Revolution #34, February 12, 2006
(and Revolution #33, February 5, 2006)

voice of the Revolutionary Communist Party,USA

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Revolution Special Edition

Revolution #034, February 12, 2006, posted at revcom.us

This special "extra" issue of Revolution should be read together with issue #33. Issue #33 analyzed George W. Bush's vicious January 31 State of the Union speech. It printed pictures of demonstrations in over 60 cities, politically drowning out the speech with noise, and demanding that Bush step down. It also carried testimony from the final session of the International Commission of Inquiry on Crimes Against Humanity Committed by the Bush Administration.

In this "extra" we cover two further stories of great significance. On February 2, in Washington, DC, the International Commission delivered verdicts on the Bush administration: Guilty of conducting a war of aggression. Guilty of illegal detention and torture. Guilty of crimes against humanity through its wanton destruction of the environment. Guilty of crimes against humanity for its failure to act before and after Hurricane Katrina to prevent devastation and death.

The Commission had taken testimony from former military and government officials, from lawyers for torture victims, from doctors and scientists, from victims of Bush regime's actions, and from many others. Never before have distinguished people of conscience come together to indict the regime ruling their own country of such crimes, to join with others from around the world to carry through a rigorous trial, and to find their own rulers guilty. Now the verdicts that have been delivered—and the evidence and testimony behind them—must be taken far and wide, arousing people to be, as Commission member Michael Ratner put it, "as radical as the reality we are facing."

Two days later, people marched through pouring rain to the gates of the White House, demanding that "Bush Step Down and take your program with you." In these pages are pictures from the demonstration and excerpts from some of the speeches that give a sense of the scope and determination of this action, and the movement that brought it forward. In the days leading up to the demonstration, a wide range of people from the spheres of politics and government, the arts and sciences, the clergy and law, signed on to the call entitled The World Can't Wait, Drive Out the Bush Regime! And some wrote and published special appeals for people to join this movement and take up its cause.

In following issues, we will have additional, continuing coverage of these two stories.

Bush's State of the Union speech marked a further step into the abyss of a new, high-tech dark ages, another leap in the direction of fascism. But with the ferment and resistance in this extraordinary two-week period, there is a sense of something beginning to take root and emerge from below—a movement with the moral clarity and determination to change the course of history.

Washington, D.C., Feb. 4

BUSH STEP DOWN and Take Your Program with You!

Revolution #034, February 12, 2006, posted at revcom.us

On Saturday, Feb. 4, several thousand people responded to a call from World Can't Wait, and took the demand that BUSH STEP DOWN right to the regime itself, rallying in Washington, DC and marching around the White House. According to reports posted at worldcantwait.org, "The rally and march, held in driving, cold rain, was marked by its determination and breadth of participants, all united around this single demand."

The World Can't Wait website reported:

"Leading up to, during, and after Bush's State of the Union address, the growing movement to drive out the Bush regime took new steps in its determination and breadth. In an intense political situation, with Bush's spying and lying more exposed and much talk of impeachment, the demand "BUSH STEP DOWN and take your program with you" resonated throughout society. Acting on its Call, The World Can't Wait - Drive Out the Bush Regime dove into this situation in which the future is in the balance, mobilize people outside of the killing confines of "politics as usual" to stop Bush's fascist remaking of society.

"A full-page ad in the N.Y. Times with signatories including politicians, movie stars, artists, activists, and voices of conscience broadcast this demand to the world. Echoing and elaborating on this demand were statements from prominent voices such as Daniel Ellsberg, Michael Ratner, Mark Ruffalo, and Gore Vidal, as well as calls to action from students at Hampton University and Georgetown Law students who turned their back on Alberto Gonzales. The Bush Crimes Commission held its final session and released preliminary findings of the Bush regime's guilt of war crimes and crimes against humanity. And Jan. 31st saw thousands of people in over 68 cities taking to the streets to drown out Bush's lies during his State of the Union address."

"...And stay tuned to our website for the next plans in the movement to drive out the Bush regime."

Speakers in DC included: Missy Comley Beattie of Gold Star Families for Peace read a statement from Cindy Sheehan; Elaine Brower (GSFP); Kathleen Chalfant (read statement from Daniel Ellsberg); Carl Dix, National Spokesperson of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA; Carol Fisher, World Can't Wait supporter in Cleveland who was beaten and arrested by police for posting fliers for the state of emergency protests; Lawrence Guyot, former SNCC member and former Chairman of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party; Doris "Granny D" Haddock; C. Clark Kissinger, Bush Crimes Commission; Rev. Deborah Elandus Lake, World Can't Wait steering committee; Lelani, International Action Center; Joe Madison the Black Eagle; Occidental College students Ally & Leah; Rebecca Schaefer, Georgetown Law School student with Stand Up for the Law; David Swanson, After Downing Street; Sunsara Taylor; Juan Torres, GSFP; Ann Wright, Veterans for Peace; Daphne Wysham, Institute for Police Studies; Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Hip-Hop Caucus.

Following are excerpts from some of the speeches at the rally.

Rev. Deborah Elandus Lake, World Can't Wait Steering Committee:

Just yesterday there was a story in the news about an 18-year-old boy in Massachusetts who violated a gay bar and attacked three people with a gun and a hatchet. This is hate. This is homophobia. This is the kind of country the religious right and their president stand for. We believe in what America actually stands for. We believe in a better world all while we know America's heading for disaster. The religious right and its president would have us believe in misogyny and the oppression of women. Yeah. They're working to add an amendment to our constitution that will impose their version of the family and marriage on the rest of us. Yeah. They claim that civil marriage is a tradition that should be protected. They're very near the traditional ....It is a tradition based on the family. It is a tradition that comes from the time in history when men legally claimed women and children as property. Biblical marriage is the same. It comes from a religious tradition by which men gave themselves the divine authority to claim women and children as property. This is the kind of tradition that the religious right and its president want to change our constitution to uphold...

We all know about Katrina and how the neglect of poor Black areas brought about the deaths and suffering of thousands of people. But how many of us know about our Muslim brothers and sisters who have been arrested or deported solely because of their ethnicity and religious beliefs. This is racism. This is religious intolerance. And this is what the religious right and its president stand for.

Carl Dix, National Spokesperson, Revolutionary Communist Party

In the '60s I was drafted into the army and given orders to go to Vietnam. I refused to go, and they put me in jail. This was the right thing to do, and I know what gave me the understanding and courage to do it. It was the millions of people out there protesting the war in Vietnam. Their marches and rallies helped create a political atmosphere where people like me were inspired and challenged to join the resistance. Our actions today can do the same.

That's why it's so important that we're out here today. And that we carry through and build off of what we do today to continue to mobilize people to drive the Bush regime from power. Our unity in this fight and our determination to carry it through till Bush & Company are gone must challenge and inspire many, many others to join in.

BUSH STEP DOWN AND TAKE YOUR WHOLE PROGRAM WITH YOU!

Lawrence Guyot, former organizer with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and former chairman of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party

I want to remind you that when SNCC went into Mississippi in 1963 there were 13 of us. It does not count how many, but it does count how committed you are. We won during the fight for the right to organize in Mississippi, and the Lord knows we won. Read your history. We now have a president who says that torture was designed for me, doesn't work fast enough. The Watergate legislation that prohibits me doesn't work; he said, "I'm breaking the law, and you do what you want to do about it." And we must say to him, "There will never be a king in America."

Joe Madison, the Black Eagle of WVOL Radio

This is not a fair weather demonstration. I have never seen so many, so dedicated, to stand out in this rain and this cold, to make a point. And I tell you, before I begin my remarks that I have written down, you hold tight, because one day the sun is gonna shine. They may say today on the news that you crazy. That we're extremists. But you tell them that you're extremists for peace, you're extremists for what is right. In 1968, as a young college student, I listened to the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, when he spoke at Riverside, when he said, "A time comes when silence is betrayal." Today that time has come. Dr. King went on to say, and we must understand, that war is a symptom of a far deeper disorder and sickness within the American spirit, when machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people. The triple evils of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered. A nation, he went on to say, that continues year after year to spend more on military defense than on programs for social uplift is approaching spiritual death. That same year, I witnessed President Johnson from the Oval Office staring at the television camera and declaring that he would not run for re-election or accept his party's nomination--he stepped down. Several years later, in the mid-1970s, I came to this very spot, to join hundreds of thousands of young Americans, to be part of the largest demonstration against the Vietnam War, and demand that President Nixon end the war. Soon after that historic demonstration, Americans were at the peace table with the North Vietnamese. Later, a disgraced President Nixon stepped down. Now, more than three decades later, your generation--young and old, black and white, yellow and brown, suburban and urban, have drawn a line in the historic sand--except today it's in the mud--and we have asked this president to end the war in Iraq, or step down!

Ally and Leah, pro choice activists from Occidental College in L.A.

We are here now to agitate people out of their complacency and out of their routine. Because people need to know that, they need to see that our rights are being taken out from underneath us. They need to know that it is no longer enough to just hold liberal sentiments. We need to take action, we need to take to the streets, and we need to join the movement. Right now, we need to oppose all what these conservative ideologues stand for, especially in light of Roe v. Wade in danger of being overturned. They don't want birth control, they don't want condoms, they don't want the morning-after pill, they don't want abortion and they don't want sex education. So then what? Are women supposed to be slaves to their bodies, taken out of the workplace and education system every time they have sex? No! And I can tell you that if the right has it their way, women will be forced to revert to that inferior status they held just decades ago. And I am here to tell you that I will not let that happen, and we cannot let that happen! We need to resist now, because if we don't, we are only supporting the Bush regime with our silence. We need to demand now that Bush step down!

From a statement by Daniel Ellsberg in support of the World Can't Wait demonstration in Washington, D.C., read by Kathleen Chalfant

I would not have thought of copying the Pentagon Papers, risking a possible lifetime in prison, without the example of thousands of young Americans who were doing everything they could--including non-violent disobedience to the draft regulations--to oppose a wrongful, hopeless war. They showed civic courage, and I can attest to its effectiveness; as a government consultant and former official, I felt its power on my own life.

In the face of a president blatantly violating the law, pursuing another stalemated, hopeless, wrongful war, and proclaiming his intent to continue both, civic courage is needed today from those who can hold him and his administration to account: members of Congress, journalists, potential whistleblowers inside the government, prosecutors, and judges. "Everything they can do," even at cost to their positions and careers, is what is needed from those in such strategic positions at this moment, and what we should demand of them, by our own example. Nothing less is appropriate to this constitutional crisis.

From statement sent to the rally by actor Mark Ruffalo

I am afraid, and I don't think it is just me, I think we are all terrified to a degree. I know the desire today is to grow so small and be left alone and not be spied on or noticed as out of the ordinary in any way because maybe we might be defamed or sent away or ruined.

And what about our children? What deeds that we do now might come to weigh upon their unspoken selves? If only we were to remain a little quiet, unnoticed, with some untold luck, we'll squeak by and have a place in the great American sun. That is what the small secret self says.

There are millions of us out there who are frustrated and angry. Not only in small pockets, but all around the United States, crossing into many different kinds of people, spanning oceans and continents. We are the growing majority. Ultimately, we are not alone. If you come out, you will see that others will greet and support you and enfold you into something that is greater than your fear of what we are being led to believe America is about.

Rebecca Schaefer, Georgetown University law student with the group Stand Up for the Law, which organized students to turn their backs in protest when Bush's Attorney General Alberto Gonzales spoke at the school

I believe we have the makings of a new nationwide student movement -- it's nascent within our existing communities. We can draw inspiration from past generations. But you know, it's challenging for us. It's not like it was in Vietnam. We were born into this conservative culture war. It's difficult for us to imagine life another way. Our generation has grown up so depoliticized--some of us would not even been able to vote in a presidential election before the coup of 2000. But my experience is that my classmates, people standing behind me, and dozens more, and the response we've received from students all over the nation, all the students who are coming today, that all strengthens my faith in a renewed progressive student movement. The world can't wait for us to run for office, it can't wait for the next election, it can't even wait for us to graduate. We students have a small window to be at school, with the luxury to talk about ideas every day, to have a built-in community for organizing, direct action. I'd like to issue a call to all students everywhere to participate in direct actions like the one we did last Tuesday. I want to see more sit-ins in presidents' offices to ask for living wages. To call for divestment from mercenary multinationals that prop up our institutions. I want school-wide antiwar protests. I want boycotts of government recruiters. I want you to refuse to comply when your school hosts speakers who advocate torture and spying. Now we don't know yet what our revolution is going to look like. Because it's just now being conceived and it's going to be different from every one before it. But when I look at your faces, when I see young people, and the students, their parents and neighbors from all parts of society, my imagination widens and I think I can glimpse it and it's a beautiful thing. I'm looking at the face of the revolution right now, because there's no one to do it but us. We can't wait for the Democrats to stand up. We can't wait for some savior. We are the ones we've been waiting for. The world can't wait for someone else to take the lead. It has to be us. Impeachment now. Bush step down and take your god-awful programs with you.

Juan Torres, Gold Star Families for Peace, whose son died in Iraq

I see my son's picture here, and Casey's [Cindy Sheehan's son] picture. President Bush, there's a lot of soldiers-- no arms, no legs, died. Why the media don't show this here in America? Last week, I told the media, CNN and ABC, reporter people, you have to tell the story. No injuries? No bombings? In Iraq, they show all week about the guy with injuries that they take to Germany, to America. But they don't show this week, seven soldiers died.

David Swanson, After Downing Street, from remarks prepared for the Feb. 4 protest

Daniel Ellsberg wrote in a statement supporting this rally that courage is contagious. It certainly is within this movement. We just need it to catch within the Capitol. There are Democrats there who still fantasize about working cooperatively with Republicans -- it's their way of hanging onto a belief that they are serving some purpose. We need to give them a different purpose to serve, the purpose of courageously opposing the rise of fascism.

