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Revolution #59, September 3, 2006
People close to Bush are telling you—if you listen to what they are saying—that the Bush regime is undertaking serious preparations for a war on Iran in 2007. A U.S. attack on Iran may very well involve nuclear weapons, and in any event would take the initial form of a massive bombing attack, with terrible human consequences, and terrible political consequences.
The horrible destruction in Lebanon, the murder of a thousand people and the displacement of a quarter of the population of the country, has been described by Condoleezza Rice as “the birth pangs of a new Middle East.” And an attack—again, very possibly a nuclear attack—on Iran would be of far greater magnitude, with the prospect of much greater suffering and death.
The political consequences, in their own way, are just as terrible. In the absence of a visible, powerful movement in this country opposed to the whole Bush Regime, the U.S.-backed Israeli invasion drove even non-religious people in Lebanon into the arms of Islamic fundamentalists. Imagine what a nuclear strike on the world's largest and most powerful Islamic theocracy would set in motion! All this would further strengthen the two poles of U.S. imperialism rampaging the world with Bibles and nukes—on the one hand—and obscurantist religious-fundamentalist forces who are setting the terms for oppositional forces in many of the oppressed nations of the world.
Neither of these two “alternatives” poses anything positive for people of the world. Part of creating conditions for the people of the world to break free of that framework—both in the imperialist countries and in the oppressed nations—is a powerful movement right here, now, against this war and against the whole Bush Regime.
On another level, bringing forward real resistance in this country - resistance that breaks out of the mold of just trying to “register our complaints” with those in power - helps create conditions, along with all-around communist ideological work by revolutionaries - for people to be open to, and to take up a real alternative model for how society can be run. Where people are envisioning and fighting for a world where the tremendous productive resources, and people themselves, are not subordinated to the dog-eat-dog process of extracting profit (including through wars against rebels and rivals), but instead are organized and mobilized to serve the needs of humanity in a way that unleashes individuality and creativity while people consciously change themselves and the world.
In the August 21 issue of The New Yorker magazine, investigative journalist Seymour Hersh revealed information leaked anonymously by people close to, or formerly close to, the Bush administration. Hersh's piece exposed the role of the Bush administration in planning Israel's invasion of Lebanon, and that the war in Lebanon was viewed by the Bush administration as preparation, and a trial run, for a U.S. attack on Iran. Speaking of the Israeli attack on Lebanon, a U.S. government consultant with close ties to Israel told Hersh. “Why oppose it? We'll be able to hunt down and bomb missiles, tunnels, and bunkers from the air. It would be a demo for Iran.” (our emphasis)
Hersh reports that “according to a former senior intelligence official, the Israeli plan for Lebanon was ‘the mirror image of what the United States has been planning for Iran.’” He reports that this includes, in part, “U.S. Air Force proposals for an air attack to destroy Iran’s nuclear capacity, which included the option of intense bombing of civilian infrastructure targets inside Iran.” Hersh writes that the Bush administration sees its mission as carrying out this war before it leaves office. A former senior intelligence officer told Hersh that Vice President Cheney’s office pushed Israel to move quickly against Lebanon in the framework of a timetable for U.S. moves against Iran. Hersh says this source told him that Cheney's office “told Israel, ‘Look, if you guys have to go, we’re behind you all the way. But we think it should be sooner rather than later—the longer you wait, the less time we have to evaluate and plan for Iran before Bush gets out of office.’”
While Bush called Hersh's article “wild speculation” (note that he did not say it wasn't true!), political operatives close to Bush are sending signals themselves, and interpreting Bush's position in a way that confirms a war on Iran is a real possibility in early 2007.
William Kristol's newspaper, the Weekly Standard, is a neo-conservative insider's journal for the Bush Regime. In July, he laid out the case for smashing the Islamic Republic of Iran as the key link in the larger Bush/neocon agenda of establishing the U.S. as the sole, unchallenged, and unchallengeable superpower:
“Regimes matter. Ideological movements become more dangerous when they become governing regimes of major nations. Communism became really dangerous when it seized control of Russia. National socialism became really dangerous when it seized control of Germany. Islamism became really dangerous when it seized control of Iran—which then became, as it has been for the last 27 years, the Islamic Republic of Iran.
“No Islamic Republic of Iran, no Hezbollah. No Islamic Republic of Iran, no one to prop up the Assad regime in Syria. No Iranian support for Syria (a secular government that has its own reasons for needing Iranian help and for supporting Hezbollah and Hamas), little state sponsorship of Hamas and Hezbollah. And no Shiite Iranian revolution, far less of an impetus for the Saudis to finance the export of the Wahhabi version of Sunni Islam as a competitor to Khomeini's claim for leadership of militant Islam—and thus no Taliban rule in Afghanistan, and perhaps no Hamas either.”
On Fox News (August 22), after the Israeli invasion of Lebanon produced mixed results at best, for the U.S., as a warm-up for a war on Iran, Kristol said, “I think we could be in a military confrontation with Iran much sooner than people expect. I don’t think this is an issue that’s going to wait two and a half years until President Bush leaves the presidency. I think he will decide at some point next year—in 2007—he’ll have to make some very tough decisions about what the U.S. and the world can tolerate in terms of this regime…”
MSNBC's Chris Matthews summed up the situation : “I keep hearing from people on the right—Robert Kagen and Bill Kristol, the guys who are the most hawkish and the most articulate in making their case and they may be right—that at the end of this administration, this hawkish administration—that was willing to go into Iraq and Afghanistan—if this president is not willing to knock out those facilities no future president is likely to do it. We’ll be stuck with a nuclear armed Iran which can rant and rave around that region, threatening Israel, Saudi and everybody else. And we’ll be stuck with it. So their argument is try the diplomatic route, try everything but in the end we have to hit ‘em.” (August 23)
Basic facts: Iran doesn't have nuclear weapons, and is not threatening to use nuclear weapons against the United States. The United States does have nuclear weapons, and is not only threatening their use, but a nuclear attack appears to be a significant element of current U.S. war planning against Iran.
Seymour Hersh’s August 21 piece in the New Yorker reveals that the tactic of mass bombing of civilian infrastructure was a model and test for a U.S. attack on Iran. The strategy was to create enough terror and death that Christian and Sunni Muslim forces in Lebanon would be driven to align with the United States. U.S. military strategists are focused on death from the skies as their strategic approach to a war on Iran. Iran, of course, presents a much more formidable target than Lebanon, and even the massive air assault on Lebanon was not enough to achieve the goals of that attack.
Hersh reported that, “One of the [U.S.] military’s initial option plans, as presented to the White House by the Pentagon this winter, calls for the use of a bunker-buster tactical nuclear weapon, such as the B61-11, against underground nuclear sites. One target is Iran’s main centrifuge plant, at Natanz, nearly two hundred miles south of Tehran.” And Hersh writes that, “The elimination of Natanz would be a major setback for Iran’s nuclear ambitions, but the conventional weapons in the American arsenal could not insure the destruction of facilities under seventy-five feet of earth and rock, especially if they are reinforced with concrete.”
Hersh's August 21 piece also says that less extreme tactics (other than nuclear weapons) might be effective if the U.S. knew more about the location and construction of Iranian nuclear energy facilities. But according to Hersh's sources, the U.S. does not have good enough military intelligence for those options to work. He writes that, “The lack of reliable intelligence leaves military planners, given the goal of totally destroying the sites, little choice but to consider the use of tactical nuclear weapons.” It appears from Hersh's article that some of his sources are connected with forces in or around the top ranks of elements of the U.S. military who are skeptical that any amount of bombing, even nuclear bombs, will destroy the capacity of the Iranian regime to retaliate and resist a U.S. attack, and are very concerned that the over-stretched U.S. ground forces will get even more deeply bogged down in conflict in the region. But, Hersh reports, in spite of this resistance, “[T]he idea of using tactical nuclear weapons in such situations has gained support from the Defense Science Board, an advisory panel whose members are selected by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.”
Such weapons of mass destruction would create death, destruction, and horrors far beyond what was seen in Israel's U.S.-sponsored war on Lebanon. A former intelligence official told Hersh, “We’re talking about mushroom clouds, radiation, mass casualties, and contamination over years.”
There is a logic to an attack on Iran not only from the standpoint of the neocons and Bush, but for the “opposition” Democratic Party as well. For the neocons, a U.S. dominated Iran is key to radically reshaping the Middle East, come what may. It is a critical part of their articulated vision of the U.S. as the world's new Roman Empire—a sole, unchallengeable superpower. For the Democrats, who may have had reservations about embarking on this adventure in Iraq, or may have regrets about how it worked out, they are—in the words of Al Gore—“lashed to the mast of our ship of state.” Like it or not, they are along for the ride because to bail now would—judged by the interests of U.S. imperialism —represent a major and destabilizing setback for U.S. imperialism.
A revolutionary understanding of the forces driving all this is explored in a very in-depth and strategic way in recent talks by Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA—in particular in the talk “Why We’re in the Situation We're In Today…And What To Do About It: A Thoroughly Rotten System and the Need for Revolution.” That talk, and six other critical recent talks by Bob Avakian, are available for download at bobavakian.net, or revcom.us.
Nobody with any serious impact in the Democratic Party is even raising serious concerns or reservations about the potential horrors and dangers involved in a war against Iran. Look, for example, at the Democrats’ response to the House Subcommittee on Intelligence Policy's report of U.S. intelligence on Iran. (The report was mainly written by a former CIA officer who had been a special assistant to UN Ambassador John R. Bolton, who opposes any negotiations with Tehran. The New York Times wrote that “the report seems intended to signal the intelligence community that the Republican leadership wants scarier assessments that would justify a more confrontational approach to Tehran.” Former CIA analyst Ray McGovern characterized the report as a “challenge set before the Intelligence Community ... to get religion, climb aboard, and 'recognize' Iran as a strategic threat.” [See “WMD Lies All Over Again”])
Did the Democrats in Congress immediately denounce this report as a call for concocted “evidence” justifying a war with Iran? Did they at least express worry and concern that this was the WMD hoax all over again? No. Most said nothing, but they let the ranking Democrat on the Intelligence subcommittee, Rush D. Holt, represent for the Democrats. He said, “What you have that is new here is an attempt to bring the body of information that is available into one place to present to the American people.” (Time magazine, 8/24). And the New York Times quoted Holt saying that “some in the intelligence community are a bit gun-shy about appearing to be warmongering.” (8/24).
