the changes Willie went through, in his all too short life--the way he came through so much to take up the cause of liberating humanity--shout out the possibility of revolution. As our hearts ache over the loss of Willie, let us keep in our hearts, and let us learn all we can, from the beautiful human being that Willie "Mobile" Shaw was and the way in which, in dedicating his life to revolution and communism, he truly made it count, in the greatest way possible.

State of the Union Emergency We Demand Bush Step Down

Revolution #027, December 19, 2005, posted at revcom.us

The following call for protests against Bush's State of the Union speech was issued by The World Can't Wait.

STATE OF THE UNION EMERGENCY

1. On the night of President Bushs State of the Union Address: Bring the Noise Drown Out Bushs Lies

In large cities and small towns all across the country, join in rallies one hour before Bushs address to make our determination to "Drive out the Bush Regime," the political message of the day.

At 9:00 PM EST, just as Bush starts to speak, everywhere we will BRING THE NOISE. In a cacophony of sound we will drown out his address with music: from drums to violins, from hip hop to classical; and with noise: banging pots and ringing church bells, sounding car horns and lifting our voices.

The agenda for 2006 must not be set by Bush, but by the people, in our millions, determined to stop this whole disastrous course.

2. DEMONSTRATE on SATURDAY (following the State of the Union)

WASHINGTON D.C.

On the Saturday after the State of the Union address massive numbers of us will protest at the White House. Prominent voices of conscience will help deliver the peoples verdict on Bushs criminal regime with our demand:

BUSH STEP DOWN AND TAKE YOUR PROGRAM WITH YOU!

The Alito Nomination: A Pivotal Battle...And What's Needed to Defeat the Fascist Agenda

Revolution #027, December 19, 2005, posted at revcom.us

"We are ready to rumble!" said Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council. "Why? Because this is a moment in history that has been decades in the making." The forces of reactionary Christian theocracy smell blood in upcoming confirmation hearings over the nomination of Samuel Alito to the U.S. Supreme Court. The itch for a brawl by the Christian fascists reflects the enormous stakes of the Alito nomination.

In that light, it's necessary to soberly assess what the Alito nomination represents, what an Alito on the Supreme Court would mean, and what is required to confront and roll back the whole package that the Alito nomination is a part of.

A Battering Ram for Christian Fundamentalist Theocracy

Alito on the Supreme Court would be a battering ram in bringing about a pivotal shift in the legal structure and norms that have been in place in this country for decades. While these structures and norms have always served to defend and extend the exploitation and oppression of capitalism, what is being put in place on a whole host of questions--presidential power, the rights of defendants in the legal system, prohibitions of torture, equal protection under the law for women and minorities, international law, and the separation of church and state--will represent a qualitative leap for the worse for the people and their ability to resist, to fight for a better world, and to make revolution.

To take one concentrated example: Alito has stated that his legal opinion (not his personal opinion), leads to the conclusion that there is no legal justification for abortion. A recently uncovered memo discloses Alito identifying his mission as "bringing about the eventual overruling of Roe v. Wade and, in the meantime, of mitigating its effects."

But Alito's legal philosophy goes beyond outlawing abortion. Alito argued in a 1986 case that "nonresident immigrants of other countries have 'no due process rights' under the Constitution." In a 1984 case, Alito argued that it was perfectly acceptable for Tennessee cops to shoot and kill a 15-year-old boy who was fleeing a home where they were investigating a burglary, even though the police stated that they could tell that the kid was unarmed. Alito wrote that when a suspect flees, that person gives police the power to shoot to kill at their discretion, whether or not the suspect actually poses a threat!

The Knight-Ridder news service wrote that "Although Alito's opinions are rarely written with obvious ideology, he's seldom sided with a criminal defendant, a foreign national facing deportation, an employee alleging discrimination or consumers suing big businesses." And, in a ruling that is being publicized by forces organizing against his nomination, Alito argued that it was acceptable for the cops to strip-search a 10-year-old girl who was riding in a car with her mother when the mother was accused of drug possession. Even though the search warrant said nothing about the girl, Alito ruled that it should be interpreted "broadly" enough to allow searching her. All this paints a sinister picture of someone who will be a reactionary, pivotal force on the Supreme Court.

It gets worse.

Reactionary Christian forces who openly call the constitutional separation of church and state a "myth" have launched heavily funded campaigns to mobilize their armies to demand the confirmation of Alito precisely on the basis that he is going to be a battering ram against the separation of church and state.1

Christian fascists are cranking up the volume on their "persecuted Christians" demogoguery, in close synchronization with the Alito nomination. Their web sites, speaking to their own forces, openly connect the campaigns to boycott retailers who have "happy holidays" campaigns (instead of explicitly religious celebrations of Christmas) with mobilizing support for Alito.

Here, one has to stop to think about and confront what kind of hell on earth we'd be living in if the Christian fascists had their way. It's important to remind ourselves that the Bible--which these Christian theocrats demand be taken literally as the basis of the law of U.S. society--mandates the death penalty for things like homosexuality, rebellious children, and working on the sabbath!

Channeling Discontent

Democratic Senator Joe Biden made a widely circulated statement that there could possibly be a filibuster over Alito. Speaking of an application Alito wrote for a job in the Reagan administration, Biden said, "The part that jeopardizes it [Alito's nomination] more is his quotes in there saying that he had strong disagreement with the Warren Court particularly on reapportionment--one man, one vote." Biden went on, "The fact that he questioned abortion and the idea of quotas is one thing. The fact that he questioned the idea of the legitimacy of the reapportionment decisions of the Warren Court is even something well beyond that."

By raising the prospect of filibuster, Biden is maneuvering to "keep hope alive" that the Democrats can be relied on to put up a fight over Alito. And, by narrowing the terms to the reapportionment issue, Biden is channeling the opposition into terms that concede massive ground. It's not that the reapportionment issue is insignificant. Overturning existing rules on how congressional districts are drawn contributes both to disenfranchising Black voters and to rigging up election districts that institutionalize a one-Party (Republican, obviously) state.

But look again at how Biden is framing the fight. When he says, "the fact that [Alito] questioned abortion and the idea of quotas [more fundamentally court rulings that challenged overt, legal discrimination] is one thing..." he is saying that the Democrats are going to rule out throwing down over the right to abortion and opposing racial discrimination--questions at the heart of what kind of society this will be. And the theocracy issue is not even on Biden's list!

At the same time, while the main thing going on here is the attempt of Biden and other Democrats to channel, confine, and curtail the resistance against Alito, there is also an aspect around reapportionment--where the Democrats see the Republicans moving further in an attempt to make the U.S. a one-party state--that could lead to clashes around the Alito hearings and nomination which could assume significance in the context of a larger resistance that did NOT confine itself to the terms and forms of struggle being pushed by the mainstream Democratic leadership and its allies.

The Battle Against Alito and the Need to Drive out the Bush Regime

To sum up: the Christian fascist forces have identified the Alito nomination as critical and pivotal to their agenda. They see Alito on the Supreme Court as a big part of cementing a new legal framework that represents an extremely serious attack on the people. In other words, this whole thing is bigger than Alito, and these fascists are fighting it with that perspective.

On the "other side of the aisle," the Democrats are conceding massive ground, and are not even committed to filibuster. And even there, Republicans, including Senate leader Bill Frist, have threatened to not allow a filibuster. The only condition under which the Alito nomination can be defeated is the emergence of a large, politically aggressive movement, heading towards the State of the Union Address, that situates the Alito nomination in the larger context and that breaks out of the confines of lobbying and pressure groups.

The only chance to defeat this deadly fascist agenda, and within that the Alito nomination that right now marks a crucial concentration of it, lies in throwing our all into building and struggling for a massive turnout at State of the Union to drive out the Bush Regime and its agenda, as called for by the World Can't Wait initiative. [worldcantwait.org]

As we have said time and again, the dynamic of allowing the terms to be set and the sides to be drawn by the top Democratic leaders is a deadly one that dooms the people to passivity and impotence, and can only serve to derail their struggle. We need instead a dynamic in which the terms are set by the struggle coming "from below," and every other major political force in society has to define itself in relation to that. There are millions and millions of people in this country who urgently want to defeat this nomination and, more than that, want to stop the whole course of things of which it is part. They must hear from those who can expose the full ugly dimensions of this program and offer a way to fight it that can actually bring into being that different dynamic, and set a whole different course that corresponds to the real interests and urgently felt aspirations of those millions.

Enforcing Christmas as a Weapon for Theocracy

A radio commercial running in Colorado, Wisconsin, and West Virginia (states whose senators are considered pivotal votes on Alito) is calling out the troops with this message:

"It is the time of year when bedtime stories and television specials often recall the plucky reindeer and the little girl of Whoville who managed to save Christmas. This year, some conservative groups are hoping to add a new name to that pantheon of heroes: Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr., the Supreme Court nominee.... Liberal groups like People for the American Way and the ACLU have opposed public Christmas and Hanukkah displays and even fought to keep Christmas carols out of school... Some courts and judges have supported this radical agenda, but not Judge Sam Alito."

The ad continues,

"Throughout his career, Judge Alito has consistently upheld the Constitution's protection of free religious expression."

"This is going to be the dominant theme on the Alito nomination until the end of the year--the convergence of a Supreme Court nomination, the Christmas season, and a judge who has a well-staked-out position on support for religious expression,"

said Jay Sekulow. Who is Sekulow? In Contempt: How the Right is Wronging American Justice, Court TV reporter and former Republican Judge Catherine Crier quotes Sekulow saying that "Our public schools began as ministries of the Church … Now it is time to return them to the Lord." In that context, the agenda of the campaign to formally institute Christmas celebrations in public schools should be understood as part of the method Sekulow outlines (quoted in Contempt):

"I've got an agenda if you will. I'm utilizing the courts to achieve that goal. You don't go from A to Z. You go from A to C, D to M, and eventually to Z."

And it is critical to grasp that Sekulow is not just some isolated fascist theocrat. When not running his massively funded networks of Christian fundamentalists, Sekulow's web site describes him as "an adviser tapped by the White House to coordinate support for its nominees." Crier's book reveals that every week, Sekulow and other leading Christian theocrats hold a conference call to check on the progress of their agenda; with prominent members of the Bush administration (such as Karl Rove) often on the line.

NOTE

1. Alito has not only ruled in favor of allowing governments to set up Nativity scenes, he ruled against a school district that wanted to prevent an evangelical group from sending fliers home to elementary school children. While Alito's arguments have also expressed the position that other religious expression (by Jews and Muslims) can be officially sponsored by government, these rulings can be understood as an expression of Alito's much touted skill at packaging a reactionary agenda in ways and terms that provide a "carefully argued" and "legally rigorous" approach.