Sunsara Taylor, co-initiator of World Can't Wait

When people tell us they are busy doing other work--as so many are in this atmosphere where everything progressive is constantly under siege--we have to appreciate the importance of what they are doing and encourage them to do more, we have to listen to them and learn from them -- but we also have to struggle with them and argue with them to see that unless we drive out this regime none of this other work will be possible. And there will be times when everyone from different perspectives will have to come together and put this struggle to drive out this regime first.

And we have to continue to base ourselves on the truth--and this is the great strength of our Call. It doesn't mince words, it puts the whole challenge before people. It's not just about the war. It's not just about torture. It's not just about the moves each day to make the law based on the Bible. It's not just about the suppression of science and the growing dangers of global warming. It's the whole thing, the whole global program that we have to confront and defeat.

From the Call from World Can't Wait--Drive Out the Bush Regime!:


The point is this: history is full of examples where people who had right on their side fought against tremendous odds and were victorious. And it is also full of examples of people passively hoping to wait it out, only to get swallowed up by a horror beyond what they ever imagined. The future is unwritten.

WHICH ONE WE GET IS UP TO US.

Guilty! Guilty! Guilty! Guilty!

International Commission Delivers Verdicts on Bush Administration

Revolution #034, February 12, 2006, posted at revcom.us

It was a historic moment at the National Press Club in Washington, only blocks from the White House. On February 2, the preliminary findings of the International Commission on Crimes Against Humanity were read out by Ajamu Sankofa, executive director of the Physicians for Social Responsibility-NY and former national secretary of Blacks for Reparations in America.

Listening to the verdicts, Ray McGovern, a former CIA analyst and founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, exclaimed: "This is what our German forbearers in the 1930s did NOT do. They sat around, blamed their rulers, said 'maybe everything's going to be alright.'... That is something we cannot do. Because I don't want my grandchildren asking me years from now, 'why didn't you do something to stop all this?'"

The findings were based on five days of public testimony in New York in October and January. The work of the Commission brought together a unique combination of former government officials, experts in international law, human rights monitors in the relevant areas, and victims of the crimes under investigation. It was a Commission of great legal, ethical, and moral credibility based on its integrity, its rigor in the presentation of evidence, and the stature of its participants.

On the first charge of committing wars of aggression, the Commission found: "The evidence is overwhelming that the Bush Administration authorized and is conducting a war of aggression against Iraq in violation of international law, including The Nuremberg Principles, Geneva Conventions of 1949, the United Nations Charter, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In doing so, the Bush Administration has committed war crimes and crimes against humanity."

Former United Nations weapons inspector Scott Ritter was a compelling witness before the Commission on this issue. Ritter led the investigation into the defection of Sadam Hussein's son-in-law, Hussein Kamel:

"Dick Cheney said because of Hussein Kamel's defection the United Nations, indeed the United States, received evidence that Iraq was actively reconstituting its nuclear weapons program... Dick Cheney was lying. Dick Cheney knew that he was lying.... But it is evidence that the Bush administration willfully exaggerated the threat posed by Iraq's WMDs, thereby negating any case they might make about the existence of a clear and present threat that warranted pre-emptive attack."

The actual conduct of the war was also a major issue investigated by the Commission, especially the destruction of the city of Fallujah using white phosphorous and hyperbaric bombs. The Commission saw film of the bombing of civilians in Fallujah that was truly damning. Shown was the pilot's camera trained on the ground where people were running in the street. The pilot asks his controller, "shall I take them out?" And the controller says, "Yes." The pilot kept a laser focused on the crowd until a guided bomb exploded in the middle of the running crowd.

The destruction of Fallujah, a city of over 300,000 people, in retaliation for the death of four U.S. mercenaries, was a vivid reenactment of a historic war crime — the destruction of the Czechoslovakian village of Lidice in 1942 by the Nazis in retaliation for the assassination of a high Nazi official.

On the indictment for illegal detention and torture, the Commission found: "There was substantial evidence submitted through testimony and documents that the Bush Administration committed war crimes and crimes against humanity in conducting its 'War Against Terror.' It did this by developing and implementing policies and practices that violated international law and international human rights to force information from detainees and to punish those whom it believes may be 'enemy combatants.'"

Barbara Olshansky, from the Center for Constitutional Rights, told the Commission of an August 2002 memo written for Alberto Gonzales, now Attorney General: "It talks about what the traditional definitions of torture are... and it says that a very good case can be made for redefining torture. And the definition that is recommended in that memo is that torture really is only when someone is at the risk of complete organ failure or death. And that is a new definition of torture in the United States according to this administration. Then the memo proceeds to...examine all the ways that the government could avoid liability, even if its actions meet that definition of torture. It is a staggering document..."

The results of such "legal theories" by the U.S. government at the very top were described by Brig. General Janis Karpinski (U.S. Army ret.), the former commandant of the infamous Abu-Ghraib prison in Iraq. After photographs of the torture of prisoners there were revealed, Gen. Karpinski entered the cell block where this happened and found a memo attached to the wall calling for harsher interrogation techniques and signed by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. In the margin was handwritten: "Make sure this happens!!" Karpinski went on to testify that a high-ranking general demanded that Iraqi prisoners be "treated like dogs."

Craig Murray, former British ambassador to Uzbekistan, provided particularly chilling testimony on the horrible forms of torture used by the U.S.'s 'Coalition of Willing' and declared, in a very moving moment, "I'd rather die than have someone tortured to save my life."

On the indictment for destruction of the global environment: "The testimony of scientists and the scientific reports and other documents submitted during the inquiry support a conclusion that the Bush Administration has committed crimes against humanity by its environmental policies and practices."

Daphne Wysham, from the Institute for Policy Studies and the Sustainable Energy and Economy Network gave a searing example: "On June 8, 2005, the New York Times, through whistle-blower Rick Pilz, exposed [White House official Philip] Cooney as the primary censor of climate change policy documents at the highest levels of government. Two days later, Cooney resigned... Cooney and his staff's edits were pervasive with 100 to 450 changes per report, and shameless. Among the topics the government doesn't want you to know about are the national and regional impacts from climate changes, consequences like glacial melting and floods."

On the indictment for the destruction of New Orleans: "The evidence of the Bush Administration's conscious and deliberate failings in preventing the foreseeable devastation, including death toll, caused by Hurricane Katrina, particularly in New Orleans, and its failure to respond efficiently and appropriately after the Hurricane was overwhelming. Its failures constitute crimes against humanity."

The Commission heard stunning testimony that the government knew full well that New Orleans would be inundated in a major hurricane, and the President himself knew two days in advance that Katrina would hit New Orleans. But no efforts were made to evacuate the predominantly poor and Black masses of the city. As a result, over 1,300 people died on the Gulf Coast with over 3,000 still missing.

Annette Addison, a Katrina survivor, told her personal story to the Commission: "So many Army trucks just was driving past us. We even waved for the Army trucks to help us because we were so desperate. We was dehydrated. They did not give us any assistance. We even asked the police for water, and where we could get gas to get out of the city. The police just looked at us like we was nobody, as though we were nothing. Many were going into the stores, and they said they were looters. But to be honest, they was going into stores to survive. It was people helping people.It was not the Army, it was not the police. It was not the ones that were in authority to help us. It was just the community helping each other to survive."

At the February 2 press conference to release the Commission's preliminary findings, three of the five Commission judges were present, along with Commission Convener C. Clark Kissinger. In presenting the preliminary findings (more findings will be presented later), the judges were emphatic about the criminality of the Bush administration.

Judge Ann Wright, 29-year Army reserve colonel with 16 years in the State Department as former deputy ambassador in Afghanistan, Mongolia, Sierra Leone, and Micronesia:

"I believe the Commission is incredibly important for the future of the United States and really the world, because it's the people of America who are speaking to these very serious indictments. It's the people who are coming forward with evidence, their personal testimony in many cases of things that have happened to them, or cases of their lawyers, cases they have worked, the human face of what torture is all about, what detention is about, what war is all about — a war that's conducted the invasion and occupation of a country that did nothing to the United States of America."

Judge Abdeen Jabara, board member of the Center for Constitutional Rights and past president of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee:

"People who launch a war of aggression are in violation of international law, have committed crimes against humanity, and that is the kind of discourse we need to introduce into the United States... the use of torture in the press often reported as "abuse" rather than torture. Of course, there is no international convention for the prevention of abuse, but there is an international convention for the prevention of torture. So we need to change the way in which these items are talked about in order to get people to face up to the fact of what this government is doing."

Judge Jabara closed by pointing to the profound significance of what Craig Murray, the British ambassador to Uzbekistan, had said. Murray testified that his government and the American government were OK with receiving intelligence reports that had been obtained by torture in Uzbekistan. His superiors in the British foreign service said to him that, "we don't mind as long as we didn't ask them to do that. We can still receive this information." Murray then added, "After I heard that, I understood how some clerk could sign off on these cattle cars that were going to Auschwitz." That's really what is at stake, Jabara pointed out. "The use of this torture, the beginning of all these black sites — all of these things are the road to Auschwitz."

Two Worlds Colliding... and the State of the Union Speech

Revolution #33, February 5, 2006, posted at revcom.us

As George Bush prepared to enter the Capitol to deliver his State of the Union address, his path was cleared by a crew of ghouls. Torturers, liars, worshippers of corporate greed, and—all of them—mass murderers. There was Michael Chertoff—commander of "homeland security," the man responsible for sending the U.S. military into New Orleans with "shoot to kill" orders after abandoning the poor and Black people of the region to flooding. There was new Supremacist Court Justice Samuel Alito, itching to radically shift the balance of the Court, with rights people consider basic—including the right to abortion—hanging by a thread.

There was Condi Rice, fresh from a tour of Europe defending secret CIA torture chambers, and lining up support for U.S. aggression against Iran. There was Alberto Gonzales, the Torturer-General, whose outstanding contribution to legal scholarship is his declaration that prohibitions against torture in the Geneva Convention are "quaint." There was Dick Cheney, last seen twisting arms in the Senate to oppose John McCain's already toothless "anti-torture" amendment because it would "tie the President's hands." And finally, the commander-in-chief himself, who would use the first half of his speech in a fascist rant justifying global empire and domination with repeated incantations of "9/11."

On the other side of the equation, there are billions of people who are victims of everything the Bush regime concentrates. And for a brief moment, that world intruded into the Capitol itself. Just before Bush demanded America line up to support the troops, and before he made a big show on camera of parading a family who's son died in Iraq, Capitol police demonstrated the essence of the freedom and democracy that Bush claims his war is about defending at home. Police handcuffed anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan, whose son was killed in Iraq, dragged her from her seat in the Capitol—and arrested her for wearing a t-shirt that listed the number of U.S. troops killed in Iraq. News reports say that before entering the Capitol (as an invited guest of a congresswoman), Sheehan was part of a group who faced the executive mansion and repeatedly shouted, "You're evicted! Get out of our house!"

In the buildup to the State of the Union address, important figures in literature, the arts, and public life stepped forward to endorse and speak up for the call to politically drown out the speech, and demand that Bush Step Down! Georgetown University students who turned their backs on Gonzales when he spoke at their school called for students to protest during the speech. Gore Vidal concluded a wonderfully nasty critique of Bush (President Jonah) with a call to his readers to join demonstrations during the speech, and the demonstration in DC on February 4. Howard Zinn and actor Ed Begley Jr. made statements encouraging people to drown out Bush's lies, and public figures like Congressman John Conyers, Brig. General Janis Karpinski (retired), Gloria Steinem, actor Mark Ruffalo, Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, Congressman Bobby Rush, and actor Sean Penn added their signatures to the World Can't Wait Call. (Links to these statements and others are at worldcantwait.org).

And in dozens of cities around the country, thousands of people responded to the call from World Can't Wait to "bring the noise," politically drown out the State of the Union speech, and mobilize to protest Saturday, February 4 at the White House (see photo spread on protests in the centerfold of this issue).

An Unrepentant Rant for Empire

Bush spoke at a time when a large section of society is furious with him—furious about his lies, his war, his spying, his torturing, his responsibility for vast suffering and death after Katrina. Beyond that, a significant section of even those who supported him, or still support him, are very uneasy about the situation in Iraq.

In post-speech spin, a CNN analyst said the speech was aimed at changing the minds of people who think it was a "mistake" to send troops into Iraq—to speak to American people who didn't believe war would be this difficult. That it would cost the U.S. $250 billion, or that 2,242 U.S. troops would die (and still counting). Or that nearly three years after invading Iraq, the U.S. would have 138,000 troops under fire, facing fierce resistance.

An important element of Bush's speech was to rally the wavering, and mobilize the converted behind the war. He declared:

"On September 11, 2001, we found that problems originating in a failed and oppressive state seven thousand miles away could bring murder and destruction to our country. Dictatorships shelter terrorists, feed resentment and radicalism, and seek weapons of mass destruction. Democracies replace resentment with hope, respect the rights of their citizens and their neighbors, and join the fight against terror. Every step toward freedom in the world makes our country safer, and so we will act boldly in freedom's cause."

Every word of this was a lie. Let's look at the "hope" that Bush's democracies have brought to the region. In Afghanistan, in most of the countryside life for women is unchanged from Taliban days, and heroin production is back as the country's principal functioning economic activity. And the foundational elements of U.S.-imposed democracy in Iraq are the torture chambers of Abu Ghraib, and massive U.S. bombing from the air—an almost completely covered-up war crime.

The "freedom" Bush is bringing to the Middle East is the freedom for U.S. imperialism to dominate the region, to lock out rival powers, to control the world's oil spigot, and to more effectively and ruthlessly exploit the people and resources of that region. How else can you explain Bush upholding Saudi Arabia, one of the most ruthlessly repressive regimes on earth, with no rights at all for women, and Egypt, with its torture chambers full of dissidents, as models of positive reform? Meanwhile Iran is currently in the bulls-eye of Bush's endless war on the world. Not because of the state of its democracy, but because the Islamic fundamentalist regime there is an impediment to U.S. domination of the region.