Holt's endorsement of the report, and concerns that the “intelligence community” is “gun-shy” about “appearing to be warmongers” might sound simply mealy-mouthed if the whole context is not taken into account. But it represents an endorsement of this whole approach by the Democratic Party. Here you have the hawks in Congress demanding that the intelligence services “get religion,” as Ray McGovern insightfully put it, and cook the books to justify war on Iran a la the role they played in the whole “Weapons of Mass Destruction” lie that was used to justify the war against Iraq. In this context, Holt's endorsement of the report—the only substantial response by congressional Democrats—aligns the Democrats with the whole “let's create a new hoax to start a war” process. The Wall Street Journal wrote in an August 24 editorial, “Anyone who still thinks a nuclear-armed Iran won't pose a serious, and perhaps mortal, threat ought to consult this week's bipartisan staff report from the House Intelligence Committee.” (our emphasis).
The endorsement, or endorsement in the form of silence, from leading Democrats, is in line with the Democrats’ strategy of positioning themselves as tougher on “national security.” In mid-August, the Democratic Party ran a TV ad claiming that Iran is "developing nuclear weapons.” (The ad was withdrawn after protests by Latino organizations who objected to the ad's association of Latino immigrants with terrorism.)
In spring 2004, Senator John Kerry told the Washington Post that the Bush Administration has not “been tough on the [Iran] issue…” (May 29, 2004), and Nancy Pelosi’s position earlier this year was that “For too long, leaders of both political parties in the United States have not done nearly enough to confront the Russians and the Chinese, who have supplied Iran as it has plowed ahead with its nuclear and missile technology.” (Speaking to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, May 24, 2005.) And Democratic Senator Barack Obama, who many progressive people have deluded themselves into seeing as an opponent of the Bush agenda, told the Chicago Tribune in 2004 that "[T]he big question is going to be, if Iran is resistant to these pressures [to stop its nuclear program], including economic sanctions, which I hope will be imposed if they do not cooperate, at what point…if any, are we going to take military action?”
In his powerful protest song “Ohio,” written in response to the National Guard murder of protesters at Kent State University in Ohio in 1970, Neil Young sang, “How can you run when you know?”
If you've read this far, you know. A terrible danger confronts the world—as we said in the beginning of this article, a terrible cost in human life, and a terrible political setback in terms of locking the world into a confrontation between McCrusade and Jihad.
There is no opposition to this from the Democratic Party. Kerry, Dean, Pelosi, and Obama are on record demanding that Bush get tough with Iran!
The initial call from World Can't Wait—Drive Out the Bush Regime included the following:
“That which you will not resist and mobilize to stop, you will learn—or be forced—to accept. There is no escaping it: the whole disastrous course of this Bush regime must be STOPPED. And we must take the responsibility to do it.”
And the statement “October 5: There is a Way! There is a Day!” from World Can't Wait says:
“Imagine if, from out of this huge reservoir of people, a great wave were unleashed, moving together on the same occasion, making, through their firm stand and their massive numbers, a powerful political statement that could not be ignored: refusing that day to work, or walking out from work, taking off from school or walking out of school—joining together, rallying and marching, drawing forward many more with them, and in many and varied forms of creative and meaningful political protest throughout the day, letting it be known that they are determined to bring this whole disastrous course to a halt by driving out the Bush Regime through the mobilization of massive political opposition.
“If that were done, then the possibility of turning things around and onto a much more favorable direction would take on a whole new dimension of reality.
“It would go from something only vaguely hoped for, by millions of isolated individuals, and acted on by thousands so far, to something that had undeniable moral force and unprecedented political impact.”
Right now, a bad dynamic is in effect—and far too many people feel paralyzed. They don't see any “cracks” in the ruling structure. The “options” for people are still framed as choosing between McWorld and Jihad. People don't see a force of people like themselves out there creating the “undeniable moral force” that World Can't Wait is calling for.
But if everyone who said “I wish there was such a force” throws themselves heart and soul into the movement to Drive Out the Bush Regime, takes up building for the October 5th mobilizations—which will put the movement to drive out the Bush Regime on a whole new level—then there would be such a force. And the emergence of a massive movement determined to drive out the Bush Regime would in turn impact the situation among the rulers of this society, opening up more potential for the movement of the people to develop that would actually bring the whole Bush agenda to a HALT.
There are a thousand and one reasons calling out to people to build a powerful movement to bring the crimes of the Bush Regime to a halt, and to launch that movement onto a whole new level on October 5th. But the real, imminent danger and potential horrors of a U.S. attack on Iran, very possibly involving nuclear weapons, is reason enough for everyone with a critical mind and conscience to throw themselves whole-heartedly into that movement. Now.
Revolution #59, September 3, 2006
Along with lies about Iran’s WMDs, the Bush Regime has pulled out the Iraq playbook, as well, to orchestrate a process of sanctions to isolate and provoke Iran. Part of this is to align the European powers so that they will pursue their own independent interests in exploiting the people and resources of the Middle East by signing on to a U.S. attack.
Three years ago, Britain, France, and Germany were pursuing their own negotiations with Iran. Part of the deal was that the Iran wanted, and the European powers were for, an agreement where the U.S would promise to respect Iran’s national security—a position the U.S. would not tolerate. Gareth Porter, author of Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam, writes that the U.S. presented all parties in these talks with a done deal:
“Even before Iran gave its formal counter-offer to ambassadors of the P5+1 countries (the U.S., Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China) Tuesday, the George W. Bush administration had already begun the process of organizing sanctions against Iran.”
And Porter writes:
“Bush's objective was to free the administration of the constraint of multilateral diplomacy. The administration evidently reckoned that, once the Iranians had rejected the formal offer from the P5+1, it would be free to take whatever actions it might choose, including a military strike against Iran. Thus the Jun. 5 proposal, with its implicit contempt for Iran's security interests, reflected the degree to which the administration has anchored its policy toward Iran in its option to use force.
“…As Washington now seeks to the clear the way for the next phase of its confrontation with Iran, Bush is framing the issue as one of Iranian defiance of the Security Council rather than U.S. refusal to deal seriously with a central issue in the negotiations. ‘There must consequences if people thumb their noses at the United Nations Security Council,’ Bush said Monday.” (See “Bush Ensured Iran Offer Would Be Rejected,” by Gareth Porter, Inter Press Service, August, 22, 2006.)
We’ve seen this movie before, and it was a horror show. We cannot sit back and watch a remake.
Revolution #59, September 3, 2006
Bush's National Intelligence Agency (NIA) Director is a man named John Negroponte. Negroponte orchestrated the Contra campaign of terror against the Sandanista government in Nicaragua. He was U.S. ambassador to the UN during the buildup to the Iraq war, and sat next to Colin Powell on Feb. 5, 2003, when he lied to the UN about Iraq’s non-existent WMDs.
But Negroponte's NIA has not been producing lies about Iran fast enough for the Bush Regime. In an interview with NBC News, he said “[T]he prospects of an Iranian [nuclear] weapon are still a number of years off, and probably into the next decade.” (April 20).
Wrong answer! Powerful forces in congress have demanded Negroponte produce a different story, or else. Neocon columnist Frank J. Gaffney Jr. has called for Negroponte's firing for not producing a different story on Iran, and for hiring analysts who were skeptics about Bush's Iraqi WMD claims.
This week, Congressional Republicans demanded that intelligence agencies produce a story to justify war on Iran. Ray McGovern, a former CIA analyst who helped lead the prosecution of the Bush administration for war crimes in the Iraq War at the Bush Crimes Commission (bushcommission.org), writes:
Now suddenly appears a pseudo-estimate titled “Recognizing Iran as a Strategic Threat: An Intelligence Challenge for the United States.” To wit, the challenge set before the Intelligence Community is to get religion, climb aboard, and “recognize” Iran as a strategic threat. But alas, the community has not yet been fully purged of recalcitrant intelligence analysts who reject a “faith-based” approach to intelligence and hang back from the altar call to revealed truth. Hence, the statutory intelligence agencies cannot be counted on to come to politically correct conclusions regarding the strategic threat from Iran. [truthout.org].
Recycling the nonexistent Iraq-Al Qaida connection, former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich concocted a story about North Korea—which is estimated to have as many as two deliverable nuclear weapons—sending nuclear weapons to Iran. On Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor, he said, “I think people should be very worried that all these reassurances about how long we have until Iran gets a nuclear weapon could be totally false if tomorrow morning, the North Koreans sold them one and flew it into Iran.”
And all this goes along with continuing stories on Fox News to program their viewers to believe that not only were non-existent WMDs “found” in Iraq, but they ended up in Hezbollah's hands in Lebanon!
Critical thinking readers can recognize that these pretexts are absurd. But critical thinkers must also confronted the fact that that a) these lies are being force fed to the populace, and b) absurd or not, a “reality” is being constructed out of lies—in a way bizarrely similar to the build-up to the war on Iraq—to prepare conditions for an attack on Iran.
Revolution #59, September 3, 2006
Interview with Debra Sweet, National Coordinator of World Can’t Wait
On August 25, Revolution interviewed Debra Sweet, National Coordinator of World Can't Wait – Drive Out the Bush Regime.
