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Revolution #107, November 4, 2007
On October 22, 2007, parents and families of victims of police murder, students, movement activists, and people of all nationalities marched in cities all over the country in protests against Police Brutality, Repression, and the Criminalization of a Generation. Revolution has received reports or learned of protests in: Atlanta; Chicago; Cleveland; Detroit; Houston, TX; Fresno, CA; Humboldt County, CA; Lawrence, KS; Los Angeles; Minneapolis, New York City; Oakland; Olympia, WA; San Diego; Santa Rosa, CA; Seattle;
Tucson, AZ; Washington, DC.
See initial reports.
Download photo spread.
Voices from October 22, 2007:
Marcus Jones—the father of Mychal Bell, one of the Jena 6—spoke to the crowd in NewYork via a phone hook-up: “I’ve been hearing about the racial profiling that the police have been doing up there. Jena is everywhere. I see that on a map of New York there’s no name Jena, New York—but I know it’s Jena up there somewhere.”
Antiwar activist Cindy Sheehan, whose son Casey was killed in the Iraq War, told people: “I’ve gotten in trouble with the mainstream media because I called George Bush ‘the No. 1 terrorist in the world.’ People say, oh, no, he can’t be, because he’s an elected leader of a state. Well, first of all, who elected him? Did any of you vote for him? No. He is an illegitimate leader of this brutal state.”
Margarita Rosario, whose son and nephew were killed by the NYPD, said: “My son received 14 shots to his back while he was face down on the floor. And my nephew the same thing. They destroyed my life… I’m still standing and I will continue to stand… Let’s tell the community of Harlem today that we need to fight!”
Bob Coleman, the newly appointed Minister of Missions and Social Justice at Riverside Church in New York, told the crowd: “The church has to say ‘no more.’ ... When your child dies it’s like one of our children has died, and we will not remain silent. There are too many faith communities that see no evil, speak of no evil and hear no evil, but we have to speak.”
In the last year nine people have been killed in Sonoma County, in northern California by police and sheriffs. In a recent nine-week period, police shot and killed five people. At a rally in Santa Rosa, Ann Gray Byrd, chairwoman of the Sonoma County chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, said, “The families of those shot down in our communities have not been heard.”
In Oakland, Clarence Thomas, from the ILWU Local 10 Executive Board, told the crowd: “The Police Department, the State of California and the United States government want to criminalize the Black community and in particular the Black youth. This is the reason we recently witnessed the acquittal of eight juvenile authority figures [in Florida] who were seen on videotape strangling, kicking and beating a young Black youth to death. His attorney said, ‘Kill a dog, go to jail. Kill a Black boy and get off.’ This is apartheid justice, brothers and sisters.”
Revolution #106, October 28, 2007
October 23, 2007
On October 22, 2007, protests against Police Brutality, Repression, and the Criminalization of a Generation were called in over twenty cities. Parents and families of people murdered by police, students, movement activists, and people of all nationalities marched. In New York City, Cindy Sheehan spoke of being brutalized by police, and of the death of her son in Iraq, and Marcus Jones, the father of one of the Jena Six spoke by phone of his son Mychal Bell being re-jailed. In Atlanta, the city’s main newspaper reported that as the protest went past the city jail, “prisoners could be seen waving white T-shirts inside in an apparent show of support.”
Protests were planned for Atlanta; Cleveland; Denver; Detroit; Eureka, CA; Flagstaff, AZ; Fresno, CA; Guelph, ON Canada: Houston; Kansas City, TX; Knoxville; Los Angeles; Louisville; Minneapolis; Montreal, QC (Canada); New Haven, CT; New Orleans, LA; New York City; Olympia, WA ; Pittsburgh; San Antonio, TX ; San Diego; Santa Rosa, CA; Seattle, WA; and St. Louis.
Following are some initial reports from correspondence received at Revolution and from other news sources:
Protesters rallied at police headquarters at Parker Center, and marched to Mac Arthur Park where on May First, police shot rubber bullets at, and beat protesters and reporters at an immigrants rights demonstration.