Lying and Spying

In his speech, Bush was never more belligerent than when he upheld his illegal domestic spying program. He kept the program secret because he knew it was illegal. There are laws that allow for very invasive surveillance on people in the U.S. Special secret (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act—FISA) courts rubber-stamp almost every request by the government to break into people's homes secretly. The Patriot Act authorizes the government to snoop into what you read, what websites you visit, and even your medical records. It's illegal, for example, for a librarian to even let you know that the government is examining your reading list.

None of this was enough for Bush. He secretly told the National Security Agency—a highly secret agency with massive eavesdropping technology—to spy on people without any supervision from any court, and without issuing any kind of warrant.

This is both a massive operation to snoop into the thinking, reading, and conversations of people in this country, and a tearing up of the rule of law.

Back in the USA—Suffering and Repression

In many ways, Bush's case is: Your American way of life cannot survive without me doing all this shit around the world, and spying on and locking you up without a trial if you complain. So shut up and put up with it.

OK, what about that great American way of life? Let's deconstruct Bush's speech on what he has in mind for the homeland—aside from spying on everyone. Bush spent the last half of his speech running a laundry list of vicious attacks on a very wide spectrum of people in this country. All dressed up as "compassionate" concern.

Speaking of New Orleans, Bush called for justice and equality(!) But without taking responsibility for knowing that the levees would give way and flood much of the city. Without taking responsibility for sending in troops to "shoot to kill" folks trying to survive and get food and water for others. Without taking responsibility for stranding tens of thousands—for letting white racist police shoot over the heads of people trying to flee the city. Without taking responsibility for his right-wing, white racist "soulmate" William Bennet saying you could stop crime by aborting all Black babies. Or the congressman who said we couldn't wipe out public housing in New Orleans, but god did it for us! And without taking responsibility for shipping the Black people of New Orleans to motels and shelters far from their homes, and abandoning them there while he plans to rebuild the city with far fewer Black people.

There was another racist and genocidal element to Bush's speech disguised as compassion. There is a sharp divide among African American churches in the U.S., with some church leaders signing onto Bush's agenda using "traditional values" (prejudice against gays and lesbians) as a justification, while others are fighting for tolerance and inclusion (see "Black Church Summit Takes Stand Against Anti-Gay Discrimination," and "Religious Voice Against Christian Fascism, Reflections on Pacific School of Religion's Response to the Religious Right," by Dr. Hubert Locke in Revolution #32). When Bush says he plans to be "working closely with African-American churches and faith-based groups, to deliver rapid HIV tests to millions,'' this most certainly means embedding a hateful fundamentalist religious and political program into whatever little assistance for AIDS patients actually gets funded. And, through that, building up a political and financial infrastructure of churches in the Black community who are enmeshed in the whole fascist program.

Of immigrants, Bush said, "this economy could not function without them." And then he called for ''an immigration system that upholds our laws, reflects our values, and serves the interests of our economy. Our nation needs orderly and secure borders. To meet this goal, we must have stronger immigration enforcement and border protection. And we must have a rational, humane guest worker program that rejects amnesty...allows temporary jobs for people who seek them legally...and reduces smuggling and crime at the border."

There is nothing "humane" about laws that criminalize survival, or force people into the shadows while being worked for less than minimum wage. What is "humane" about bringing people here, working them to death, preventing their families from joining them, and shipping them home when they are used up? Or marginalizing their language and culture? And stronger "border protection" means militarizing the border with troops and walls, leading to more deaths by dehydration in remote desert crossing points among those driven to El Norte by the workings of global imperialism.

Hardly anyone in this country was spared from Bush's "compassionate" cruel domestic agenda:

The Spin and the Aftershocks

Bush's speech was both draconian and Hitler-like. The Hitler part was even more striking if you watched it on TV—as the Republicans (and some Democrats) repeatedly rose to their feet, zombie-like, in waves, to roar approval of the most blatant lies, demagogic calls to arms, and vicious threats.

It's a sobering testimony to what time it is that a fascist rant like this gets spun by the mainstream, including liberal mainstream media, as a reasonable, toned down speech.

The New York Times wrote: "President Bush offered the nation a modest menu of energy, health and education proposals and warned against the false comfort of isolationism." And called his tone, "more tempered and less partisan than a year ago."

And the Democratic "response" was so lame, so accepting of Bush's terms, and so boring that no more needs to be said about that.

All this highlights the really historic importance of those heroes who are stepping forward, from all walks of life, to say NO to Bush, and to demand he step down and take his program with him. Many people have taken that stand from many perspectives. Our Party's views on what's wrong with the system and what needs to replace it are spoken to briefly in the RCP Statement read at protests on Jan 31, and can be found elsewhere in this issue and at revcom.us.

At the same time, it is crucial right now that people who grasp the dimensions of what is up—who see how this speech represents a declaration of determination by Bush to pursue his fascist agenda—to intensify their own efforts to bring forward a movement that is actually committed to and able to politically mobilize millions in a counter-dynamic to drive out this regime. That movement can be a vehicle that tens and then hundreds of thousands and more can jump onto, and establish a societal pole, around which millions more can rally.

The people of the world are counting on us.

Straight Talk on the "War on Terror"


Here's a critical truth that can't be finessed: There is no "War on Terror." There is a war for empire. The plans for U.S. war on Iraq were drawn up long before 9/11, and were pulled off the shelf and put into effect using 9/11 as the excuse. That's why all the reasons Bush gave for going to war with Iraq—the weapons of mass destruction, the nuclear weapons program, the ties to al-Qaeda" were lies. Because the real reason for the war is to pre-empt the emergence of any rivals to U.S. domination of that region (and the world).

That is what this war in Iraq, and the threats against Iran, are about. And this is true even though there are forces who pose real obstacles to that agenda, who apparently were associated with 9/11 and who have an agenda of their own that is no good.

Nor is there—fundamentally—a war to "bring democracy to the Middle East." Strategists around Bush do believe that democratic forms like elections can facilitate more stable, more reliable U.S.-client regimes in the region. But (a) that restructuring of Middle East regimes is to facilitate U.S. domination and exploitation,and (b) imperialism can live quite well with regimes with no democratic pretenses at all.

Look at a country that for quite some time has been listed as a key ally in the "war on terror," Uzbekistan. Craig Murray, the former British ambassador to that country, told the Bush Crimes Commission that 60 percent of the people in that country are slaves, paid seven cents a day for twelve-hour days in the cotton fields. That "there is no freedom of assembly. There's no freedom of religion. There's no freedom of speech. There's absolutely no free media. There's no opposition allowed. One in eight people are employed by the police or secret police, formally employed by the secret police to keep an eye on their neighbors." A UN investigation concluded that torture—including people being raped with broken bottles—was widespread and systemic, and that those subjected to this torture are forced to sign confessions that they are allied with al- Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. (See "Tribunal Indicts Bush"—Revolution #32 at revcom.us) Did you hear about this in the State of the Union Address? No. Uzbekistan was considered a "model regime" in the region—at least until the U.S. recently was denied access to a key military air base there.

And the "war on terror" is not about "making America safer." The torture chambers of Uzbekistan, of Iraq, of Afghanistan, of Egypt, of Saudi Arabia ... are not about "finding Osama bin Laden." They are about bringing down mass terror on the angry people of those countries. And the more this brutality and torture is perceived as an expression of the will of the American people —the more it feeds and creates a bizarre synergy with reactionary religious fundamentalist trends in that region.

Want to understand why you heard such a shameless, pathetic "response" to the State of the Union speech by Virginia Democratic Governor Tim Kaine? His starting point is that "Our commitment to winning the war on terrorism compels us to ask this question: Are the president's policies the best way to win this war?"

You can't buy into the logic of the "war on terror," and really, uncompromisingly, oppose the crimes of Bush regime.

 

If you fall into the orientation of trying to make the Democrats be what they are not, and never will be, you will end up becoming more like what the Democrats actually are.

Bob Avakian, Chairman, Revolutionary Communist Party, USA

Statement of RCP, USA for demonstrations against the State of the Union address:

Revolution #33, February 5, 2006, posted at revcom.us on January 30, 2005


We want to salute the people and organizations in World Can’t Wait, who’ve been pouring their hearts out to change the direction of history.

Friends, we are locked in a political battle for the future. As the World Can’t Wait call states, “the Bush regime is setting out to radically remake society very quickly, in a fascist way, and for generations to come.? In the wake of the wiretapping revelations and the Alito appointment, can anyone doubt it?

But most of the top Democrats agree with Bush on the war and the Patriot Act, and they wouldn’t even put up a token fight on Alito – until you raised hell and made them worry about their so-called credibility.

We have to rely on the only thing that has ever changed this world: the people, struggling for their real interests against their real enemy. Tonight we speak for millions more who agree with us, but are not yet active. If we are to really drive out this regime – and brothers and sisters we CAN AND MUST DO NOTHING LESS – we must reach out to those millions; and we must immediately mobilize thousands and thousands of them to GET ON THE BUS for Washington, D.C. this Saturday, come to the seat of power, and say BUSH STEP DOWN!

Think for a minute what it would mean to force Bush to step down, just in relation to the abuses spoken to in the World Can’t Wait call: the unjust and vicious wars, the presidentially-approved torture and detentions, the drive to outlaw abortion, and the whole dark ages mentality and “culture of greed, bigotry, intolerance and ignorance.? At minimum, their whole thing would take an enormous political blow, and a truly progressive dynamic would gain strength and momentum. There would still be a battle – a huge one, for the direction of society – but it would become two-sided for the first time in many years.

Part of that dynamic should include debating what kind of society people need. Our Party stands for a revolution consciously made by millions, which would put the interests of the vast majority of people – and not those of a handful of imperialists – at the foundation of everything it stands for and everything it does. We have the understanding and strategy to do that. And we have the leadership of our Chairman, Bob Avakian, who’s gone deeply into the experience of previous revolutionary and socialist societies, drawing from the achievements and analyzing the shortcomings, and who’s developed an inspiring vision of a whole new society and how to get there. We invite everyone here to engage that.

But right now the common objective of all of us is to politically force Bush to step down and take his program with him. We are determined to do that and to fight relentlessly until it’s done. And as the really crucial next part of that we need to get everyone we know and a whole lot of people we don’t know to GET ON THE BUS this Saturday.

ON TO D.C.!

DRIVE OUT THE BUSH REGIME!

Support the "No Evidence Left Behind Act"

Revolution #33, February 5, 2006, posted at revcom.us



PDF 294KB

SUPPORT THE
"NO EVIDENCE LEFT BEHIND ACT"

 

Bush: "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees" (September 1, 2005)

Excerpt from August 29th, email to president before Katrina hit: "Any storm rated Category 4 or greater ... will likely lead to severe flooding and/or levee breaching, leaving the New Orleans metro area submerged for weeks or months,"

The Guardian, January 26, 2006

...the Bush administration has refused to hand over the email correspondence about the storm and has prevented officials involved in the government reaction from appearing before the Senate

Help prevent future politically damaging moments
to our President!
Support the: "No Evidence Left Behind" Act

Dear Mr. President. We all know how rough it is, being the leader of the most powerful nation in the world, with all the lies and deceptions your job demands. It takes time to concoct tales of WMDs and deadly threats when you want to invade a country. It's grueling to perfect the right mix of smirk and shrug while saying "Who knew" every time someone calls you a murderer, and blames you for the thousands who died and tens of thousands more who lost their homes after Hurricane Katrina. We understand how difficult it is when annoying things like evidence and cold hard facts surface to contradict whatever story you have come up with to get over. You have brilliantly created legal justifications for your right to imprison and torture at will, and to spy on the private and personal conversations and e-mails of millions of people. And we realize that at such a time, refusing to let people know what's in your e-mails could appear to be a bit, shall we say, hypocritical. But we fully understand your concerns about the potential harm if documents are made public linking criminal neglect by our government to the deaths and suffering of thousands. That's why we are urging our representatives to pass the "No Evidence Left Behind" Act. Never again will you have to answer a probing question, respond to an inquiry, or even pretend to tell the truth. With NELBA, no one will ever be able to accuse you of stonewalling an investigation, obstructing justice, or covering up crimes. Deception will become a snap and lies will never be easier!

THIS HAS BEEN A PUBLIC SERVICE MESSAGE
OF THE
"HELP SAVE THE PRESIDENT'S ASS COMMITTEE"

A participating organization in the Christian Fascist Network

This parody was brought to you by Revolution newspaper, revcom.us

The Elevation of Alito and the Future We Must Fight

Part 1: Moves to Outlaw Abortion: A Leap in Patriarchy and Theocratic Domination

Revolution #33, February 5, 2006, posted at revcom.us

Speaking at the National Security Agency on Wednesday, January 25, George W. Bush said, "We live in a momentous time… we are living in historic times. . . we have a chance to make decisions today that will help shape the direction of events for years to come."

How Bush intends to do that is dramatically concentrated in the elevation of Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court. This two-part series will examine what Alito’s elevation will mean for the position of women in society and for Bush’s program of unrestrained executive power.

*****

Perhaps the most powerful testimony in the hearings leading up to Alito’s confirmation came from Kate Michelman, the former president of NARAL (National Abortion Rights Action League). Michelman described her ordeal at a time when "therapeutic abortions" were available in some states under exceptional circumstances, but abortion was not yet recognized as a basic right, protected by the Constitution. It’s worth quoting at length:

"In 1969, I was a young, stay-at-home mother of three little girls, a practicing Catholic who had accepted the Church’s teachings about birth control and abortion. The notion that abortion might be an issue I would face in my own life never occurred to me until the day my husband suddenly abandoned our family. In time, with nothing to live on, we were forced onto welfare. Soon after he left, I discovered I was pregnant. I knew instinctively that another child would turn a crisis into a catastrophe.

"After a long period of searching--of balancing my moral and religious values about the newly developing life with my responsibilities to my three young daughters--I decided to have an abortion....