Revolution: The WCW plan for the next six weeks, building up to October 5, has two major focuses. One, a big ad campaign to connect with and mobilize millions and millions of people who do not yet know about October 5. And two, important planning meetings to be held across the country on September 7. First of all, can you talk about the vision and importance of this ad campaign?
Debra Sweet: We have a simple plan in the sense of raising a lot of money and then buying ads in as many places we can to reach a wide variety of people because we do know one thing: in order for people to act on October 5 they have to know that it's possible to act on that day and they have to feel a momentum in society towards acting. Most people who will act on Oct 5 don't even know about it yet. And I'm talking about only six weeks from the day. We know that. Even a lot of people who acted on Nov 2 last year, which is over 20,000 people around the country, do not necessary know that a day posed right in front of them as the most important day to act, is happening on October 5th. So we have a tremendous responsibility to number one, get the word out in society, and one big way that you do that in this society is to buy ads. Yes, we're going to do all sorts of other ways to get the word out that includes handing out fliers and putting the word out on the Internet, those are all very important. But there are key ways that people hear about things, and that is newspapers and radio. And in order to get many, many millions knowing about this right away, we are raising, right now, hundreds of thousands of dollars, and we should eventually raise millions in order to buy air time and print to advertise: October 5—There is a way, There is a day, Bring this to a halt.
The goal of this national ad campaign is that people will start to see October 5 all over the place. They will see ads, hear about this on the radio. Then people will go to worldcantwait.org, and they will start sending out e-mails about what's going on, downloading and posting fliers on campuses, in their neighborhood, at their workplaces. They'll start to talk about the actual plans for October 5th, people will hear about it on the radio and on street corners and this is how we build word of mouth and things start to snowball.
At the same time, those ads are going to be announcing mass organizing meetings everywhere across the country on the same night, Thursday, September 7. And it’s really important to turn people out to those meetings. We have to follow up and follow through with everyone who contacts World Can’t Wait. Listen to them, find out what they’re all about, and bring them out to these meetings.
The ads are going to tell people to go to worldcantwait.org and find out where the organizing meeting is in your area. If you don't see one, organize one. This is what our ads on radio and in print are going to tell people to do. You want to know what's going to happen on October 5, you want to contribute your ideas and creativity, then come to these national organizing meetings with people at the same time all across the country.
The first hour will be a message from WCW on what October 5 is aiming to accomplish, reversing the whole political direction of society. And the second hour of these meetings will be very well organized, well prepared, breaking down into groups, where people who want to organize their campuses or their schools, or people who want to help on the program, or people who want to learn and help on fund raising, or people who want to get out fliers and work on the Internet, can all come and find out what to do and contribute their own ideas in very well-organized sessions, and then leave that night knowing what they are going to do for the next four weeks. You might have people in the visual arts figuring out how to make a major impact in that sphere; or teachers getting together to figure out ideas for schools; or public relations or fund-raising professionals, or people out of the religious communities…could be a lot of things. The point is when you reach out very broadly, like we’re doing with these ads, and when you systematically do the follow-up and follow-through with people, and then you get people together with a basic understanding of what we’re aiming to accomplish and a basic vision, a whole lot of things that maybe didn’t seem possible that morning can all of a sudden seem very possible.
This plan builds on the fact that we can do national advertising and everyone who has access to Internet or who can call an 800 number can find out where these meetings are, where they need to be that night. They can find out everything they need to do, and they can meet people who feel like they do. We already have some of these meetings posted on worldcantwait,org, including a brand new organizer from Portland, Maine who saw the ad in the New York Times and has a message right on our website right now that says, come to City Hall on September 7 and meet me because I'm forming an organizing committee for October 5.
Revolution: Could you share with our readers some of the experience that you have had in going out to people, taking out the message of World Can't Wait? What has been the response to the New York Times ad, or what kind of experience have you had in working the WCW phone bank—in other words calling people who have left their names to be contacted?
Debra Sweet: Very concretely, we published an ad three weeks ago in the New York Times. Thousands of people responded to it, one-third of those people sent their phone numbers and even more than that sent money in order to pay for the ad and to pay for more ads. What this tells us is that we have a base right now of thousands of people that we know are waiting to hear more about October 5. So we've set out to get back to every one of those people and have conversations with them. And the results have been extremely encouraging.
What we found in the people that we've called and talked to is a great eagerness and a happiness that we called them and that they're hearing from a live human being, who wants to hear what they think and listen to and give substance and affirmation to their feeling that this regime has to go and actually has a plan to do something about it. We've found people who are very well informed, very opinionated. We have tapped into a wellspring of revulsion for Bush. People really are very, very angry at what the Bush Regime has done. They know all about it, they have been looking for a way to act.
So we are calling back every one of the people that has come to us, and if we don't have a phone number, we're e-mailing them and if we don't have an e-mail address , we're sending them snail mail. A lot of retired people have responded by mail to us, sending money to us, including money out of their Social Security checks to WCW. This is another thing I tell wealthy people who want to give us $150, I will say, look, people on Social Security have sent us that much money who are just living on pensions. A survivor of Katrina sent us $100 out of their FEMA check. Prisoners have sent us $30 out of the prison commissary. So people who are wealthy have to dig a whole lot deeper than that.
We're still learning about all the people who sent money off the NY Times ad. But we have presidents of large corporations, a retired brigadier general, editors and writers of major publications, political science professors and all sorts of academics, a lot of ministers. We have just all kinds of people from every single state, and many are saying the same thing: this country is going fascist and I want to stop it. This is a good sign, the recognition of what's really going on. But again, we need to multiply this 10 times right now. This is why we're doing this advertising and reaching out to people.
We called a retired writer who had already given money. He said I already sent off my check and I think this is a good plan, but I don't really know what I can do to help. So the WCW person initially said, well OK, thank you for donating money. But then they thought about it and called the person back and said, look, you're retired, you know a lot of people, what about all your friends. And it ended up that the person sent a letter to 75 of his friends saying, I just donated $50 to WCW and I want you to do the same. This is an example I want to send out to everybody. Literally everybody can multiply this effort very quickly. You need to be asking your friends and the people you work with, and the people you went to college with, your colleagues and your neighbors, people you go to school with and all of your co-professors, to be doing the same thing. Sign this call, send money and raise money for World Can't Wait. There needs to be an epidemic of fund raising and getting involved and jumping on the band wagon, and we are completely unabashed about this. There is nothing more important that people can be doing right now as we're going into this Labor Day weekend. You've out socializing, talk to everyone—did you hear about this movement to drive out the Bush Regime and you have to be out there with me on October 5 and organize for it. People should go on worldcantwait.org and print out right now the flier and the call for October 5 and get it all over the place. Get the word out, contribute money so the word can get out to many more people.
Revolution: Can you talk more about the actual vision for Oct. 5? Sometimes people say, well how is this going to be different than protest as usual? Or you were saying earlier that some people say, how can this one day actually make a difference, isn't it more of a long-term struggle, that we have to educate people, this kind of thing. Why is WCW saying this day is so crucial in terms of actually building a movement that can drive out the Bush Regime? And what actually is the vision of what would happen on that day? What needs to happen on that day, and on what scale?
Debra Sweet: Well, I want to approach it from a couple of things. What makes it different than any other protest demonstration is the demand: Bring This to a Halt. This is not approaching this one abuse and outrage at a time. This is bringing on to the fore a movement saying: This all has to stop. Bring it to a halt. We must drive out this hated regime because the world can't wait. This in itself is completely a different approach than anything that's before people right now. It is very audacious and bold and it's saying, look, we've got to get something going in this society that challenges the conventional wisdom that things can't change quickly and that the people really have no role here. We're bringing something new to the fore.
What can happen Oct. 5—if we get the critical mass, the momentum in society, the snowballing going into it, and the critical mass on that day—is that a new political force will be in existence that says because of our firm stand—“Drive Out This Regime”—and our large numbers, we can not be ignored. We're making a powerful political statement, refusing that day to work, or leaving work, refusing to go to school or walking out of school, rejecting business as usual, making it to the town center or the federal building, demanding together: Bring This to a Halt. This is what makes this different from any other day. And the dynamic it can get going in society is that people who feel there's nothing that can be done and feeling that there's not a way to act, will see us act in sufficient numbers to wake them up and give them a sense that there is a way to act.
The success of Oct. 5—and I believe there is a huge basis for this, given this huge reservoir of people who really detest the Bush regime and the whole direction it’s taking things—is that it will be tens of thousands of people in even just the major cities acting in a visible way on our felt sentiments that no other voice in society is speaking to. No one else is going to represent this other than ourselves taking it into the streets in intense, serious, joyful, imaginative ways—but in massive numbers. The key to this is massive numbers in a very determined way being out in the streets. We want to take the same spirit that people remember from the demonstrations we called on November 2 last year, we want to take that spirit but we want to multiply the numbers by a factor of ten—and then we want to build from there. And that, combined with this message, can be extremely powerful.
There are people who say, look, nothing can change in one day. This has been building up for years, and it's going to take years and years to right the situation. I completely disagree—that this is going to happen in some linear, incremental way with quiet, patient organizing, one here, one there and building it up from where we are now. In just the most basic sense, there’s not time for that—the Bush regime is very quickly, to take one very important example, making preparations to attack Iran, and you’ve got all the main Democrats going along with that—and think what that kind of attack would mean to the world, how disastrous that would be in so many ways.
Again, this is why we're trying to immediately, very quickly reach millions of people with a message that there is a way to act on the sentiments that they already deeply feel. Because a critical mass taking the streets right now at this urgent moment, a mass of people that takes responsibility for looking at the stakes and saying, no, we won't let society go in that direction, we're going to stop it, we're going to drive out this regime, creates a new dynamic in society where more and more people will have the question posed to them: maybe you could drive out this regime.
