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Revolution #62, September 24, 2006
The recent correspondence on taking out Bob Avakian’s 7 Talks, especially into proletarian communities, was very important (see Revolution #60 and #61 for articles on this). One thing that comes through: there is nothing else like this speaking to the how-to-live-and-die questions that are on people’s minds.
These talks open up, from many different angles, the nature of this system and the need for revolution—and this came through in the correspondence. The correspondence also showed the ways in which these talks—especially, but not only, “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”—can enable people to see the importance of acting on October 5.
Think about it. If the proletariat were to really represent on the 5th—if organized contingents from the most exploited and oppressed sections of society manifested as part of demonstrations of tens of thousands in the major cities—then this could have a powerful effect on the whole message of the 5th. It would add a crucial element to the whole political equation and trajectory that could come out of that day. It would open up the thinking of millions of people from all walks of society as to what is really possible, and it would mean a lot to the real chances of reversing the whole direction that the Bush Regime has been taking the world (and this country)…and opening up the road to a truly better future, including the real possibility of revolution.
And it would mean a hell of a lot for people all over the world to see the oppressed in this country, as well as people from other walks of life, standing up for the world and the fate of the planet, and saying that this whole Bush agenda—from Katrina to the wars, from the outlawing of immigrants to the burning up of the environment, from the torture and repression to the Christian Fascist attacks on women and gay people—must HALT! Don’t underestimate how deeply this could affect people—it was very common during the 1970s and 80s, and even today, for travelers in other countries to talk to people and learn that they were powerfully affected and inspired by the Black liberation struggle of the 1960s and early 70s. Let's get that same thing going now, when the stakes are even higher.
You could see the embryos of what we need in last year’s November 2 demonstration, in the effect that the students coming out from proletarian high schools had, or in the powerful impact of the banner from Watts on the marchers in Los Angeles. But those were, again—like last November’s demonstration itself—still embryonic. This time around, we need this in another dimension. Banners from communities, workplaces, and high schools need to be flying. Contingents and drum corps from areas need to be marching.
A question: can revolutionaries and activists in other cities learn from and apply the experience laid out in Joe Veale’s letter last week, both engaging people with the 7 Talks and bringing them together? Can this go a step further and help contribute to forming up October 5 committees based in these communities? The participation of progressive clergy, people from unions and immigrants’ rights organizations, and other people who live and/or work in the oppressed communities was an important strength of the September 7 meetings. Revolutionary communists need to recognize this important positive development and join with those folks, as well as other activists from World Can’t Wait and many others who could potentially be won to it, and struggle to take things further. The broader these committees, and the broader the movement of particular organizations (unions, religious congregations, etc.) taking up October 5 on their own, the more space it creates for everybody to step out.
Such committees could take responsibility for helping to get October 5 posters, stickers, and flyers out broadly into the community. They could help spark a movement of banner-signings from particular communities, workplaces (or day labor pickup spots), unions or immigrants’ rights organizations, anti-repression organizations (including October 22 chapters), etc. and spread a sense that people will be out there representing on the 5th, and that everyone needs to be part of that. Block parties, or “lightning speak-outs” where a dozen people gather with a banner and a boom box and boxes of posters and flyers, could get a whole different kind of political ferment going. These committees can work with progressive journalists and radio personalities to get the word out. Within this effort, the revolutionaries could promote the 7 Talks, joining with people to listen to and discuss them, and relating them to the questions raised and the challenges encountered as they all work together to build for the 5th. These talks could also serve to develop the dialogue with progressive people who espouse other ideologies (progressive religious people, for example), as we learn from and struggle with each other in the course of working together. And, of course, Revolution newspaper should also be in that mix, keeping people up on every key development in the world and the movement, from a communist perspective.
And what about the schools? Revolutionaries should definitely take up the lessons from the letter the week before on using sections of the first talk with classes. There are sympathetic teachers who would make room for this and students who would fight for it—including those who took good stands last year, when students came under attack, or others coming forward this year, who could be won to engaging with the talks and sponsoring such things in their class. This, too, could and should spark efforts around October 5, or favorably enter into such efforts where they are already under way. Revolutionaries, along with others who see the need to get these talks out there as part of the atmosphere, should come to those classes equipped with both the 7 Talks (including copies for people to listen to and spread), as well as lots of World Can’t Wait literature and posters.
Of course, the 7 Talks are not the same as World Can’t Wait, and people shouldn’t be confused about that. World Can’t Wait takes in many people and an increasing number of organizations; they hold and promote different ideas and programs on what needs to be done to change society, but they are all united around driving out the Bush Regime. That diversity and that unity help give this initiative a great potential strength, and people should understand that. At the same time, the 7 talks open up people’s horizons in a way that nothing else can, going deeply into the need for communist revolution. The letters already published show this, and it’ll be important to continue to take these talks out very boldly. The more people there are who get into the talks and who even get acquainted with them, the stronger will be the core and the broader the front.
There needs to be organization built, of different kinds, throughout this. There’s the October 5 committees discussed above. But there’s also a need for circles and networks around Revolution (and for the circulation of Revolution to grow), and for people being worked with to become communists. The DVD of Bob Avakian’s speech Revolution: Why It’s Necessary, Why It’s Possible, What It’s All About will be the crucial glue in this work of consolidation, and that too should be spread in this period.
Revolution #62, September 24 2006
Update from Projects in the Midwest
from a reader
Bar-b-que fundraiser for World Can't Wait at a housing project in the Midwest
Some people from the projects came with me to the September 7 World Can’t Wait organizing meeting. One guy—when we was out leafleting—he began to quote a Black historian who spoke at the meeting. He had talked about the U.S. dropping atomic bombs, and leaving only shadows where people and buildings have been. And then, also another speaker was talking about the Sixties—how SDS started with only a few people. He didn’t know all that. He was telling me if more people had been there, he couldn’t think of anybody who, if they had come, wouldn’t have been moved by what the speakers were saying. The people who came took bags—organizing kits—of stickers and leaflets. The next morning, I noticed the buildings had a lot of stickers up. Everyone could see something was happening. But stickers don’t stay up long—they come through and clean them up. Another guy came to the September 7 meeting with his daughter—he didn’t think she was paying that much attention. But then, the next day he went to look for his bag—his organizing kit—and his daughter had taken it to school and passed the stickers and flyers out there.
I have been talking to this guy who didn’t come. And the problem was he didn’t have a way to get there, so it’s pretty important to organize rides. Especially in the projects, where it’s hard for people to get out of that place. This is something I am going to bring up when we go to the next meeting of the local World Can’t Wait committee. But people seem to be alive about World Can’t Wait, and the 7 new talks by Bob Avakian [available at bobavakian.net and revcom.us].
One of the things we did was show people the two articles that have been in Revolution about building for October 5th, and talking about Bob Avakian’s new talks. People really liked that. After she read the part in Joe Veale’s article where one guy says, “Why have I not ever heard this before! They don’t teach you this in school. Jefferson was atrocious. They are all hypocrites with a double standard,” one woman commented, “there’s somebody way over yonder who is thinking the way I’m thinking.” It was important to her to know that people are taking this up.
One question that has come up around the talks is that Bob Avakian is white. One guy says that “I know more about Black people than he do.” So we have to get into it, like on a perceptual level that’s true but on a rational level that’s not true. He says, “I’ve never seen this person. I know you, I don’t know him.” So he read some of Bob Avakian’s memoir. Part of this really is that he disagrees about religion, and also the “blame the masses” thing. So he goes back and forth on that. Actually, he called me yesterday—he’s taking a Spanish language course, and he wanted to use “Why Do People Come Here From All Over the World”—from Avakian’s DVD REVOLUTION… and show it in class. For this other woman, who has been listening to the CDs, she said this is not a question for her, because Bob Avakian is putting forward important stuff to help people, and you’d be crazy not to listen to him.
We have been talking to people about raising money so World Can’t Wait can run that ad in USA Today. Several people have volunteered to do cooking, and make and bring different dishes and we’re having a bar-b-que to raise money for the ad, and inviting people from outside the projects too—from World Can’t Wait. Someone is bringing baked beans, other people are bringing meat and stuff. People saw it was important to get this ad. Someone was saying that there is a soccer field near the projects where Mexican guys play soccer and we should go there.
One problem we have to bring up at the World Can’t Wait meeting and get some help with is that the authorities keep taking down stickers and signs. We made a big banner for World Can’t Wait and put it up on the fence, and people were signing it, and the police made them take it down. Also, someone got a letter threatening eviction for having the World Can’t Wait poster that was in the newspaper on his door, and also they had the poster that was in Revolution for Bob Avakian’s talks. Last year, for World Can’t Wait, some people had banners out their windows and the housing authority told them they were “eyesores.” We talked to a lawyer, but also we need people from World Can’t Wait and other people to be calling in and telling them not to take this stuff down or tell people to take the signs out of their windows.
Some people here want to get deeper into Bob Avakian’s talks, because a number of people have listened to them. We have to make CDs here, people here don’t have MP3 players. So we try to get them on CDs. Like this woman, when we were talking about different things, we were reading, and comparing the two articles in Revolution from the projects. And she said, “What is this ‘Conservatism, Christian Fundamentalism, Liberalism, and Paternalism…Bill Cosby and Bill Clinton…Not All “Right” But All Wrong!’ talk that they are talking about in the article from Joe Veale? I don’t have that one in mine.” She is someone who is always arguing with people that no, this is not all their fault. So I got her that one that night. That “Bill (Clinton) and Bill (Cosby)” talk is a big one. So is what Avakian talks about in “Communism: A Whole New World And The Emancipation of All Humanity—Not ‘The Last Shall Be First, And the First Shall Be Last.’” So we are starting organized discussions up.
Revolution #62, September 24 2006
from a reader
A young friend of mine lives far from the city and we don’t see as much of each other as either of us would like. About six weeks ago I sent him the two MP3-CD set of all the new talks by Bob Avakian. He got a CD player that could play the MP3’s, hooked it up to his car radio and has been listening to them in his car.
Two weeks later we got together and mapped out some ambitious plans for mobilizing forces in his area for World Can’t Wait’s October 5th actions. He came to our meeting excited, and one of the key “ingredients” in his excitement was that he had had a chance to listen to much of the first 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.” The talk spoke to many questions that have been on his mind for years and it spoke to the need and possibility for driving out the Bush regime and the role of those who see the need for repolarization for revolution to be in the thick of this.