"Because this all occurred prior to Roe [the Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion] I was legally prevented from acting privately on my decision. I was compelled to submit to two interrogations before an all-male panel of doctors. They probed every aspect of my private life--from what kind of sex life my husband and I had to whether I was capable of dressing my children in the morning. Eventually, they gave their permission. I had been admitted to the hospital and was awaiting the procedure when a nurse arrived to tell me that state law imposed yet another humiliating burden. The government required me to obtain my husband’s consent. I was forced to leave the hospital, find where he was living and ask him to give me his permission....

"...I do not tell this story to ask your sympathy. It was a humiliating experience, but one that also awakened me to a lifetime of activism devoted to ensuring no other woman ever would be required to endure such humiliation. I tell you this story because we stand at the threshold of millions of women--women doing their very best to do what is right for themselves and their families--once more facing the dreadful choice between the degradation of the review board and the danger of the back alley. This is neither hyperbole nor hype. It is the simple, demonstrable reality of the situation."

Think for a minute about what Kate Michelman describes. It is nothing less than males, singly and in groups, exercising what was then their legal right to determine whether a woman will have a child, in forms sanctioned and enforced by the power of the state. Imagine yourself in her shoes. Even though in this case she was literally "given permission" to have an abortion, the men involved and the approval procedure itself made sure that Kate Michelman would be humiliated and forced to feel her own powerlessness in the depth of her spirit. And that was in a supposedly "enlightened" area of the country--in most places even that option was denied. Women were either forced to bear unwanted children or sent to search for illegal and dangerous back-alley abortions.

As a lawyer in the Reagan administration, Alito openly vowed his aim to wipe out the right to abortion. He developed the strategy of first severely limiting and then overturning that right altogether. As a lower court judge, Alito actually argued in favor of a law that would have forced women to again inform their husbands if they wanted an abortion, as Kate Michelman had to; his argument was not upheld then, but now he is slated to sit on the Supreme Court. And from this position of power he will be fighting not only to impose the humiliations described above, but the horrific experience of back-alley abortions involving the dangers of mutilation and death.

Women, of course, are still tremendously oppressed, and even after the right to abortion was won--through very sharp struggle--they have continued to be treated as the property of men in the social relations of this system. But to return to the days described by Kate Michelman would mark a tremendous step backward, greatly intensifying that oppression, and would be reason enough to mount a huge political struggle to drive out this regime and change the direction of society.

Open Threats from Puffed-Up Theocrats

But the Bush regime intends to go much further.

Bush makes much of his desire to not only change the law, but institute a so-called "culture of life" founded on Biblical values. To give just one telling example of these values, the creation tale of the Bible blames women for the "original sin" that caused the "fall of man." This is why, we are told, women endure pain during childbirth and this also supposedly justifies the subjugation of women by men and their treatment as objects of slavery and sexual plunder, which goes on with God’s approval and indeed at his behest throughout the Old Testament. This same "original sin" is upheld in the Christian New Testament in 1 Timothy 2:11-15, where Paul reiterates that the subordination of women to men is "God’s will" and says that a woman can redeem herself for Eve’s supposed transgression only "through her child-bearing," and he even says that women should not dare to "teach men" but must "learn in quietness with all subjection." [From the American Standard version of the Bible; for more on this, go to Bobavakian.net and his talks on religion.]

The core social base of the Bush regime insists that these archaic and reactionary views be made the basis of law. And these fanatics not only intend to fully outlaw abortion in every case, but to take revenge on those who may have had or performed an abortion. The president of March for Life, which organized the triumphant January 23 rally celebrating the nomination of Alito to the Court, predicted to the crowd "that the United States would hold the equivalent of Nuremburg trials for ‘feminist abortionists,’" and called "support [!] for a woman’s right to choose ‘crimes against humanity.’" Her words, according this New York Times account, "were met with strong applause."

Please note that the chief defendants at the World War II war crimes trials at Nuremburg were executed. Note as well that the assassination of abortion providers has already been called for by elements of this movement under the rubric of Nuremberg, and that several providers have been outright murdered, others severely wounded and many more living under daily death threats.

This is the future represented by Alito’s elevation. This is the future being pushed by the current regime, with the full power of the state, every day. This is not a future that we can accept; nor is there any "common ground" to be found with those fighting for it. This is a future we must resist. Now.

Next week: The All-powerful President: Torturer-in-Chief

Alito became known during these hearings as a champion of the doctrine called the "unitary executive." This doctrine elevates the executive branch above the other two branches of government and, as interpreted by Alito and those in the Bush Administration, it enables the president to act without any legal restraint.

Send us your comments.

The Republi-Fascists... and the Republi-crats
and Where Is the Real Alternative?

by Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA

Originally published in: Revolution #002, May 15, 2005, posted at revcom.us

EDITORS' NOTE:This article is from the pamphlet The Coming Civil War and Repolarization for Revolution in the Present Era, a series of excerpts drawn from conversations and discussions, as well as more formal talks, by Bob Avakian.

The Democratic Party is after all a party of the ruling class, it is a party of the capitalist system. At the same time, the Republican Party, especially now, is the party of openly and aggressively benefiting the rich and further impoverishing people—benefiting the rich and driving down the poor. It is the party, openly and aggressively, of white supremacy. Let’s not forget, these people are opposed to affirmative action, these are the people who brought you The Bell Curve. (This refers to a book published during the 1990s which claimed, based on phony science and faulty methods, to show that there are unchangeable, genetically based differences which account for inequalities, including the supposed mental superiority of people of European descent as compared with people of African descent. The studies, statistics, methods and approaches cited in this book have been soundly refuted, both before and after the publication of this book, but the book was nevertheless promoted and treated as serious scholarship within many mainstream institutions, including media, and in particular it became part of the ideological arsenal of "conservatives" in arguing against things like affirmative action and more generally concessionary social programs whose stated purpose was to help overcome social inequalities.)

It is not a matter of gimmicks when we point to what these people represent—their stands in support of the death penalty, unleashing the police without restraint, and so on. Again, it’s not that the Democratic Party is not for these things—there are real reasons why I (and others) have referred to the Democrats at times as "Republi-crats." But the Republicans are the party of openly and aggressively doing this—imprisoning more people, unleashing the police against more people, impoverishing more people, attacking people’s rights more—all openly and aggressively. That’s why it is correct, and not hype, to refer to them as Republi-fascists.

As I have said a number of times: These reactionaries should not even be allowed to use "conservative" to describe themselves. We should say, "Conservative, my ass, these people are Nazis."

And, again, what they are all about definitely includes open white supremacy. What does it mean when you look at the fact that all the "Dixiecrats" have become Republicans? ("Dixiecrats" refers to the bourgeois politicians in the south who, after Reconstruction was ended in 1877, openly stood for segregation and white supremacy and were part of the Democratic Party, representing its "southern wing." Since the time that the government, particularly through the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, was forced to make concessions to the civil rights struggle and pass certain laws and policies outlawing outright segregation and open discrimination, many of these types of southern politicians have, over the past several decades, moved from the Democratic to the Republican Party.)

But, again, the fact is that the Democrats support most of this program. They do have a different "cohering logic" than the Christian Fascist and overall Nazi-type logic which is increasingly dominant in the Republican Party. And they do have differences over some policies, such as taxes and social security. But, despite very real and sometimes sharp differences, when you get down to it, what the Republicans are doing is, to a large degree, agreed on by the Democrats as well — including such crucial things as the war in Iraq and the broader war for empire carried out under the banner of "war against terrorism." And what the Democrats may not agree with, they overwhelmingly go along with in any case. Witness, for example, the confirmation of Alberto Gonzales as the new Attorney General— after it was well established that he played a key part in formulating the defense of torture by the government and the position that the president can act contrary to international law, and U.S. law for that matter. The Democrats caved in on this, just as they did with the appointment of that other fascist, Ashcroft, as Bush’s first Attorney General. Why? Because the Democrats are the representatives of the same system, and fundamentally for that reason they cannot offer any real alternative. I spoke to this in "The "Pyramid of Power"1 and it is something we need to keep going back to and deepening people’s understanding of, in order to enable people to see the need to break out of this whole framework of mainstream bourgeois politics in order to bring about a real alternative.


NOTES:

1. Bob Avakian, "The Pyramid of Power and the Struggle to Turn This Whole Thing Upside Down," RW/OR #1269. Also available online at revcom.us.

[Return to article]

Send us your comments.

Building the Future

First International Road Building Brigade Reports Back from Liberated Area in Nepal

Revolution #33, February 5, 2006, posted at revcom.us

Tens of thousands of people of Rolpa in Nepal are building a 57-mile road to be known as Sahid Marg (Martyrs Highway). Rolpa is at the center of the People's War led by the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist). Recently an international group of volunteers traveled to this liberated area to help work on the road. These excerpts are from their "Provisional Report of the First International Road Building Brigade to the Magarat Autonomous Republic of Nepal" (sent out by A World to Win News Service). This is the first of two parts.

In November 2005, the first international road-building brigade, consisting of seven volunteers from Australia, Britain, Canada, Colombia, Germany, and Norway arrived in the liberated Rolpa district in mid-western Nepal. We had travelled many thousands of miles to work side by side with the people there to build a road as part of the efforts of the new revolutionary power there to forge a self-reliant economy, free of the chains of imperialist domination.

The brigade members were well aware that the regime of King Gyanendra, who dissolved parliament last year and centralized power in the hands of the feudal monarchy, was waging a vicious counter-insurgency war and that we would have to cross army checkpoints to reach our destination. The regime has "distinguished" itself by compiling one of the worst records in the world for disappearances, extra-judicial executions, and other types of bloody repression. We also had some idea of the fierce determination of the Nepalese people to forge a new future, and were eager to see what they had achieved, and to work alongside them on this crucial project for the all-sided development of the autonomous region.

So we set off for the liberated area with a mixture of nervousness and excitement...

While the Himalayas are never all that far away in Nepal, this is not a journey made by many tourists. Anyone travelling into the liberated areas needs to cross a series of roving military checkpoints, where almost anything can happen. Buses into the area are stopped, young soldiers carrying machine guns come inside, and the passengers are forced out where their baggage is searched. Any Nepalese identified by the soldiers as Maoist--or a "suspected Maoist"--are taken away to prison or sometimes just marched off into the countryside and executed on the spot. The soldiers stationed on the approaches to the liberated areas are the elite of the RNA, battle-hardened, crack troops equipped with the armys best weaponry. You can tell their elite character just from the way they look: not only meaner and more arrogant, but bigger and better fed than the average soldiers. They also bear more than their share of responsibility for the horrors for which the regime has been repeatedly denounced by human rights groups around the world.

Despite the ever-present atmosphere of war throughout this area, there is at the same time an almost surreal normalcy to the to-and-fro between the areas under the control of the rising new [revolutionary] regime and those under the control of the dying old monarchy. More or less regular trade is conducted, as peasants from the higher villages go down into the richer Dang valley and sell bags of ghee, honey, goat meat, and medicinal plants, and return with salt, batteries, oil and other items they cannot produce themselves. After the traffic passes the last army checkpoints, it even runs for a time along the new road still under construction by the Magarat AR (Autonomous Region), the road we had come to work on.

We felt a feeling of tremendous release when we finally came into sight of the wooden gateway framing the road as we arrived in the first town in the liberated area, Tilla Bazaar. A red flag on one side and the flag of the Magarat AR on the other told us everything we needed to know: we had made it! But our elation soon subsided a bit--this was a poor village, almost no one spoke English, and it was difficult at first to make ourselves understood. The townspeople had grown a bit circumspect about foreigners showing up, since many turned out to be Western journalists, some of them searching hard for any angle that might show the peoples struggle in an unflattering light.

Once it became clear that we were a very different type of foreigner--young people whod come to work side by side with the peasants themselves, to share weal and woe--one of the team members described it as being like a fountain of joy just got turned on. Complete strangers walked over with grins spread across their faces and gave us big hugs. A reception sprang into place. Six or seven English-language banners were put up, and a young English interpreter was produced, who proved to be an energetic and enthusiastic aide throughout our stay. 150 people gathered to hear more about the brigade members, and to express their enthusiasm for our arrival, and the brigaders told the attentive crowd what had motivated us to come so far. As we bedded down for our first night, we all shared a feeling that we were in for an experience unlike any wed ever known before.

The area the brigade visited is part of the Magarat Autonomous Republic, which was declared in 2003 after the Royal Nepalese Army was driven out by the forces of the Peoples Liberation Army, led by the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist). The Magars are one of a number of oppressed national minorities in Nepal. The founding of their new regional republic in one of the most advanced revolutionary base areas in Nepal is widely viewed in the country as a momentous event marking the end of centuries-long injustice suffered by the people there, and we saw many expressions of pride in this achievement.

We were awoken with the sun. Life begins early in the liberated areas. The PLA members got up every morning at 4 a.m. to begin their day, which really impressed especially the younger members of the brigade. PLA members, almost half of whom are women, would patrol the perimeter (2 km or so), then exercise and eat a breakfast consisting mainly of "chai," Nepalese tea. They also put on occasional theater in the evening.

A work schedule was drawn up with the road organizers. It basically set out which sections of the road we were to work on and when, and with which group of people--families of people whod fallen in the revolutionary war, local peasants, PLA members, etc. Time was also set aside for some discussion with the different groups. It was explained to the brigade members that the road building was not going on at full speed at that very moment, because it was harvest time. Completing the harvest successfully was crucial to peoples livelihoods, especially over the coming winter months, so this had to be taken into account when mobilizing volunteers. This was also why the revolutionary government requested each family to try to provide only one volunteer, so as to ensure the livelihood of the family as a whole.

We were happy that even though building wasnt going on at the usual rate, we would still get to take part in the work. But setting down to work proved to be a little different than wed anticipated. For one thing, it was sometimes more than an hours walk each way, with a lot of up and down through steep hills, just to get to the part of the road where we were to work. So muscles had been put through some effort even before we lifted a tool. The techniques used were like nothing we had ever seen. Upon reaching the road, some hundred people were hard at work. We first noticed gangs of young men hugging the hillsides with long steel crowbars laboring to remove large rocks to clear a passageway for the road. At first we were a bit skeptical: the rocks appeared much too large to yield to the youths exertions. But the young men had had a lot of practice, and soon cries of joy rang out as a giant rock was tumbled out of its ages-old resting place.