We don't have to accept that there's nothing that can be done but tying our hopes to the Democratic Party that is providing no effective opposition and in fact agrees with the basic direction that this is going in. We're not just building a movement here over some period of time that is trying to do some good in society and trying to protest some policies we feel are very bad. We're doing something different. What's on our minds, or what's in our thinking and what's in our hearts is, this regime is illegitimate, unjust, and immoral, and they have to go, they have to be driven out. This is “drive out the Bush Regime” thinking, versus we're only out here to protest some of the bad things they've done and after all, we could never really stop them anyway. This is about understanding and seeing that there's a huge reservoir out there we can connect with if we act quickly and with enough resolution and substance.
And we're really not afraid to go out and argue with people that, look, what you're doing is going to lead to a bad place, if you're relying on and only supporting the Democrats, and if that's where your money and energy is going. No. Your money, your energy, your heart, all of your thinking needs to be going into, how we can create the one thing lacking—the expression of people's real sentiments out on the streets in a public way, that will mushroom and lead to this question being debated on editorial pages all across the country, and in lunchrooms and break rooms, and in church basements, and even in the pulpit, over: Is it right that we should support the direction this Bush regime is going? Or must George Bush himself be driven from office? And must we STOP what this government is doing in our name? And don’t we have the moral duty to act on that? This is what Oct. 5 has the very real potential of breaking open. Look, if company presidents and retired brigadier generals are sending substantial amounts of money to fund this, and if on the other hand, high school students are getting ready for walkouts, and prisoners are sending us $30—and we’re really only beginning to get our message out—then there is a very broad basis for this movement in this society. Many many people feel this must be stopped. They're waiting for a way to do it. We have a way, and we have a day. And we have a responsibility to pull as many people out on that day as possible.
Revolution: I’d like to follow up on that point on the Democrats. It sounds like you’re saying that you’ve got to argue with a lot of people about this.
Debra Sweet: I think people have to come to grips with what these Democrats have done and what they’re about, and why it’s such a harmful dead-end to be throwing in with them. For instance, the Patriot Act, which was hastily passed after 2001—and we know some of the Congress never even read the act, and we were all supposed to be mollified because they said well, after five years we'll get a chance to look at this again and some of the most egregious parts will never get ratified. Well, guess what, 96 members of the U.S. Senate ratified the Patriot Act earlier this year. That should say to everyone that something has happened—when five years ago this Patriot Act was so over the edge that very few people wanted it to hold up, certainly there was a real determination on the part of the Bush Regime and others that it be enacted very forcefully into law, but many people, especially many people very alarmed at the trampling of civil liberties, thought it would not hold up. Well, there was a climate created, largely through the accommodation and cooperation of the leadership of the Democratic Party who came out and argued for these restrictions, and now this is locked down and in place and this is just so typical. What happened with the Supreme Court? There have been two Supreme Court appointment of people whose views are clearly way over to the right, including right in there with Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia, the most right-wing members of the court, on all sorts of questions, even whether people have the right to habeus corpus, whether people have the right to a speedy trial, whether women have any self determination over their bodies at all—this has been locked into place, largely through the accommodation, again of the leadership of the Democratic Party.
You have a situation where both of these parties are saying we're going to have to attack Iran. And they are not shy about it, the nuclear option has not officially been taken off the table. They're not giving a timetable, but this could happen very quickly. At the same time, George W. Bush says, look I am not withdrawing any troops, this is up to the next president. And you have John McCain in there arguing that whatever the bad options about attacking Iran, it would be much worse if we don't attack Iran. They're telling us and they're not saying off in the far distant future. Lebanon was a practice for Iran. Seymour Hersh said in his New Yorker article, people in this administration and the Department of Defense were saying this was practice for attacking Iran. Not idle practice: 1400 civilians killed, the use of anti-personnel weapons, scattering cluster bombs that are still alive, the destruction of airports and bridges and highway systems that kept people from being able to evacuate, the destruction of the electrical system. All of this done very consciously, according to plan and to practice for attacking the bigger nation of Iran. This absolutely cannot be allowed by any person who cares about the future of humanity. And it is very urgent. Anyone who thinks that they are not out there building a constituency every day, including by increasing people's fear of terrorism, needs to wake up.
So we have to struggle with people who still want to go down that well-trodden path of relying on people who have accommodated to this whole road that the Bush Regime has taken society, and that this is somehow OK, because these are not Republicans, these are the Democrats. But people have to face up to what is the actual political program of the Democratic Party as I touched on earlier.
Doing fund raising for WCW, I have found that there are people who very much like what we're doing and are very attracted to the idea of getting people out on the street on October 5 to bring the Bush Regime to a halt and the idea of impeachment. At the same time they are very much involved right now in working for one or another Democrat to get elected his fall and even looking forward to the 2008 presidential elections as something they need to be working on. I think we have to tell people honestly, look at what they're actually saying. They're telling you right now, they're not really for any of those things that you care about. They pay lip service to choice, but they are running anti-abortion candidates up against the most horrible reactionary, cretinous, anti-abortion politicians, anti-gay marriage politicians, including Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania—the Democrats are running Casey, an anti-abortion Democrat. And people are being told to swallow that on the basis of, it's better to have an anti-abortion Democrat than an anti-abortion Republican. This is just ludicrous. What are you going to have when you have an anti-abortion Democrat win? Surprise, you're going to have an anti-abortion situation.
So that's actually where that road is gong to lead. And as I've said to many, many people in building this movement, it's not so much a question of voting or not voting. It’s a question of where you put your time and resources and energy. So come out with us, put your whole heart in building for October 5. Your $10,000 towards one more Democratic candidate being elected will only serve to foster the illusion that that's going to do some good. I don't think that will do any good at all. What's going to do some good is spending that $10,000 on and getting contributions from your friends and arguing with them right now over what difference it will make to bring into society something new on the scene, a movement that rejects the official politics being forced down our throats, and says very clearly we're going to be out visible for our actual sentiments: an end to the war, an end to this whole direction, bringing this to a halt. And following that road out, on the basis of looking again at this statement that is out on our website about October 5 - There is a Way, There is a Day: If this is done, imagine if this huge reservoir of people is pulled out..., this great wave is unleashed. If this is done, then the possibility of turning things around and on to a much more favorable direction, will take on a whole new dimension of reality. People need to see this manifested out on the street for real. They need to see people voicing and with substance making real these sentiments and not just going along with the projected conventional wisdom that the Democrats must be on our side here.
Putting your money, your efforts, and your heart behind the leadership of the Democratic Party right now that is telling you what they're going to do around Iran is wrong. It's telling you that they are not going to oppose the fundamental direction of the Bush Regime and they're not even willing to bring this guy on trial, in an impeachment trial in Congress, and put up all these crimes against humanity for people to look at. They're telling you, they're not going to go there. When you have a chance to really change the whole direction and take responsibility for changing history, it's just wrong to keep pouring money down the rathole of these Democratic candidates. It's a wrong place to go. We can do some real good in building a movement from below right now and really challenging this. And the $10,000 that people are considering giving to the Democrats, they should be giving to World Can't Wait – and to not do that, to give to the Democrats instead, to maybe give a token amount to World Can’t Wait ‘cause you’d sort of like to see it out there but you’re not gonna give it what it takes to really become a force when, let’s face it, it’s the only thing taking on the whole fascist direction of this Regime – well, that’s not neutral. That’s doing harm, and it’s unconscionable.
On the other hand, a movement from below of driving the regime out, based on a real repudiation of everywhere they are going, has every possibility of getting a different dynamic going in society, where the whole question gets changed. I was talking to Father Luis Barrios, who is of Puerto Rican nationality, a very active campaigner for WCW and for justice everywhere in the world. He's somebody who helped lead getting the U.S. army kicked out of Vieques some years ago. He was telling us the story, he remembers Nixon, he said, we all have to remember that the day before Nixon left office in August of 1974, he said look, I am not going to resign. It was a testament to the fact that he was so opposed all over the world and that his whole program was hated that he ended up having to do just that and resign. And Father Barrios said, I think we have to keep that in mind, that things can turn quickly, and a question that everyone says is impossible, you could never think that, you can't even think that way, could become reality on the basis of the conscious political mobilization, the conscious political activism of even a small minority, reaching a bigger minority in society and doing something very momentous that starts on one day. That's what we're trying to do with October 5. We are trying to actually help people see, on one day, how you would start to create a political situation where you can drive out a regime and create a political situation where Bush himself has to leave office.
And that’s what everybody needs to be doing. We’ve got a really good plan to get the word out to millions through these ads, and to turn hundreds of people out to these meetings on the 7th. Then there’s a whole lot of thinking we have about how to leapfrog from there in the four weeks we have after that. So I’m hoping that a lot of your readers will be plugging in and throwing in and really make this happen.
Revolution #59, September 3, 2006
Revolution asked Debra Sweet to speak about the stakes involved in the struggle to drive out the Bush Regime. She said:
There is a great urgency right now that we get something going in society, where people know in this country and all over the world know that there is a movement determined to bring this to a halt. There are the stakes that are facing us if we don't stop them and if we don't get this movement going that has to do with what they're going to do. But there is another set of stakes from the side of the people that I think we have to be responsible to. And that is that if the Bush regime is not opposed, resolutely, from the bottom, by a massive movement independent of the two parties in power, if this doesn't happen, what happens is exactly what is in our Call that we said a year ago: “That which you do not resist and mobilize others to stop, you will learn or be forced to accept.” And the level of acceptance and accommodation in this society is only increasing as it is fostered and led by the party that a lot of people expect to be in opposition to the Bush Regime, the Democrats. All the forces in this society that accommodate to and accept the direction this is going, whether that's voices in the media not challenging what this regime is doing, or whether it's religious forces who are saying well, it's really not a good time to speak out because we might face problems with our tax status, or coming down to individual people living in this country saying, look, if I speak out my name might get on a list or if I sign this call on the Internet I might have repercussions from this. All of the people honestly looking at what it's going to take to stop this do need to look seriously not just at the risk it takes to oppose them now, but the risk we all assume and the moral and political responsibility we have as the people living in this country if we do not stop the direction which we have identified correctly, as a fascist direction which can be locked in place for generations to come.