Return to Article

Revolution #027, December 19, 2005, posted at revcom.us

Enforcing Christmas as a Weapon for Theocracy

A radio commercial running in Colorado, Wisconsin, and West Virginia (states whose senators are considered pivotal votes on Alito) is calling out the troops with this message:

"It is the time of year when bedtime stories and television specials often recall the plucky reindeer and the little girl of Whoville who managed to save Christmas. This year, some conservative groups are hoping to add a new name to that pantheon of heroes: Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr., the Supreme Court nominee.... Liberal groups like People for the American Way and the ACLU have opposed public Christmas and Hanukkah displays and even fought to keep Christmas carols out of school... Some courts and judges have supported this radical agenda, but not Judge Sam Alito."

The ad continues,

"Throughout his career, Judge Alito has consistently upheld the Constitution's protection of free religious expression."

"This is going to be the dominant theme on the Alito nomination until the end of the year--the convergence of a Supreme Court nomination, the Christmas season, and a judge who has a well-staked-out position on support for religious expression,"

said Jay Sekulow. Who is Sekulow? In Contempt: How the Right is Wronging American Justice, Court TV reporter and former Republican Judge Catherine Crier quotes Sekulow saying that "Our public schools began as ministries of the Church … Now it is time to return them to the Lord." In that context, the agenda of the campaign to formally institute Christmas celebrations in public schools should be understood as part of the method Sekulow outlines (quoted in Contempt):

"I've got an agenda if you will. I'm utilizing the courts to achieve that goal. You don't go from A to Z. You go from A to C, D to M, and eventually to Z."

And it is critical to grasp that Sekulow is not just some isolated fascist theocrat. When not running his massively funded networks of Christian fundamentalists, Sekulow's web site describes him as "an adviser tapped by the White House to coordinate support for its nominees." Crier's book reveals that every week, Sekulow and other leading Christian theocrats hold a conference call to check on the progress of their agenda; with prominent members of the Bush administration (such as Karl Rove) often on the line.

NOTE

1. Alito has not only ruled in favor of allowing governments to set up Nativity scenes, he ruled against a school district that wanted to prevent an evangelical group from sending fliers home to elementary school children. While Alito's arguments have also expressed the position that other religious expression (by Jews and Muslims) can be officially sponsored by government, these rulings can be understood as an expression of Alito's much touted skill at packaging a reactionary agenda in ways and terms that provide a "carefully argued" and "legally rigorous" approach.

Return to Article

Then and Now: Joseph Goebbels and John Yoo

Revolution #027, December 19, 2005, posted at revcom.us

 

 

THEN and NOW

Joseph Goebbels:

  • Propaganda Minister for Hitler regime
  • Writer
  • War criminal

 

John Yoo:

  • Former Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Bush regime
  • Law professor
  • War criminal

Question to Joseph Goebbels:
If the Führer deems that he's got to torture somebody, including by crushing the testicles of that person's child, there is no law that can stop him?

 

Question to John Yoo:
If the President deems that he's got to torture somebody, including by crushing the testicles of that person's child, there is no law that can stop him?

Goebbels: I think it depends on why the Führer thinks he needs to do that.

 

Yoo: I think it depends on why the President thinks he needs to do that.

What he MIGHT have said THEN   What he ACTUALLY said NOW
 
   

Actual quotes from a December 1, 2005 debate in Chicago between Doug Cassel, Notre Dame professor and human rights legal scholar, and John Yoo, Berkeley law professor and author of infamous legal memo justifying presidential powers to torture U.S. captives around the world.

If Crushing the Testicles of an Innocent Child Isn't Nazi, What Is?

by Phillip Watts

Revolution #027, December 19, 2005, posted at revcom.us

On December 1st, my tape recorder was running as I covered a debate between human rights lawyer Doug Cassel and torture-advocate John Yoo. Yoo is the lawyer who drafted essential elements of the Bush administration's legal justifications of torture. Reviewing Yoo's new book, The Powers of War and Peace: The Constitution and Foreign Affairs after 9/11, in The New York Review of Books, David Cole wrote: "Few lawyers have had more influence on President Bush's legal policies in the 'war on terror' than John Yoo."

Here's what I recorded:

Cassel: If the president deems that he's got to torture somebody, including by crushing the testicles of the person's child, there is no law that can stop him?

Yoo: No treaty.

Cassel: Also no law by Congress -- that is what you wrote in the August 2002 memo...

Yoo: I think it depends on why the President thinks he needs to do that.

* * * *

Later in the event, someone in the audience compared Yoo's position, and the Bush administration's policies on torture, to Nazi Germany. Yoo objected: "To equate Nazi Germany to the Bush administration is irresponsible." Some booed. But more people in the crowd applauded what Yoo said, as if this is a comparison that you just can't make.

Well, people, I have to ask:

If advocating crushing the testicles of an innocent child isn't Nazi, what the fuck do you have to do to be a Nazi?!

Who's Going to Step Up and Fill Mobile's Shoes?

Joe Veale, spokesperson for LA Branch of the RCP

Revolution #027, December 19, 2005, posted at revcom.us

The following is Joe Veale's tribute to Willie "Mobile" Shaw at the Watts memorial.

The death of Comrade Mobile is a great loss for the proletariat and for our Party. He was full of enthusiasm for revolution, for communism and he was a proud follower of Bob Avakian, the Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party.

He was truly an inspiration to all of us. Words cannot describe how much we will miss him.

When he joined the Party he was already very ill and facing death. But the possibilities for a whole new world were opened up for him. He learned of the great revolutionary potential that the people in the ghettos and barrios in this country and around the world possess. He learned that they are part of the international proletariat--that they have the potential to become emancipators of all humanity--and he went all out to lead them in acting on this reality. This was his dream. This is what his life was dedicated to.

He said that he did not want to end up broken, living without hope. He said he wanted his life to count for something--to bringing about change for the people.

He was an internationalist. He would get up in front of a group of Latinos and say to them,

"I'm the same as you. We speak different languages, we have different cultures but we are the same class of people. It was my blood the police spilled when they killed that 18-month-old baby Suzie Pena.

"Just because we are Black don't mean that other people havent gone through hard times see those two homeless white guys over there--if it starts to unfold the way we talking about, even though we dont know them, I bet you they going to be with us. I see a lot of people--how they living. They might not be thinking like us right now but when the shit comes down, they gonna look and say, yeah! I see whats happening and join in."

Mobile was always talking about how thats his blood fighting in places like Nepal and the Philippines.

When he discovered the Chairman and his vision of a new society, he went out to tell everybody about it. He wanted others to see what he saw; that with this leader we can have a whole new society and world. He was like a kid who had just discovered a great big candy store and he wanted everybody to get some of it.

As some of y'all know, sometimes Mobile would go nose to nose with you over this stuff. Not out of anger, but because he had great love for you and he wanted you to see that we have a great leader that can lead us to win.

He was patient. He would give you a break for a day or two--then he would be right back at it again.

After watching the DVD "Revolution, Why Its Necessary, Why Its Possible, Whats It All About" by Bob Avakian, he said,

"Man, this is my education. I think people are going to start thinking I went to school or something. I be learning so much stuff, different words, history. The more I listen to Bob Avakian, the more I'm learning. People watch the tape one time and say I listened to it already. No, no, you can't listen to it one time. You got to listen to it over and over. Every time I bet you'll think of something new you didn't think about before."

He would open his front door and turn the volume all the way up so that everybody could hear it. He played it for the gangsters, the homeless, smokers, regular working people, church-going people, Latinos--everybody.

To him Bob Avakian is one of a kind: "No other leader talks the real like he does" And from him Mobile learned what the new society would be like. He broke it down like this.

"This system makes people do what they want them to do. In the new society you might only work for four hours and then you do art, science, crafts, or whatever. The masses out here think they are in control of the drugs but the system puts the drugs out here to keep us from thinking and acting in a revolutionary way. People look at the new society like that is unbelievable. But we have the right person to lead us there. There is enough people around the world that if they got a hold of the Chairman and took him up it would be a cold revolution. People need to know that they have a person like the Chairman on their side and they need to stand up for him."

And even though Mobile was very ill he went all out in doing this. He was confident that once people understood what he understands that they too will become fighters in the cause of revolution.

He was a seeding machine. Everywhere he went he was planting the seeds of revolution. The vision of a socialist and communist society; spreading the truth that with the leadership of Bob Avakian we can get to that new society.

And I would add that we need millions and millions like Mobile too--millions who come from the bottom of society, Blacks, whites, Latinos, Asians. Those who are the most determined to see it all the way through--like Mobile was--must be the backbone of this revolution. Its this class of people who have the potential to take it all the way. Until there are no more haves lording it over the have-nots. No more whites oppressing non-whites. No more men oppressing women. No more one group controlling the wealth and power and making others slave for them to make them richer and more powerful.

Mobile would say the Chairman is different than all other leaders out here. Other leaders when they speak to you, they speak at you, they speak down to you. When Bob Avakian speaks he speaks from standing with you. Other times he would say,

"People want to see a change but they say when, how and where. I tell them to look at Mao. He did it. He led a revolutionary struggle for power in China. The Chairman can lead us in doing that too. Hes at work and we have to get to work too. If we dont get out there and help people see the two sides then the ruling class is going to win."

Mobile would get the stores around here to carry the DVD. One time he reported, "The majority of stores around here have the DVD of the Chairman. Three out of five people who have it are surprised that he is talking that way."

And he went on to report,

"A lot of people out here dont see no leaders. I say we have a leader. That leader is Bob Avakian. People he is speaking to, a lot of them go to church for other reasons (than being a Christian Fascist or Bush supporter--JV). They are looking for something that only the Chairman can give them. I joined the church because of my illness; hoping that I could be healed. Through talking with the Party and grappling with how I am really going to spend my Sundays, I saw the Unity Picnics (picnics promoting unity between Blacks and Latinos that the RCP was part of organizing in the Nickersons)--getting together on that basis was way better than the church. The only way I can see a change is with the Party."

And as he would say, the Chairman.

One of the last things Mobile did was to take part in the World Cant Wait Drive Out the Bush Regime demonstrations on November 2. There were thousands and thousands all along Wilshire raising this demand. He was very excited about this. He thought about getting up and speaking at it. But he was in a wheelchair and decided not to do it. At one point he was overcome with emotion and the tears started to flow. He was very excited and happy. But he said that there should have been more people from Watts at this. More people standing up and representing the people on the bottom of society--the proletariat--like he was doing. He later talked about how he was doing what he was doing so that people from places like Watts can see that this revolutionary movement that we are building represents them. And he was voicing a little frustration with people being slow to recognize this.

This brother left some big shoes to fill. Who's gonna step up and fill those shoes? What he dedicated his life to is what we all need to dedicate our lives to. Join this Party. Build it. Support it. Follow the leadership of Bob Avakian. Become part of the emancipators of humanity and be one of the gravediggers of this foul and cruel imperialist system.