Similar techniques were used to deal with big trees: large teams were assembled to literally dig them up. When the tree finally came down and the team could throw it over the cliff, a huge cry of joy invariably went up.

Some work techniques were particularly difficult. For example, one person didnt work a shovel, but two. A rope was tied just above the blade of the shovel, and just as the first person shoved the shovel deeply into the ground, the other person would lift on the rope to get the maximum amount of dirt out. It was very hard to get the timing right--if the person holding the rope jerked too soon, the person with the shovel got a little dirt hurled into their face (which brought more giggles), and if they didnt jerk soon enough the shovel wouldnt come out. At the end of our trip, we were asked to show our hands--some of the team members were a bit embarrassed, because they thought their calluses and blisters were not all that impressive, but the hosts beamed with pride at what had been accomplished.

Next week: Part 2

Send us your comments.

Latin America: Behind the Turmoil

Revolution #033, February 5, 2006, posted at revcom.us

From peasant uprisings to urban demonstrations, a storm of protests is brewing in Latin America. People are resisting the U.S. imposed neoliberal policies that have wreaked havoc in these countries and sunk them into even deeper poverty. They are seeking a way out.

The discontent and fury was evident in the November 2005 protests in Mar del Plata, Argentina, against the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas (FTAA), and in several other countries at the same time. It was also evident in the mass movements that have ousted governments in Bolivia and Ecuador, and elected candidates that speak out against some of these imperialist measures.

The mass upheaval is in response to the failure of the neoliberal imperialist policies advocated by the United States, as well as Washington-dominated institutions such as the IMF (International Monetary Fund) and the World Bank which have led to the worst long-term economic failure in modern Latin American history.

"Free trade agreements" like NAFTA, and the privatization of basic necessities like water, have led to even more poverty and a lower standard of living in the region as a whole. For example, since 1980 Brazil's income per person has grown by less than one-half percent annually. The story is similar for Mexico, which doubled its income per person from 1960-1980 but has seen slow growth since then. Or take Bolivia, which has also been subject to IMF agreements and has done what Washington has ordered, including privatizing nearly everything that could be sold, even water. The country's per capita income today is actually lower than it was 25 years ago, 63 percent of Bolivians live below the poverty line, and the proportion is even higher in the countryside.

For the region as a whole, growth in GDP (or income) per person--one conventional measure of economic performance --was about 80 percent from 1960-1979, before the neoliberal plans. But growth was only 11 percent for 1980-1999 and a mere 3 percent for 2000-2004, after "free trade agreements" like NAFTA and IMF-imposed austerity measures.

A History of Subjugation

The rise of U.S. imperialism was very much tied to the subjugation of Latin America. For more than 100 years the US has ruled the economic, political, and cultural life of many of these countries, whether though democratic governments or military juntas. And whenever there have been serious challenges to its domination, the U.S. has not hesitated to resort to the most brutal methods of repression: invasions, military coups, mass killings, disappearances, and assassinations.

The upheaval now in Latin America is threatening to U.S. imperialism, which cannot tolerate any challenge to its drive for world domination, and cannot allow nations any kind of real self- determination. This is what was behind the not so subtle threat by US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who on a visit to Paraguay in August 2005, told reporters, just four months before elections in Bolivia, that "There certainly is evidence that both Cuba and Venezuela have been involved in the situation in Bolivia in unhelpful ways." Not long after, on November 8, the Christian fascist Pat Robertson, who is close to the White House, said, "You know, I don't know about the doctrine of assassination, but if he [Chavez] thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it. It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war. And I don't think any oil shipments will stop." Any threats, political intervention, or military actions by the U.S. against governments in Latin America must be opposed.

U.S. military aggression in Latin America has a long history, and today, when the U.S. is waging an "endless war" for uncontested empire, it needs to tighten its economic hold on Latin America to better compete with its imperialist rivals who are making forays into what the U.S. considers its "backyard." Following his election to the presidency, Evo Morales traveled to Europe and Asia to talk trade with international energy companies in France and Spain and to work out trade agreements with China. Last year the U.S. government tried to stop the sale of Spanish military planes to Venezuela. The U.S. Ambassador to Spain, Eduardo Aguirre, told the Spanish government they could not sell the planes because they used some U.S. technology, but the sale was made anyway. The U.S. has also protested Russia's sale of thousands of AK-47s that the Venezuelan government bought to arm two million militias as part of its readiness plan in the event of a U.S. invasion. And Brazil has initiated trade agreements with South Africa, India, and China.

Faced with the desperate situation created by the imperialists, the people are seeking a way out of the poverty and exploitation that is crushing them. These are conditions that led to the uprising of the peasants in Chiapas on the eve of the signing of the NAFTA treaty in 1994. This is also why there are large movements of landless peasants in Brazil, as well as in Ecuador and Bolivia, and why in several countries workers are taking over abandoned factories.

Rising Forces in Conflict with U.S.

The rise to power of class forces that objectively are coming into conflict with the U.S. has been boosted by the rising of the mass struggle of people, the widespread sentiment against imperialist domination, and the just demand for national sovereignty and self-determination. (In the future articles, Revolution will have further analysis of the rise to power of these class forces - an analysis of their different programs and what kind of revolutionary communist program is required to really break free of imperialist domination.)

Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, Evo Morales in Bolivia, Lula in Brazil, and others advocate regional economic integration and forming trade blocs in order to strengthen their hand in the global market and in dealing with the IMF or the World Bank. On January 21, Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez, Argentina’s President Nestor Kirchner, and Brazil’s President Lula da Silva announced plans to build a gas pipeline, which would run nearly the entire length of the South American continent. It will be one of the largest infrastructure projects in Latin American history. According to Chavez, the cost of building the pipeline would be carried largely by outside investors, such as firms from Asia.

Latin America as a whole is increasing trade and other relations with the European Union and China. This is especially the case for raw materials exporters like Brazil and Chile. Venezuela has forged probably the closest relations with China of any Latin American country, and is planning to sell increasing amounts of oil to China as part of its effort to reduce dependence on the U.S. government. Bolivia's President Evo Morales has said he would carry out a "reasonable" nationalization of key industries, while saying he would like international corporations to stay, but on better terms.

However, none of this will or can decisively break with the structural dependency that characterizes the relationship of oppressed countries in the world imperialist economy. The subordination of oppressed nations is a structural feature of the world imperialist system. This encompasses economic mechanisms leading to and reinforcing such dependency, as well as unequal relations of power and imperial structures of political control.

The better terms on imperialist investments that Evo Morales received from France and Spain, or the investment that Venezuela, Brazil and Argentina will get from outside investors for the pipeline, will still be a chain around the neck of the oppressed--because the same lopsidedness of global capitalism, with its laws, structures, governments and ideas that regulate commerce and all other aspect of life are still in place. So even though Brazil and Argentina have paid their debt to the IMF, they are still entangled and subjected in a million other ways to international finance capital and the institutions and mechanisms of imperialism.

When Lula campaigned for President, he proclaimed he would stand up to IMF demands and put the people’s interests first. But his government’s budgetary and monetary policies have basically stayed within the bounds prescribed by the IMF. And the incredible inequality that characterizes Brazilian society, especially the obscene concentration of land ownership in the countryside, has hardly been touched. Lula has promoted the interests of large Brazilian agro-business and much of the landless peasant movement has sharply criticized him.

This is not fundamentally a question of Lula’s intentions or honesty. There are more determining forces: the larger world-economic and imperial geopolitical framework within which these regimes must operate, the ways in which imperialist domination is deeply embedded in these societies and economies, and the particular class interests represented and served by such reformist and populist politicians. Brazil is highly dependent on the imperialists for advanced technology, and its military has historically been shaped by U.S. weapons sales and training programs.

One outrageous example of U.S. imperial domination and arrogance is the account of how U.S. trade representative Robert Zellick told president-elect Lula that if Brazil strayed too far from U.S. plans for free markets in the Americas, he would find himself having "to export to Antarctica."

Recent political developments in Latin America reveal the deep faultlines of poverty and inequality. They reveal the dismal failure of U.S.-backed adjustment programs. And they reveal the tremendous discontent of the great majority of the population. The question is: will, and how can, this discontent be channeled into a struggle of the masses to really break free of imperialist domination?

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Black Church Summit Takes Stand Against Anti-Gay Discrimination

Revolution #33, February 5, 2006, posted at revcom.us

A landmark summit of Black clergy took place in Atlanta on January 20-21 to strategize about fighting against anti-gay discrimination in African American churches. More than 200 ministers and gay rights activists took part in this first Black Church Summit, which was called by the National Black Justice Coalition. The summit was held at the First Iconium Baptist Church in Atlanta, and keynote speeches were given by Rev. Al Sharpton and Bishop Yvette Flunder of the City of Refugees Church in San Francisco.

There is a deep rift within the Black churches and clergy over the questions of homosexuality and gay marriage, part of the sharp polarization within American society overall. And this was reflected in the experiences and backgrounds of many participants in the summit who are taking a principled and very positive stand in the face of intense opposition. Rev. Timothy McDonald, who heads First Iconium and hosted the summit, said that he received hateful phone calls and heard cries of opposition at Sunday services when the summit was announced and that many ministers who were invited refused to attend. McDonald himself used to denounce gays until a member of his congregation died of AIDS. Recalling the effect of that death, McDonald said, "This thing has changed my values. As a pastor, you don't choose your congregation. You have to be a pastor for everyone."

Another example of changing attitudes and principled stands among the participating clergy was Rev. Ken Samuel, pastor at the Victory for the World church in Stone Mountain, Georgia. Samuel also used to condemn homosexuality from the pulpit, but he says that he changed his views as he recalled a childhood friend who committed suicide because he felt ostracized by his church for his homosexuality. When Samuel began to preach against anti-gay discrimination, he lost about half of the 5,000 members of his mega-church, but he stood his ground.

Samuel described his move away from a literal interpretation of the Bible: "There is a disconnect between religion and reality, and it contributed to the death of a young man. That set me on this path to try and figure it out. We have to find ways to incorporate it with the Bible, the same as was done with slavery. The Bible condones slavery. We have to interpret rather than exclude."

Rev. Al Sharpton made a very crucial point during the summit. Referring to the alliance between a section of the Black clergy and George W. Bush, he said, "They couldn't come to the black church and talk about war; they couldn't talk about health care, they couldn't come to the black church and talk about education. They started with gays, but they will end up with everybody else."

Progressive religious people have been struggling for years to change attitudes within the Black churches, but the stand taken at the summit by those who might be considered more "mainstream" is significant and positive. Rev. Deborah Elandus Lake, co-founder of the Chicago chapter of the Interfaith Alliance and executive director of Sankofa Way Spiritual Services, told Revolution: "While I was a seminary student at Union Theological Seminary in New York, I had the honor of organizing a major community-wide discussion about homosexuality and Black churches. Even then, when we were relatively new at having this kind of dialogue, it became obvious that beliefs about sexuality, race, and gender served to complicate any movement toward progress."

On the other side of the divide are reactionary sections of the Black clergy that have close connections with and backing from powerful Christian fascist forces--and these forces have their man in the White House. In the midst of his 2004 re-election campaign, Bush called for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, claiming that such an amendment was needed to "protect marriage." This was not simply some mindless Bushism (as if same-sex marriage somehow threatened heterosexual marriage) but a calculated move to pander to and mobilize an audience--including among Black people--that views the world through the prism of Biblical literalism and sees gay marriage and homosexuality in general as an attack on their core values and institutions, with the traditional family at the center.

And there were significant forces within the Black clergy that did get mobilized by Bush's move to use the issue of gay marriage. As the SF Chronicle noted, "In San Francisco, a city known for its acceptance of gay and lesbian people, a coalition of African American pastors condemned same-sex marriage during the 2004 presidential election." In Atlanta, the pastor of a suburban mega-church led a march of 10,000 in support of Bush's proposed anti-gay marriage amendment; among the marchers was Rev. Bernice King, the youngest child of Martin Luther King Jr. (Meanwhile King's widow, Coretta Scott King, has taken a stand in support of the right to same-sex marriage.)

These developments have given rise to a sense of urgency among people like those at the Black Church Summit. The National Black Justice Coalition said that "The summit is a direct response to anti-marriage proponents pandering to the black church for their own agenda."

The sharp divides around gay marriage and homosexuality point to something very serious. Anti-gay prejudice is not in the interests of the masses of Black people. This can be seen concretely, for example, around the question of HIV/AIDS. As Sylvia Rhue of the National Black Justice Coalition points out, "HIV and AIDS is a major concern in the Black community, and churches can't deal with it if they can't deal with human sexuality."

Furthermore, the reactionary mobilization around the question of homosexuality and gay marriage (along with abortion) is a wedge used by the Bush regime to build up a fascist social movement and political machine within the Black community, and to organize people to act against their own fundamental interests. This is a Christian fascist movement whose agenda has real elements of genocide against Black and other oppressed people.

Along with the use of gay marriage as a wedge issue, Bush has been building up a base and political machinery of Black preachers through his "faith-based" government programs and the networks of the Republican Party. Overall, these "faith-based" initiatives and programs are increasingly the way that social services are supposedly being addressed. So money for government programs dealing with basic needs of the people--like education, health, job training, and so forth--are being slashed, while funds are being directed to churches. And through this the right-wing preachers get big financial grants-- and their main role is not to "provide services" but to spread ignorance and bigotry and help suppress resistance to the political power structure.

This reactionary machinery could be seen in operation in the marches in support of Bush's anti-gay marriage amendment. It was also in action around Hurricane Katrina, when Bush drew on some Black preachers to meet with him and even travel with him as "political bodyguards" at a time when he and his administration was was being exposed for their criminal neglect of the hurricane victims. These preachers also served Bush and his agenda by blaming the masses themselves for the hurricane.