I saw him again recently and the excitement he displayed in our meeting was really moving to me on many levels. He’s been taking up new and important responsibilities—he has never been part of building any kind of movement or organization before—so his work with World Can’t Wait is all new for him. But before we could begin talking about all that, he wanted to tell me about what he thought as he has been listening to these new talks by Bob Avakian. He told me that on the drive to see me that day he had gotten to what he described as “a very moving part,” his “favorite part” so far, of what he had heard of these new talks. He was more than half way into “Communism and Jeffersonian Democracy.” The issue of how much dissent and debate there would be in the new socialist society has been a concern of his since when I first met him a number of years ago, and Bob Avakian’s talks and writings over the past two years have been deeply speaking to that. But when I asked him what he had found so moving in listening to this latest talk, he shared some other points: First was the part about Malcolm X and his “Ballot or the Bullet” speech and how even if you really hate both what the Republicans and the leaders of Democratic Party have done to the people, if you don’t challenge the whole set up and instead see your strategy being one of forging a block to bargain with the Democrats to do what you want, you’ll get dragged right back into all you hate and get nowhere. He said this was really thought-provoking to him and saw this as important in the battle at hand in driving out the Bush regime. Secondly, he said he was really moved by the part about the different views of freedom—contrasting that promoted by the bourgeoisie and the new and different communist view of freedom that Bob Avakian lays out. As part of that, he described what he had just heard minutes before on the drive over, about what it meant for him to hear Avakian speak of revolutionary China, in Mao’s time, against the slanders that everyone was forced to dress alike in grey, etc. and how when Avakian visited China he saw children now dressed in bright colors, that they are the future and that future is bright, and about the struggle that had gone on to manufacture and provide decent clothing for everyone, many for the first time in China, and only later had the resources for dyeing clothes in these rich colors. He said, “When I heard that I almost began to cry, I thought about all the people back home [in a rural, semi-mountainous part of Latin America] that I left as a child. I thought back of the images of people there also wearing ragged clothes, dying of diseases brought on by hunger, lack of modern water treatment or other things that in a different world could have been prevented. That is today. I agreed with what Bob Avakian was saying.”
My friend is continuing to listen to these talks, everyday on his drive to and from work. It has broken down some of his sense of isolation, being so far from revolutionaries to talk to. But now everyday, instead it’s like getting a front seat on a speaking tour with the Chairman. And it has brought a deeper long-term vision to him as he jumps in to organize for this ferocious battle to drive out the criminals in the White House.
Revolution #62, September 24 2006
October 5 is only weeks away! But there is enough time to do what needs to be done, if we rise to the challenge before us.
This is an opportunity for prisoners to exercise their initiative and creativity to participating in these nationwide actions.
“We must, and can, aim to create a political situation where the Bush regime’s program is repudiated, where Bush himself is driven from office, and where the whole direction he has been taking society is reversed. We, in our millions, must and can take responsibility to change the course of history. Acting in this way, we join with and give support and heart to people all over the globe who so urgently need and want this regime to be stopped.”
From the Call from World Can’t Wait—Drive Out the Bush Regime!
Prisoners have a unique position in society. Your life experience and the life experience of your friends and family show first hand the truth of what America is all about. What you say and do can make a real difference in making the actions of October 5 commensurate with what needs to be done.
Prisoners can participate in bringing word about October 5 to their friends and family. Ask them to contact all their friends and encourage them do all that they can to participate. They can break out of work or school and join the protests that day. They can contact WCW organizing committees in their cities and towns. And if there is no committee, they can organize one of their own and/or send in contributions.
Write to PRLF and report what you and others are doing to support October 5.
* * * * *
“As I was reading a copy of your newspaper dated 9-18-05 on page 8 I came across an ad for a t-shirt. It is the design of a ‘Wanted’ poster of the Bush Regime. I am incarcerated and am unable to order the t-shirt or print the poster. If at all possible could you please send a copy of this poster to be proudly displayed on my cage.”
“The call that’s going out to mobilize to drive out the wicked Regime [is] a call badly needed and long overdue!
“I can’t do as much as I would like to do but my goal has always been to share the ‘R’ [REVOLUTION newspaper] with everyone! And hope that they can accept the truth and stop pretending.
“The bottom line is this, No one in the proletarian communities truly believes in the system. So why support its actions when its true purpose is to continue to Dehumanize us? That doesn’t make any sense.
“Frederick Douglass said ‘The limit of what an oppressor will do to the people is set by the limits of what those people will accept.’
“My question is ‘How much more of this can you accept?’”
Email PRLF: "PRLFund at netscape.net"
Mail correspondence and contributions for prisoner subscriptions:
PRLF, c/o RCP Publications, PO Box 3486, Chicago IL 60654-0486
Revolution #62, September 24 2006
[Editors’ Note: The following are excerpts from comments by Bob Avakian, in a relatively recent discussion with a group of comrades. What follows here is based on notes that were taken of those comments. It has been edited for publication here and some explanatory points have been added, within brackets, at various places in the text.]
October 5 is what is actually required—what measures up to what is actually going on and the course things are on. Step back on this. You have [Secretary of State Condoleezza] Rice talking about the “birth pangs of the new Middle East,” as Lebanon is being pummeled and pulverized by Israel, and there are Seymour Hersh’s points on Iran [articles by Seymour Hersh in which he speaks to how the Bush regime already has practical, operational plans for attacking Iran, including the possibility of using nuclear weapons in such an attack on Iran, and how some key figures in the Bush regime viewed the recent assault by Israel on Lebanon as a kind of dress rehearsal for a U.S. attack on Iran].
Some people say World Can’t Wait is too strident. Too strident? What will the world be like if the U.S. attacks Iran? Look at [Republican Senator and possible 2008 Presidential candidate, John] McCain’s argument that it would be worse if we don’t attack Iran. And no one other than some generals raising opposition to that—no opposition from any prominent Democrats. Those in the Bush regime themselves constantly remind us that this is an open-ended war with no end in sight. Today’s outrage—coupled with muffled pious doubts and petty amendments from certain politicians—becomes tomorrow’s institutionalized measure.
Do you have any idea what the Israeli invasion of Lebanon is doing right now? What does it mean when secular people in Lebanon begin supporting Hezbollah, fervently? And you want to talk about “too strident”?!
Think about where this is going, if an alternative is not provided to these two historically outmodeds. [This refers to the following observation by Bob Avakian: “What we see in contention here with Jihad on the one hand and McWorld/McCrusade on the other hand, are historically outmoded strata among colonized and oppressed humanity up against historically outmoded ruling strata of the imperialist system. These two reactionary poles reinforce each other, even while opposing each other.”] Who is going to provide this alternative? You can assist World Can’t Wait or be part of suppressing it. World Can’t Wait represents the people out there who see the need for what corresponds to what is actually going on and are trying to do something about it.
* * * * *
We want to speak to those youth, and others, in Lebanon whose relatives have been buried under the rubble by U.S.-made bombs. We want to say to them: There’s another way beside that of religious fundamentalists. If you don’t bring something real into the light of day, you can’t speak to those people. You may have bumper stickers on your car expressing good sentiments, but they don’t see your bumper stickers. But if you mobilize in your masses against this regime, that could speak to them.
* * * * *
Another couple of steps and the world will be set on a certain course which will be very hard to change. It’s very bad that Hezbollah is becoming the rallying center [of opposition to Israeli aggression]. They are Khomeini-ites [referring to Ayatollah Khomeini, who was the leading figure in the establishment of the theocratic Islamic fundamentalist state in Iran], and now Hezbollah is gaining credence and support in Lebanon, one of the more “westernized” countries in the whole Middle East. And not just in Lebanon, but all over the Middle East. New supporters of what Hezbollah represents are being created by the tens of thousands. Do you think the Democratic Party will change that?
On the other hand, World Can’t Wait is what people are doing to change this. Let’s talk about this road in comparison to any other.
It is important to engage in lofty but at the same time “down on the ground” struggle with people as to what’s going on in the world and where the Democrats are lining up in relation to that. Some may criticize Bush for no “exit strategy” [in Iraq], but where do they line up in relation to this whole dynamic?
And then you’ve got to get into the question: where have actual positive changes come from historically? Has this come from relying on the Democratic Party, or from mass action independent of that?
As I see it, in order to realize the objectives of World Can’t Wait, this whole process needs to have not only the powerful vision it has, and the actual plans it is developing, but it needs the “lubricant” of continual ideological struggle—from a high plane, in a principled way, but sharply focused.
* * * * *
You have to do what measures up to what’s going on. You can’t just nibble around the edges of this whole horrific process—and if you are a thinking person and you don’t recognize how horrific this process is and where it’s going and the consequences, then I’m sorry for you, because you’re just engaging in denial. The Iraq war, Patriot Act, spying, torture—and with the latest airline thing, once again we hear arguments in favor of torture. [This refers to the announcement by the British and U.S. governments that they had recently prevented a plot to blow up airplanes in flight from England to the U.S.] Every time these people [like Tony Blair, head of the British government, and Bush and his regime] say anything of substance—and especially when they claim to have discovered a terrorist plot, or to have evidence of some other state, like Iran, developing nuclear weapons—we should remind people constantly: THE PEOPLE TELLING YOU THIS ARE PROVEN LIARS—AND NOT JUST ON “LITTLE THINGS” BUT ON THE BIGGEST THINGS THERE ARE.
* * * * *
Some people have objected to the Hitler reference in the World Can’t Wait “Call” because in a way that’s the nub of it all. There is a refusal to believe that something like that could actually come to be in the position of power in this country, and that this country therefore could be characterized by that. This concentrates so much about what people don’t want to let go of. What is the reality? We have to struggle with people. What are these people around “W” doing and where will it lead? If you actually debate using nuclear weapons on Iran—where are you taking the world? And what do you think is going to be the response? Well, if things keep going the way they are—if this dynamic is not radically changed onto a whole different course—then sooner or later the Islamic fanatics are going to get a hold of this shit [nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction]. Then what? And this is being produced by what is being done by your government right now. You think the Democrats are going to change that? What is going to change that?
The kind of thing [the massive political resistance] envisioned in the WCW “Call” hasn’t been done yet, but is this being called for just to do it, or because the situation demands it? This is not being called for because it would be good to do in the abstract—but because of what the situation demands. If you’re proceeding from that, how do you look at what we have to do?