More than 300 people entered MacArthur Park in Los Angeles this October 22nd chanting: “We’re fired up! Can’t take it no more! Police brutality has got to go!” Marchers carried signs protesting ICE raids on immigrants, and demanding Free the Jena Six. The march ended with a candle-light vigil for victims of police brutality.
Families who have lost loved ones to police murder, high school and college students, members from various organizations, and some residents from Pico Union marched across the same soccer field where the police brutally beat immigrant protestors and journalists on May 1st. They marched past the same picnic benches where the LAPD fired 150 rubber bullets into the park. One woman wrote her message in plain black letters: “Ya Basta! No Mas!” [[Enough! No more!]
High school students and other youth played an important part in organizing and bringing friends to the National Day of protest. A 14 year old student from Jordan HS in Watts said, “I couldn’t stay quiet. That’s why I came. People can’t be scared. We need to stand up.” Another student from Eagle Rock High school wasn’t able to bust out of school in a “walk-out” like she had hoped, so she staged a “climb-out” to participate in this “can’t miss” day.
Some youth marched with members of a Revolution Club, behind their banner, “Humanity Needs Revolution and Communism.” Other students came from as far away as Victorville, located about 100 miles outside of L.A.
Javier Quezada whose son was killed at a hospital where he was being treated, Norma and Norberto Martinez whose son was shot down on Valentine’s Day, and Lilian Mitchell spoke from the stage of how their children’s lives were stolen by the police. Lilian Mitchell, whose son Charlie Wilson was murdered by the Torrance Police Department in July, said that all the people at October 22nd gave her strength to speak about what the police did to her son. She told Revolution Newspaper, “I don’t know what Charlie was doing out there, but the neighbors called the police. He was with a friend and they hid in a shed from the police. They sent out the dogs to find him. His girlfriend called him to give himself up. All he had was a cell phone. When they found them they shot that shed up, they tore it up [with bullets.] Charlie was shot from the back . . . The other young man [Shaun McCoy] was shot so much and his back was tore up so bad that they couldn’t fix him up [for the wake], the embalming fluid couldn’t stay in. . . They killed them. They had dogs, they shot them from behind, they killed them with the first shot, but they shot them more. They killed them. Why did they shoot him in the first place? He only had a cell phone on him.”
Some residents from the neighborhood around MacArthur Park also known as—Little Central America—came out despite what some residents called a week-long attempt by the police to intimidate people from participating. One woman said, “This is where we were brutally beaten and I’m here to say the same thing [we said on May 1]—we’re human beings, we’re not criminals. Criminal is how the police kill defenseless people. Criminal is how immigration [ICE] is taking parents away from children and then left alone like they are worthless. We shouldn’t take this anymore. We can’t keep silent about this!”
NEW YORK CITY
At a rally of about 150 in Marcus Garvey Park, in Harlem Marcus Jones—whose son Mychal Bell, one of the Jena 6, was sent back to prison earlier this month—spoke to the crowd via a phone hook-up: “I just want to say thanks to everybody up there who are supporting Mychal. And I’ve been hearing about the racial profiling that the police have been doing up there. Jena is everywhere. I see that on a map of New York there’s no name Jena, New York—but I know it’s Jena up there somewhere.”
Antiwar activist Cindy Sheehan told about how the Bush regime had stolen the life of her son Casey, a U.S. solider killed in the Iraq war, and said, “I’ve gotten in trouble with the mainstream media because I called George Bush ‘the No. 1 terrorist in the world.’ People say, oh, no, he can’t be because he’s an elected leader of a state. Well, first of all, who elected him? Did any of you vote for him? No. He is an illegitimate leader of this brutal state.”
Margarita Rosario, whose son and nephew were killed by the NYPD, said: “My son received 14 shots to his back while he was face down on the floor. And my nephew the same thing. They destroyed my life… I’m still standing and I will continue to stand… Let’s tell the community of Harlem today that we need to fight!”