Memorial at Nickerson Gardens

Revolution #027, December 19, 2005, posted at revcom.us

A chilly evening wind blew across the Nickerson Gardens Projects in Watts on Saturday, December 3, as people gathered to pay tribute to Comrade Willie "Mobile" Shaw. Mobile died on November 24 due to complications following surgery. The people who came to celebrate Mobile's life as a communist included his comrades, relatives, friends, and others from the neighborhood.

Mobile was known all over the projects in Watts as a revolutionary communist. He grew up in and lived his whole life in the Nickersons, and he always had a rock-solid love for the people in the projects. Some of his long-time friends talked about how you could never be in need of anything or facing any kind of trouble without Mobile trying to help out. When he hooked into communism, all this extended out to proletarians and oppressed people around the world. Mobile found hope in revolution, communism, and the leadership of Chairman Avakian; he had an endless enthusiasm for our cause and fought to make it real. And as a speaker from the RCYB said, this boundless enthusiasm--even in the face of his terrible illness--inspired many youth in the revolutionary movement.

Everyone spoke about how big Mobiles heart was. And his heart seemed to grow so much bigger and stronger as he dedicated his life to communism. A comrade who worked very closely with Mobile had heads nodding and people laughing as he called on them to remember that no one had a conversation with Mobile that didnt talk about revolution and didnt contain the phrases "Its like Bob Avakian says" or "You still thinking in the old system way." Mobiles nephews pointed out that one thing they always knew for sure about visiting Mobile--you'd get some amazing fried chicken and a hellacious debate and discussion about communism and Bob Avakian.

Alert to Readers

Revolution #027, December 19, 2005, posted at revcom.us

ALERT TO READERS: As we go to press, California Governor Arnold Schwartzenegger has said that he will announce his decision on clemency for Stanley "Tookie" Williams by Monday, Dec. 12. Stanley Williams is scheduled to be executed at 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 13--which means the clemency decision could come just hours or minutes before the execution. Check online at revcom.us for news and statements as soon as Schwartzenegger makes his announcement.

New Opening and Danger in the Fight for Mumia Abu-Jamal

Revolution #027, December 19, 2005, posted at revcom.us

There are important new developments in the long struggle for justice and freedom for revolutionary political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal, who has been on death row since his unjust conviction and sentencing in 1982 for the murder of a Philadelphia cop. On December 7, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia agreed to hear arguments on three separate defense claims of constitutional violations in Mumia's trial and state appeals. A decision by the Third Circuit to uphold any one of these claims could lead to a new trial for Mumia. So the Dec. 7 announcement opens a door for potential victory in Mumia's case.

At the same time, however, the Third Circuit is also considering the prosecution's appeal of a lower court ruling that overturned Mumia's death sentence--and there is a real danger that the Third Circuit Court could rule in prosecution's favor and reinstate the death penalty on Mumia. According to Mumia's lawyer, the court has put the case on a "fast track," and opening briefs are due to be filed by January 17, 2006.

In December 2001 federal judge William Yohn ruled that Judge Sabo's sentencing procedure was illegal and overturned Mumia's death sentence. But Yohn's ruling let the unjust conviction stand. And the Philadelphia DA appealed to get the death sentence reinstated. The Third Circuit Court could now rule in DA's favor and put Mumia back on the fast track to execution. All this calls for people to raise their vigilance around Mumia's case, and to step up the demand that Mumia not be killed and that the government free him.

The three defense claims that the Third Circuit agreed to consider are 1) that the prosecution illegally removed qualified Black jurrors; 2) that in his final summation the prosecutor violated Mumia's constitutional rights by telling the jury, "If you find the Defendant guilty of course, there would be appeal after appeal and perhaps there could be a reversal of the case, or whatever, so that may not be final."; 3) that the original judge in the case was biased against the defense.

Mumia, a journalist and a former leader in the Philadelphia Black Panther Party, was tried before the notorious pro-police Judge Albert Sabo, who had handed down more death sentences than any other judge in the U.S. The police and prosecution cooked up phony "evidence" and intimidated witnesses to testify against Mumia. Sabo denied Mumia's right to defend himself and forced on him an unprepared attorney that Mumia did not want. The prosecution worked to remove Black people from the jury and used political statements that Mumia made as a young Panther as an argument for the death penalty. Outrageous injustices have continued since the original trial as Mumia appealed his case.

In all these years on death row, Mumia has continued to stand firm and to speak out with a revolutionary voice on important questions in the U.S. and internationally. He is among the signers of the Call from The World Can't Wait--Drive Out the Bush Regime, and one of his recent radio broadcasts from death row was a defense of high school students in Los Angeles who walked out of school as part of the nationwide protests on Nov. 2--a commentary that was printed in last week's issue of Revolution (available online at revcom.us).

The case of Mumia concentrates key questions in society: the use of the death penalty as a tool of oppression, the criminalization of Black men, the gutting of defendants' rights, police brutality, the whole climate of repression and punishment against the oppressed.

In his ruling, Yohn had only certified one defense claim for appeal to the Third Circuit--the claim about the removal of Black jurors. Appellate courts are not required to hear arguments on defense claims that have not been certified by the lower court. The December 7 announcement by the Third Circuit has now expanded the grounds on which Mumia's unjust conviction can be overturned. But the prosecution's appeal means that the danger to Mumia's life is still very real.

Chicago and New York Bookstore Readings

Making Connections Through Bob Avakian's Memoir

Revolution #027, December 19, 2005, posted at revcom.us

Two special evenings of readings from Bob Avakian's memoir, From Ike to Mao and Beyond: My Journey from Mainstream America to Revolutionary Communist, took place on Tuesday, December 6, in Chicago and Wednesday, December 7 in New York City. Bob Avakian's memoir was released nationally in Berkeley in May 2005 and a book reading in San Francisco was aired on C-SPAN's Book TV program.

In both New York and Chicago, guest readers took listeners on a journey through three unique but interwoven stories in Ike to Mao and Beyond.... The first tells of a white middle-class kid growing up in '50s America who goes to an integrated high school and has his world turned around; the second of a young man who overcomes a near-fatal disease and jumps with both feet into the heady swirl of Berkeley in the '60s; and the third of a radical activist who matures into a tempered revolutionary communist leader.

In addition to readings from the book, both events included a fascinating dialog between Maoist political economist Raymond Lotta and Quetzal Ceja, managing editor of Insight Press, the publisher of the memoir.

Chicago

100 people gathered for an event sponsored by the Barnes & Noble DePaul Center bookstore in downtown Chicago to hear readings from Avakian's memoir. The audience was a rare mix at a book event: people of all ages and of diverse nationalities, students and activists, people from the Cabrini Green projects and professionals. There were people who have been following Bob Avakian for years, as well as people for whom this was the first introduction.

Readers in Chicago were: Jaafar Aksikas, Columbia College professor of Cultural Studies; Linda Flores, poet and writer for Revolution newspaper; José Guerrero, artist/muralist; Susan Nussbaum, an actor and well-known disability rights activist; Joshua Schultz, theater director and artist; Dread Scott, artist; and David Shapiro, actor.

A Columbia College student, who learned about the event from one of his professors, said that he was surprised by the range of readings that showed how Bob Avakian is not just very thoughtful but also very funny. He leafed through the book Marxism and the Call of the Future, co-authored by Avakian and DePaul philosophy professor Bill Martin, and commented on the range of issues covered in it--that this is not what he thought communists were like, or what they concerned themselves with. Another young person remarked that Avakian was different from what he had expected, and that he wanted to learn more about what Avakian has to say.

These comments reflected something spoken to by Howard Zinn who says the memoir is "a truly interesting account of Bob Avakian's life, a humanizing portrait of someone who is often seen only as a hard-line revolutionary." And by Lenny Wolff, who writes in the preface to the memoir: "Whatever you may expect in picking up this book--I guarantee you'll be surprised... There is breadth to this man. And if you thought that communism is dead' or that all those who continue to uphold it conform to the stereotypes of dogmatic totalitarianism,' you are in for a real jolt." In a good way, people were "jolted" and had their curiosity peaked and eyes opened to this unique individual, his leadership and his powerful life story through an evening of readings from his memoir.

New York City

Labyrinth Books near Columbia University was packed for the reading organized by a recently formed committee in New York City. The audience was a mix of professors, activists, high school and college students, and others. A retired Columbia University math professor said that he had come off of an ad in the university's newspaper and was especially attracted by Howard Zinn's statement about the memoir.

The guest readers each brought their own flavor to their readings, their own humor or style, or spoke to how they related to the particular chapter or the author. Aladdin, a playwright and comedian, brought alive the "cornbread" story from the "High School" chapter. Columbia University Professor Neni Panourgia couldn't keep from bursting out laughing at the funniest parts of her readings. There was a connection in the room--from author to reader to audience and back again--that was really moving and fun. Other readers were: Gamal Chasten, playwright and poet and from Universes; Joe Fortunato, attorney and member of the NJ Green Party; Bill Homan, actor; Noche Lares, a high school student, Shakespeare enthusiast, seasoned fencer and Revolutionary Communist Youth Brigade member; Father Lawrence Lucas, deputy director for Ministerial and Volunteer Services for NYC Dept. of Corrections; and Justina Mejia, vocalist, poet, and performance artist.

"The readers really seemed into what they were reading. They brought a real energy to it, like what Bob Avakian must have felt when he was writing it,"said Simone, a high school student organizer for The World Can't Wait--Drive Out the Bush Regime. Victoria, also a high school student, said,

"The readers were really alive, and the last section that was read (from the final chapter) was so powerful. A lot of people don't know who he is--or they think of him as a communist but not as a person with a childhood, etc. Events like this make you feel closer to him."

Zeno, one of the organizers of the event, said:

"The committee was formed by people who see the importance of this book being in the hands of tens of thousands of people, becoming a classic; we want this book to be the talk of this city and beyond so people are asking each other, 'Have you read this?' because we can see the impact it can have. We want this book being used in history, philosophy, Marxism, and sociology classes."

The committee announced at the reading that this was just the first of many such events to promote this book and its author.

A unique and exciting aspect of the event was the grouping of prominent people who served as honorary co-hosts: Father Luis Barrios of Iglesia San Romero de Las Americas, NY; Dennis Brutus, South African poet and former political prisoner; reg e. gaines, poet; Lister Hewan-Lowe, radio DJ; Nicholas Heyward, Sr., of Parents Against Police Brutality; Larry Kirwan, lead singer of Black 47, playwright, novelist; Rev. Earl Kooperkamp; Father Lawrence Lucas; Jessica Care Moore, poet and publisher; Ralph Poynter; Juan Rodriguez-Muñoz, professor of Latino & Multicultural Studies; Miles Solay, Outernational; Lynne Stewart, attorney; Michael Tarif Warren, attorney; and Naomi Wallace, playwright.

In a message issued in building for the reading, the honorary co-hosts said:

"Coming from diverse outlooks and perspectives, we are proud to serve as honorary hosts for this celebration. At a very dangerous time in this country it is crucial that voices like Avakian's must be heard, his work and ongoing story of his life be engaged with."