These were truly acts of betrayal. As this paper has noted, these pro-Bush preachers are reminiscent of the Judenrat under the Nazis--Jews who were given special privileges and power under the Nazis and who convinced themselves that things would go better for everyone if they rounded up their fellow Jews instead of forcing the Nazis to do it. The Judenrat told people not to resist and snitched on those who did. (See article in Revolution #18, "'President Bush Doesn't Care About Black People...'--Damn Right! And That's Not the Half of It," online at revcom.us.)

Those at the Black Church Summit have stepped forward to take an important stand against anti-gay bigotry. The advance of the Christian fascist theocrats among the Black clergy and churches is extremely dangerous development--and more initiatives like the Black Church Summit are urgently needed and should be supported by all who want to see a decisive change in the course that this country is headed now.

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Tribunal Indicts Bush

Jan. 20-22: International Commission of Inquiry on Crimes Against Humanity Committed by the Bush Administration

Revolution #33, February 5, 2006, posted at revcom.us

Hundreds of people came together in New York City on the weekend of January 20-22 for a historic tribunal indicting the Bush administration for crimes against humanity. This event opened Friday evening at the Riverside Church, where Harry Belafonte gave a riveting speech that brought the audience to their feet.

Among the witnesses, experts, and judges giving and listening to testimony about Bush's crimes were Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, former head of the Abu Ghraib prison; Craig Murray, former British ambassador to Uzbekistan; Scott Ritter, former UN weapons inspector, and Ann Wright, former U.S. diplomat and retired U.S. Army Reserve Colonel

The International Commission has brought five indictments against the Bush regime:

  1. Wars of Aggression
  2. Torture and Indefinite Detention
  3. Destruction of the Global Environment
  4. Attacks on Global Public Health
  5. Hurricane Katrina

The first session of the Tribunal, in October 2005, heard searing testimony on each of these indictments--and the second and concluding session on Jan. 20-22 continued this crucial work. According to a Commission Press release: "The panel of jurists is currently deliberating and receiving further evidence. Preliminary findings will be made public at a news conference scheduled for February 2nd at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, 9:30am."

As this session of the Tribunal began, Michael Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights sharply laid out the aims of the Tribunal, and the urgency of the times: "We are putting the Bush administration on trial. We investigate in order to expose. We document in order to indict. We arouse consciousness in order to create mass resistance. We want this trial to be a step in the building of mass resistance to war, to torture, to the destruction of our earth and its people. It's a serious moment. Our country and our world are tipping--tipping toward permanent war, the end of human rights, and the impoverishment and death of millions. We still have a chance, an opportunity to stop this slide into chaos. But it is up to us. We must not sit with our arms folded. We must be as radical as the reality we are facing. The witnesses you will hear over the next few days are the truth-tellers--the witnesses to the carnage this country and this administration has wrought. This truth challenges us all to act."

In this issue, Revolution newspaper is presenting excerpts from two Tribunal witnesses. We will have further reportage and interviews from the Tribunal in future issues. (See revcom.us for testimony excerpts in Revolution #32)

For complete information on the sessions of the Tribunal and the judges and participants, as well as updates on the work of the Bush Crimes Commission, go online to bushcommission.org.

Barbara Olshansky, Center for Constitutional Rights:

There are people [in Guantánamo Prison] that have been determined to be innocent by the Department of Defense. Recently this was recognized by a federal court in Washington DC and the court actually issued a decision in which it said yes, I find these people to be innocent, I find no basis for their detention by the United States, I find that they should not be imprisoned. And then the judge concluded by saying, "However I do not think I have the authority to order their release." And so they remain in Guantánamo. There are many other people in that category. I don't think the world widely knows that, but they are still all housed at Guantánamo.

There is a hunger strike that has been going on for some time and that hunger strike, despite the press releases from the Department of Defense, has entered a new and very dangerous phase. The military's response from the hunger strike has evolved from what was sort of a sensible effort to negotiate with the prisoners to punishing prisoners who assert their right to participate in this nonviolent protest. The prisoners, as a result of the changing Department of Defense responses, have been forced to change their demands. In July of 2005, of couse, their initial demand was asking for fair trials, the right that they won in the Russell Case in the U.S. Supreme Court--just give us the trial that we're due, that's all. Then they wanted to change some of the conditions in the camp. They wanted those who were found innocent to be released. And they didn't want juvenile prisoners to be in isolation. And third, they wanted to change some of the other conditions in the camp like inadequate medical care.

Because the military has refused to negotiate with them or discuss any changes whatsoever, everyone that is participating is now in agreement that they would like to have a trial that they are guaranteed by the U.S. Supreme Court decision. And if they they do not get that basic justice, they are committed to dying. Our estimation is that there are 250 people participating. The Department of Defense changes the numbers every day by changing the definition of who participates in the hunger strike. We know from going down to the base and from all the attorneys that go to visit their clients that there are a great many people participating.

The Department of Defense has taken it upon themselves to initiate forced feeding of people on the base. This means the forcible insertion of nasal-gastic tubes without anesthesia in unsanitary environments. In fact, the military intelligence and military police in Guantánamo have created a specific isolation camp where each person is separated from the other, no one may be spoken to, and they are all being force fed. No attorneys, no senators, no press. No one is entitled to access to those individuals.

What happens is an immediate penalty after an individual decides to join the hunger strike. And joining the hunger strike means three individual meals are refused. When the meals are refused people are punished by having all of their comfort items taken away except for the shirt on their backs. They are put in isolation. They are deprived of all contact. Some of them are beaten. We've seen this. And yet they continue to participate.

We know that more than 30 have been force fed for a very long time. They started their hunger strike in August of 2005 and a number of them are very close to death.

Larry McBride, who was in prison in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina hit land:

My name is Larry McBride and I was in prison [Templeton II] at the time the storm came. They told us like this, that some of us would be released and some won't, or some of us would be moved to higher ground. But none of this happened. So what we did as prisoners, we wasn't trying to escape, we was trying to save our own lives so we won't drown. Because they had water shooting up out the toilets that high, up to your knees--piss, shit and water, coming up. Once it got to where it was reaching to my waist, a couple of us broke the racks off the bed and broke the windows so we could get out and go up to higher ground.

So when we did run into some of the National Guards that came and took over the prison after the guards (who was there, who was supposed to be in charge with their families that they had boarded there) had left because the water started coming into the prison.They left us to die in there. They took their family out of the prison. And they know that the prison was flooding up with water. When we ran into them guards they went to beating us, saying we was trying to escape. We started telling them we are not trying to escape, we are trying to get to higher ground. So when we got up to the third level, up in the cell, it got stuffy up in there. We couldn't breathe there. They cut the air conditioning off, they cut the TV off, they cut the phones off from us. We can't reach nobody on the outside to find out what's going on in there. So they left us there.

So when they [National Guard] went to beating us and stuff--yeah, we going to protecting ourself and try to save ourself, saving as we was doing. They said we was trying to escape. And lord as my witness, I wasn't trying to escape and didn't run and I told them I wasn't running. So they put us, left us there for three or four days. We didn't have nothing to eat, no water, no nothing. When we did get to the top of the bridge [prisoners were left on a bridge during the aftermath of the storm], after we got out of the jail, we asked them, "Look man, give us some water, give us something to eat." No! That was they words. They hadn't said we gonna try to get ya'll something, they said NO! Then they took all they families--and the National Guards out there on the bridge, they already got guns on us on the bridge--they families got water, they family had food. But they never did feed us.

Everybody talking about Katrina. Katrina didn't hurt New Orleans... I can speak like I want? It was the mutha fuckers who blew the fucking levee up what hurt New Orleans. That's what hurt New Orleans. That's what killed my nephew from not being able to get his insulin. Eight days without him taking his fucking medicine. Yeah, he died. Then my uncle, he drowned trying to save his family. His wife said he went under the first time. Then when he went back under the second time, she said she didn't see him no more.

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NEEDED: $50,000 IN PLEDGES IN FIVE WEEKS

SUSTAIN REVOLUTION!

Revolution #33, February 5, 2006, posted at revcom.us

Revolution newspaper is launching an exciting, ambitious fund drive to raise $50,000 in sustainer pledges over the next five weeks! Those sustainers--including you!--will be the base from which our newspaper continues to make leaps in our bilingual content, look, accessibility, and distribution.

Readers from coast to coast, border to border, and around the world look to Revolution for a perspective they can only find in a newspaper that represents the outlook of the class of people on this planet with nothing to lose, no stake in the present order, and no need or desire to pull punches or cover up the abuses of the system.

From that perspective, Revolution readers also get exposed to a unique panorama of protest and rebellion from all kinds of people--from progressive clergy to rebellious artists, from the people on the bottom of society to defectors from the power structure.

And this newspaper reveals not just the atrocities and outrages that are covered up by the establishment media, and not just the scope and range of dissatisfaction and resistance in society, but also why things are the way they are, and how revolutionary change is possible. In that light, this paper connects hundreds of thousands of people, now, with the Revolutionary Communist Party and its leader, Bob Avakian.

Last year, the San Francisco Chronicle wrote that Bob Avakian is "best known as a prolific, uncompromising contributor to The Revolutionary Worker newspaper [the name by which Revolution was known until May of 2005]." Just in the past few weeks, Revolution featured articles by Bob Avakian including: "'A Leap of Faith' and a Leap to Rational Knowledge: Two Very Different Kinds of Leaps, Two Radically Different Worldviews and Methods," "Reform or Revolution, Questions of Orientation, Questions of Morality," and "Polarization... Repolarization...and Revolution."

A solid base of financial sustainers is especially important now, when so much is at stake, and when Bush--as a concentration of the horrors of this system--is steering a course with such dangers for the people but also with the potential to create openings for revolutionary struggle. With a sustainer base, we can expand and improve our coverage, dramatically increase our distribution, improve the look and accessibility of our print and web editions, fulfill the requests of prisoners for subsidized subscriptions, and radically increase our impact on society.

In the wake of the government's cruel neglect of victims of Hurricane Katrina, 200,000 copies of a special issue of Revolution were distributed, tens of thousands in Texas and Louisiana. We received moving correspondence from readers and distributors describing tears of anger when people read this newspaper inside the stadiums where they were being warehoused.

You rely on us, and we take that seriously. But we also rely on you.

We are asking every reader of Revolution, online and in our print edition, to sustain this paper on a regular basis in one of two ways: By going to revcom.us, clicking on the Sustain link, and then using your credit card to commit to $5, $10, $20, $40 a month or more. Or, for those who cannot contribute by credit card, send check or money order to:

RCP Publications Sustainer Drive
PO Box 3486 Merchandise Mart
Chicago, IL 60654.

One form this could take is that groups of basic people, of all nationalities, in the projects, barrios, colonias, reservations, trailer parks, and homeless shelters, collect a set amount each month and turn it in through their regular distributor, or send it to RCP Publications.

And, when you sign up to donate on line, or send us your check or money order, add a note telling us, and everyone else, why you sustain Revolution.

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Correspondence

The Impact of Mobile's Example

Revolution #33, February 5, 2006, posted at revcom.us

The following correspondence is from an organizer with the Revolutionary Communist Tour in D.C. The correspondent writes of people's response to Bob Avakian's statement on the death of comrade Willie "Mobile" Shaw, who was known all over the projects in Watts as a revolutionary communist. Mobile died last November due to complications following surgery. See Revolution #27, or online at revcom.us, for "Statement by Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, on the Occasion of the Death of Willie 'Mobile' Shaw," and a statement by Joe Veale, spokesperson for L.A. Branch of the RCP.

Many of the people we've talked to about Mobile and/or read the statements have been moved.

James, a 50-year-old retired vet, was reading the centerfold after I had posted it on a building. I walked back to where he was and offered him a centerfold and told him about Mobile. James told me about himself and how the VA is screwing him over--how he is a very short distance from homelessness--how he sees that Black people are being pushed out to the edges literally and figuratively. When I described the kind of world Mobile was fighting for he said, "That's what I'd like to see but it can't happen."

I asked him to allow me to read the Chairman's statement. I've probably overused the phrase "listened intently" over the last few weeks, but it describes how people have paid close attention to what we have been saying. James listened intently, occasionally shaking his head in recognition or agreement. "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." That sentence captures people from the outset. They know very well what is being spoken about here and heads nod.

When I finished the statement, James said, "You cant have nothing but respect for somebody like that." He went on to say, "So you're telling us that he is a hero--a role model."

"That is exactly what we were saying and we need many more like him," I tell James. "So brother, are you a hero too?" I asked.

James laughed and didn't answer. He said we'd see him around that area. He gave me his phone number.

One of the comrades made what I thought was an important point. He said that many people responded to the statement on Mobile's death with a kind of reverence. There's the guy who asked about quitting his job to join us. There was the woman whose husband is on dialysis and wasting away and she wanted her husband to hear about Mobile. There is a worker at the elementary school who said the tributes to Mobile were beautiful. She said she couldn't be like him because she believes in God but she wished she could have known him and she will do what she can to help.

There's Tina, who has made steps toward us. When I compared her to Mobile she took it as a great compliment and thanked me.

Then there was Jerome, who talked about how fucked up his life is and how hearing our message, which included telling him about Mobile, made him feel good. "You don't know how much this means to me," he said. "Maybe this is my calling -- why God put me here."

I told him part of what stood out about Mobile is that he believed in facing reality as it really is-- no God--no hocus-pocus can free humanity. "He knew that there is no God and it is up to us."

Jerome was a little apologetic and adjusted what he was saying. "Maybe I'm meant to do this."

He gave me his name. "Call me man--call me. God bless you," he yelled as he climbed onto the bus.

A lot of the flavor of the exchanges is lost in this telling. Some were so heartfelt and earnest that its hard to do it justice.

One of the reasons the statements have such an impact on folks is because he distills so much about who these people are. Mobile was one of the millions who aren't supposed to count--one of the nameless, faceless millions. People know him because that is who they are. I think the statements, most especially the Chairman's, but both of them, together with the heartfelt way comrades took this out, said something to the masses about who we are as an organization--what kind of people we are trying to be, what kind of leadership we have, and what kind of world we are fighting to create. All this was at work, and it had a lot to do with why masses were themselves so earnest and honest, and yeah--even reverent.