* * * * *
While growing numbers of people are rallying to World Can’t Wait, some so-called “progressive” groups have so far refused to really unite with and really put effort into building what WCW is calling for. These groups put up a front of criticizing WCW from the “left.” The problem is bigger than Bush, they say—but meanwhile many of them are supporting the Democrats! The problem is bigger than Bush, so that’s why we have to support the Democrats. The problem is bigger than Bush, so we have to support part of the problem! That is their “logic.” But in fact what WCW is calling for is a concentrated way of politically opposing what millions of people are profoundly opposed to—not just this or that aspect of it but the whole direction. This is the necessary way of politically opposing and moving to halt what we all agree (or say that we agree) is horrific about what’s happening and the whole direction it’s going in.
* * * * *
“The World Can’t Wait—Drive Out the Bush Regime!” and “Bring This to a Halt!”—these are not just slogans to express disgust and outrage; they express a determination, a recognition of the disastrous character of where this regime is taking things—and that we must be determined not to allow that to happen. That’s what people have to be inspired with.
Then there’s the question: Is it worth it walking off your job, and so on, for this? WCW is not just calling for “another demo” but a groundswell of people who say, “NO, we will not accept that this course is going to go on. And we’re not going to play by the rules of mainstream ‘official politics’ because that has gotten us where we’re going and is keeping us going this way.” So it is mass political opposition and political resistance that is called for—to put the stamp of this position, of opposing this whole direction—to put that political stamp on society. “We say this course is not acceptable. What do you say?” That, I believe, has to be the spirit that infuses this. “We are going out to bring this to a halt, not just to ‘protest.’ We are working to bring forward a groundswell to bring this to a halt and force this regime out for its terrible crimes—and even worse crimes that are on its agenda.” Let that be the political question in society.
What World Can’t Wait is calling for is “extraordinary” politically. Because the danger posed is extraordinary. That’s why it’s correct to focus on this regime, because while it’s not the whole of everything that’s wrong and needs to be changed, it is the concentration of a lot of the way in which this is being carried out now, and what it’s doing to humanity.
* * * * *
What happened to Dennis Kucinich, and Al Sharpton [in the 2004 elections]? Why were they declared not to be “viable” candidates? Who decided and declared that? And what difference is putting efforts into campaigns like that going to make? They’ll be swallowed up by the whole process. Let’s be real. Compare getting a few more people like Kucinich and Sharpton into the Congress, versus having a million people in the streets around the Call of World Can’t Wait. Which one would have more impact?
* * * * *
What is needed is the spirit of “your sons and your daughters are beyond your command” [referring to lines from the Bob Dylan song in the 1960s: “The Times They Are A-Changin’”]. We’re not taking orders from the Democratic Party anymore!” I’m not proposing this as a slogan, but as a matter of orientation. Once you see that something is really horrific, you have to pursue putting an end to it. There does have to be a defiance around this. People’s priority should not be how many Democrats get elected, but whether this course gets halted. “How do you, Democratic politicians, line up in relation to that? This whole course is disastrous. Our orientation is to bring this to a halt.”
It’s not merely a matter of letting the people in power know that we don’t like what they’re doing. It is saying that this course they’re on is one that will bring disaster to people all over the world, and we not only don’t support this but are going to act—to build massive political mobilization—to stop it. In this people can draw lessons, and draw inspiration, from those parents of U.S. soldiers who have died in Iraq, and who have come out in opposition to that war—and some of whom have come out in opposition to the whole disastrous direction of things, joining in with World Can’t Wait. These people have changed their whole lives. They’re not just saying, “I’ll put a bumper sticker on my car to show I’m opposed.” Bumper stickers with progressive sentiments, statements in opposition to the war and other crimes of this regime—that is good—but these “bumper sticker people” should be challenged: what are you gonna do about it. They need to be challenged to make a further leap, to act on a bigger scale around those sentiments, joining with WCW and mobilizing for October 5.
* * * * *
What would it mean if this regime were forced from office by massive political opposition from below? What effect would that have in the world? On many people’s part, there is still a “poverty of imagination” when it comes to what meaningful political activity really is. That “poverty of imagination” needs to be challenged, and, yes, the radical—but radically positive—alternative represented by WCW needs to be brought forward. Imagine, as the WCW statement says, what it would mean if a real mass outpouring of political resistance were brought forth from the “reservoir” of people who are deeply disturbed and outraged by the whole direction of things [this refers to the statement published by World Can’t Wait: “There is a Way! There is a Day!”]. What would THAT say to people who’ve been bombed to smithereens in Lebanon—if this whole course were brought to a halt and this Bush regime were so incapable of maintaining the allegiance of such a huge part of the population that they were forced out of office?
* * * * *
In my view, for October 5 to really be the kind of massive political resistance that it needs to be, it is important to paint the picture of the Day, but even more fundamentally to give people a real sense of the political impact. Then people can give expression to the Day themselves in many different creative ways, politically (and culturally). What would the political impact look like—in this country, in the world—what would be the effect on the dynamics, on the “political contours” of the country and even for that matter on the political rivalry at the top? It could change the whole character of what’s going on.
* * * * *
What happens next [after October 5]? Well, you have a massive outpouring on October 5, and everyone gets together to plan and wrangle over the next step. Not a one-shot deal but everyone mobilizes and wrangles with the next step to make this even more powerful—to politically compel the changes that are being demanded—the repudiation of the current course and those responsible for it. This is the essence of speaking to people about what good it would do. But that flows from painting a picture of the political impact that is necessary, and that is possible. A massive outpouring of people—and then keep going—making it so that this becomes the political question of debate in the country, that this course has to stop and stop now, this is disaster for people in this country and the world, and we will not accept it. And this regime that is doing this has got to go. If you can inspire people with the understanding that this has to become the political discourse and debate throughout society, then you can inspire people with mobilizing for a massive outpouring.
One thing that struck me in reading about the previous mobilizations of World Can’t Wait: even though they fell short of the necessary numbers, many people who did come out commented on the very different character of the WCW days as compared to “protest as usual”—electrifying speeches, enthusiastic crowds, and most fundamentally people who are actually serious about the objectives, about the enormity of what is going on and what must be done to bring it to a halt. I believe that’s what has to continue to inspire people—even while, as WCW has been emphasizing, this has to be manifested on a scale ten times, or even a hundred times, greater.
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I hate to say it, but with some progressive people it’s a little like arguing with Creationists—no matter what gets revealed about the Democratic Party and where it really stands, some of these people just don’t want to confront this reality, and the implications of it. What their argument ultimately comes down to is that the Democrats are still different because no matter what they do—“they’re not Republicans.” So, somehow if you get them in there, they may say and do terrible things, but after all “they’re not Republicans.” They run candidates who are opposed to abortion, they may go along with the wars, the torture, the spying, and all the rest—but “they’re not Republicans.” This is a rationale that will lead you to go along with one crime after another—it is another expression of the crucial point in the WCW Call: “That which you will not resist and mobilize to stop, you will learn—or be forced—to accept.”
To take one example, these Democratic Party “strategists” are running anti-abortion candidates in some places, claiming that this is necessary in order to get a Democratic majority in the Congress. To do what? Even if they got a majority this way, all it would mean is that they got there by taking a terrible position around the abortion question. So then you’ll have these Republicans in Congress and some Democrats who are anti-abortion, and when a question around abortion comes up, the Republicans and those anti-abortion Democrats will be together, and the Republicans will still tell the Democratic Party as a whole that it is not strong enough in opposition to abortion—they’ll keep pushing on that—so then, if they follow the same logic, the Democrats will run still more anti-abortion candidates. So, to say the least, this won’t do anything good around abortion—in terms of upholding and defending the right to abortion and generally the reproductive freedom of women, including birth control, which is also under mounting attack now. And if the Democrats are moving in this reactionary direction around something as fundamental as this, what won’t they be doing it around?
Look at the logic of these Democratic party strategists. They run this anti-abortion candidate, Casey, in Pennsylvania, against Rick Santorum. This Santorum is a sicko reactionary. So the Democrats do what? Do they say, “This guy is reactionary and sick and very vulnerable, and we’ll run a strong candidate for a women’s right to choose and against the war”? NO. But the deeper question—which gets to the essence of what the Democrats do, and do not, really represent—is why didn’t they adopt that strategy—why, instead, did they choose to run this guy Casey who shares essential political positions with Santorum?
The Democrats will always “not be Republicans” because that’s their position and role—to not be Republicans! Casey has positions more reactionary than Nixon. How far does this have to go before they go too far?
It is very important to “walk through” this with people—in particular people with progressive sentiments who have real trouble breaking with the orientation of relying on the Democrats and putting their energies and resources into supporting them. It is important to struggle this through with people, because from another angle this does illustrate all the more why we need to bring this to a halt and drive it out—and refuse to take orders any longer from Democratic Party “strategists” who are working to keep people’s political options limited to choosing between terrible alternatives and defining that—putting your energies and resources into that—as the essence, and the limits, of meaningful political activity.
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One key role of our Party is in helping to bring forward basic masses around WCW and in particular the October 5 Day of Mass Resistance. Obviously, the masses who have recently mobilized in opposition to the attacks on immigrants are very important in this regard. It is important to find the ways to work with advanced forces in that movement and also go to basic masses who were mobilized in those demonstrations. And here too it is very important to engage in a big way in the ideological struggle over summing up those mass outpourings. It is important to help people correctly sum up the experience of those mass mobilizations, and not be left with the conclusion that those mobilizations did not do any good after all. In fact, these mobilizations were mainly very positive, but they also show the need to link up with the whole effort to Drive Out the Bush Regime and bring this whole direction to a halt—the need to break more fully out of the literally killing confines of the dominant political framework and “politics as usual”—in other words, politics as defined by the ruling class.
Then, in general, there’s tremendous potential among the youth and broader sections among basic masses. They can be a very powerful force, in relation to the objectives of World Can’t Wait. And, of course, from the standpoint of our Party, they have a strategically important role in relation to the revolution that is needed to ultimately change the whole society in fundamental terms, as part of changing the whole world.
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Katrina-–one of the great crimes of the Bush regime. Talk about Lebanon, the death toll there is something over 1000, and the number of Katrina victims who died was about as large. This was not a small-scale crime against humanity. And now it is being compounded with what the government is doing, and not doing. From the time that Bush stood in New Orleans in front of a statue of Andrew Jackson, a southern slave-owner and Indian-killer, to now, this has continued to be an ongoing crime of great proportions. This once again opened a great wound—one still festering for all the world to see. That’s one particularity—and of course not the only one—of how Black people in particular have been treated throughout the history of this country. It is very important to profoundly draw people forward around that, for October 5—and again, from our Party’s standpoint, in relation to strategic revolutionary needs and objectives.