Conversation on "And Beyond"

The programs of readings from Bob Avakian's memoir, From Ike to Mao and Beyond: My Journey from Mainstream America to Revolutionary Communist, in Chicago and New York featured a dialog between Maoist political economist Raymond Lotta and Quetzal Ceja, managing editor of Insight Press, the publisher of the memoir. They discussed how this book has important resonance right now because there are many, many people, particularly youth, who are thinking about what kind of life is worth living and what their life will be about. Lotta talked about Avakian's life and body of work, including his summation of the socialist experience in China--boldly upholding, but also boldly criticizing its secondary weaknesses. And he contrasted this with the putrid world outlook and straight-up lies in the new and widely promoted biography of Mao (Mao: The Unknown Story) that negate all the revolutionary accomplishments of the Chinese masses under Mao's leadership. Lotta contrasted Avakian's love for and confidence in people that comes through in the memoir with the utter disdain for the masses in the new Mao biography. The discussion also went into what is captured by the "and beyond" in the title of the memoir--Avakian's powerful and provocative new reenvisioning of communism and socialism. Lotta talked about Bob Avakian's concept of communist leadership – the need to raise the sights of the masses to a communist world without exploitation and oppression and the crucial necessity to link the work and struggle of today to the goal of a communist world. He talked about how Avakian concentrates in his life and work, how the world is, how the world can be changed, and how it can be different. And Lotta encouraged people to check out Avakian's other works, including his newest book, Observations on Art and Culture, Science and Philosophy.

Conversation on "And Beyond"

The programs of readings from Bob Avakian's memoir, From Ike to Mao and Beyond: My Journey from Mainstream America to Revolutionary Communist, in Chicago and New York featured a dialog between Maoist political economist Raymond Lotta and Quetzal Ceja, managing editor of Insight Press, the publisher of the memoir. They discussed how this book has important resonance right now because there are many, many people, particularly youth, who are thinking about what kind of life is worth living and what their life will be about. Lotta talked about Avakian's life and body of work, including his summation of the socialist experience in China--boldly upholding, but also boldly criticizing its secondary weaknesses. And he contrasted this with the putrid world outlook and straight-up lies in the new and widely promoted biography of Mao (Mao: The Unknown Story) that negate all the revolutionary accomplishments of the Chinese masses under Mao's leadership. Lotta contrasted Avakian's love for and confidence in people that comes through in the memoir with the utter disdain for the masses in the new Mao biography. The discussion also went into what is captured by the "and beyond" in the title of the memoir--Avakian's powerful and provocative new reenvisioning of communism and socialism. Lotta talked about Bob Avakian's concept of communist leadership – the need to raise the sights of the masses to a communist world without exploitation and oppression and the crucial necessity to link the work and struggle of today to the goal of a communist world. He talked about how Avakian concentrates in his life and work, how the world is, how the world can be changed, and how it can be different. And Lotta encouraged people to check out Avakian's other works, including his newest book, Observations on Art and Culture, Science and Philosophy.

Pat and Jerry's Christmas Correction Camp

Revolution #027, December 19, 2005, posted at revcom.us

Noticing your son mumble "seasons greetings" under his breath?

Finding greeting cards with the words "happy holidays" stashed in your daughters doll house?

Hearing your grandchild repeatedly utter the word "secular" during a phone conversation?

PDF 1.3 mb

There's no time to waste.
YOU MUST ACT NOW!
Ship them IMMEDIATELY to:

Pat and Jerry's Christmas Correction Camp

Jerry Falwell: Here at Pat and Jerry's "CC" camp, as we fondly call it, We take seriously our job as a defense line in the war to save Christmas.

Pat Robertson: To that end we've taken the best tried and true techniques - from Guatemala, Tel Aviv and Abu Ghraib - and combined them into an unbeatable 2 week learning experience guaranteed to turn your little heathen back into a godfearing Christian - or your money back!

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Pat Robertson: So act now, because it's never too late to save your child from critical thinking, rational thought, secular science, the gay agenda, Harry Potter occultisum, and other demonic influences. Remember - together we can bring about the day when once again all Americans in one voice will be publicly honoring our lord and shouting "Merry Christmas" - if they know what's good for them.

Sponsored by the KEEP CHRIST IN CHRISTMAS OR ELSE COMMITTEE,

a participating member of the Christian Fascist NetworkTM

Contribute to the Prisoners' Revolutionary Literature Fund

Revolution #027, December 19, 2005, posted at revcom.us

Thousands of prisoners read Revolution consistently. Hundreds of them have subscribed to it, despite the authorities' putting their names on lists, harassing them, and in some cases, putting them in isolation. Among the more than two million inmates, the prisons in the USA probably house more Revolution readers than any other comparably sized section of the population.

You can see how much the revolutionary-minded prisoners treasure this paper, not only from the risks they take to get it, but from the letters they send to the Prisoners' Revolutionary Literature Fund (PRLF). These letters show the impact that Revolution is having as prisoners study the paper, draw inspiration from it, grapple with the ideas in it, discuss it informally from cell to cell as well as in more formal study circles, and cite it in their correspondence to family and friends. For many prisoners, the paper has become a central reference point in reconstructing their lives. It has been essential to orienting, educating, energizing, and organizing untold numbers of them.

PRLF receives about twenty letters from prisoners every week. On average, about five or six contain subscription requests. All of them need to be filled, and urgently.

How much money is needed at present?

Each prisoner subscription costs $20 per year.

PRLF also needs funds to fill prisoners' requests for Bob Avakian's works and other Marxist-Leninist-Maoist literature. In order to fullfill all the requests for subscriptions and literature we need tens of thousands of dollars a year.

Finally, PRLF needs money to help wage the battle against censorship. Prison authorities in some states, violating the system's own laws and court rulings, have been censoring entire issues of Revolution, one after the next. This censorship aims to sever the vital link between the prisoners and the vanguard party. It must be systematically challenged and defeated.

*****

Brothers and Sisters:

I have recently subscribed to Revolution. I want to tell you, just the first couple issues I received have blown my mind. It is greatly refreshing to find a publication that not only speaks the truth, but speaks on behalf of the real proletarian. The world desperately needs a voice like the RCP who is bold enough to openly express a real need for revolution. I often wonder what it is going to take to get people to realize what is going on around them. The current fascist regime we live under makes me ill, and I for one have had more than enough of their shit. I refuse to be a slave, or a sheep, or a nice little zoo animal that is just here for their sick amusement. I'm sick of my loved ones having to work 60-70 hours a week just to be able to eat. I'm sick of waking up every morning physically ill at the thought of having to deal with all these warped Gestapo pigs (who I truly believe are Klansmen). Like millions of other brothers and sisters the fascists have taken everything from me, now they want my life.

The Revolutionary Communist Party is exactly what I have been looking for, but I only recently realized it. I must be a part of this, I want to join your Party. I really do have nothing to lose but my chains, and the time for revolution is now. I look forward to hearing from you brothers and sisters.

In struggle,

[Black River Falls, WI]

*****

Hello, how are you? I hope you and all your love are fine and in the best of health. I'm fine considering the circumstances. I received Bob Avakian's Preaching from a Pulpit of Bones, which I read and enjoyed. For some reason I felt lost a little in the beginning ("The Reality Beneath William Benneett's Virtues'"). But after "Putting an End to Sin" it all came together. I gained a lot of insight on many aspects of the Bible. I am in the process of buying From Ike to Mao and Beyond and I'll be looking forward to that read as well. . . . Thank you again and I enjoyed this book and will pass the book around to enlighten brothers as to the Chairman's message.

In struggle,

[Bradford, PA]

*****

Comrades,

I received your scribe along with the article back in late August or early September and of course read the September 25th issue of the "R."

The Call that's going out to mobilize to drive out the wicked regime was a call that is badly needed and long overdue!

I can't do as much as I would like to do but my goal has always been to share the "R" with everyone! And hope that they can accept the truth and stop pretending... My aim is to share the "R" with as many proletarians as possible. This is something that I have done from day one.

Frederick Douglass said, "The limits of what an oppressor will do to the people is set by the limits of what those people will accept."

My question is this, how much more of this can you accept?

Aluta continua!

*****

Dear Friends of RCP-PRLF,

I have been relocated at a new prison facility. Revolution newspaper is my lifeblood though and so I am writing to notify you good folks there of my new address.

Please make official record of my new address to that I can continue to receive Revolution. I am inspired immensely by Chairman Avakian as well as the other Revolution staff writers. I study and work with ideas on a continuous basis so that at some point I'll be able to serve the revolution and communist state in whichever capacity calls.

I think you for your support of my development. As I've said in opening, the party really is my "lifeblood." Do not hesitate to call upon me for tasks. I am active and committed.

Sincerely,

XXX

*****

Send your check or credit card information to:

PRLF
c/o RCP Publications
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phone, (773) 227-4188.

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Lehman HS, Bronx:

"Change This World and Drive Out the Bush Regime"

Revolution #027, December 19, 2005, posted at revcom.us

The following letter appears on The World Can't Wait website.

In Lehman HS in the Bronx, our students are facing repression by those in authority. Those who are called the Deans in the school have set out to get the students scared that by participating in Walk Outs, that they will be endangering themselves, their academic record, and will be disciplined for merely showing a political initiative in the school. The Lehman HS administration tried to express the so-called "concerns" they had that this would jeopardize school education, and the school environment if students use this as an excuse to leave school grounds. There is hypocrisy and double talk here. The reasons they claim for stopping students are illegitimate, and absurd. Students in our school and public schools throughout NYC have students cutting classes on a regular basis. In fact, Students in our school cut classes and stand right outside the school and the Deans, School Security, and Police Officers rarely do a thing...unless they want to ruffle a few feathers with the students and try to create a fearful situation.

In our situation, because of the plans we have set forward, and because of the students resentment of this system which holds them in prison like schools and socializes them for a future that is dreary, the Administration is dead scared. I have heard reports from certain people that they are in fear of the students organizing themselves in a way similar to the 60s' movement. They don't want the Youth to challenge this system, and really challenge the Bush Administration. They tell us to take the "traditional route" and vote, they bring into our schools Democrats telling us we can change the system within; however we are not buying a word anymore. Students are lifting their heads beyond politics as usual and the liberal framework of the US government. We are realizing that you can't confront Fascists like George W. Bush and his cronies through petitions and calling our congressmen, it takes the masses of people to make a situation where he is thrown from his throne out of power, and only then can we make real history.

Lehman HS has many teachers who are supportive of our agenda in Driving Out the Bush Regime; however for the most part they remain silence in fear of job security. This is the situation in our school, there is polarization everywhere, amongst students and the faculty. In our Social Studies department, debate raged about our actions. In the class rooms, students spoke to other students about November 2nd mobilization effort and walk out. And the day of and after the November 2nd, there was confrontation between students and security, faculty and faculty, and so on. They had tried to stomp out the spirit of resistance in our school; however the struggle went on, and a number of us walked out. They gave some students summons for wearing stickers, they told students to flip their "Resist or Die" T-Shirts inside out, they warned students they would be suspended if they put up stickers or passed out literature. NOTHING STOPPED US! And now we have the potential to be as strong as ever.