I know that a lot of readers of this newspaper are familiar with the famous point by Martin Niemöller when he summed up the experience looking back at World War 2 and the years leading up to it, and we've actually attached it as an appendix to our whole plan for October 5th. It starts out saying, first they came for the communists and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a communist and then they came for the trade unionist, so forth—and he names four or five groups in society and we could insert the famous quote here: "Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up." But in speaking after the war, he was really trying to help us and future generations, of which we are now looking back 60 years at this time, to see that there was a moment, there were a number of moments, but there were key moments when people looked at the situation going on and they made a conscious choice, to either face up to what was going on and get deeper beyond the appearance of what was going on and really look at the developments, or they chose denial. Or they said, well, there's something really bad going on but it's not happening to me so I'm going to take a pass right now, I'm gonna hope it doesn't come to me. This is really what he was talking about. And I think his whole point in saying this, after he survived being in a concentration camp, and after he felt incredibly responsible for not having spoken up and was issuing this call to humanity that you can never let this happen again by not speaking up, even if it meant that people speaking up at that point would have paid a tremendous price, including death for speaking up, even many thousands of people could have been killed. He's left a legacy for us to say, look, you should have spoken up, you could have stopped this dynamic. The stakes actually are for us at this point in 2006, when this regime has more than two years to go, when they can wreak untold havoc on the world, not to mention the abuses and the horrors that they have brought to people living in this country. There comes a time when the scales will have tipped so far that it would not be possible to build this movement, to get the voices out there and the critical mass we need to stop them. We’d still have to resist, but it would be from a far far worse position, facing even heavier odds. So this is part of facing up to the stakes right now as well.
There's a moment right now when we have, I believe a great basis to act and a huge necessity and we absolutely have to seize the time, over the next six weeks and build and bring this momentum into this movement where we have great potential to deliver the message to the whole world that there's a movement determined to bring this to a halt and drive out this hated regime.
Revolution #59, September 3, 2006
This article was submitted by a reader
On July 2 the Mexican presidential election was held, but there is still no declared winner. There have been massive mobilizations, and to this day there are encampments blocking the Historic Center of Mexico City by the supporters of Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), candidate for the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), while the institutions responsible for determining the official results of the election have gone through the motions of deliberating on challenges by the PRD to the vote count that gave the victory to Felipe Calderón, candidate for the National Action Party (PAN).
The Federal Election Tribunal will soon make its final ruling regarding the winner of the presidential election. A partial recount of 9% of the precincts ended on August 12 and uncovered widespread irregularities. Based on this recount, 49,000 votes that were not previously tallied were discovered along with 82,000 votes that were lost. Yet and still it appears that the intention of the tribunal is to install Felipe Calderon as president instead of carrying out a full vote recount to determine the elected winner as demanded by AMLO and his supporters. The federal tribunal will make its final ruling by September 6, and whichever way the court decides is fraught with problems for the ruling class of Mexico.
AMLO has called for his supporters to prevent Calderon from assuming power and to protest all over the country. The political crisis which has developed in the wake of these elections grows more intense daily, with each side refusing to back down. As we have covered previously in Revolution (see “Aftermath of Election: Turmoil and Upheaval in Mexico,” issue #56, online at revcom.us), hundreds of thousands—and even millions—of people have stepped into political life and struggle around this election, and this situation holds within it the potential for the masses to boldly take independent historical action and advance the struggle of the people.
On August 13, the Fox government sent the Federal Preventive Police, together with the Presidential Guard and the army, to attack senators, legislators, and their supporters from the PRD when they attempted to set up a protest encampment at the doors of the Chamber of Deputies. Fifteen senators and legislators were beaten, ribs were broken, heads were gashed. Then tanks were stationed in front of the Chamber of Deputies, and there were rumors that the blockade of the Historic Center of Mexico City would be attacked.
The federal government has since issued a statement that it has no plans to evict the encampment by force. AMLO has called for actions inside and outside the Chamber of Deputies to disrupt Fox’s last Presidential Report to be given to Congress on September 1. He has also called for a major rally at the same time as the Independence Day gatherings on September 15 and 16. It is traditional for people to pack the main plaza in Mexico City—the Zócalo—and the President appears on the balcony of the Palacio Nacional and re-enacts the Grito de Independencia (Shout for Independence) which signaled the beginning of the war for independence from Spain.
In response to the plan for another protest during the traditional military parade on September 16, the General of the Mexico City division of the Armed Forces, Luís Garfias Magaña, stated: “It is very serious that in these moments in the life of the nation, someone who aspires to govern Mexico would insult the army, because the armed forces are the pillar that holds up the nation. Like it or not, this is what holds up the country and the government!” In other words, on the same day the tanks were stationed in front of the Chamber of Deputies, the Armed Forces reminded AMLO, and the masses who were in the streets supporting him, that the real power in society rests with the armed forces and the class to whom they are responsible.
Revolution #59, September 3, 2006
This article was submitted by a reader
Oaxaca, Mexico is currently in a state of civil rebellion and is ungovernable. Since Monday, August 21, members and supporters of the Popular Assembly of the People of Oaxaca (APPO) have taken over radio stations and a television station, and have poured into the streets all day and all night demanding that the state governor, Ulises Ruíz, resign from office.
Several radio stations now controlled by APPO and its supporters have been calling on people to join the struggle, not sleep, go out into the streets, bring food and water to encampments of people at the center Zócalo square and outside of government buildings and join them.
At about 1 a.m. on August 22, an APPO radio broadcast alerted people on the air, “They’re attacking outside. They’ve come for us. We have to go.”
Outside, the police repeatedly fired indiscriminately into the building. Lorenzo San Pablo Cervantes, an architect who had gone to the radio station to support the teachers’ struggle, was shot, and the bullet punctured one of his lungs. He bled profusely and died later at a hospital from cardiac arrest.
As all this happened, the radio called on residents to stop the police patrols and informed people of where they were. The radio hosts insisted, “Compañeros, don’t go to sleep. Stop them.”
People responded to these attacks by blocking roads with barricades. La Jornada, a major Mexican newspaper, reported that throughout the city people kept the doors to their houses open and kept the lights off, remaining vigilant in case anything came up. More barricades went up. Some were made of bricks, tree trunks, tires, and bonfires. Buses were also used as barricades. Dozens of people could be seen on the streets with baseball bats in hand, slingshots, rocks, sticks, and whatever people had at hand.
Lizbeth Caña Cadeza, the procuradora (Attorney General) of the state, admitted on Aug. 22 that this savage attack was part of an “operativa de limpia”—a “cleanup operation”— that included heavily armed patrols and unmarked pickup trucks with police thugs who drove through the streets throughout different areas in Oaxaca.
A few days after the murder of Lorenzo San Pablo, people gathered around the Zócalo to pay tribute to him. Lorenzo’s brother thanked people for their support and said, “My brother was supporting APPO at dawn today. He wasn’t a leader, but he supported this cause. Now he’s a martyr. In his name I invite the people to continue struggling.” Lorenzo was later buried in his native Mixtec mountains.
Protests demanding the resignation of Ulises Ruíz, the PRI governor of one of the poorest states in Mexico, have been intensifying in the past months. It started with a sit-in of an estimated 40,000 teachers that demanded higher pay. It escalated as repression from the government and police increased. One incident included the governor ordering the police to attack an encampment in the Zócalo at pre-dawn hours. The police fired tear gas canisters at the encampment while many of the teachers and supporters, including families with young children, were sleeping.
Protests increased. Significantly, women have played a very fearless and important role in this struggle. Earlier in August, more than 2,000 women marched wearing traditional Oaxacan aprons with messages written on them that read “URO Fuera! (Ulises Ruíz Ortíz Out!) and banged on frying pans with wooden spoons. A group of them marched to the Channel 9 station and marched into the building and occupied it.
“We are not afraid,” said one of the women. “Whatever happens, happens. We are fed up with this situation. We are fighting for our children. We women cannot stay home.”
Revolution #59, September 3, 2006
Setting the Record Straight Interview
On Setting the Record Straight
The Setting the Record Straight (SRS) project is inspired by the writings of Bob Avakian, the Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA. It is aimed at prying open debate about the “first wave” of socialist revolutions of the 20th century: the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917–56 and the Chinese Revolution of 1949–76. These historic breakthroughs in building societies free of exploitation and oppression have been subjected to a ceaseless barrage of distortion and misrepresentation. SRS is bringing forth the truth about these revolutions: their overwhelmingly positive achievements but also their shortcomings and errors. SRS is also seeking to encourage and publicize analysis and interpretation by others that puncture “conventional wisdom” about episodes like the Cultural Revolution and contribute to making the debate about communism’s past and communism’s future a more two-sided one.
Among those SRS is reaching out to who agree that these revolutions were mainly positive, there are also differences and disagreements: about the broader contours and particular aspects, policies, and experiences of these revolutions. This “debate within the debate” is a necessary and healthy part of mounting a counter-offensive to the lies told about communism.
The Setting the Record Straight project feels it is very important for readers to be exposed to the work of people like Wang Zheng--which gets little attention in the mainstream media but which has important things to say.
To reach Setting the Record Straight contact: thisiscommunism.org
The following interview with Wang Zheng was conducted by the Setting The Record Straight (SRS) project. Wang Zheng is a professor of women’s studies at the University of Michigan. She is the author of Women in the Chinese Enlightenment: Oral and Textual Histories and numerous research papers, including State Feminism? Gender and Socialist Formation in Maoist China. Wang Zheng brings a feminist perspective to her work.