Our Party, in its own independent role, needs to talk to the masses about revolution, and their role in coming forward around WCW in particular and how this is a concentrated way to take steps toward getting rid of the whole thing, the whole system of oppression. It is very important not to underestimate the impact of our Party and its revolutionary line among the basic masses especially—and in particular our understanding of the great potential role of these basic masses around WCW, and that in turn in relation to the need and objective of revolution. From the point of view of our Party, this has to be put in the larger revolutionary context—and this, in turn, will make it more possible to mobilize these masses around crucial things like the October 5 Day of Mass Resistance called by WCW. Of course, we understand that World Can’t Wait is made of a great many people, with a wide diversity of views, and this is one of its great strengths. And it is not just our Party that is taking WCW and October 5 to the basic masses—it is also a good thing that others are doing so, coming from their own independent perspectives.
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As I see it, the key thing in relation to World Can’t Wait is whether people are convinced that this is the road to take and what a difference it would make. This is a matter of “drive out the regime” vs. the same old/same old of just building a movement ever so gradually and aimlessly, with no sense of urgency, no sense of the real dynamics and the real stakes. It is very important not to forget that thousands have already acted on the basis of the Call of World Can’t Wait—this happened last November, and again around the State of the Union this year. But when the WCW Call gets taken up by far greater numbers of people, this will become a powerful reality on a whole other level, and the possibility of actually succeeding in realizing WCW’s objectives—of driving out the Bush regime and bringing this whole disastrous course to a halt—will become a central political question throughout society, and will have a positive impact throughout the world.
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Even between now and October 5, there may be changes in the objective situation that can change certain contours and specific characteristics of the terrain, and this will be important specifically in terms of building for October 5, as well as in an ongoing sense. Of course, it is important to keep in mind that there is not going to be any “deus ex machina” [no magical device or turn of events “out of nowhere” that is going to somehow resolve problems and difficulties], but that is not necessary in any case. There already is an objective basis for what World Can’t Wait is calling for—on October 5 and in its general orientation of driving out the Bush regime and bringing this whole course to a halt. That is the point of the WCW statement “There is a Way! There is a Day!” with its reference to a “reservoir” of millions of people who are deeply disturbed and outraged about the whole direction of things. It’s been raining down horrors for a while and that’s what has filled up this reservoir. There is an objective basis already for massive political mobilization on October 5—and for going forward from that—and, as I see it, the challenge now is for all those who agree with the WCW Call to act decisively on the basis of their convictions and turn this potential into reality.
Revolution #62, September 24 2006
Craig Murray's Stand on Torture and Fascism
“What does that mean, ‘outrages upon human dignity’?”
-George W. Bush
George Bush remains on the rampage. Starting with a pro-torture rant of a speech on September 6, Bush is demanding that Congress remove legal obstacles to torture by U.S. interrogators. The legacy of kidnapping, detaining, torturing, and killing people without even a pretense of a trial since 9/11/01 is a nightmare. What Bush is proposing is a whole fascist leap beyond what has gone on up to now.
In his September 6 speech, and in several speeches, interviews, and press conferences since, Bush constantly evokes the attacks on the U.S. on September 11, 2001 to justify torture as an essential component of the “war on terror,” which he says is about protecting the American people. But the so-called “war on terror” is a war for empire, and in that context, wholesale torture is not in any fundamental way about “protecting American lives.” The “war on terror,” and the torture that goes with it, is about terrorizing and crushing anyone—rebel, rival, or any other kind of force that stands in the way of Bush’s America über alles.
Torture has been central to the U.S.’s “war on terror.” In 2005, William Schulz, executive director of Amnesty International, said that the U.S. government is operating an “‘archipelago’ of prisons around the world, many of them secret camps into which people are being ‘literally disappeared,’” Nobody knows how many people have been tortured to death - even at Abu Ghraib. One prison guard at Abu Ghraib wrote in her diary that prisoners were shot for minor misbehavior, and investigators have identified that many murdered prisoners at Abu Ghraib had their deaths classified as died “during sleep,” or of “natural reasons.” Iraqi doctors were not allowed to investigate deaths at Abu Ghraib even when death certificates were obviously forged. And after all this, the U.S. still admits that some 26 prisoners were killed at Abu Ghraib (“U.S. calls deaths of 26 prisoners homicides,” International Herald Tribune, March 16, 2005). Official U.S. Defense Department figures list 108 people who have died in U.S. custody since December 2002.
The U.S. has tortured people sold to them by corrupt warlords in Afghanistan. They have tortured people kidnapped off the streets of Europe. Their troops burst into people’s homes in Iraq, rape young women, and kill families. They have filled hell-hole prisons in Afghanistan with prisoners and left many to die. They have hidden people in secret jails in Eastern Europe, and nobody knows what has been done to those people. U.S. citizen Jose Padilla has been detained for years—subjected to high-tech psychological torture, and for most of that time he was held as a so-called “enemy combatant,” without a lawyer, legal rights, or charges. Bush’s former legal adviser, John Yoo, defended applying electrical shocks to the testicles of an innocent child of a suspect, and Bush’s Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales, called international rules against torture “quaint.”
Among those detained in U.S. concentration camps—without trials, lawyers, or constraints on how they have been tortured—are an unknown number of people who have been held in secret CIA-run torture chambers. After denying the existence of these people, Bush admitted—actually bragged—in his speech on September 6, that he was sending 14 of them to the Guantanamo concentration camp/torture chamber.
A Dangerous Leap in Sanctioning Torture
All the horrors so far have been intolerable. But it is important to recognize that what Bush is proposing is a dramatic leap. Reflecting the degree of what is going on - from their perspective—an editorial in the New York Times (9/15/06) said, “The idea that the nation’s chief executive is pressing so hard to undermine basic standards of justice is shocking.” Along with being immoral, and in violation of international law, torture is supposed to be a violation of U.S. law. The War Crimes Act specifically says that violating Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions will be treated as a felony under U.S. law. This War Crimes Act was originally passed with no opposition in 1996 by a Republican-majority Congress. According to some accounts, the law was intended, at that time, largely as a propaganda gesture, to highlight a supposed contrast between U.S. values and rule of law and the increasingly targeted regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq. It is ominous that now, a decade later, the White House, CIA, and Justice Department treat this same law as an intolerable constraint on their agents all over the world.
Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, which Bush claims is too vague and confusing to mean anything, says in part (in respect to treatment of prisoners):
“To this end the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons:
(a) Violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;
(b) Taking of hostages;
(c) Outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment;
(d) The passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.”
This spring, the Supreme Court (in Hamdan vs. Rumsfeld) ruled that the operations ordered by the White House (and specifically the treatment of prisoners in Guantanamo) were violating Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions (which the U.S. signed). The court ruled that the White House could not, simply on its own executive authority, overrule existing U.S. laws and treaties in this way. But the Supreme Court also made clear that such treatment could be legal—if Bush did it with Congressional approval.
The “solution” Bush announced in his September 6 speech is to have the Congress rewrite the existing federal law (specifically the War Crimes Act), and officially invent a new interpretation of the Geneva Conventions that would legalize a whole range of torture techniques—all so that the U.S. torturers can operate their global torture network, and so that they would be authorized and legitimized, not just by “executive order,” but also by the vote of Congress.
Bush, in his September 6 speech, complained, “[S]ome believe our military and intelligence personnel involved in capturing and questioning terrorists could now be at risk of prosecution under the War Crimes Act—simply for doing their jobs in a thorough and professional way.”
This is not just about retroactively ensuring that torturers (and their Commander-in-Chief) are not prosecuted for war crimes. It is also about sending a message that “the gloves are off” the torturers.
What’s So Vague About Torture?
Bush says that Common Article 3 is confusing and vague. But who could say that the obscene, sadistic, depraved acts repeatedly and graphically documented at Abu Ghraib and encouraged by Bush’s Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, are not outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment?
Or, who could claim that what the U.S. has been doing in its torture chambers—bringing prisoners to the brink of drowning (through “waterboarding”), depriving prisoners of sleep using ear-splitting noise, exposing them to extreme temperatures, forcing them into agonizing “stress positions” for hours and even days, and various forms of crude beatings—who could say these acts are not outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment?
The horrific torture techniques revealed in the photographs from Abu Ghraib are just the tip of the iceberg. The use of essentially these same techniques has been further documented at Guantanamo Bay and Bagram Air base in Afghanistan by eyewitness accounts.
In one of many pro-torture speeches—this one on September 15—Bush said that “our professionals won’t be able to carry forward the program [of carrying out what he calls “alternative” interrogation methods - that is torture] because they don’t want to be tried as war criminals. They don’t want to break the law.” How can this be understood except that carrying out “the program” is breaking the law!
And so Bush’s proposed Military Commissions Act makes its changes to U.S. law apply “retroactively”—meaning that U.S. torturers (and those who gave them orders) could never be tried for what they did over the last years when these brutal torture techniques were clearly illegal under both U.S. and international law.
This Act would hand a “Get Out of Jail Free” card to U.S. torturers—and would flash an official green light for future torture, future U.S. war crimes and future changes in U.S. law.
Further, Bush’s law would mark a leap in placing the U.S. above any international constraints - and serve as a “hands off” message to any dissident European judge who might think about issuing a war crimes warrant for anyone in the administration itself. The current touchy situation, where Italy is investigating CIA agents for kidnapping a man for “rendition” (sending people to countries where they will be tortured) may be a factor in the timing of this bill. And Bush is sending a message to his torturers: Don’t worry about prosecution under U.S. law for what you are doing. As he said at a news conference on September 15, “What I am proposing is that there be clarity in the law so that our professionals will have no doubt that that which they are doing is legal.”
What’s Behind the Opposition to Bush’s Bill from Powerful Ruling Class Forces?
It is a chilling statement that Bush’s bill was rapidly approved by the Armed Services Committee of the House of Representatives—with 20 (of 28) Democratic representatives there voting for it. But his law ran into sharp opposition—in a way—in the U.S. Senate.