We, the Students of Lehman HS share our story with the World Can't Wait...Drive Out the Bush Regime organization, and with other students within our HS and Colleges. Let the colleges take examples of our brave students in Lehman HS, Clinton HS, Pablo Neruda Academy, Beacon HS, MLK HS, and many others. It is time to rise up and join us! And for the other HS students, what are you waiting for? Join your fellow friends and students and change this world and Drive Out the Bush Regime.

Stop the Harassment of Los Angeles High School Students Who are Against the Bush Regime!

Revolution #027, December 19, 2005, posted at revcom.us

The following is the text of a petition being circulated by World Can't Wait. A PDF version of the petition is online at worldcantwait.net

Stop the Harassment of Los Angeles High School Students Who are Against the Bush Regime!

This petition demands that the LAUSD Board of Education and Superintendent Roy Romer use their authority to immediately stop the harassment, repression, and punitive measures used against high school students who heroically stepped up and resisted authority to walk out of school on November 2nd, and united with church leaders, war veterans, educators, workers, intellectuals, politicians, and many others in over seventy cities across the nation. This was a spirited and determined first step in a rapidly growing mass movement, The World Can't Wait!–Drive Out the Bush Regime, that now demands that Bush Step Down.

This is deadly serious business we bring before the LAUSD Board of Education and Superintendent Romer. Students have been threatened with fines, expulsion and suspension for passing out flyers pertaining to the November 2, 2005 work and school walkout. They have been forbidden to have anti-Bush political literature in their possession. Student Geovany Serrano was pepper-sprayed, arrested, has had criminal charges filed against him, and is under house arrest because he was passing out anti -Bush political literature and stickers at Belmont High School prior to November 2. Other students were physically restrained by school officials as they attempted to leave campus to participate in the walkout on November 2nd. Some school officials locked students inside to prevent their leaving. Students have been ticketed, fined, suspended, or transferred out of their schools as punishment. All this in spite of guidelines issued to principals by LAUSD Chief Operating Officer Dan Isaacs in an October 26, 2005 memo, which include: "Do not attempt to prevent students from leaving the campus." (bullet point 2)

Military recruiters appear regularly on campuses, signing young people up to become soldiers in what has been described by Dick Cheney as a war that will last for a generation. It has been reported that non-student Christian Fundamentalists have preached and passed out their literature on campuses without a hint of an administrative challenge

But, this goes beyond matters of constitutional law, or selective enforcement of policy or law, which is already cause enough for grave concern. School lockdowns chillingly reflect a lockdown of our society that the Bush regime pushes: waging illegitimate war, legalizing torture, justifying institutionalized racism (illustrated in the monstrous criminalization and callous treatment of Katrina victims), replacing science with religious creationism in public school science curriculums, indefinite imprisonment of anyone without charges or benefit of legal recourse under the singular authority of the President.

Students understand the urgency of the situation and feel the weight of the future hanging in the balance. We applaud them for their heroic, spirited and defiant actions, and their example must and will be followed by others. Reflect on Rosa Parks, who through her brave act of defiance inspired others to unite with her in mass resistance against an unjust society with unjust laws. There were those who arrested her and jailed her. Others joined her, because they knew she was right. She was right. The students are right!

It is imperative that Superintendent Roy Romer and the LAUSD Board of Education understand that their role in these matters is of historical importance and it is time to step forward. The hour is getting late. We are at a critical juncture in history. Support students and others in opposition to a grim and brutal future. Reverse the direction that the Bush Regime is leading us. Begin now.

"That which you will not resist and mobilize to stop, you will learn--or be forced--to accept."

from The World Can't Wait–Drive Out the Bush Regime Call

We, the undersigned demand that Superintendent Roy Romer and the LAUSD Board of education put an immediate stop to:

1. Repressive treatment and harassment of students who participated in political action(s) to Drive Out the Bush Regime!

2. Truancy fines, suspensions, expulsions, detentions, and any and all punitive measures brought to bear on students in these matters

We further demand:

1. All charges be dropped against Geovany Serrano

2. All truancy fines be rescinded and reimbursed to students and their families

We also call on students on high school and university campuses, educators at all levels, and any people who are sickened by all of this to send statements of support, make phone calls, and to join, strengthen and support the movement to Drive Out the Bush Regime, because The World Can't Wait!

SUPERINTENDENT ROY ROMER
Los Angeles Unified School District
333 S. Beaudry Ave.
Los Angeles CA 90017
ph: 213.241.7000
fax: 213.241.8442

BELMONT HIGH SCHOOL
Principal Gary Yoshinobu
1575 W. 2nd St.
Los Angeles CA 90026
ph: 213.250.0244
fax: 213.250.9706
email: gary.yoshinobu@lausd.net

From the Stage of the Nobel Prize

Harold Pinter Delivers Blistering Condemnation of the Bush Regime

Revolution #027, December 19, 2005, posted at revcom.us

Harold Pinter is a highly acclaimed British playwright who has penned plays like The Caretaker, The Room,and The Birthday Party. Pinter wrote or adapted dozens of movie scripts, including writing the screenplay for The Handmaid's Tale, a chilling expose of what life would be like for women under a Christian fascist regime in America.

Pinter is an outspoken endorser of the call The World Can't Wait, Drive Out the Bush Regime. And, when Pinter won the Nobel Prize in Literature, he used his acceptance speech on December 7 to launch a blistering attack on George Bush and the British government, and a challenge to the conscience of people to not stand by in the face of Bush's crimes. Ill with cancer and unable to appear in person, Pinter spoke via video:

"Look at Guantánamo Bay," he demanded. "Hundreds of people detained without charge for over three years, with no legal representation or due process, technically detained forever. This totally illegitimate structure is maintained in defiance of the Geneva Convention. It is not only tolerated but hardly thought about by what's called the international community.' This criminal outrage is being committed by a country which declares itself to be the leader of the free world.' Do we think about the inhabitants of Guantánamo Bay? What does the media say about them? They pop up occasionally--a small item on page six. They have been consigned to a no man's land from which indeed they may never return. At present many are on hunger strike, being force-fed, including British residents. No niceties in these force-feeding procedures. No sedative or anaesthetic. Just a tube stuck up your nose and into your throat. You vomit blood. This is torture."

Pinter condemned the invasion of Iraq:

"a bandit act, an act of blatant state terrorism, demonstrating absolute contempt for the concept of international law. The invasion was an arbitrary military action inspired by a series of lies upon lies and gross manipulation of the media and therefore of the public; an act intended to consolidate American military and economic control of the Middle East masquerading--as a last resort--all other justifications having failed to justify themselves--as liberation. A formidable assertion of military force responsible for the death and mutilation of thousands and thousands of innocent people."

Employing his cutting command of irony, Pinter volunteered to write a speech for Bush:

"God is good. God is great. God is good. My God is good. Bin Laden's God is bad. His is a bad God. Saddam's God was bad, except he didn't have one. He was a barbarian. We are not barbarians. We don't chop people's heads off. We believe in freedom. So does God. I am not a barbarian. I am the democratically elected leader of a freedom-loving democracy. We are a compassionate society. We give compassionate electrocution and compassionate lethal injection. We are a great nation. I am not a dictator. He is. I am not a barbarian. He is. And he is. They all are. I possess moral authority. You see this fist? This is my moral authority. And don't you forget it."

Pinter's speech exposed how the U.S.

"supported and in many cases engendered every right-wing military dictatorship in the world after the end of the Second World War. I refer to Indonesia, Greece, Uruguay, Brazil, Paraguay, Haiti, Turkey, the Philippines, Guatemala, El Salvador, and, of course, Chile. The horror the United States inflicted upon Chile in 1973 can never be purged and can never be forgiven."

And:

"The United States possesses 8,000 active and operational nuclear warheads. Two thousand are on hair trigger alert, ready to be launched with 15 minutes warning. It is developing new systems of nuclear force, known as bunker busters. The British, ever cooperative, are intending to replace their own nuclear missile, Trident. Who, I wonder, are they aiming at? Osama bin Laden? You? Me? Joe Dokes? China? Paris? Who knows? What we do know is that this infantile insanity--the possession and threatened use of nuclear weapons--is at the heart of present American political philosophy. We must remind ourselves that the United States is on a permanent military footing and shows no sign of relaxing it."

Early in Pinter's speech, he compared the crimes he was denouncing to

"what happened in the Soviet Union and throughout Eastern Europe during the post-war period: the systematic brutality, the widespread atrocities, the ruthless suppression of independent thought."

This statement needs to be dissected. After 1956, a form of state capitalism was consolidated in the Soviet Union, and while retaining its socialist name and some of the formal trappings of socialist society, it became capitalist and imperialist in reality. So it is valid to equate crimes like the Soviet invasion and occupation of Afghanistan to the kinds of crimes being committed by the U.S. today. Before that point, while the Soviet Union had made great and inspiring advances as world's first socialist state during the 1920s and '30s, it also had significant problems--with much of the socialist road being "undone," in Bob Avakian's words, during and after World War 2. While the leadership, including Stalin, made mistakes--even grievous mistakes--going into and during this period under unprecedented and extremely difficult circumstances, it still remained overall socialist and mainly a force for revolution and progress in the world until the mid-'50s. This very complex process has been deeply examined by RCP Chairman Bob Avakian in Conquer the World--The International Proletariat Must and Will [available online at revcom.us/bob_avakian/conquerworld/]. Bob Avakian has also summed up how the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in China, led by Mao, represented a leap beyond the Soviet Union. Beyond that, Avakian has gone into the ways in which any future socialist society must go beyond even the best of the past, including in the realm of doing better at fostering dissent and critical thought, as a key part of his "new synthesis" on communism and socialism. [See Dictatorship and Democracy, and the Socialist Transition to Communism at revcom.us/bob_avakian/new_speech/avakian_democracy_dictatorship_speech.htm]. We urge people who took heart from Harold Pinter's Nobel speech to further engage these questions and to discuss and debate them as we link arms in the struggle to drive out the Bush regime, which (again) Pinter has correctly, courageously, and steadfastly compared to Hitler.

Near the end of his speech, Pinter posed an important challenge:

"Many thousands, if not millions, of people in the United States itself are demonstrably sickened, shamed and angered by their government's actions, but as things stand they are not a coherent political force--yet. But the anxiety, uncertainty and fear which we can see growing daily in the United States is unlikely to diminish."

When Harold Pinter signed the Call for the World Can't Wait, Drive Out the Bush Regime before November 2, he explained:

"The Bush Administration is the most dangerous force that has ever existed. It is more dangerous than Nazi Germany because of the range and depth of its activities and intentions worldwide. I give my full support to the Call to Drive out the Bush Regime."