Somebody, I think it was Tina, said, "You can see why he (Bob Avakian) respected him so much." When she said this I wanted to make sure she understood why Mobile respected the Chairman so much. But I was missing something very important. She was recognizing something about the Chairman--about who he is, about how he views the masses, about his dreams--and mission--his kind of leadership.

All these responses remind me of a friend I grew up with who lived in DC during the period we were here in '79 and '80. He was not a political person--never had been. He was just one of the millions. I got him a copy of the Chairman's "The System is Doomed" on cassette. A few months passed before I was back in touch. He told me that when he was feeling bad or depressed, he'd put the tape on--turn off all the lights and lay on the floor listening to the Chairman. Without stretching it too much, I think there is in part that kind of raw connection between the statements about Mobile and the call to step into his shoes for millions of those this system does not count. Mobile is a concentrated expression of their life experience and highest dreams--and to varying degrees they feel it.

When I opened the New Year issue of Revolution and saw that Mobile's picture was there along side others who died in the past year, including Richard Pryor's, August Wilson's, and Ossie Davis'--I had to struggle to contain my emotions. It is truly the case that Mobile's contributions, memory, and legacy belongs to the international proletariat now. We need one or two thousand like him--female and male ones--young and old ones--straight and gay ones--native and foreign-born ones--sick and well ones.... We need more heroes--now!

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Dominionism: Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid.

The future we must stop!

Revolution #33, February 5, 2006, posted at revcom.us

Are you one of millions of people in this country and around the world who are alarmed about the rise of extreme reactionary religious fundamentalism in America? Angry at the growing attacks on the separation of church and state? Or weirded out when you see one of your relatives reading yet another one of the "Left Behind" novels, which have sold 60 million copies? You may get chills when you hear Bush's supporters say he was "sent by God." You hear some right-wing pastors talking about "reclaiming America for Jesus Christ" or bringing "the rule and reign of the cross to America," and it makes your skin crawl1. You have a creeping sense that the society these reactionary leaders would bring about would be horrible. But what you probably don't know is just how bad it would be - and what this has to do with Dominionism.

Don't know what Dominionism is? You're not alone. Very few people have heard of this brand of theology - let alone know what its program would represent if carried out, or how influential its doctrines and mandates are within the Bush administration and the Republican Party.

Dominionism2 is a doctrine which demands the total remaking of society to conform with the laws of the Old Testament of the Bible, and it states that the second coming of Jesus Christ will never occur until "God’s kingdom" is established on earth and reigns for either a thousand years or an unknown time period. They contend that all of the laws of the Old Testament, unless specifically revoked later in the Bible, are still valid and they want to literally replace the U.S. Constitution and legal system with the Ten Commandments and the Mosaic laws of the Bible. If you have read Bob Avakian’s writings on religion, or the Revolution series "God the Original Fascist," you know what this would mean:

If you don't follow the Christian faith, or if you ever leave it (we're talking millions of people in the U.S. alone) you'd be punished by death. Same thing for anyone who commits theft, who blasphemes (says "goddamn it"), or who commits heresy (says god does not exist). Frederick Clarkson, who wrote the book Eternal Hostilities: The Struggle Between Theocracy and Democracy, points out that "anyone responsible for abortion" (meaning women and abortion providers) would be given the death penalty as well.

For those who think this sounds too alarmist, consider anti-abortion activist Nellie Gray at the recent anti-abortion March for Life in Washington (which received a telephone message of support from Bush). She was quoted in the New York Times calling for Nurembrg-style trials of "feminist abortionists" -- doctors who provide abortions. And note that the actual Nurembrg trials, of former Nazi war criminals and mass murderers, resulted in executions.

Here's another Mosaic law: Leviticus 20:13.... "If a man lie with a man, as he would with a woman, they both commit abomination: they shall be put to death." Dominionist Gary DeMar told John Sugg of Mother Jones magazine that he was considered "liberal" among his cohorts because he only supported the death penalty for those who were actually caught engaging in "homosexual acts." And if the Dominionists made the laws, anyone who practices witchcraft or astrology, children who disobey their parents, women who commit adultery, and rape victims who don't resist sufficiently would all be executed.

Dominionists would nearly dismantle government, and establish the family as the basic governing unit of society - a family that would be mandated by god to unchallenged rule by the father. The role of the government would be limited to building roads and raising funds for armies carrying out sanctified battles.

You may be thinking, "Okay, so these guys are seriously lunatics, but there's no way they could gain enough influence or power to actually carry this out." But consider how many of its leaders or open proponents are well-connected to the Bush administration. Leaders who espouse Dominionist doctrines include former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice and a likely candidate for governor, Roy Moore, who installed a 5,200-pound engraved granite monument of the Ten Commandments in the judicial building of the state capital. There is the "Left Behind" author Tim LaHaye, whose wife heads up the Christian Fascist group Concerned Women for America. Pat Robertson, a powerful televangelist with a strong influence in the Republican Party, who is frequently asked to serve as a "religious commentator" by mainstream channels like CNN. D. James Kennedy, who hosts a yearly "Reclaiming America for Christ" conference that brings together nearly every major Christian fascist leader and many powerful Republican Party leaders (this year's conference will feature Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee). Dominionist Jack Hayford gave the benediction at George W. Bush's first presidential inauguration.

This Dominionist trend has been promoted and built up with major assistance from powerful ruling class forces. For example, two major contributors to the [Dominionist think tank] Chalcedon Foundation are Howard Ahmanson and Nelson Bunker Hunt - who are big monopoly capitalists and whose families played key roles in financing electronic voting machine manufacturer Election Systems & Software.

Dominionists call for reinstating slavery, which is upheld throughout the Old Testament, most notably in the Ten Commandments. Slavery is openly defended by Dominionist writers such as David Chilton: "Heathen slaves ... were actually favored by [slavery], since it placed them in contact with believers. They received the relatively lenient treatment of the biblical slavery regulations, and they were also able to hear the liberating message of the gospel."3

Dominionism, like many fundamentalist denominations of Christianity, holds that every word in the Bible is the literal, unerring word of god. But unlike more "typical" Christian fundamentalism, it opposes the idea that Christians should stay out of politics, and explicitly mandates that they work to bring about a theocracy. Dominionism calls for Christians to take literally Genesis 1:26: "... let man have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth." D. James Kennedy sums up their calling:

"As the vice-regents of God, we are to bring His truth and His will to bear on every sphere of our world and our society. We are to exercise godly dominion and influence over our neighborhoods, our schools, our government ... our entertainment media, our news media, our scientific endeavors -- in short, over every aspect and institution of human society." (quoted in the Christian Science Monitor, March 16, 2005)

These are the people giving benedictions at presidential functions and breaking bread with U.S. Senators. They must be stopped - and they can be.

Will you join in the fight to stop them?

NOTES

1. These quotes are from, in order, U.S. Army General William Boykin, megachurch pastor D. James Kennedy, and Bishop Harry Jackson. Kennedy is not a marginal political player; his Center for Christian Statesmanship hosts prayer sessions with Congress members and boasts that it has "41 members in the House and nine in the Senate".

[Return to article]

2."Dominionism" is not a universally accepted term; most of its followers avoid the term. Some prefer the term "Christian Reconstructionism." Some writers on the subject classify Dominionism as a particularly influential branch of Christian Reconstructionism.

[Return to article]

3. Dominionists use Black pastors, such as Harry Jackson, quoted above, to pull in Black people to what is a pro-slavery, white supremacist movement. Key Dominionist writers, such as RJ Rushdoony and Gary North, openly proclaim white supremacy, and Dominionists such as Tony Perkins and Roy Moore have ties to white supremacist groups and leaders in Louisiana and Alabama, respectively

[Return to article]

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Witch-Hunt at UCLA Targets Professors

Revolution #33, February 5, 2006, posted at revcom.us

As this year opened, a new fight over critical thinking on university campuses flared up at UCLA. A website by an outfit calling itself the "Bruin Alumni Association" (uclaprofs.com) began offering students up to $100 to spy on and tape lectures of progressive professors.

The offer read: "UCLA STUDENTS: Do you have a professor who just can't stop talking about President Bush, about the war in Iraq, about the Republican Party, or any other ideological issue that has nothing to do with the class subject matter? It doesn't matter whether this is a past class, or your class from this coming winter quarter. If you help expose the professor, we'll pay you for your work." (The website was later forced to remove the money offer after UCLA said it violated school policy.)

"Bruin Alumni Association" may sound like an official organization ("Bruin" is the UCLA mascot). But this group actually has no official affiliation with the university. Its only connection with the school is that its founder and apparently its sole member, Andrew Jones, is a 2003 graduate. Jones was the chairman of the UCLA Young Republicans and brought fascist notables like William Bennett, Ann Coulter, and David Horowitz to speak on campus. The advisory board listed on the website includes Linda Chavez, George W. Bush's first nominee as Labor Secretary.

Jones' website openly targets "UCLAs Radical Professors" and has more than 200 pages of profiles on 30 professors who are branded as the "Dirty Thirty." The profiles mainly list alleged political activity of professors outside the classroom -- petitions they've signed, organizations they've belonged to or spoken at, conferences they've attended, contributions they've made, etc. The real target is critical thinking and dissent on campus. And it is part of a broader right-wing agenda aimed at destroying the richness of academic life, ruining careers, and inciting official and unofficial persecution against the targeted professors.

This fascistic hatchet job against UCLA professors is in line with the methods and program of David Horowitz—the founder of the online FrontLineMagazine.com and self-styled "battering ram" in the service of extreme right-wing politics with ties to the Bush White House. He is the major architect of the so-called "Academic Bill of Rights," which aims to purge universities of radical and progressive thought in the name of "academic freedom." Versions of this bill have been introduced by Republican politicians in a number of state legislatures. Along with this, Horowitz has promoted a network of Republican youth on some 200 campuses, called Students for Academic Freedom (SAF), who spy on and demand the firing of liberal and leftist professors.

After a week of outraged reaction against uclaprofs.com, Horowitz distanced himself from Jones, who once worked for Horowitz's Center for the Study of Popular Culture. Horowitz and his SAF complain that what Jones is doing is an example of "how not to run an academic freedom campaign," because it "played right into the hands of its detractors." In other words, Horowitz is criticizing Jones for using tactics that are too crude, in contrast to Horowitz's campaign under the banner of "academic freedom."

Whatever Horowitz's reason is for distancing himself from Jones, they are on the same reactionary mission. The Bruin Alumni Association is simply a more blatant version of Horowitz's campus agenda. The Bruin Standard, the newspaper published by the UCLA chapter of the SAF, targets progressive faculty and calls on students to identify others. The SAF Handbook includes a chapter entitled "How to spy on progressive professors and force them to resign."

Saree Makdisi, a professor of English and comparative literature and one of those targeted by the campus brownshirts, wrote in an L.A. Times Op-Ed piece (1/22/06): "Members of the hard right — who currently control all three branches of government and yet seem irrationally convinced of their own disempowerment — are seeking to impose their worldview on our university system through crude intimidation and 'big government' intervention that reactionaries normally grumble about when it's taking care of the poor, the ill or the elderly. Their success would almost certainly guarantee that what gets taught would be determined not according to scholarly criteria but according to political pressure."

As we have pointed out (See "David Horowitz: Battering Ram for Bush Regime," at revcom.us.), "There is far too little critical thinking and dissent in society as a whole. That is the criminal situation. And critical thinking and dissent must not only be defended in the colleges and universities but spread in society. This is what the reactionaries want to prevent. And it is why a major assault on academia is emanating from and connected to the highest office in the land.

"A counterrevolution is gathering speed and momentum. It matters to the whole direction of society and to millions around the world who hate U.S. domination and oppression whether the campaigns of David Horowitz and his backers triumph or are trounced. They will be forced to back off only if powerful opposition is built on campuses and spills out and intersects with the broader battle in society--as two worlds more and more collide."

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Bush Cheers New Anti-Mao Biography,
Authors Are "Thrilled"
Maoist Scholar Says: "Big Liars and Big Anti-Communists Deserve Each Other."

Revolution #33, February 5, 2006, posted at revcom.us

The following press release was issued by Set the Record Straight on January 27, 2006:

Mao: The Unknown Story by Jung Chang and Jon Halliday is being promoted as the definitive new account of Mao Tsetungs life. The authors wildly claim that Mao was an egomaniacal monster--worse than Hitler.

Now we learn from a story printed in the January 22 edition of the International Herald Tribune and in the January 23 edition of The New York Times that President Bush has embraced the book and regards it as a great source of insight, and that its authors are "thrilled" that Bush is reading their book.

Maoist scholar Raymond Lotta responds:

"Big liars and big anti-communists deserve each other. Mao Tsetung was not the monster that Jung Chang and Jon Halliday allege, but the greatest liberator of the mid-20th century. That George Bush would find inspiration in this book, and that its authors would offer their work as ideological ammunition for the Bush administrations imperial crusade, tells us something about the books real agenda.

"Mao Tsetung had a vision of a society and world without exploitation and oppression, a world in which people consciously seek to understand and change the world and themselves; George Bush has a vision of a world under the uncontested military, political, and economic domination of the United States--a world of unfettered capitalism in which rightwing Christianity serves to bully and blind people into submission.

"Mao: The Unknown Story combines tendentious historical reconstruction with gossip and slander, unsubstantiated factual assertions, statements wrenched out of context, anonymous testimonies of personal cruelty, and complete distortion of the liberating goals and extraordinary achievements of the revolution Mao led. These lies assert Mao was responsible for the death of millions. But the truth is, Mao's social and economic policies improved the lives of countless millions and life expenctancy doubled under Mao.

"For an administration that has cooked data to support claims of 'weapons of mass destruction' and suppressed or altered scientific conclusions of government-commissioned studies about global warming--Chang and Hallidays hatchet-work offers the balm of a big lie that is selling well."