An alternate bill, proposed by three influential Republican senators with long-standing ties to the military high command—John Warner, Lindsey Graham, and John McCain—was adopted by the Senate Armed Services Committee. At this writing, these Senate leaders are facing off against Bush over competing bills. Two former chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Colin Powell and John Vessey, endorsed the Senate Armed Services Committee bill. And Powell took the unusual step of speaking out publicly against his old boss. Powell wrote: “The world is beginning to doubt the moral basis of our fight against terrorism. To redefine Common Article 3 would add to those doubts. Furthermore, it would put our own troops at risk.”
Colin Powell is expressing some serious concerns from sections of the U.S. rulers. Exactly what might lie behind all of these concerns is not fully clear at this moment, and may be related to on-going stresses and strains on the U.S. military that is stretched very thin in Iraq and facing the possibility of being sent into Iran. And in that context, it is interesting that Bush’s ruling class opponents are framing their objections in terms of being the most dedicated backers of “the troops” and the military. But there are concerns among those in power that Bush’s “go it alone—and fuck international law” approach is too dangerous, and that alienating “the world” right now is a real danger. They are concerned that whatever credibility Bush has for his “war on terror” is in danger. And there are real concerns among some in the military that throwing out all the rules of engagement might create conditions where U.S. troops are “at risk” in a world without rules of warfare.
When asked at a press conference about Powell’s statement, Bush replied, “It’s unacceptable to think that there’s any kind of comparison between the behavior of the United States of America and the action of Islamic extremists who kill innocent women and children to achieve an objective.”
Think through the logic here. Bush is saying that the U.S. can do anything—and by definition—it is OK. Because we did it, and we’re good, whereas if they do it, it’s bad because—they’re bad. And he was declaring at this press conference, with a very bullying tone and demeanor, that it is “unacceptable” to compare U.S. torture and murder (and yes, many have died in U.S. torture camps over the last five years) with that of the “Islamic extremists.”
But the Senate alternative is also a pro-torture law.
Georgetown Law School professor Marty Lederman, who analyzed the Senate bill on his blog site, wrote that the Senate bill “would also amend the War Crimes Act to provide effective legal cover for many of the CIA’s “alternative” techniques—including use of hypothermia, sleep deprivation and threats of violence against detainees and their families.” And Lederman wrote that both the Bush and Senate bills “[strip] the federal courts of jurisdiction to hear pending habeas cases brought by Guantánamo detainees. If enacted, these bills would authorize the life-long detention of more than 450 men who have been imprisoned in Guantánamo for nearly five years without ever having been charged with an offense or receiving a fair hearing. This is unconscionable.”
And commenting on the shredding of what have been accepted norms of trials for hundreds of years, the New York Times editorial (9/15/06) says, “Both bills draw the definition of ‘unlawful enemy combatant’ so broadly that it could cover almost anyone that a particular administration decides is a threat, remove him from the judicial system and subject him to a military trial.” Stop and think about that for a minute!
Meanwhile, the Democrats are off the charts in their complicity, standing completely aside and avoiding being associated with opposition to torture.
In short, the differences around this bill between McCain, Graham, Warner, and the forces they represent, and Bush and those around him are not that great. On the other hand, they are significant, coming as they do at a critical time when the terms of national debate are being framed through (not decided by, but framed through) the upcoming election. And coming at a time when there is real unease in sections of the U.S. military over the quagmire in Iraq, and the dangers to the whole U.S. empire involved in an attack on Iran. How significant this infighting at the top of the system turns out to be is not yet determined—as we go to press, Bush’s people are putting out word that a compromise will not be hard to reach. But the tension at the top of the power structure poses an opportunity and a critical challenge for a whole other agenda to come forward from the masses of people—one that rejects torture, fascist repression, and the whole Bush package.
And more fundamentally, to let Bush legalize torture, and implement fascist changes to the legal system, or to allow the terms of things to be restricted to Bush vs. McCain, is—to not mince words—to be complicit in the horrors that have been committed, and worse horrors to come. The challenge to bring this all to a HALT is concentrated very sharply, right now, in the need for massive numbers of people stepping forward on October 5th in protests called by World Can’t Wait.
Revolution #62, September 24 2006
As we go to press, Bush is heading to the UN to deliver a Sept. 19 speech which will be used as a platform to tell the world to get behind the Bush regime’s offensive against Iran. Just days before this literal “bully pulpit” takes place, some of the lies and disinformation designed to bolster the fabricated basis for war against Iran have been dragged into the light of day.
On September 12, a letter from a high-level official of the UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to the chairman of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence of the U.S. House of Representatives was leaked to the press in Vienna, Austria. The letter blasted an August 23 report from the House Committee titled “Recognizing Iran as a Strategic Threat: An Intelligence Challenge for the United States.” Three points are made in the IAEA letter:
1) The House Committee report states in a caption to a picture of the Iranian nuclear facility at Natanz, that “Iran is currently enriching uranium to weapons grade using a 164-machine centrifuge cascade.”
The IAEA letter responds that the term “weapons grade” cannot be applied unless it refers to “uranium enriched to the order of 90% or more in the isotope of uranium-235.” The IAEA reported in April 2006 that an enrichment level of 3.6% had been achieved by Iran.
2) The House report states that “Iran had covertly produced the short-lived radioactive element polonium-210 (Po-210), a substance with two known uses; a neutron source for a nuclear weapon and satellite batteries.”
The IAEA letter replies that the phrase “covertly produced” is misleading because the production of this substance (Po-210) is not required to be reported to the IAEA under the terms of the agreements Iran has signed with the IAEA.
3) The IAEA condemned the House report’s “incorrect and misleading assertion…that the Director General of the IAEA decided to ‘remove’ Mr. Charlier, a senior safeguards inspector of the IAEA, ‘for allegedly raising concerns about Iranian deception regarding its nuclear program and concluding that the purpose of Iran’s nuclear programme is to construct weapons.’ In addition, the report contains an outrageous and dishonest suggestion that such removal might have been for ‘not having adhered to an unstated IAEA policy barring IAEA officials from telling the whole truth about he Iranian nuclear program.’” The IAEA retorts that in fact, Charlier was removed at the request of Iran, which, according to the agreements that the IAEA signs with every country, has the right to approve all inspectors. The IAEA letter reminds the U.S. House Committee that Iran has approved over 200 IAEA inspectors.
One of the most ominous features of the House report is the complaint that “Intelligence Community managers and analysts must provide their best analytic judgments about Iranian WMD programs and not shy away from provocative conclusions or bury disagreements in consensus assessments.”
In all this, we see a recycling of the way the Bush Regime prepared people to go along with war on Iraq. Both with Iraq, and now Iran, the U.S. instructed its “intelligence community” to produce “analytic judgments” that justified war based on made-up “evidence” of “weapons of mass destruction.” When international agencies didn’t fake reports that exactly fit U.S. war plans, they were attacked—just as now the U.S. is going after the IAEA for not manufacturing the exact case for war the U.S. demands (even though the IAEA has consistently pushed for various kinds of sanctions against Iran for not agreeing to halt its nuclear program—pressure that overall contributes to the U.S. path to war). And, just as the U.S. used sanctions to kill hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and prepare for war, the full-tilt U.S. game plan to bum-rush punishing sanctions against Iran is being used as “proof” of Iran’s unwillingness to negotiate.
We have indeed seen this movie before. Holding illusions that “reason will prevail” on the part of those at the helm in the U.S. today is to profoundly underestimate the intention and velocity of the plans underway to attack Iran and to further the U.S. empire.
Revolution #62, September 24 2006
From the Horse's Mouth
Charles Krauthammer is a right-wing columnist who writes for the Washington Post. On Friday, September 15, he published a chilling column that reveals, from an insider perspective, the calculations in the U.S. ruling class and the Bush crew in particular that are pushing them towards an attack on Iran.
See coverage of the danger of war with Iran in recent articles in Revolution!
The articles in recent issues include:
Krauthammer begins his column by referring to George Bush’s Sept. 11, 2006 speech where Bush said that we cannot “leave our children to face a Middle East overrun by terrorist states and radical dictators armed with nuclear weapons.” Decoding this, Krauthammer points out, “There’s only one such current candidate: Iran.”
Krauthammer writes that Bush told reporters from the reactionary magazine National Review: “It’s very important for the American people to see the president try to solve problems diplomatically before resorting to military force.” And, again making the terms of things clear, Krauthammer notes that “‘Before’ implies that the one follows the other. The signal is unmistakable. An aerial attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities lies just beyond the horizon of diplomacy. With the crisis advancing and the moment of truth approaching, it is important to begin looking now with unflinching honesty at the military option.”
Then, Krauthammer goes on to itemize the downside—as he sees it— to a U.S. attack on Iran. Krauthammer’s calculus does not take in, or consider, the two great horrors that would result from a U.S. attack on Iran. He does not “calculate” into his ledger the death and suffering of countless innocent people. Nor is he concerned about the fact that a U.S. attack on Iran would further polarize the world between the “alternatives” of U.S. imperialism or Islamic fundamentalism.
But Krauthammer does calculate, from the perspective of global capitalism, that “The costs will be terrible.” He poses that an attack on Iran would likely trigger a huge increase in oil prices that “will cause a worldwide recession.” He writes that “Iran will activate its proxies in Iraq, most notably, Moqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army,” and that while the U.S. can muster enough military force to wipe out opposition from forces like Sadr in Iraq, “Many Iraqis [Krauthammer is referring to U.S. puppet troops of the occupation regime] and coalition soldiers are likely to die as well.” Krauthammer further worries that “There will be massive criticism of America from around the world,” although he generally poo-poos this as a problem.
Krauthammer coldly concludes: “These are the costs. There is no denying them. However, equally undeniable is the cost of doing nothing.” And Krauthammer goes on to summarize why the U.S. must attack Iran (and in doing so he summarizes the current direction of those at the head of the U.S. ruling class now). If the U.S. does not smash Iran now, “[J]ihadist Iran will gain control of the most strategic region on the globe.”
Krauthammer ends his column by framing a timeline for all this: “The decision is no more than a year away.”
This peek into the minds of those running the U.S. poses again, with real urgency, the need for a different alternative to push its way onto the world stage.
Revolution #62, September 24 2006
In mid-July, President Bush used his first ever presidential veto to overturn a Congressional bill that would have expanded federal support for embryonic stem cell research. The bill would have allowed federal funding for scientists to use frozen embryos left over from couples who have gone through in-vitro fertilization that are routinely thrown out anyway.
Under the Bush administration’s policy, federal funds can only be used for about 20 embryonic stem cell lines produced before 2001, from embryos that, in Bush talk, had already been “destroyed.”