In taking that stand, and in speaking out from the stage of the Nobel Prize, Harold Pinter set an important example for people in the public eye. It is a stand that must be promoted, defended, and taken up as a model by many others.

U.S. at War: A History of Shame

The Vietnam War: Destroying the Village In Order to Save It

Revolution #027, December 19, 2005, posted at revcom.us

"It became necessary to destroy the village in order to save it."

-- An American major after the destruction of the Vietnamese Village Ben Tre

On March 16, 1968, a company of U.S. soldiers went into the village of My Lai 4, in Vietnam. A soldier later testified, "The order we were given was to kill and destroy everything that was in the village. It was clearly explained that there were to be no prisoners."

"We met no resistance and I only saw three captured weapons. We had no casualties. It was just like any other Vietnamese village-old papa-sans, women and kids," a soldier said describing what they found on entering My Lai. "As a matter of fact, I don't remember seeing one military-age male in the entire place, dead or alive."

The U.S. soldiers started killing everyone in sight. A U.S. soldier later testified:

"There was an old lady in a bed and I believe there was a priest in white praying over her... [U.S. Lt.] Calley pulled the old man outside. He said a few more words to the monk. It looked like the monk was pleading for his life. Lt. Calley then took his rifle and pushed the monk into a rice paddy and shot him point-blank."

An order was given to push all the Vietnamese who had been forced into the area into a ditch. A soldier later recounted: "I began shooting them all. I guess I shot maybe 25 or 20 people in the ditch...men, women, and children. And babies." A baby crawling away from the ditch was grabbed and thrown back into the ditch and shot.

All over the village, platoons of U.S. soldiers were committing similar atrocities. The huts that the villagers lived in and their crops were burned, their livestock killed. Some of the dead were mutilated by having "C Company" carved into their chests; some were disemboweled. Women were raped. One GI would later say,

"You didn't have to look for people to kill, they were just there. I cut their throats, cut off their hands, cut out their tongues, and scalped them. I did it. A lot of people were doing it and I just followed."

The story of the American massacre at My Lai only came to light because of the persistent efforts of GIs who refused to let the story die.

Lt. Calley was the only soldier convicted of any of the atrocities that took place at My Lai. Despite being convicted of killing over 100 unarmed Vietnamese, Calley served only two days in jail! Nixon then ordered him put under house arrest at Fort Benning, where he could live in a nice apartment, cook his own food, receive guests, watch TV and go to town for supplies (accompanied by MPs). Calley was released from house arrest in just over three years and was able to make large amounts of money speaking to right-wing groups.

Unique Only in the Details

Over 400 Vietnamese were killed in the massacre at My Lai. The name of the village became a symbol of U.S. brutality and the U.S. tried to portray it as an action by rogue soldiers. But as historian Howard Zinn writes, "My Lai was unique only in its details."

In 2004, the Toledo Blade newspaper, won the Pulitzer Prize for reporting on atrocities committed more than 35 years earlier by the U.S. Tiger Force unit in the Vietnam War.

"Women and children were intentionally blown up in underground bunkers. Elderly farmers were shot as they toiled in the fields," The Blade reported. " Prisoners were tortured and executed--their ears and scalps severed for souvenirs. One soldier kicked out the teeth of executed civilians for their gold fillings."

In his book Flower of the Dragon, Richard Boyle, a journalist who went to My Lai to investigate the massacre, says:

"My Lai was not the act of one man. It was not the act of one platoon, or one company. It was the result of an ordered, planned and well-conducted campaign conceived at high command levels to teach a lesson to the villagers of Quang Ngai province. The killing, of course, is part of a definite political strategy, a strategy usually described as the 'pacification' of Vietnamese villagers."

What was this "pacification" strategy? In order to cut off support for the National Liberation Front, the U.S. strategy was to use terror to drive peasants into what were called strategic hamlets where they would be under constant surveillance of the U.S. and South Vietnamese Army forces. Atrocities like My Lai were the means to carry this out.

"Bomb them back to the stone age"

"Bomb them back to the stone age."

-- U.S. General Curtis LeMay during the Vietnam War

By the end of the Vietnam War the U.S. military had dropped more than 7 million tons of bombs-- more than twice the total tonnage dropped on Europe and Asia during all of World War 2--on a country roughly the size of New Mexico. This is almost one 500 pound bomb for every man, woman, and child in the country. Twenty million bomb craters are all over Vietnam. The craters fill with water and are breeding grounds for mosquitoes that plague the country today with malaria and dengue fever.

In South Vietnam, much of the bombing, like the "search and destroy" missions, was aimed at driving civilians out of the villages. They also defoliated large sections of the countryside to deprive the Vietnamese freedom fighters of places to hide.

The U.S. planes dropped anti-personnel bombs (containing thousands of flesh-shredding darts), white phosphorus incendiary bombs, huge "daisy cutter" bombs that turned jungle into flattened football fields, and jellied gasoline bombs called napalm. The notorious chemical Agent Orange was sprayed over tens of millions of acres--poisoning crops, forests, and human beings.

In the North, the U.S. unleashed massive air attacks aimed at civilian targets, aiming to break the will of the people to resist. U.S. bombs fell on densely populated areas like Hanoi. Bombers deliberately targeted dikes in the North threatening to flood massive areas of the county.

U.S. war planners wrote that a major objective of the U.S. bombing raids on North Vietnam was not to kill its population but to maim them. They argued that serious injury is more disruptive than death as people have to be employed to look after the injured where they only have to bury the dead.

Today, people who flew these missions, like John McCain in the Senate, are treated as distinguished heroes. But just because their mass murder took place at a distance, is it any less of a war crime than the killings of My Lai?

An Unjust War, Wrapped in Lies

A war is defined by the political goals it serves. The U.S. invasion of Vietnam was an unjust war--a war of conquest aimed at breaking the will of an oppressed people and imposing foreign domination over them. The U.S. wanted to encircle China and prevent the Maoist revolution there from rippling outward--toppling oppressive governments "like falling dominos" in Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. U.S. imperialism wanted to preserve for itself the freedom to exploit the hundreds of millions of people in this region, by any means necessary. And increasingly as the war went on, it was part of the growing imperialist contention between the U.S. and the Soviet Union.

The War in Vietnam came wrapped in lies. The U.S. claimed that it was defending a democratic ally, South Vietnam, from an invasion by North Vietnam. In fact, the Vietnamese were a single people who had long fought for liberation and unification--from the French colonialists, then the Japanese, then the French again, and in the 1960s and 1970s from the U.S.

President Eisenhower had prevented elections in southern Vietnam and created a pro-U.S. dictatorship there--openly admitting that the masses of people would have voted for the revolutionary leader Ho Chi Minh if given the chance.

When the revolutionary people's war spread through the villages of southern Vietnam during the early 1960s and threatened the pro-U.S. government--the U.S. invented an incident in the Gulf of Tonkin to justify a massive escalation in order to keep control by force.

The horrible crimes committed by the U.S. in Vietnam flowed directly from the nature of the war.

How Can You Support Troops Who Kill Babies?

"I gave them a good boy, and they turned him into a murderer."

--A mother after seeing photos of the My Lai massacre in Life magazine

"How can you support the troops and not support the war? What is it that the troops were doing, except waging that war?! Those soldiers who should be supported are those who are resisting--or seeking the means to resist--the war."

--Bob Avakian

Today, as the U.S. fights another unjust war in Iraq, there is debate in the anti-war movement over whether we should "support the troops." Some argue that the movement during Vietnam became too extreme when it charged U.S. troops with being baby killers.

In Vietnam there was a draft and millions were forced to serve in the imperialist armed forces. These soldiers were press-ganged into fighting and systematically lied to about the war. But, no matter what the troops subjectively feel they are fighting for, as long as these troops are fighting an unjust war of domination and exploitation, they cannot be supported in fighting that war.

How can we support or honor troops that fight in a war where baby killing is part of the strategic plan? What honor is there in dropping napalm on civilians, shooting children in a ditch, raping women or bombing dikes?

What these soldiers need is not to see that the people support them no matter what they do. They need to see people saying that the war they are fighting in is wrong and unjust.

To the degree that the "support the troops" line was taken up by forces within the anti-war movement, had a very disorienting, demoralizing, and demobilizing effect. This view is a kind of "Trojan horse" in the anti-war movement. Once you accept the logic of "supporting the troops" it will pull you to support the war that they are waging.

The only honor for U.S. troops in Vietnam was in resisting the criminal war, which tens of thousands did--from avoiding battle and deserting to joining the mass movement against the war and testifying about the crimes of the Vietnam War. It is these soldiers that deserve the support of the people.


Colin Powell and Vietnam

Colin Powell during his second tour of duty in Vietnam (his first tour was spent torching villages throughout the A Shau Valley) played a key role in covering up massacres by U.S. soldiers. Powell was assigned to investigate charges contained in a letter by a young specialist fourth class named Tom Glen, which exposed My Lai-like atrocities.

Glen's letter said that that he had seen Vietnamese civilians shot in the back by U.S. soldiers who "for mere pleasure, fire indiscriminately into Vietnamese homes and without provocation or justification shoot at the people themselves." Glens letter also exposed torture as part of soldiers interrogating "suspects."

Powell response was a complete cover up. He never questioned Glen or assigned anyone else to talk with him. Powell claimed that Glens charges couldnt be true because U.S. soldiers in Vietnam were taught to treat Vietnamese courteously and respectfully and that the soldiers had gone through an hour-long course on how to treat prisoners of war under the Geneva Conventions. Powell concluded saying that, "relations between American soldiers and the Vietnamese people are excellent."


Revolution #027, December 19, 2005, posted at revcom.us

How Can You Support Troops Who Kill Babies?

"I gave them a good boy, and they turned him into a murderer."

--A mother after seeing photos of the My Lai massacre in Life magazine

"How can you support the troops and not support the war? What is it that the troops were doing, except waging that war?! Those soldiers who should be supported are those who are resisting--or seeking the means to resist--the war."

--Bob Avakian

Today, as the U.S. fights another unjust war in Iraq, there is debate in the anti-war movement over whether we should "support the troops." Some argue that the movement during Vietnam became too extreme when it charged U.S. troops with being baby killers.

In Vietnam there was a draft and millions were forced to serve in the imperialist armed forces. These soldiers were press-ganged into fighting and systematically lied to about the war. But, no matter what the troops subjectively feel they are fighting for, as long as these troops are fighting an unjust war of domination and exploitation, they cannot be supported in fighting that war.

How can we support or honor troops that fight in a war where baby killing is part of the strategic plan? What honor is there in dropping napalm on civilians, shooting children in a ditch, raping women or bombing dikes?

What these soldiers need is not to see that the people support them no matter what they do. They need to see people saying that the war they are fighting in is wrong and unjust.

To the degree that the "support the troops" line was taken up by forces within the anti-war movement, had a very disorienting, demoralizing, and demobilizing effect. This view is a kind of "Trojan horse" in the anti-war movement. Once you accept the logic of "supporting the troops" it will pull you to support the war that they are waging.