Wang Zheng is an editor of and contributor to Some of Us: Chinese Women Growing Up in the Mao Era (Rutgers University Press, 2001), a collection of memoirs. The nine contributors reflect on family relationships, school, neighborhood, workplace, popular culture, and going to the countryside during the Cultural Revolution, and the impact of, as the introduction puts it, “the Mao era’s gender equality policies.” The essays challenge what the editors call the “dark-age master narrative” of Chinese socialism and the Cultural Revolution in particular. As the book jacket describes, these writings “shatter our stereotypes of persecution, repression, victims, and victimizers in Maoist China.”
SRS: There are many memoirs being written by people who lived in China during the socialist years, or “the Mao era” (1949–1976), especially about the Cultural Revolution decade. What compelled the writing of Some of Us?
Wang Zheng: This book is collective memoirs by nine authors, all from the People’s Republic of China. We were all graduate students in this country, and then most of us got teaching positions here. The motivation to do this is that we were amazed by many memoirs published by the Chinese diaspora, people from China. Those memoirs that were promoted or that achieved the most market success were the ones depicting Mao’s era in China as the “dark age”: terrible, nothing but persecution and dictatorship and killings, all the horror stories, just a one-sided voice.
Even though I cannot say they are telling lies, a lot of the stuff is fictional. Like Anchee Min’s Red Azalea, which was widelyused here, even in universities. She claimed it’s autobiographical when she was in the U.S. But when she went back to China, among all her friends and relatives, all the people who knew her, lived there in that setting, when people asked her about this book, she said it’s fiction. So that’s one point.
That type of autobiography achieves the most market success due to the politics of publication in this country. What kind of books are they promoting in this country? You see that pattern there. They play into this Cold War mentality, still in the U.S., in the West, that capitalist countries are wonderful lands of freedom, socialist countries are terrible, Communist China, red China was awful, like hell. So they are telling all these horror stories to you. Those books always have the widest circulation, always receive a lot of media attention.
My point is not that persecution disasters did not happen. Our point, I just want to say, is that China is so big, with a population of one billion. We have different social groups, and different social groups experience even the same historical period differently. As Chinese, when we read those memoirs, we don’t share a lot of their experiences. Whatever their experiences, even if it’s true, it’s not our experience.
I found out in my peer group of all these Chinese women that we shared the same sentiment towards those memoirs. So we wanted to do something. At least we can raise our voices. If they’re telling their stories…what about our stories and our experiences? But our experiences didn’t get told. So we feel, especially I myself as a historian, that the important thing is not to vindicate anybody; rather, it is to present a complicated picture of history.
Also if you look at who wrote all this “condemnation literature,” they are usually people from elite classes. You really don’t hear the voices of workers, peasant class, those who are in the lower classes, the bottom of society. How did those people experience Mao’s China, or Communist China?
The Communist Party was very complicated, with different factions with different visions of China, different visions of socialism even. People had different visions in the Communist Party. In those years, there were all kinds of people involved in different things and the policies proposed by different people within the Party had different effects.
It was an extremely complicated situation. But in this country, what you hear is just one single voice, condemnation—how the people from the elite classes suffered during those years. That’s a terrible distortion of the larger picture if you believe that’s the truth, the only truth.
SRS: Why did this “condemnation literature” get such play?
Wang Zheng: There was a mass movement to produce victim narratives in the late 1970s and early 1980s in China, a line that was later largely transported to the West along with those Chinese who found an especially lucrative market in the capitalist “land of freedom” to claim the status of “victims” emerging in the post-Mao era.
“Thoroughly negate the Cultural Revolution” was a scheme by Deng Xiaoping1 to pave the way for his dismantling of socialism while consolidating political power. It was a way to whitewash or shift attention from his and his associates’ crimes.
After Deng Xiaoping’s call to thoroughly negate the Cultural Revolution, being a victim of the Cultural Revolution was a hot status symbol in China. Chinese intellectuals jumped on this bandwagon to produce narratives of victims. This was sanctioned by Deng Xiaoping, and helped him clear the ideological ground for staging neo-liberalism and social Darwinism to accompany the rise of a capitalist market economy. In the process, they have retrieved their power and privileges that had been reduced in the Mao era, especially in the Cultural Revolution. Those who dare to deviate from the design of the new architect Deng Xiaoping have been excluded from the privileges enjoyed by the new elite if not punished with imprisonment.
SRS: One of the stories in your memoir is about when you first came to the U.S., you heard a woman describe her daughter as a cheerleader and your reaction to that.
Wang Zheng: Yeah, well, it was after Deng Xiaoping initiated condemnation of Mao and the Cultural Revolution. In my essay, I also talked about that. I was confused by all this, because everybody was talking about how they were victimized by the Cultural Revolution, by the Communist Party, but I couldn’t find any examples in my life to define myself as the victim or victimizer. It was kind of a confusing period. I didn’t even know how to figure out the situation because in China at the time, a lot of intellectuals were talking about that, producing these kinds of “victim narratives.”
Then my experience in the U.S. made me see more clearly in a sense the significance of the Chinese revolution, the changes the revolution had made—because I had this comparative perspective that enabled me to compare the mentality of women here with the mentality of women in the Mao era, in the socialist period.
One example from my life here, staying with an American family, was when my landlady’s friend came and she talked about her daughter. I asked her, “What is your daughter doing?” She said very proudly and thrilled, “Oh she’s a cheerleader,” in a spirited voice. I didn’t know this word “cheerleader,” and I thought what kind of leader is that? I was very interested and when she explained that to me, I was not just shocked, I had contempt in my heart. I thought, wow—you’re feeling so much pride in that kind of stuff? I thought this woman has never imagined her daughter being a leader cheered by men.
So it was little things that brought into sharp contrast my experience as a young woman being raised in red China, socialist China, with the experience of women generally in this large society here, their mentality, their views about what they can do and their view of their life—there was a sharp difference.
SRS: It’s a strong theme that emerges from the various memoirs in the book.
Wang Zheng: The gender issue, that’s a point I have been making in my writing actually. I would say that the Communist Party, since its inception, incorporated a feminist agenda and attracted feminists, even though in the Party’s long history, in the war, in other critical struggles, gender equality had not always been high on the Party’s agenda. My research has demonstrated that all the policies related to women and gender equality have been promoted by feminists within the Party. The Party has never been a monolithic body but always including people with diverse political visions and interests. Each policy is a result of negotiations and contentions among different interests. In this sense, Communist feminists have been quite successful in promoting policies for gender equality.
SRS: What were some of the policies?
Wang Zheng: Marriage laws. Because all these women worked very hard from day one, from 1949, to promote gender equality, equality between men and women became the official dominant ideology. Not now, but in those years, dominant through all kind of cultural production, literature, movies, posters, everywhere. Everywhere. Women broke gender barriers in all the occupations—female pilots, militia, train drivers, all kinds of things. Anything previously regarded as male occupations and professions…women were encouraged to break into all these male dominated fields.
So my generation, we were all born into this kind of cultural atmosphere or political culture, So we took gender equality for granted. Of course, equal opportunity to education, to employment, equal pay—that was our experience, especially during the Cultural Revolution. The socialist system had embraced the egalitarian idea that worked to women’s benefit, and also the socialist economic system tried to equalize their share of the resources and that also worked to women’s benefit. Maternity leave, you were guaranteed if you worked in state enterprises, and also in employment, education, there was no gender discrimination.
But I have to say that many of those benefits were limited mostly to urban women. In rural settings, there were different economic policies. Even during the commune period in the rural areas, it was very difficult for women to gain equal pay for equal jobs, because in rural society resistance to gender equality is so strong, even if women were doing the same work, women were often paid less, unlike in the urban setting.
It’s a lot more difficult to promote equality in China today because now all the gaps, gender, class, everything, regional, all the gaps are widening. Of course before—especially during the Cultural Revolution when Mao wanted to reduce the urban and rural gap and the worker-peasant gap—the Party adopted some policies, such as barefoot doctors2 and rural teachers promoting rural education, and made efforts to do those things during those years.
SRS: We often hear that all the schools closed down during the Cultural Revolution, books were burned, and everyone’s education suffered.
Wang Zheng: Yeah, that’s one of the myths. During the Cultural Revolution, the first two years, the schools were closed but that doesn’t mean we were not able to read. Actually we read a lot because the books from libraries were circulated. The Red Guards took the books from the libraries and circulated them.
We were reading a lot of books. Actually a lot of young people had talent and had the time, didn’t have to go to school, so they were developing their talents. People who wanted to play the violin, or if their interest was math or physics, just did that. So a lot of people didn’t go to school but kind of immersed in their own talent. Actually the majority of people were doing that. You only hear about the terrible violence done by the Red Guards, that in that generation of young people, everyone was Red Guards. No! Statistically, the Red Guards were a small minority of my generation. I never joined the Red Guards. Many of us didn’t. We were called “Xiao Yao Pai.” We didn’t like violence, we didn’t like all those struggles, we just dropped out. We didn’t participate in violence, we didn’t do any of those things. We would just go home, doing whatever we wanted to do.
My critique of the film The Morning Sun by Carmelita Hinton, which I told her, was that I liked the first part but I didn’t like the second part because the second part focused on Red Guards violence. First of all, not all the Red Guards were involved in violence. Second, the Red Guards were a small percentage of our generation. Why do the stories of the lives of the majority never get told? There were the Xiao Yao Pai who dropped out to develop their own interests during those years. Her [Carmelita Hinton’s] response was that this is a documentary film, we want footage, and she didn’t have footage of the Xia Yao Pai. If you are smashing something, people will shoot a picture of you. If you are staying home reading, that’s boring, no one wants to shoot a picture of you reading. The representation of the Red Guards in those footage is of them smashing things, beating people. Yes, many Red Guards did that, but I am afraid that may not be the majority.