The Bush policy limits scientists from developing the number and quality of stem cell lines needed to advance knowledge in this field in the way possible. Embryonic stem cell research holds great potential for understanding and treatment of human diseases that affect literally hundreds of millions of people worldwide.
Bush’s veto message claimed that his policy has “struck a balance between the needs of science and the demands of conscience.” He said, “We can achieve scientific progress while living up to our ethical responsibilities.”
Bush defended his veto by giving a press statement surrounded by parents holding babies produced from frozen embryos.
Bush spoke at the same time hundreds of Lebanese were being killed and a million displaced by Israeli bombardment, greenlighted and freshly armed by his regime. With the blood fresh on his hands, he had the gall to criticize a Congressional bill that would mildly expand medical research, saying it “would support the taking of innocent human life in the hope of finding medical benefits for others.”
The same President who commands troops carrying out atrocities in Haditha and Mahmudiya in Iraq, who spies without warrant, and who is now twisting arms to keep the CIA exempt from Geneva convention rules governing torture, said the decision to allow research that may lead to new medical treatments would cross “a moral boundary that our decent society needs to respect.”
The “Crumbling Wall” Between Church and State
Just before the Bush veto, a new web based group called DefCon (Campaign to Defend the Constitution, defconamerica.org) published an ad in the New York Times titled “Thanks to a Few Religious Extremists, Stem Cell Research Doesn’t Have a Prayer.”
The ad said, “Exercising undue political influence, the religious right is imposing its will on all Americans, through limits on a woman’s right to privacy, a steady assault on gay and lesbian rights, the march to teach creationism as science, and now, a cruel veto that dashes the hopes of millions of Americans. That loud noise you hear is the wall between church and state crumbling to the ground.”
DefCon points out that the limits on funding of stem cell research are part of the “religious right’s assault on scientific and medical progress.” They say, “[a] fundamentalist minority seeks to tear down the wall between religion and state and make biblical precepts, not Constitutional law, the highest authority governing American life.
“Aided by a sympathetic Administration and members of Congress, the religious right has gained extraordinary power and influence. Their voices pervade the media, and they have pursued and attained political power with tenacity and skill, in the process drowning out real experts and credible voices of reason.”
Their website reported that tens of thousands of people have joined DefCon and tens of thousands of emails and phone calls had poured in to Bush and Congress to support embryonic stem cell research and oppose Bush’s veto.
Science and the Terms of the Ethical Debate
Disturbingly, the logic and political terms advanced by Bush and the religious right is affecting even how science is relating to stem cell research. When scientists recently discovered what appears to be a way to extract cells from an embryo and develop stem cell lines while keeping the embryo alive, an article in Nature (one of the top science journals worldwide) commented that the discovery “could enable stem-cell lines to be generated without the controversial destruction of human embryos—but some ethical objections remain.”
In fact, it seems at least part of the strategy of this type of research is to try to figure out a way around Bush and the whole theocratic movement’s “ethical objections” by developing a way to get stem cells without destroying what Bush has called a “human life.” Robert Lanza, head of the team from Advanced Cell Technology that did the work, told the New York Times, “There is no rational reason left to oppose this research.”
But White House spokesperson Emily Lawrimore quickly answered that the new discovery would not satisfy Bush’s objections and said, “Any use of human embryos for research purposes raises serious ethical questions.” Fundamentalist groups such as Focus on the Family and the Discovery Institute also attacked any research involving embryos.
What some scientists are not seeing is that Bush and powerful forces at the centers of power and their institutions and foot soldiers throughout society are not interested in “rational reasons” and evidence of fact that scientists bring forward. Instead, rational thought and scientific methods are seen as an essential part of the problem that needs to be stamped out. This is why the truth of evolution is denied, the reality of global warming obscured, and the promise of embryonic stem cell research obstructed.
Let’s look more deeply at the ethics that Bush and his bunch are imposing as government policy, and seek to impose on a much more thorough level.
According to a letter sent by 80 Nobel laureates in science to Bush in 2001, two decades of embryonic stem cell research in animals has already led to heart muscle cells that can form grafts in damaged heart muscle of mice, nerve cells that have reversed the progression of multiple sclerosis in mice and restored function to the limbs of partially paralyzed rats, and other progress.
There is real hope that through more difficult yet possible research, embryonic stem cells could hold promise in treating widespread problems such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimers, diabetes, and cancer—as well as heart disease and spinal chord injuries.
By obstructing the research needed, the “ethics” and morality Bush and his fundamentalist bunch uphold means the medical needs of huge numbers of people worldwide are arrogantly cast aside.
This “ethics” puts undifferentiated cell clumps smaller than a grain of sand before the lives of tens of millions of human beings already existing in the world. And on top of this, the embryos Bush is so “ethically” defending with his veto will be tossed out anyway!
But this isn’t just madness.
There is a coherence between the policies of the religious fundamentalists on abortion and stem cell research, where first the fetus, and now the embryo—even before it’s implantation into a woman’s womb—are portrayed as a gift from God that no human should mess with.
These are views not based on how things are (for one thing, there is no God!) and how they actually develop. They do not understand, and instead negate, the whole process by which an embryo develops from a small mass of cells with potential for human life, to the birth of a human child.
For this to happen, a fertilized egg (embryo) must first become implanted in a woman’s womb, develop into a fetus, then undergo nine months of development as an integral part of a woman’s body before birth. And it also denies that what defines humanity is our social existence as independently functioning beings (which requires being born!).
Bush, and the Bible, aren’t about being opposed to killing. The Bible itself is filled with killing and slaughter, including the killing of the babies of tribes who have “offended God.” Bush himself revels in war and death, all in the name of America’s “God-given mission.”
These ethics are based on and uphold traditional Biblical morality and traditions chains. They seek to deny women the right to control reproduction because the Bible dictates women are in essence the property of men and the breeders of children for their husbands. And this fundamentalist ethics sees attempts by humans to investigate the world through science, and to change it, as a sinful abomination contrary to acceptance of God’s will.
The policy of the Bush government on embryonic stem cell research is based on religious absolutist dictates and not the truth. And this is part of a much bigger battle shaping up in society, over attempts to impose a theocracy, and to suppress, and do away with, the scientific method and outlook—at least for the great mass of ordinary people.
None of this is in the interest of the great majority of humanity, and it cannot be allowed to win out. Humanity instead needs an ethics and morality based on understanding how the world really is, and how we can develop and change it to the kind of world where humanity could truly flourish.
What will it mean if all the things that might possibly arise from this research are prevented from happening? How will it affect the lives of people now and in the future who are suffering or who may die from the diseases or conditions that stem cell research may someday help overcome?
Revolution #62, September 24 2006
National “Bush Crimes Day”
Below are some selected events. Visit bushcommission.org for more information:
On September 13, the International Commission of Inquiry on Crimes Against Humanity Committed by the Bush Administration delivered its verdict to the White House. George W. Bush and his administration were found guilty on all five counts: wars of aggression; illegal detention and torture; suppression of science and catastrophic policies on global warming; potentially genocidal abstinence-only policies imposed on HIV/AIDS prevention programs in the Third World; and the abandonment of New Orleans before, during, and after Hurricane Katrina.
At noon on September 13, a delegation headed by Ray McGovern, a 27-year veteran of the CIA and a founder of the group Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity; and Ann Wright, a retired U.S. Army Reserve Colonel and former diplomat who resigned in protest of the Iraq war, delivered the verdict to the White House gates.
The verdicts were a product of extensive hearings and expert and eyewitness testimony, including five days of public hearings in New York City in October 2004 and January 2005. The 45 expert and first-hand witnesses included former commander of Abu Ghraib prison Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski; former British ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray; former UN official Denis Halliday; former UN arms inspector Scott Ritter; Guantanamo prisoners’ lawyer Barbara Olshansky; and survivors of Hurricane Katrina. The verdicts, which were released in PDF form on bushcommission.org, comprised 51 pages of testimony, and findings.
* * * * *
Now available at bushcommission.org:
DVD One contains recordings of testimony by experts on four of the five areas of indictment: illegal detention and torture; suppression of science and catastrophic policies on global warming; potentially genocidal abstinence-only policies imposed on HIV/AIDS prevention programs in the Third World; and the abandonment of New Orleans before, during, and after Hurricane Katrina.
DVD Two is a recording of a joint program with the World Can’t Wait! Drive Out the Bush Regime and the Bush Crimes Commission, held at UC Berkeley in May 2006; it includes testimony from Brig. Gen. Karpinski, former Ambassador Craig Murray; Daniel Ellsberg; and Larry Everest. From bushcommission.org: “The testimony on this DVD stands as a compelling moral condemnation of this regime. We know that it is the most demented, lawless, contemptible of human life, and egregiously evil government in the history of the Republic—Here is proof.”
Each DVD is available at bushcommission.org for $20 including shipping; they can also be ordered by mail: Make checks out to Not In Our Name and mail to Not In Our Name, 305 West Broadway #199, NY, NY 10013.
Revolution #62, September 24 2006
Cheers to Sean Penn for this insightful and thought-provoking comment on CNN's Larry King Live. The following exchange took place while Penn was on Larry King’s show to discuss his new movie All the King’s Men:
Larry King: “[The] character that you play…is a character who becomes affected by power, and then absolute power destroys him. Right? You can relate that to any political figure today, couldn’t you?”
Sean Penn: “Well, in 1932 Huey Long said something very interesting. It was, ‘Fascism will come to America, but likely under another name, perhaps anti-fascism.’ “
Revolution #62, September 24 2006
by D. Firebrand
“And Mister President is a natural ass, he out treating niggaz worse than they treat the trash..And if you poor, you black, I laugh and laugh, you better off on crack, dead or in jail, or with a gun in Iraq.”
-- Mos Def
On August 31 MTV’s Video Music Awards commenced at New York’s Radio City Music Hall. By 10 p.m. television viewers were still waiting for the excitement of quintessential American pop-culture spontaneity circa 2006. You know, those most uplifting of episodes, like the time Britney Spears made-out with Madonna thus making international headlines. Or when rapper Lil Kim wore a dress showing cleavage, or one of the many times Chris Rock commented on Jennifer Lopez’s body as if it were a choice cut of meat in a butcher shop.