The only honor for U.S. troops in Vietnam was in resisting the criminal war, which tens of thousands did--from avoiding battle and deserting to joining the mass movement against the war and testifying about the crimes of the Vietnam War. It is these soldiers that deserve the support of the people.

Colin Powell and Vietnam

Colin Powell during his second tour of duty in Vietnam (his first tour was spent torching villages throughout the A Shau Valley) played a key role in covering up massacres by U.S. soldiers. Powell was assigned to investigate charges contained in a letter by a young specialist fourth class named Tom Glen, which exposed My Lai-like atrocities.

Glen's letter said that that he had seen Vietnamese civilians shot in the back by U.S. soldiers who "for mere pleasure, fire indiscriminately into Vietnamese homes and without provocation or justification shoot at the people themselves." Glens letter also exposed torture as part of soldiers interrogating "suspects."

Powell response was a complete cover up. He never questioned Glen or assigned anyone else to talk with him. Powell claimed that Glens charges couldnt be true because U.S. soldiers in Vietnam were taught to treat Vietnamese courteously and respectfully and that the soldiers had gone through an hour-long course on how to treat prisoners of war under the Geneva Conventions. Powell concluded saying that, "relations between American soldiers and the Vietnamese people are excellent."


Revolution Interview

Frank O'Gorman on the Vatican Ban on Gay Priests

Revolution #027, December 19, 2005, posted at revcom.us

The Revolution Interview is a special feature to acquaint our readers with the views of significant figures in art, theater, music, literature, science, sports and politics. The views expressed by those we interview are, of course, their own, and they are not responsible for the views expressed elsewhere in Revolution and on our website.

Frank O'Gorman is a gay Christian, graduate of Hartford Seminary, member of Dignity/USA, and convener of People of Faith CT, a faith-based, progressive, activist organization in Connecticut (www.faithCT.org). Revolution recently interviewed him about the recent Vatican statement banning homosexuals from becoming priests.

Revolution: Can you briefly describe the new document by the Vatican on its policy toward gay priests?

Frank O'Gorman: The document re-affirms the Vatican's position that neither women nor self-affirming gay men should be admitted to Roman Catholic seminaries or be ordained. The document allows for seminary admission and ordination of men who claim to have not been attracted to other men for at least three years and who are not involved in gay culture or organizations.

REV: What do you think are the societal implications of this? What is the relationship between this and other rightwing and conservative moves in the Catholic church -- and in society in general -- .

FO'G: This ban on seminary admission and ordination is spiritual violence against women and gays. It dehumanizes queer people in general and thus fosters a social environment conducive to prejudice, discrimination, and ultimately hate-violence. The blood of queer people and women stains the hands of the hierarchy. The ban is part of an extreme right-wing agenda [social] to deny existence, recognition and rights to queer people.

REV: Vatican investigators have been instructed to visit each of the 229 seminaries in the United States. Some people have called this a "witch hunt." Could you comment on this?

FO'G: Where there is spirituality, there will be queer people. Queers have been spiritual leaders across cultures throughout time. The seminary visitations are a pogrom against gay men. The pogrom may not be as extreme as that of the Nazis against queers, but it is equally prejudiced. "Witch hunt" is also an apt description. Witches were often lesbians whose gender expression defied the social norms of femininity. Gay priests also often defy social norms of masculinity. At root this latest Vatican instruction is an attack on the feminine. The prohibitions are directed against women in general and gays in particular -- men who are often in touch with the feminine aspect of their human psyche.

REV: Can you comment on the language of the Vatican's statement, specifically where it stipulates that "homosexual tendencies that might only be a manifestation of a transitory problem..." that must be "clearly overcome at least three years before diaconal Ordination."

FO'G: Sexual orientation/attraction is intrinsic to human personality. It is not transitory. The Vatican is rewarding the repression of sexual orientation, thus creating men who will be self-loathing, depressed, and bitter.

REV: The document also bans those who "support the so-called gay culture" from becoming priests and the statement by one Vatican official who has said that the document will also insist that aspiring priests not participate in gay solidarity events, such as parades and seminars that treat homosexuality in a "positive way." Can you comment on this?

FO'G: Denial enables disease. The Vatican's conclusions about gays rest on the false premise that homosexuality is aberrant. Therefore participation in gay culture which affirms homosexuality as part of a rainbow of human diversity is very frightening to the Vatican.

REV: What about the argument that the Catholic Church is doing this because of the "crisis" over sexual abuse by priests?

FO'G: The crisis or scandal to the church was that bishops knowingly transferred pedophiles from parish to parish where they continued to victimize boys and girls and then forced gag orders on victims as part of the settlements.

REV: Could you amplify on what you just said a bit more in terms of the charge that homosexuality among priests is the reason for the problem of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church?

FO'G: Pedophilia, an adult forcing sex on a child, is sexual abuse. In the Catholic church some pedophile priests victimized girls, others victimized boys. Pedophilia is a mental disorder; sexual orientation is not. The scandalous crime is that the Catholic shepherds protected sexual predators and then forced the sheep into silence.

REV: Can you talk a little bit about the response to the Vatican's statement? What kind of protest is being voiced and organized? You have commented that some of it is "not radical enough." Could you explain what you mean by this?

FO'G: Radical means getting to the root. Any protest that does not name Vatican patriarchy, sexism, misogyny, heterosexism and authoritarianism as sin is not radical. The Vatican has grown increasingly vicious towards women and queers in the last 20 years. Hierarchical power will concede nothing without a demand. Catholics need to be prepared to use the tools of nonviolent resistance in order for our demands to disrupt the oppressive system. Dialogue without action is useless.

REV: Any other comments you'd like to make for our readers?

FO'G: The Vatican's letter on gays in the priesthood contradicts a central theme of Christianity which is the belief that Christ (divinity) resides in each person. Sexism and heterosexism are an affront to Christ. Jesus' movement included all kinds of people. He simply said, "Come follow me" without reserving that invitation to straight, heterosexual males. The Jesus movement was so diverse and egalitarian that St. Paul said of it: There is neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female, slave nor free. All are one in Christ Jesus!

Pope's Benedict's Witchunt

Revolution #027, December 19, 2005, posted at revcom.us

A new Vatican statement on homosexuals and the priesthood echoes the fervor of the Nazis who pinned pink triangles on homosexuals and put them in concentration camps. And with this new document, the Vatican is launching a concerted campaign of persecution. In what amounts to a vicious witch hunt, Vatican investigators have been instructed to visit each of the 229 seminaries in the United States to look for "evidence of homosexuality."

The Vatican's statement says that those with "deep-seated" gay tendencies should not be ordained. It also bans "supporters of so-called gay culture" from entering the priesthood, and says that only men who have "overcome" their homosexuality for at least three years will be accepted as priests. These instructions affect those entering seminaries to prepare for the priesthood, not men who are already priests.

The document which says homosexuality is "objectively disordered" and a "grave sin," echoes and will enforce the view of a 1961 Vatican document which said: "Advancement to religious vows and ordination should be barred to those who are afflicted with evil tendencies to homosexuality or pederasty, since for them the common life and the priestly ministry would constitute serious dangers."

A statement by People of Faith for Gay Civil Rights responded: "In approving this instruction, Pope Benedict is behaving like hes the leader of the Nazi Party of his youth rather than the church of Jesus Christ." Matt Foreman of Americas national Gay and Lesbian Task Force says the Vaticans new document is an affront to thousands of gay priests, and he accused the Vatican of a calculated campaign to blame gay men for the churchs own criminal conduct in fostering and covering up decades of sexual abuse." (RedEye, 11-30-05)

For 25 years, before becoming the Pope, Benedict (then known as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger), served as the Vatican's chief enforcer of orthodoxy. He drafted official positions regarding homosexuality and fought the legal recognition of homosexual couples. Two years ago, in a document attacking homosexual unions as a "misrepresentation of marriage," he wrote that "within homosexual unions, the biological and anthropological elements of matrimony and the family, on which foundations for legal recognition of such unions could be reasonably laid, are totally absent." The document went on to state that among the missing elements are a "conjugal dimension" for "transmission of life." In other words, he agues, sex is for having children, so society should not morally accept or legally recognize homosexual couples.

Key Post in Bush Administration: Ayatollah Bonicelli

Revolution #027, December 19, 2005, posted at revcom.us

This October Bush appointed Paul Bonicelli to be deputy director of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Bonicelli will be in charge of all U.S. programs to "promote democracy and good governance overseas."

Bonicelli is dean of academic affairs at Patrick Henry College in rural Virginia. The institution's motto is "For Christ and Liberty." It requires that all of its students sign a 10-part "statement of faith" declaring, among other things, that they believe "Jesus Christ, born of a virgin, is God come in the flesh;" and that hell is a place where "all who die outside of Christ shall be confined in conscious torment for eternity."

Dating at the school is regulated and subject to parental approval. Faculty members must sign a pledge stating they share a literalist belief in the Bible. Biology and theology teachers are required to believe that the world and all life on earth was created in six 24-hour days.

The purpose of the school, according to its founder is

"to prepare Christian men and women who will lead our nation and shape our culture with timeless biblical values and fidelity to the spirit of the American founding. If we are going to have our values reflected in our culture, we've got to train our kids in those values and train them for leadership. So this is a very concerted effort to train top leaders."

In other words the purpose of the college is to prepare the leadership of a theocratic United States. So far it has been extraordinarily successful.

In 2004, of 100 interns working in the White House, seven are from the roughly 240 students enrolled at Patrick Henry College. An eighth intern worked for Bush's re-election campaign. A former Patrick Henry intern now works on the paid staff of the president's top political adviser, Karl Rove. Also, some 22 conservative members of Congress have employed interns from Patrick Henry over the past few years.

What does it mean when the United States appoints someone who believes that all Muslims will be consigned to "conscious torment for eternity" to lead the U.S.'s democratic outreach to the Muslim world? What does it mean when 7% of the interns at the White House come from a fundamentalist school of 300? It means that this government is moving each day closer to a theocracy, where a narrow and hateful brand of Christian fundamentalism will rule.

The Suppression of Plan B

Revolution #027, December 19, 2005, posted at revcom.us

Emergency Contraception (EC, also known by its brand name of Plan B) is an important innovation in birth control. If a woman ends up having unprotected sex, she can take EC (basically a high dosage of regular birth control pills) within three days, and it prevents a pregnancy from developing. It's estimated that as many as 1.2 million pregnancies could be prevented every year if women had easy access to this drug.

And that's exactly what the FDA has repeatedly blocked from happening, for years.

EC has been around since 1998. But in order for a woman to get it, she has to jump through all kinds of hoops: she has to find a doctor, get an appointment, and go to a pharmacy that stocks it, all within three days, while the clock is ticking. This makes it basically impossible for many women. And unnecessarily--there is no medical reason why EC should only be available by prescription.