SRS: From our research, it’s very clear that the Red Guards played a highly positive role in the Cultural Revolution. They were a kind of catalyst. They raised people’s awareness of what was going on in society. Their spirit of criticizing and challenging reactionary authority emboldened workers, peasants, and others to lift their heads and raise their voices about the problems in society. Violence was not the main trend of the Red Guard movement. And much of the violence that did occur was fomented by leading capitalist roaders coming under criticism who were trying to discredit the movement. The Cultural Revolution was aimed at preventing the revolution from getting turned back, and it was aimed at transforming society more deeply and changing people’s thinking.
Wang Zheng: The issue is that at a time for my generation, there was a goal. We knew that we wanted to be different human beings, new kind of human beings, to create a different society so there’s some vision, some purpose there and these different human beings were not just craving material possessions, houses, cars, consumer goods.
We wanted to make contribution to the common good, we were concerned about human beings as a whole, society as a whole, not only just China, the whole world, how the whole world can be peaceful, happy without exploitation and oppression. In a sense we can say that’s a utopian dream starting from long, long time ago. Whether utopian or not, we had a dream that the world can be better than today.
I would never condone any violence. However...a revolution to achieve an egalitarian society did involve some drastic measures, like land reform to confiscate landowners’ land, to redistribute among all the landless people. So, if you go to interview the landlord, their children, they would tell you that the landlord’s land had been confiscated, the landlord had been executed—if you hear that story, of course, they are full of hatred. But if you go to interview the landless class and they got land from the communists, you will hear a very different story. So that’s why it’s important to have a fuller picture of what’s going on. The relationship of the poor peasants to the communist revolution is drastically different. But those poor peasants cannot write their memoirs in English. That’s why you have never heard a peasant talking. Or even those peasants’ children who can write English—their writing can never be promoted in this country because the people who control the publishing market, they will not promote these kinds of stories.
The world should have equality and justice. We wanted to improve ourselves internally so that we can build that kind of world. I don’t see anything wrong with this dream. I still don’t see anything wrong in this dream, even though people may say that’s naive. But I think the human race needs to have something beautiful in our mind, otherwise we will all become ugly animals. What’s the point to live in this world that’s dog-eat-dog, an ugly world? What’s the point? Meanwhile, possessing so much material wealth while destroying this earth. What’s the point? We could live in a different way, that’s why dreams are important.
SRS: It’s an important point that the world doesn’t have to be like this, and during the socialist period in China, those changes started to happen because it wasn’t just a utopian dream. I want to talk about the mass movement of urban youth like you that were sent to the countryside. That’s one of the things being attacked.
Wang Zheng: Yes, yes. There are a lot of debates in terms of why Mao and the Party did that in terms of motivations. Even today, I don’t think it’s wrong to ask the urban educated youth to make a contribution to the poor areas even though we may not have to use that kind of drastic measure. Still I think it is necessary for educated people to go to the poor places, to contribute their knowledge to develop those areas.
Even though I was sent to the countryside, I never shed a tear all those years when I was on the farm. If you read all those memoirs talking about how terrible it was for “sent down girls,” like in Wild Swans for example, where she [Jung Chang] talks about her “sent down” experience, her countryside experience…oh, she felt so wronged. Because she was from this high Communist cadre official family—how can she be sent to work on the farm like a peasant? She just couldn’t work as a peasant. It’s horrible! When I read that part, I was so offended by her sense of entitlement, her sense of being elite, how can she do that kind of work? So when her parents went through the back door and got her out of the countryside, oh, she was so elated. And even to the time when she was writing, she never reflected on that privilege.
Why couldn’t you be a peasant where some 90 percent of Chinese were peasants at the time? On what ground could you not work as a farmer? Do you have a crown on your head? I just don’t see it. If you read all those condemnations, they are all complaining, saying that we are urban people, we are educated, my parents are professors or high officials and I had all these talents, now I have to work as a peasant. What is wrong with that? You can contribute your talents to the peasants, to the rural community. I still don’t know what is wrong with that.
SRS: The Setting the Record Straight project is also working to take on the distortions and lies and to bring out the true history of socialism. Given your own interest in this history, how do you see amplifying our work?
Wang Zheng: Yes, they have the whole machine behind them to promote. We don’t have that. Yes, how to increase our volume in a sense. We have been trying to raise our voice to be heard, but always kind of overshadowed or suppressed by the market. That’s a huge issue because we do live in this capitalist market economy.
Maybe one important thing for scholars is not to just produce academic works confined to academic circles. I just came from a conference in the China field. Many scholars think that Jung Chang’s new book [Mao: The Unknown Story] and their story of Mao is a piece of shit. These scholars do research, study history and documents, and they know this book cannot be held against academic standards. I think that academics in the China field, all my colleagues, as far as I know, have been trying to inform their students. But you know in this country, a lot of the students are not interested in anything besides America. So our classrooms are not large. A few are informed, but not many. Conferences are not a venue to inform the large public. That’s the big issue, the big problem here. How to make your work accessible to the larger audience, and circulate among them? It is actually who can promote you. So these are political issues in this country, because the mainstream has an interest to demonize socialism.
Let me just say, how much does the U.S. government invest in the Iraq war, more than $70 billion now, right? Okay, so in this system you can invest so much money to kill people with another religion, rather than offer free education, college education, to make your citizens an informed citizenry. Is this system better than China when it was socialist when many people were informed through free education? Are there any efforts made in this country to offer free medical care, free education instead of so much money to kill innocent people? This is evil. If you talk about evil, this is evil.
If the practice of Chinese communist revolution had been thwarted by various mistakes or various forces, we need to explore new ways. Whatever the Chinese Communist Party’s mistakes, it doesn’t prove the superiority of capitalism.
Revolution Editors' Notes:
1. Deng Xiaoping was a major capitalist roader in the Chinese Communist Party. He was a pivotal behind-the-scenes organizer of the reactionary coup that overthrew proletarian power in China in October 1976. He was the main architect of the restoration of capitalism in China and the “opening up” of China to imperialist exploitation and plunder.
2. The “barefoot doctor” movement was an innovation of the Cultural Revolution. Young peasants as well as urban youth sent to the countryside were trained to treat minor diseases and injuries and to administer immunizations and help with birth-control programs and other public-health activities in the rural areas. By 1976, there were close to 1.5 million barefoot doctors in the countryside.
Revolution #59, September 3, 2006
Go to Revolution's “Katrina: The Crimes of a System” Page (at revcom.us/katrina/index.htm) for Extensive Coverage
...and much more.
Revolution #59, September 3, 2006
It has been two weeks since Elvira Arellano defied an order from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to turn herself in to be deported for having worked with a false Social Security number, and entering this country without papers.
Elvira's defiance has won her the support of many people, and raised awareness about the millions of people living in this country in the shadows and hounded by the police, immigration official, and “unofficial” mercenaries like the Minutemen.
A very important act of solidarity took place on Thursday, August 24 when nine African-American ministers, of the Clergy Speaks Interdenominational coalition, met with Elvira and held a press conference at the Adalberto United Methodist Church—where Elvira is residing with her seven-year-old son Saúl.
The ministers explained that they had met on Monday and decided to take up Elvira’s cause and spoke to the need for the African American community to understand better the immigration issue. Reverend Albert D. Tyson, III, pastor of St. Stephen AME Church, said he hoped that this support would increase the bonds between Latinos and African Americans, and added: “This is a good time for us to unite around the immigration issue. We have so much more in common than we do that separates us.”
The Clergy Speaks Interdenominational was formed earlier this year to lobby for issues of social justice, such as police brutality. Other ministers present at the Thursday press conference include Reverend Marshall Hatch of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition and Bishop Larry Trotter of the Sweet Homely Spirit Church.
This expression of solidarity is especially important in light of reactionary criticisms of the comparison some people have made of Arellano to Rosa Parks—a Black woman who, in 1955, defied racist Jim Crow laws and refused to give up her bus seat to a white person. For example, Ted Hayes of Choose Black America said Elvira’s alleged comparison to Rosa Park was “blasphemy” and “bogus.” He said, “Rosa Parks was a U.S.-born citizen. This lady is a foreign national.” But ministers from Clergy Speaks Interdenominational have pointed out Arellano is contesting an immoral government policy as Rosa Parks did.
Also on August 24, the Coalition of African, Asian, Arab, European and Latino Immigrants joined in a vigil at the Adalberto Church to show their support for Elvira’s cause. Hatem Abdudayyeh, president of the coalition and executive director of the Arab American Action Network, said: “We are aware that this country’s immigration laws are not working, and that is why we are asking for a moratorium on deportations.”
Joanna Borow, the executive director of the Polish American Association, said she supports Elvira “because Arellano’s problem is the same problem millions of people in this country face, and Polish people are no exception.”
The newspaper La Raza (Chicago) reported that an Ecuadorian women (described as “Carmen D.”) went to the Adalberto church to share with Elvira her own ordeal. In September 2005 Carmen D. received an order to turn herself in on December 31, 2005, for deportation. Even though she has lived in the U.S. for 17 years, has two sons (ages 17 and 10), and unlike Elvira has been able to get legal status, a legal Social Security number, and a driver's license, because they had at one point entered the U.S. without papers, they are subject to deportation. Carmen D. said she and Elvira also talked about the many people that are in a similar situation, having relied on previous immigration amnesties only to be betrayed. Carmen D. has not returned to work for fear of being detained.
In the world today there are millions of people from Mexico and other poor, oppressed countries in Latin America—forced by the workings of the same capitalist system that dragged Africans here as slaves—to come to the United States in order to survive. Imperialism has devastated their countries, destroyed the agricultural systems on which many tens of millions have depended, and left few options but to go to overcrowded cities and live in miserable slums or to the imperialist countries, where they are exploited by these same capitalists.