Raymond Lotta is available for commentary and interviews about Mao: The Unknown Story and the controversy it is stirring about Mao, the Chinese revolution, and communism. Lotta will talk about:

CONTACT SET THE RECORD STRAIGHT

Email: settherecordstraight@hotmail.com

Phone: (312) 399-1981

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Socialism is Much Better Than Capitalism, and Communism Will Be a Far Better World

Part 9: The Great Leap Forward

by Raymond Lotta

Revolution #33, February 5, 2006, posted at revcom.us

Editor's note: Revolution is serializing the speech "Socialism Is Much Better Than Capitalism, and Communism Will Be A Far Better World" by Raymond Lotta.

Part 1: Introduction
Part 2: Communism and Socialism
Part 3: The Bolsheviks Lead a Revolution That Shakes the World
Part 4: The Soviet Experiment: The Social Revolution Ushered in by Proletarian Power
Part 5: The Soviet Experiment: Building the World's First Socialist Economy
Part 6: The Soviet Experiment: World War 2 and Its Aftermath
Part 7: Mao's Breakthrough — The Revolution Comes to Power
Part 8: Mao's Advance — Breaking with the Soviet Model

Lotta is on a national speaking tour as part of the Set the Record Straight project. Information on upcoming speaking dates and related materials are available at www. thisiscommunism.org.

The Great Leap Forward of 1958-59 was the first bold step by Mao to forge a more liberating road of socialist economic and social development. At the heart of the Great Leap Forward in the countryside was the movement to form communes. They combined economic, social, militia, and administrative activities and became the basic units of proletarian power in Chinas countryside.

The peoples communes came about as a result of a complex and dynamic process of social and economic struggle and transformationand mass upsurge and experimentation.

Early in the history of the revolution, peasants, with the backing of the party, had formed mutual-aid teams to help each other in planting and harvesting. Within a few years of Liberation, they established cooperatives in which they farmed land together and distributed the produce according to how much land, tools, and animals each family had put in, as well as their labor.

By the mid-1950s, peasants had formed higher-level cooperatives. They burnt the deeds to their land because they now worked the land, tools, and animals in common. This was a zigzag process, with different areas moving at a different pace. Some peasants would join and then drop out. But at some stages of this process there were waiting lists of peasants wanting to join up. Many peasants pooled their land and labor, giving up isolated plots and working together to change the physical face of the land. This enabled peasants to use tractors and other machinery in areas that had never before even seen an iron plow.

This was the setting for the Great Leap Forward.

The Birth of the Peoples Communes

The communes started spontaneously. In Honan province in 1957, peasant cooperatives joined forces with their neighbors to begin a vast project to bring water across a mountain range to irrigate dry plains. The peasants merged their cooperatives and created something new: an economic and political form through which tens of thousands of people built a common life. Mao toured these areas and later gave the name "commune" to describe what was going on.

The Great Leap is often vilified as an irrational utopian experiment. But it made enormous economic and political sensefrom the standpoint of liberating people and productive capabilities.

The communes were able to mobilize and organize Chinas vast reserve of labor power. Irrigation and flood control works, road construction, reforesting, land reclamation, and other projects could now be planned and carried out on a large scale. Fertilizer and cement factories and small hydroelectric power works were built. The communes provided experimental space for teams of experts and peasants to engage in scientific farming and geological prospecting.

The Great Leap Forward brought women out of the household and into the swirl of the battle to create a new society. The communes opened community dining rooms, nurseries, cooperative home repair, and established other forms of social welfare that provided collective solutions for social needs. Women took part in the start-up of new factories and in irrigation projects like the famous Red Flag Canal. "The Iron Women's Brigade" was in the front lines of that project.

Old habits and values were questioned. Ideological struggle was waged against superstition, prejudice, and fatalism, along with feudal customs that still persisted, like arranged marriage. The communes established networks of primary and middle-schools, as well as health facilities.

The Great Leap Forward put the emphasis on the rural areas in order to gradually close the gap between the city and countryside, and between workers and peasants. Small-scale industries took root in the countryside; peasants began to master technology; scientific knowledge was spread. The approach of the Great Leap was a liberating alternative to the process of rural dislocation and massive urban immigration that takes place in the imperialist-dominated Third World.

A self-reliant economy that spread industrial and technical capabilities into the countryside could also stand up better to imperialist attack and invasion and support world revolution.

A Vicious Slander

Jung Chang and Jon Halliday in their book Mao: The Unknown Story charge that the Great Leap and the communes were just a cover for slave labor. They allege that 30 million people died because of Maos policies. Some things need to be said straight up here.

First, as I have explained, the Great Leap Forward was not reckless but guided by coherent policy goals. It tapped the energy and enthusiasm of the peasant masses.

Were there problems? Were there famine deaths? Yes. But the difficulties of those years was a complex phenomenon.

There was a sharp decline in food production in 1959. China had suffered the worst climatic disasters in a century. Floods and drought affected over half of Chinas agricultural land.

The ideological struggle between revolutionary China and the Soviet Union had been intensifying. Mao denounced the Soviet leadership as revisionist--analyzing that it had gone off the socialist road and was selling out the interests of the world revolution to U.S. imperialism. In response, the Soviets sought to punish China by withdrawing advisors, halting aid, walking off with blueprints to unfinished industrial installations, and leaving the country with a debt burden that had to be repaid. This created additional strains on the economy.

There were also certain policy mistakes by the Maoists. One problem was that in many rural areas too much peasant labor time was spent on nonagricultural projects. This hurt food production. In the euphoric spirit of the times, output levels and capabilities were often exaggerated by local officials. This made it hard to know how much grain there really was and to plan accurately.

Chang and Halliday charge that Mao didnt care about the hardships and suffering and willfully suppressed knowledge of deaths. In fact, investigations were conducted and adjustments were made. The communes were reduced in size, eventually stabilizing at about 15,000 to 25,000 people. The amount of grain to be delivered to the state was lowered. Certain nonagricultural projects were scaled back, so that people could spend more time on food production. Grain was rationed countrywide and emergency grain supplies were sent to regions in distress.

As for the accusation of 30 million deaths--this is an absurd and sensationalistic estimate. It is based on unreliable statistics. It is based on outrageous calculations that compare projected population size with actual population size. In other words, people who werent even born are added to a total death count.

And the main point is this: By 1970, China was for the first time in its history able to solve its food problem. The new society was able to provide for a minimal diet and food security. This had everything to do with the Great Leap Forward and the formation of communes. It had everything to do with the collective mobilization of people to build irrigation and flood works, to reclaim and improve land, to master new agricultural techniques, and to establish small industries in the countryside. It had everything to do with the spirit of working for the common good promoted by socialist revolution.

NEXT WEEK: The Cultural Revolution

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U.S. Threats Against Iran

Nuclear Hypocrisy and Global Ambitions

Revolution #33, February 5, 2006, posted at revcom.us

The pace of diplomatic maneuvers, political charges, and military threats by the U.S. against Iran is quickening. This crisis has been building since George W. Bush, in his State of the Union speech four years ago, made Iran a target in the so-called "war on terror" by declaring it part of an "axis of evil" (along with Iraq and North Korea) and accusing the Iranian government of pursuing the development of nuclear weapons. Tensions escalated dramatically several weeks ago when Iran reopened its Natanz nuclear facility, which can produce enriched uranium.

As we go to press, the next juncture in this intensifying situation is shaping up to be the February 2-3 meeting of the 35-country board of the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, Austria. The U.S., along with France, Germany and Britain, wants to use the meeting to condemn Iran and declare it in violation of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. The matter may then be taken to the UN Security Council, where economic sanctions and/or other measures could be taken. Bush recently made clear that sanctions are not the only option the U.S. is considering when he said, "We are going to...make sure that when we get in the Security Council, we will have an effective response."

The Bush regime sees the UN as a means for galvanizing an anti-Iran coalition and legitimizing possible military aggression against Iran (just as the U.S. has used and attempted to use the UN in two previous wars on Iraq). Bush's campaign against Iran has so many striking parallels with the propaganda and diplomatic run-up to the invasion of Iraq that it feels like deja-vu all over again.

"War on Terror" and the War for Unchallenged U.S. Domination

On January 27, the Senate unanimously passed a resolution condemning Iran, citing its "many failures ...to comply faithfully with its nuclear non-proliferations obligations." The hypocrisy of the U.S. government's charges against Iran around nuclear weapons is monumental and deadly. The Bush regime has trampled on one international treaty after another, including the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Bush represents an imperialist ruling class that right now possesses some 10,000 nuclear warheads. And Israel, the U.S. enforcer in the Middle East, has an estimated 300 to 400 nuclear weapons.

When Bush warns, "The world cannot be put in a position where we can be blackmailed by a nuclear weapon," what he means is that the U.S. wants to maintains its military and political superiority in every corner of the globe--including by claiming for itself the right to attack anyone, anywhere with its own nuclear arsenal.

This gets to the reality behind the U.S. "war on terror." As we have pointed out previously (see "U.S. War Machine...Heading Toward Iran," Revolution #31, at revcom.us), "The so-called 'war on terror' is in fact a war for unchallenged U.S. domination of the planet, even while it takes the form, now, of targeting Islamic fundamentalist forces, and is focused on the Middle East. A key element of this is to lock down strategic control of the main source of world oil. In addition, Bush and his inner circle have identified the potential and need to radically tear up the status quo in the region to create more stable and reliable conditions for more brutal and efficient exploitation of the people and resources (this being the essence of Bush's calls for bringing U.S.-managed democracy to the Middle East)."

Bush's war on Iraq is part of this global war for unchallenged U.S. domination, and the moves against Iran should also be seen in this light. The U.S. rulers do want to prevent the emergence of a nuclear-armed Iran, which would present a major problem for the U.S. agenda by affecting the balance of power in the region and potentially challenging Israel's regional monopoly on nuclear terror. But the U.S.'s fundamental goal is not disarming Iran--any more than disarmament was its main objective in Iraq. The U.S. goal is "regime change" as part of restructuring the Middle East, thwarting potential rivals, and deepening U.S. global hegemony.

Global dominance is impossible without dominance over the Middle East because of the vast petroleum reserves there, as well as its strategic location at the intersection of Africa, Asia, and Europe. There's general agreement within the U.S. ruling class that tightening control over the Middle East is an especially crucial component of post-Soviet "grand strategy." As two former Clinton officials put it shortly after the invasion of Iraq, "A consensus is emerging in Washington that the greater Middle East constitutes the primary strategic challenge of our time."

In this context Iran--a country with three times the population of Iraq and major oil reserves--is considered a key "prize." And the current Islamic regime is seen as an impediment to the U.S. plans, because of the regime's ties to other powers like Russia and China, and also because Iran's regional and domestic agendas clash in various ways with U.S. goals (e.g., its support of forces in places like Palestine, Lebanon, and Iraq, which have contradictions with the U.S. and Israel). For these reasons, even if Iran were to back down on the nuclear issue, it would remain a target of U.S. imperialist bullying, threats, and military attacks. (Just as in Iraq, which was invaded even after Saddam Hussein had backed down and ended major weapons programs.)

Adding complexity and unpredictability to this whole situation is that the U.S. moves in the region have been challenged not only by Islamic fundamentalist forces but in the form of complex contention with European powers like France and Russia as well as China. These other powers have been maneuvering in this mix by pushing Iran to accept inspections of its nuclear facilities by international agencies, while Bush has been issuing more blatant gangster threats.

But on January 19 the French imperialists stepped up their own nuclear threats when President Jacques Chirac, during a visit to a French nuclear base, warned that if any state launched "terrorist" strikes on France, the French "response could be conventional, it could also be of another nature." Chirac also extended his definition of "vital interests" to be defended by nuclear force to "strategic supplies," referring to the possibility of Iran refusing to sell its oil in the world market and disrupting the oil lifeline.

Danger of U.S. Aggression

The contention with other powers is one factor pushing the U.S. towards a clash with Iran. Another is the situation in Iraq. As we have analyzed, "The U.S.'s goal is an Iraq that is thoroughly under U.S. domination but with enough stability and internal cohesion to act as a counterweight to Iran and something of a base area for the U.S. in the region. To say that this is not going well for them is an understatement. The scope and ferocity of resistance has compelled the U.S. to rely on and unleash Shi'a fundamentalist militias. These militias, and the puppet Iraqi army in which they play a major role, have a dual nature. They are working under U.S. sponsorship to carry out attacks on Sunni forces opposed to U.S. occupation. But they also have ties to the Shi'a theocratic regime in Iran.

"Within the bigger context of conflict between the U.S.'s wild ambitions in the Middle East and the rise of Iran, the increasing influence of Iran in Iraq is a factor tending to push Bush to up the ante, roll Iran and Iraq into a big ball, and try to settle the whole situation decisively with an attack on Iran." (From "U.S. War Machine...Heading Toward Iran")

One form that attack might take is for Israel, the U.S.'s regional attack dog, to carry out air strikes against Iran. But even in that form, there are obvious dangers for the U.S. in attacking Iran--a much larger, stronger country with a much more powerful military than Iraq had before the U.S. invasion. And this, along with the rising concerns about the U.S. situation in Iraq (including Congressman Murtha's warning that the U.S. military in Iraq is "broken"), has some forces within the ruling class very nervous about the emerging possibility of military conflict with Iran.

But at the same time, powerful forces within the Bush regime, as well as a powerful underlying logic of world events, are driving things toward a direction where such a conflict is a real danger. Republican Senator John McCain expressed some of this compulsion when he recently said, "There is no good option and it is probably the most difficult challenge we face. There's only one thing worse than the United States exercising a military option, and that is Iran having nuclear weapons."

Such a "military option" by the U.S. would be a major act of criminal aggression, with potential to cause widespread suffering, destruction, and chaos, not only in Iran but throughout the region, in the service of an agenda of strengthening U.S. imperialism’s grip on the Middle East and the whole world. People in the U.S. have a great responsibility to oppose the U.S. moves against Iran.

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