For years, the FDA has refused to allow Plan B to be made available to the millions of women that need it by allowing it to be available over-the-counter (OTC, meaning without a prescription). This is in spite of the fact that the FDA's own scientists have overwhelmingly certified it as safe for this kind of use. A November 2005 report by the General Accounting Office revealed that high-level officials in the FDA maneuvered to block this pill from ever getting approved for OTC use - something that is almost never done.

Why is a safe, extremely needed form of birth control being attacked in this way, for reasons that have nothing to do with legitimate safety or science concerns?

Because EC allows a woman to avoid having a baby she doesnt want to have--and it could potentially reach millions of women who previously have been burdened with an unwanted pregnancy. This is why the Christian Fascists and other right-wing forces have attacked EC with a vengeance. Because their worldview considers women to be nothing more than walking uteruses, anything a woman does to make her uterus inhospitable to a fertilized egg is unacceptable.

The "woman-as-baby machine" Biblical fundamentalists are going after Plan B because they say that preventing a fertilized egg from attaching to a uterus is a form of abortion. On the one hand, this just shows the unscientific madness of this "life begins at conception" logic. At the stage when it is ready to implant, the fertilized egg is called a blastocyst; it consists of about 100 cells, and it measures about 3 thousandths of an inch (or we could say .0039 inches) in diameter. This is NOT a baby!

But through the attacks on Plan B--which again is effective on blastocysts--you can also see how, for the "women as baby machines" forces, not only is abortion a sin, so is birth control. (Plan B also can work by altering the cervical mucus so that sperm can't reach the egg in the first place, and can block a woman from releasing an egg. And, in this, we can see that these forces are not going to stop at banning abortion: to them, anything including birth control - that allows a woman to control when and whether to have a baby is a sin.

For the FDA to refuse millions of women access to EC means that the state is now in the position of legislating morality. In addition to thisIn a section of Catherine Crier's book Contempt: How the Right is Wronging American Justice, Crier notes that it is only since 1961, with the Supreme Court case Griswold v. Connecticut, that it was even legal to give unmarried women birth control.! Reactionary Christian author Mary Pride, author of "Beyond Feminism" lets it all hang out on where these people are coming from:

"There is an alternative to scheming and plotting how many babies to have and when to have them. It can be summed up in three little words: trust and obey. If God is willing to plan my family for methen why should I muddle up his plan with my ideas?"

Already, many states have laws on the books that allow a pharmacist to refuse a woman access to birth control if their "conscience" believes women do not have a right to it--which means that the state is endorsing making birth control scarcer and scarcer for women. Right-wing legal groups like the Center for American Law and Justice (a Christian Fascist version of the ACLU) are pushing for more of such "conscience" laws, and defend the pharmacists who refuse to prescribe EC (and in some cases have stolen a woman's prescription from her.)

This is the kind of morality that the FDA enforced with its attacks on EC. And these kinds of attacks will only continue as long as these Christian Fascist forces go undefeated and unchallenged.

Rigoberto Alpizar: Murdered by Homeland Security

Revolution #027, December 19, 2005, posted at revcom.us

On December 7, air marshals in Miami shot and killed 44-year-old Rigoberto Alpizar, who was suffering from mental problems and trying frantically to get off his United Airlines flight, which had not yet taken off.

Alpizar was returning from a missionary trip in Ecuador, where he had been distributing eyeglasses to children. The official story is that Alpizar reached into his bag and said he had a bomb. But CBS News quoted one witness as saying that Alpizar had seemed nervous about flying before takeoff, and they quoted passenger John McAlhany as saying that Alpizar frantically ran up the aisle, shouting "I've got to get off the plane." His wife ran behind him, shouting that he was bipolar and that she needed to get him his medication. McAlhany was adamant that

"I absolutely never heard the word 'bomb' at all I never heard the word 'bomb' when we got off the plane. I never heard the word 'bomb' when we were sequestered. The first time I heard the word 'bomb' was when I was interviewed by the FBI."

In two days, no one has been able to produce any passengers who said they heard him say anything about having a bomb. And no bomb was found. McAlhany also said that the police rushed the plane and pointed guns at the passengers' heads while they were still struggling to make sense of what had just happened.

After Homeland Security assassinated an innocent man, were there promises that the government would be more careful in the future? Just the opposite. This outrage is being used to defend and amp up repression.

News reports immediately described Alpizar as a "suspicious passenger." As in--act "suspicious" on a plane, and you will be shot in cold blood. CBS News quoted an unnamed security official as saying the shooting was "textbook." They also quoted John Amat, national operations vice president of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, which includes air marshals, as saying that "shooting to maim or injure--rather than kill--is not an option for federal agents."

And there have been calls to increase "security" and surveillance in the wake of this shooting--despite the fact that Alpizar had nothing dangerous in his bag. His brother told the Orlando Sentinel that "I can't conceive that the marshals wouldn't be able to overpower an unarmed, single man, especially knowing he had already cleared every security check."

Socialism Is Much Better Than Capitalism and Communism Will Be A Far Better World

Part 3: The Bolsheviks Lead a Revolution That Shakes the World

by Raymond Lotta

Revolution #027, December 19, 2005, posted at revcom.us

In February 1917, massive strikes and demonstrations by workers in what is today St. Petersburg brought down the Tsar. A liberal coalition government took overbut failed to satisfy the most basic needs and demands of the masses, and continued Russias participation in the horrific First World War. In October 1917, the Bolsheviks led an armed mass insurrection that swept away the old regime.

John Reed wrote a vivid account of the heroism and excitement of the October Revolution: the organization of railway workers, tense meetings in factories, proclamations and preparations for the uprising, the sailors and battalions of armed workers in Kronstadt spearheading the final assault on key government centers. A new revolutionary government was formed. It immediately issued two stunning decrees: one ending Russias involvement in World War 1; another empowering peasants to seize the vast landholdings of the tsarist crown, gentry, and church. These measures signaled titanic political and social change for the masses. Their day had come. In late October, when the remnants of the overthrown government launched a last-ditch effort to retake power, thousands and thousands of workers, women and men, poured forth from factories and working class quarters to defend the revolution.

Now, one of the lies about the Bolshevik Revolution--and this is standard fare in the anti-communist literatureis that it was really a manipulative coup by the Bolsheviks. Heres the story line: A political vacuum is created by the disintegration of the old order; Lenin takes power illegally, but succeeds through deceit and authoritarian politics to maintain his position.

Whats wrong with this picture? Basically two things.

First, it paints over the oppressive conditions that impelled millions to rise up. Richard Pipes, a bourgeois expert on the Russian Revolution, says in one his major works, "Those who experienced the Russian Revolution would never see the return of normalcy. The revolution was only the beginning of their sorrows." As though things were just fine before the revolution - without sorrow.

But lets look at the situation before the revolution. In the countryside, where the majority of people lived, wooden plows were still in common use. Superstition and religion exerted a tight grip over daily life. Holy days still set the dates for the sowing of land. Wife beating was rampant. In the cities, epidemic diseases ravaged the populace. An autocracy ruled society, with a vast network of police, jails and surveillance. Minority languages and cultures were suppressed. This was normalcy before the Revolution. And it became more unbearable when Russia entered World War 1. Peasants were forcibly conscripted into the tsarist army and workers turned into cannon fodder.

This story line of a coup by Lenin also blots out that the fact that the revolution was profoundly shaped by the collective action and aspirations of workers and peasants. The revolution developed in an atmosphere of widespread social disaffection, mass resistance, and great intellectual ferment.

And what about Lenin and the vanguard party he led? This party was prepared to act and to lead as no other force in Russian society was. It had grassroots strength and organization in factory committees, in the armed forces, in the soviets (these were illegal, anti-government, representative assemblies of workers contesting for power in the big towns and cities). The Bolshevik program and vision resonated in society. The values and institutions of the old order were widely despised. And the new proletarian power became the basis for new social values as well as revolutionary economic and social relations.

John Reed called his account of October: Ten Days That Shook The World. And it was no exaggeration.

Across war-ravaged Europe, exhausted soldiers, sailors, and workers of the belligerent countries heard that a victorious socialist country had called for peace, for an end to the slaughtera peace without annexations or conquest. And they were stirred. In Kiel and Hamburg, the rebel sailors of the Germany navy mutinied against orders to continue the war. They raised the red flag and called their new power "councils" (which is what soviet means). And they dreamed of taking the whole country down this road.

At the other end of the world, in Seattle, workers rose up for five days in the 1919 general strike. The local ruling class screamed that this was the start of insurrection, that Seattle was becoming St. Petersburg. And though this strike was far from that, the influence and the model of Russias revolution was intensely alive in the minds of the workers too. Later that year, the U.S. government sent brought trainloads of ammunition into Seattle: to arm the counterrevolution in Siberia Russia and to prepare for their own intervention there. When trainloads of this ammunition went through Seattle, But the longshore workers refused to load load it ammunition onto transport ships.

When the Russian revolution erupted, when it took its radical turn in Octoberwhen communists (and not merely bourgeois democratic modernizers) emerged ast the leadership of a society--the whole world quivered with the newness of it. Old struggles suddenly appeared in a new light. The oppressors caughttook fearful notice fright; the oppressed had a new gleam. Workers taught themselves to read to catch this news; at small meetings after work they scoured the press and debated the meaning of these strange new wordssoviet, socialismand these strange new names--Lenin, Marx, Stalin. Mao Tsetung said that the salvos fired by the Bolshevik Revolution brought Marxism to China.

You want to know how earthshaking October was? Listen to Winston Churchill, and he's speaking in 1949, more than 30 years after the Bolsheviks came to power: "The failure to strangle Bolshevism at its birth and bring Russia, then prostrate, by one means or another into the general democratic system lies heavy upon us today."

The historian Eric Hobsbawm makes a very interesting observation. He says that the American Civil War was both the greatest war between 1815 and 1914 and by far the greatest in American history. But the American Civil War did not have a great effect on what happened in other parts of the world. On the other hand, the Bolshevik Revolution stands as an epochal, world-changing phenomenon: for what it meant to the peoples of Russia, for what it meant to the people of the world, for what it meant for the ruling classes and reactionary forces of the world, and for the ways in which it influenced world events.

World capitalism could not proceed as it had before. One-sixth of the globe was now closed off to imperialist exploitation. The imperialists worried about the ideological contamination of the Bolshevik revolution. This was a big factor behind Now the granting of certain benefits to workers, to buy social peace, in the western capitalist countries they had to give workers certain benefits to buy social peace.

But most of all, the The imperialists tried to crush the Soviet revolution. They tried to strangle it in its cradle. And they kept coming at it. They applied economic pressure, including the worlds first oil embargo. They threatened military attack. They viciously suppressed revolutionary forces in neighboring central and east-central Europe. They built up opposition forces in Soviet society.

NEXT WEEK: The Social Revolution Ushered in by the new proletarian power