So it was an incident of actual social and cultural import—not to mention courage and heroism—when Brooklyn ambassador to the Universe, Mos Def, rolled up the Avenue of the Americas in Manhattan’s midtown on a flatbed truck. Days after the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which was fresh on the minds of millions of Americans, Mos Def staged a guerrilla performance of “Katrina Clap” (itself a remix of New Orleans’ rapper Juvenile’s “Nolia Clap”). Recorded immediately after the Hurricane last year, at the beginning Mos Def dedicates “Katrina Clap” to “the streets affected by the storm called America.”
He began to perform the song in front of hundreds of MTV fans lined up on the sidewalk. Barely a minute into his performance the police surrounded the truck, and one officer surged into Mos Def. Surrounded by a swarm of police officers Mos Def was arrested for, get this, performing without a sound permit!! He wasn’t run through the system and only received a summons, well after his performance was attacked and sabotaged, an act clearly meant for public humiliation and stringent intimidation. Compared to the crimes committed against the people by this government all this would have been unjust done to anyone, but let it be emphasized that the artist arrested is a well-respected award-winning Hollywood actor.
By virtue of the fact that this recent action was staged outside an event with hundreds of prominent artists it is clear that Mos Def is not only telling “the Boss he shouldn’t be the Boss anymore” but also challenging others with voices of prominence. Mos Def had some words for Bono (singer for rock & roll supergroup U2) as well: “[Katrina is] enough to make you holler out, like where the fuck is Sir Bono and his famous friends now? Don’t get it twisted man I dig U2, but if you ain’t about the ghetto then fuck you too!”
Many an artist have made work of late that, indirect or overt, challenge the whole direction society has been going and, in particular, call out the Bush Administration. In the time it took me to write the previous two sentences I thought of over 20 such bands and artists. We need more and more artists stepping out like this, and we need to get their back when they come under attack, all while connecting this up with the movement organizing for October 5, The World Can’t Wait Drive Out The Bush Regime.
So hats off to Mos Def for his brave and defiant move at the Video Music Awards. It is not simply that Mos Def recorded and performed his “Katrina Clap” remix. It is the fact that he did something heroic and risky, something which broke the mold for its element of surprise and truthfulness and therefore caught the attention of the people and the authorities.
There is, in actuality, a large reservoir of people wanting and waiting to do something to go up against the Bush Regime. That mass of people needs to hear from the artists, and those artists need to hear from the multitudes of people that the time is yesterday for routine as usual. This must happen now.
You can watch the incident of Mos Def being arrested on the internet at youtube.com, where you can also watch the music video for “Katrina Clap” (type in “Mos Def Katrina”).
Revolution #62, September 24 2006
By Sunsara Taylor
On September 12, people watching ABC’s day-time TV talk show The View saw this rather remarkable exchange between Rosie O’Donnell, one of the four co-hosts on the show, and Elisabeth Hasselbeck, another co-host:
Rosie O’Donnell: We were attacked not by a nation, and as a result of the attack and the killing of nearly 3,000 innocent people, we invaded two countries and killed innocent people in their countries.
Elisabeth Hasselbeck: You do understand that the belief funding those attacks, okay – that is widespread. And if you take radical Islam and you want to talk about what’s going on there you have to, you have to…
Rosie O’Donnell: Radical Christianity is just as threatening as radical Islam. [Applause] In a country like America, where you have separation of church and state, we’re a democracy.
Elisabeth Hasselbeck: We’re not bombing ourselves here in this country…
Rosie O’Donnell: …But we are bombing people in other countries, true or false?
Rosie had only been a co-host on The View for a week, and there has been a lot of controversy over her being hired for this major network show because she is openly gay. So it was very bold of her to cut through the war mongering that Bush and his regime has been whipping up around 9/11—in front of The View’s average TV audience of 1.1 million. At a time when those in the arts and entertainment and other public figures are under enormous pressure (with threats to their careers, etc) to remain silent about the horrendous crimes of Bush & Co., Rosie was exemplary with her forthright—and true—words about the danger of Christian (as well as Islamic) fundamentalism and about the U.S. wars.
The “Republican noise machine” immediately went into overdrive. MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough, for example, accused Rosie of “bigotry and intolerance” for her remarks on radical Christianity, encouraged a boycott of ABC until she is fired, and called on viewers to demand an apology from her.
What is the truth about the danger of “radical Christianity,” or Christian fascism? Let’s take Scarborough’s assertion that no radical Christians today are attempting to get their hands on nuclear weapons the way that radical Islamic forces are. Well, what about the born-again President who has openly stated that he believes God called him to be President and to launch the war on Iraq—and who has his finger on the “nu-cular” trigger? Isn’t this Christian fundamentalist currently heading up the only government in the world that has ever pulled that trigger? And isn’t Bush and his regime now threatening to use these nukes in a new war against Iran?
And the entire U.S. military is crawling with born-again crusaders. Take General Jerry Boykin who was charged with capturing Osama bin Laden. He stood up in a church in full military uniform and proclaimed that Bush was put in the White House by God—after which he was promoted.
These radical Christians don’t need to go hide in underground caves hatching schemes to come up with nukes in five to ten years—they’ve already got them!
Scarborough also said that under an Islamic state, Rosie would likely have been flogged for her remarks and stoned to death for being a lesbian. So, somehow she should be grateful to be in a country that’s in the early stages of such legislated brutality? Where already laws in many states restrict gay marriage, creating separate legal categories for gay people? Where Bush’s Faith-Based Initiative has made it legal for federal money to fund agencies that refuse to employ gay people or non-Christians? Where high-level office holders advocate executions for abortion providers, assail basic truths like evolution, sabotage condom distribution in a world ravaged by the AIDS pandemic, and argue openly that homosexuality is akin to bestiality? Newsflash: the rationale for all of this is undergirded by the use of Christian scriptures.
The Christian bible not only condones but celebrates: stoning disobedient children, raping women, taking slaves, and destroying whole villages of “God’s enemies.” Any student of history can tell you how media stonings, like the one Scarborough is helping spearhead, often pave the way for actual reactionary violence. And anyone who’s been paying attention can’t honestly dismiss the fact there are powerful forces gaining ground in their quest to turn this country into a Dark Ages theocracy.
The point is not to argue, as Scarborough tries to pose things, over which brand of religious fundamentalism is preferable. The point is that radical fundamentalist Christianity is embedded in the most powerful military and governmental power in the world, and it is this government and military that is destroying millions of lives and creating conditions in the Middle East where Islamic fundamentalism is spreading including in many places which once were quite secular. And it is this whole deadly (and mutually reinforcing) dynamic between McWorld/McCrusade and Jihad that we have to break out of.
In this regard, people must not only defend Rosie, but join her in rejecting the notion of placing the “safety of Americans” above the lives of those around the world and in refusing to give a pass at intolerance and bloodshed just because it is dressed up in Christian garb.
Even more, as the rulers in the U.S. (with powerful elements of Christian fascists) rattle their sabers and prepare for a new war against Iran, and as the right-wing media steps up its assault on truth-speakers, it is necessary for hundreds of thousands of people to step out visibly in the protests planned for October 5th by World Can’t Wait and to show the whole world that the people of this country are determined to bring all this to a halt.
Revolution #61, September 17, 2006
Revolution newspaper is reprinting the following edited excerpts from a Political Report from a meeting of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Iran (Marxist-Leninist-Maoist). These edited excerpts from a much longer document were distributed by A World To Win News Service (August 28, 2006). The Communist Party of Iran (Marxist-Leninist-Maoist) is a participant in the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement, as is the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA. The views in these excerpts are those of the Communist Party of Iran (Marxist-Leninist-Maoist). We are making them available to our readers in order to help our readers understand the views of revolutionary forces internationally.
From A World to Win News Service
28 August 2006. A World to Win News Service. Following are edited excerpts from the much longer Political Report from a meeting of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Iran (Marxist-Leninist-Maoist).
With the intensification of the contradictions between the US and the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI), the possibility of a military attack on Iran has become the main question in Iran and the world political scene. The American aim is to achieve unchallenged and direct domination of Iran. The US wants to use Iran as a steppingstone to consolidate its domination over the Middle East and the world. To do so it cannot rely on a regime whose claims to political independence and self-proclaimed “nationalist” character are one of the pillars of its legitimacy. At a time when the US is working in the Middle East to forge a new world order, such regimes are no longer helpful to them. The US needs new reactionary experts, trained by the Pentagon and US State Department political schools. In addition, the regime’s dependence on the world capitalist system is mainly through the European imperialists, and it also has ties with the Russian imperialists. This makes it an obstacle to the US imperialists’ plans.
The contradictions at work
Whether or not the US carries out its threats, or how (air attacks, partial or complete military occupation, massing its armed forces on Iran’s borders) will depend on different factors: US military strength, given the possibility that the European powers may not cooperate; the opposition of regional powers such as Russia and China; the strength of the antiwar movement on a world scale; the growth and broadening of the mass movement in Iran against the IRI; and whether or not a significant section of the political and military forces within the IRI would be ready to cooperate with US plans for regime change.
The rivalry between the different factions of the IRI, their constant splits and mutual distrust (each fears the others will betray them to the US), is one of the main reasons for the instability and weakness of the regime. Because of both the resistance of the people and the lack of internal cohesion within the regime itself, the ruling coalition is not able to suppress the mass movements as they used to. From that point of view, they are in an unstable situation and their control of society is loosening.
Today the political confrontation between the IRI and the US plays a powerful role in shaping the political stance and tendencies of the various strata and classes in Iran. We are witnessing the growth of support for one or the other of these two poles from among a broad spectrum of different political forces. But deep popular hatred for the IRI, on the one hand, and the disastrous results of the US-led invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan on the other, have also strengthened opposition to both of these reactionary poles.
Moods and trends among the masses
There is a strong tendency among the masses to believe that the US and the IRI will ultimately reach a compromise and avoid all-out conflict. Many people tend to believe that the IRI leaders are so dishonest that at the last minute they will give in and give up whatever they must to remain in power. This logic has some material basis, but it expresses a serious lack of awareness about what’s going on in the world and the region. While a nationalist tendency and a desire to defend the motherland can be seen among sections of the intellectuals, the majority of the people react to this situation with indifference. The dominant trend is to curse and hurl vulgar insults against both the Islamic Republic and the US. The IRI has been making some effort to fan the idea of defending the motherland among the masses, hoping to revive the popular sentiments of the time of the war with Iraq, but it seems to have had no luck in this regard. When talking about the Iran-Iraq war, most people conclude, “We were deceived.” The people know that they became poorer while those in power accumulated massive wealth. That is why they deeply hate the heads of the regime, in particular the commanders of the Revolutionary Guards.