Revolution #59, September 3, 2006
For the last two months, as Israel has been waging its slaughter of the people in Lebanon, it has also been carrying out a brutal offensive against the Palestinian people of the Gaza Strip. There has been almost no reporting in the mainstream media on the situation in Gaza, despite Israel’s firing of an average of 200-250 artillery shells on the people of Gaza every day (according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs). Since the start of Operation Summer Rain—the Israeli military’s name for the Gaza offensive—202 Palestinians, including 44 children, have been killed.
The offensive against the people of the Gaza has continued even after the so-called ceasefire in Lebanon. Between August 8 and August 23, 18 Palestinians were killed, two of them children. Israel has destroyed many houses in Gaza in the last two weeks. On August 19 the Israeli forces also seized the Palestinian Deputy Prime Minister and Secretary of the Palestinian Legislative Council in the West Bank on August 19—this is on top of the arrest of over 64 Hamas officials by Israel on June 29.
Gaza remains under siege by Israel. No Palestinians are allowed to leave the Gaza Strip either into Israel or into the West Bank. The Rafah crossing between the Gaza and the Egyptian Sinai has been opened briefly several times but remains closed for regular movement. Israel refuses to allow even humanitarian aid and needed construction supplies for the repair of crucial infrastructure like sewage treatment facilities.
The main power plant in Gaza, bombed by Israel two months ago, remains shut down, and Israel has refused to let supplies in for its repair. People in Gaza receive on average only between 6-8 hours of electricity per day, and most families in urban areas receive only 2-3 hours of water per day. Food and other necessities are in very short supply.
The mayor of As Shoka (which contains 15% of the agricultural land in Gaza) said that an incursion by the Israeli Army demolished all the greenhouses and destroyed water and electricity networks.
Palestinian journalist Mohammed Omer reported from Gaza on August 25 that Israeli soldiers backed by helicopter shelling, tanks and armored personnel carriers, moved into Palestinian-controlled areas near the main Israeli crossing at Karni. "They took two of my cousins and asked them about militants and tunnels that we don’t know about at all,” a 65-year-old farmer, told Mohammed, while cleaning the remains of his green houses, as the Israeli bulldozers demolished all his olive trees. ”We will stay strong and survive until we die in our land,” the farmer added.
According to Amnesty International, "Deliberate attacks by Israeli forces against civilian property and infrastructure in the Gaza Strip violate international humanitarian law and constitute war crimes." The group said Israeli bombardment of "the Gaza Strip's only electricity power station, water networks, bridges, roads and other infrastructure is a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention."
Israel claims that their offensive is justified by the seizure of an Israeli soldier by Palestinian forces on June 25. But, as Noam Chomsky has pointed out, Israeli forces abducted two Palestinian civilians, a doctor and his brother, from Gaza, in an incident scarcely reported anywhere in the media. The following day was when Palestinians took an Israeli soldier prisoner—and proposed a negotiated exchange against the approximately 10,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.
Israel also claims that its actions in Gaza are in self-defense because Hamas has fired their home-made Qassam missiles at Israel. A look at some basic facts shows that this is a lie. In the period starting from when Israel withdrew its military forces and settlements from Gaza in September 2005 until the start of Israel’s recent offensive, Palestinian missiles had not killed a single Israeli. Meanwhile it is estimated that Israel has fired between 7,000 and 9,000 heavy artillery shells into Gaza, killing an estimated 80 Palestinians.
As the Israeli tanks rolled into Gaza and Israeli missiles rained down death from the sky in late June, the U.S. gave its blessing and a green light to Israel. "Israel has the right to defend itself and the lives of its citizens…in any actions the government of Israel may undertake,” said White House press secretary Tony Snow. The U.S. vetoed a resolution condemning Israel’s attack on Gaza in the UN Security Council. And, of course, Israel’s weapons are mostly made in the USA and purchased with billions of dollars in military aid that the U.S. gives to Israel every year.
A recent open letter from prominent international writers, including, John Berger, Noam Chomsky, Harold Pinter, Arundhati Roy, Jose Saramago, Gore Vidal, Howard Zinn and others cut through the imperialist obfuscation behind the war in Gaza exposing the real reasons for the war: “Each provocation and counter-provocation is contested and preached over. But the subsequent arguments, accusations and vows, all serve as a distraction in order to divert world attention from a long-term military, economic and geographic practice whose political aim is nothing less than the liquidation of the Palestinian nation.
“This has to be said loud and clear for the practice, only half declared and often covert, is advancing fast these days, and, in our opinion, it must be unceasingly and eternally recognized for what it is and resisted.”
Revolution #59, September 3, 2006
Get Out the Verdict! Frame and Fuel the Discussion!
The following is from the International Commission of Inquiry on Crimes Against Humanity Committed by the Bush Administration (bushcommission.org):
The Commission of Inquiry on Crimes Against Humanity Committed by the Bush Administration will release its final verdict on Wednesday, September 13, 2006.
The final verdict will address the five indictments dealing with the Bush administration's wars of aggression, illegal detention and torture, destruction of the global environment through global warming, imposition of abstinence-only on AIDS prevention programs in the Third World, and the abandonment of New Orleans before, during and after Hurricane Katrina.
On September 13, the verdict will be formally served on the White House and the Department of Justice, read over the radio across the country, and released in printed form for national distribution.
Following the release of the verdict, the Commission is calling a national “Bush Crimes Day” on Tuesday, September 19. Inspired by the verdict of the Bush Crimes Commission, campuses and communities across the country will organize public events, from teach-ins to street-theater, that draw attention to acts of the Bush administration that, by their scope and nature, shock the conscience of humankind—and bring to the fore our moral and political responsibility to bring these horrific crimes to a halt!
* * *
The release of the verdict fulfills a primary responsibility of this tribunal to deliver findings of fact and a verdict on the central question before the commission: “whether George W. Bush and his administration have committed crimes against humanity.” The final verdict and the national Bush Crimes Day continue the Commission's mission “to frame and fuel a discussion that is urgently needed in the United States: Is the administration of George W. Bush guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity?”
The Bush administration's war crimes and crimes against humanity are now mounting on an even wider scale— with new, even more monstrous, crimes looming. Despite almost universal condemnation, the Bush regime promoted Israel's invasion of Lebanon, the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan continue to wreak havoc on these countries, shocking crimes by U.S. soldiers against civilians continue to come to light, and torture continues in both public and secret locations around the world. The administration is attempting to grant itself immunity—by rewriting U.S. law—to commit flagrant violations of Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions. The administration is aggressively beating the drums of war on Iran, which would bring catastrophic consequences to the Middle East and humanity.
At this moment in history, society desperately needs to hear the testimony of Scott Ritter at the Commission on the complete lies of the Bush administration in making the case for war in Iraq, the testimony of Brigadier General Janis Karpinski establishing the chain of command from the torture chambers of Abu Ghraib to the highest offices of the land, and eye-witness testimony from journalists in the killing fields of Iraq to the survivors from the flooded Lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans. This is what we aim to bring people in the next few weeks as we expand and intensify the discussion on Bush's war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Society also desperately needs the moral clarity of Craig Murray, the former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan, who declared at the commission hearings, "I would personally rather die than have anyone tortured to save my life."
The need for this tribunal arose from the real and horrendous crimes being committed, and the historical, moral and political responsibility of people of conscience to sit in judgment of this administration: to inquire and assess whether this administration has committed crimes that do in fact rise to the level of crimes against humanity, and to act in a meaningful and commensurate manner, on that knowledge of reality, to bring these crimes to a halt.
As the 2002 Not In Our Name Statement of Conscience (www.nion.us), the sponsoring organization of the Bush Commission, stated: “We believe that people of conscience must take responsibility for what their own governments do—we must first of all oppose the injustice that is done in our own name.”
Join us at the White House on September 13; join us across the nation on September 19!
Revolution #59, September 3, 2006
New Issue Now Available!
Featured in This Issue (2006/32)
Nepal: Two States, Two Futures Collide
Nepal is perched on the brink of dramatic change. The old monarchy is tottering—what state system will replace it? The new Nepal led by the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) centred in the countryside confronts the old regime of landlords and bureaucrat capitalists centred in Kathmandu and beholden to imperialism and India. A photo essay shows one way the country's people are beginning to build a self-reliant society—a “road to the future”—as captured by a team of internationalist volunteers. An extract from a report from the Central Committee of the CPN (Maoist) presents how the party itself views recent developments.
Empire—Revolutionary Communism or “Communism” without Revolution?
In recent years Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt offered an unusually sweeping critique of the contemporary world addressing philosophy, economics, culture and other arenas. At the heart of their analysis is what the authors call “Empire”—a “post-imperialist” order. A Maoist response argues that though the work contains provocative insights, its core theses toss out key truths about the way the capitalist system actually functions today and dispense with the need for proletarian revolution.
The Revolutionary Internationalist Movement
Two Maoist leaders of parties of RIM speak out.
The Secretary General of the Communist Party (Maoist) of Afghanistan is interviewed by AWTW about the crucial need to uphold Marxism-Leninism-Maoism in that country's difficult political terrain.
Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, looks at some of the ways the internationalist communist movement has dealt with epistemology—how people come to know reality—and argues for the need to settle accounts with views that block or distort the search for truth, even uncomfortable truths that make revolutionaries cringe.
On the Massacre of 17 Revolutionary Leaders and Fighters in Turkey
RIM Committee Statement
Statement from the Maoist Communist Party (Turkey and North Kurdistan)
A Sober Look at the Situation of the Peru Revolution
Also in this issue...
France's Proletarian Youth Erupt
Chang Chun-chiao: An Unrelenting Champion of Communism
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Revolution #59, September 3, 2006
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