Obviously, it is not easy to predict how the people would react in the case of a military assault. If and when a war actually breaks out, with everything that would cause, different spontaneous tendencies could emerge. The reality is that the majority of the people, in particular the people in the cities, would not defend the IRI and would remain indifferent in relation to a war between the IRI and the US. But the experience of class struggle shows that such sentiments would not last long. If the advanced and revolutionary forces do not play an active role, the main danger would be that the people will fall victim to the interests of one or another reactionary group. This makes the formation of a revolutionary pole an urgent necessity.
Only an anti-imperialist and anti-reactionary pole could mobilise the people and keep them active. Only by an active policy and putting forward the alternative of the third pole can we create hope and motivation for the masses to participate in deciding their own destiny. It is true that forming a third pole will be a very difficult task, because the majority of the masses have serious ideological-political doubts concerning the development of the situation and the possibilities for the future. But this atmosphere will not dissipate in the absence of a relatively powerful front that is independent of both the imperialists and the Islamic Republic and is heading for a showdown with both of them.
The mass struggles provide the main starting point for building that pole. Growing mass struggles are another political development marking the new situation. Though these struggles (workers, students, women, and toilers of the cities and the villages) have their ebbs and flows, they are an expression of a new mood that is, in practical terms, in opposition to the political poles of both the IRI and the US. We should not underestimate the influence of the bourgeois lines and existing political trends within the mass movements, but the reality is that this revolutionary potential is a big reason forcing the imperialists and reactionaries to think twice before carrying out their plans. US imperialism supports only those movements that help its influence in the society. Whenever radical and militant rebellions take place, the imperialists not only do not support them, they hesitate about going ahead with their plans. This shows that it is only by relying on the mass struggles and organising the revolution that we can prevent the implementation of the criminal plans of the enemies.
The need to form a third pole
The anti-imperialist struggle is a class struggle too. That means different sections and classes have different approaches towards this struggle. The politics of the third pole is a class policy that first of all serves the interests of the working class and the majority of the people and opposes the political power of the reactionary classes and imperialists.
It’s not hard to think of possible combinations of forces in the regime the US is preparing for Iran’s future: the former Shah’s torturers, Khomeini’s Revolutionary Guards, the Mujaheddin Khalq Organization (which, whenever they smell power, starts to threaten the communists) – all of these plus US military commanders and intelligence service officials who have much experience in organizing death squads in Latin America.
In terms of goals within Iran itself, the US is preparing to keep the existing social and production relations in place and install new guards for another reactionary state that is dependent on imperialism.
The politics of the third pole mean opposition to reaction and imperialism, which means opposition to the Islamic Republic and to any reactionary regime meant to replace it through intrigues, political manipulation, military crimes and possibly years of civil war of the kind going on in Iraq.
In the previous revolution, the G7 imperialists united with Khomeini and his clique to cut short the revolution in an effort to defeat it. Now the G8 (the same imperialists plus Russia) are seeking to decide Iran’s future after the IRI, and this time they want to impose a new reactionary regime possibly through war, bombing, coups and death squads.
The whole point is whether we want to and can forge another alternative. The politics of the third pole are essentially to pose an alternative to both the present and future reactionary regimes. That is why being against the threatened war is not enough. The real challenge is the future of Iran. Do we, the proletariat and toilers of Iran, want to take our future and destiny into our hands or not? This is the fundamental question that all the communists and revolutionary and progressive forces should answer.
Today the basic reality is that the reactionary regime and imperialism have their own alternatives, but the people don’t. How can this situation be changed?
The communists should create a third pole by relying on their closest allied forces that will represent the interests of the majority of the people and work to build a pole that has influence and authority over a vast section of the people. To this end, such a pole should introduce a minimum programme and a plan for running the future society, and dare to express itself as an alternative in the service of the people and strive to gain recognition as such by the masses.
It is possible to learn from reactionaries, too. Before getting state power in 1979, Khomeini and his clique were already acting like a future government. This strongly mobilized their social base and even influenced sections of the people that were not part of their social base. However, what enabled him to dare to pose himself as an alternative government was that he had reached an agreement with the imperialist powers.
Our source of strength is the people and our aspiration is to serve the interests of the majority of the people. By relying on them, we should courageously declare that the people need their own political power.
Moreover, in order that the third pole become more than just an opposition, it must involve itself in leading the mass struggles and become a leading centre for the various struggles of the masses. The experiences of these struggles has shown that when the mass struggles arise, the existence of such a centre can play a positive role in the development of the mass struggle and expansion of revolutionary initiatives, and helps develop the political and practical strength of the third pole. The task of our party in this sensitive period is to draw a clear horizon for the revolutionary struggle. The effort to form such a broad revolutionary unity corresponds entirely to our aim and horizon. Within the current of such unity, our party will propagate and agitate for its own programme and perspectives, that is, the proletarian revolution. Our alternative is a new state. The framework of such a new state is sketched out in our party’s programme. It is clear that the new state with a new democratic social and economic programme and a socialist orientation can only come about through a revolutionary war. But the political opening to that goes through the agenda of today’s political struggle.
How to carry out this policy
Like any other great work there is a need for a strong core with the necessary flexibility to be able to unite a wider spectrum.
Our party as a communist party should play a key role in forming such a strong core. But such a role should be extended to the whole communist movement of Iran. Without the intervention, cooperation and coordination of communist and revolutionary parties and organizations who feel they are close together, it is not possible to turn the policy of a third pole into reality and achieve a common programme.
Definitely such a programme would help strengthen the whole communist movement in Iran and serve as a ground for the ideological, political, organizational and practical development of that movement. Of course, to build the broad unity of all the communists of Iran demands other kinds of theoretical and practical efforts as well, and we cannot reduce the whole of the tasks of the communists of Iran to the most urgent political tasks of the day. But without active political intervention and organizing revolutionary practice, it is not possible with the scattered front of Iran’s communists.
The effort to unite some of the left forces and parties is one level of activity, while to unite the activists of the mass movements around the politics of the third pole is another level. Without forming such a level of unity, it is not possible to decisively influence public opinion. This will give hope to many of the advanced masses.
It is clear that the people’s struggle should be focused against the main enemy, the IRI. As long as the IRI is in power, there cannot be any talk of aiming the struggle against the US and the regime equally. However the reality of the likely future – the plans of US imperialism – should be strongly presented and illusions or support for US policies should be opposed. This is the only way to prevent the disintegration of the mass movement in the interests of one or the other reactionary pole and line up support for the third pole.
The whole point is that the masses and especially the communists and revolutionary forces must understand the urgency of the situation – that if we don’t hurry up, there is a danger that in the coming political developments we will be caught between the IRI and the imperialists. Right now the contradiction between imperialism and the IRI and the splits within enemy ranks have created some breathing room for us. If we don’t do anything now, then tomorrow will be too late. Such a situation certainly will not last long and after that we may be faced with a situation even worse than Iraq.
What is the relation of this policy to the strategy of people’s war?
How would this tactic serve our strategy? What are its short and long term goals? What is its relationship to the plan to reconstruct the communist movement? How can it help to initiate the people’s war? There is a need for more discussion and debate to answer these kinds of questions.
After the foundation of the party we emphasised that we need an initial accumulation of forces to initiate the people’s war. We need to win these forces through activity in the mass movements and expanding the building of our party.
We should continue to emphasize this basic orientation. But how to advance when the political situation undergoes critical changes? This is especially the case when violence is sure to play a critical role in political developments. One of the positive particularities of the situation is that the imperialists do not hide this fact – they admit that they cannot advance without using guns and violence. Although they have always used violence, in the decade after the collapse of the Soviet Union, illusions about “the era of peace”, even among progressive political forces, created an atmosphere of hostility to revolutionary violence and the idea of just war. But today’s atmosphere is more favourable for the propagation of ideas such as “Without a people’s army the people have nothing” and “Without political power all is illusion.” Economist and reformist trends in the left movement will be an obstacle for this line, but we should broadly continue with our propaganda and agitation that without revolutionary violence there is no way to turn this society upside down and eliminate injustice. Such a situation will increasingly facilitate the work of educating the masses about the necessity of having their own army and organizing revolutionary violence.
Ultimately the third pole, in our view and in fact, is a new political power, one opposed to the old system and its effort to renovate itself. In the final analysis this pole will be materialised through people’s war, a people’s army and the new power. But the politics that will lead there must be put forward now and start becoming a reality. The programme of the future society as opposed to the old system should be courageously put forward. Naturally we should look not only at existing political forces, but recognize and work to realize broader potential as well. This will create an atmosphere that is favourable to our strategic work.
In any case, within this broad front we should constantly try to create public opinion that without a people’s army the people will be crushed between two powerful forces, the Iranian reactionaries and the imperialists, and not achieve anything. Further, the experience of Iraq has shown that the people will not be silent in the face of an imperialist invasion. If the US attacks and occupies the country, the people will resist spontaneously. If the communists are not present on the scene to channel the struggle and hatred of the people towards proletarian revolution, the people might tail the reactionary classes and be lead along another reactionary path.
Our policy toward the world antiwar movement
Among Western antiwar forces, we are facing a trend that pays little attention to the class character and the social programme of the reactionary forces resisting the imperialists. They should distinguish between the different forces resisting the imperialists, and take a position in a way that would help the forming of a revolutionary resistance (not a reactionary resistance) against the imperialists.
This would help the masses throw off the influence of local reactionaries and launch a revolutionary and anti-imperialist liberation struggle. To struggle against imperialism with a reactionary programme is not resistance against imperialism. The aim of these reactionary local forces is to gain a small share of the exploitation of the people of the world. This should be looked at from an internationalist point of view. Our understanding is not in contradiction with revolutionary defeatism [Lenin’s stand that in wartime people in the imperialist countries should welcome defeats for “their” ruling class], but completes it. The present slogan of the global antiwar movement should be to prevent a US war against Iran. But this movement must at the same time support the struggle of the people of Iran against the IRI.
The weakness of the antiwar movement in the case of Iraq is that an anti-imperialist and anti-reactionary third pole has not existed in that country. If there were one, the antiwar movement would support it, and that movement would have qualitatively more influence and political legitimacy against the imperialists. In sum, it is important that the antiwar movement support the revolutionary forces in Iran.