As the multinational group of protesters took off on a march down 125th Street, 20 students from a charter school in the neighborhood, joined in, contributing their own chants on: “We stand with the Jena 6!” and “NYPD go to hell! We remember Sean Bell!” Members of the Harlem Revolution Club carried a colorful banner saying, “Humanity Needs Revolution. Stop Police Brutality. No More Nooses.”
At a rally during the march, Travis Morales of the Revolutionary Communist Party said, “The immigration police, la migra, with their cowboy hats and shotguns, busting down the doors of homes, rounding up people and deporting them, terrorizing and tearing families apart, leaving children and babies stranded with their neighbors… Nooses hung from a whites-only tree in Jena, Louisiana, on a Black professor’s door at Columbia University, outside a Black cultural center at University of Maryland. A wave of nooses across this country, and 6 Black youth facing decades in prison for standing up to the nooses, the symbol of lynching of thousands of Black people…Don’t tell me we don’t need a revolution!”
At a rally at the end of the march, Sean Bell’s father, William Bell, said he was happy to see a movement against police brutality and that it was crucial for more youth to become involved.
In Chicago, family members rallied with signs and posters and t-shirts honoring loved ones murdered by police: Meliton Recendez, 15, shot going out for a juice. Johnny Goodwin, 21, shot in the back. Lester "Roni" Spruill, 43, beaten and found dead in a jail cell. Steve Womack, 22, killed from a high-speed police chase. A young man spoke with a broken arm, spoke, explaining how the police shoved him out a window when they raided his home.
One man described how cops from the scandal-ridden "Special Operations Section" - known as "Shoot on Sight" put a bullet in his nephew's neck while the young man lay handcuffed on the ground. Deborah Thompson, who's brother Fred Hendersen was shot by a suburban cop point blank in the side of his head, told the crowd of 200 she would not let the killer of her son intimidate her. Mae Green, made a promise to her son Tony, who choked to death after being arrested by the police, “They will not give the police department a standing ovation for killing my son.”
Ashunda Harris who's nephew Aaron Harrison was shot in the back as he ran away from the police, spoke clearly to the urgency of the situation: "If we don't make this movement and this revolution happen, it's going to continue and it's going to reach down to our grandchildren, and our grandchildren's children. We need to put an end to this..."
Among the 150 people rallying and marching in Oakland were many family and friends of Gary King, Jr., the 20 year old youth who was murdered on September 20. Gary King was grabbed by the dreadlocks, brutalized tasered and shot in the back by officer Patrick Gonzales, who had mistaken King for someone else. Gonzeles, who has been responsible for shooting several other young Black men in the last few years, stood with his foot in Gary's back as he lay dying on the ground.
Other family members of people killed by police present included Alade Djehuti-Mes (whose father, Charles Vaughn, Sr. was murdered by police in Seaside); Danny Garcia (brother of Mark Garcia, who died after being sprayed repeatedly with pepper spray and beaten by San Francisco police); Rashida Grinnage (whose husband, Raphael Grinnage, a well known jazz musician, and son, Luke Grinnage were both shot and killed by Oakland police); Cinnamon, (whose son, Lorante Studesville, was shot and seriously wounded by the OPD earlier this year); Frank Rosenberg (whose son Richard Rosenberg was shot and killed in front of his house); Meesha Irazarry, (mother of Idriss Stelley, a 23-year-old African American student killed by SFPD at the SF Sony Metreon Theatre in San Francisco in 2001); and Marylon Boyd (mother of Cameron Boyd killed by SFPD).
AROUND THE COUNTRY…
The October 22nd protest in Atlanta got significant coverage in the mainstream and alternative media. In an article titled, “'We All Live In Jena' Say Marchers Protesting Dekalb Shootings,” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that protesters “wearing black T-shirts proclaiming ‘We All Live In Jena’ marched on Memorial Drive Monday to call attention to shootings by DeKalb County police and other cases of what they regard as injustice. One theme of the protest was the ‘criminalization of a generation.’ As demonstrators chanted ‘What do we want? Justice!’ in front of the county jail, prisoners could be seen waving white T-shirts inside in an apparent show of support.” Iffat Muhammad, who has organized protests over police shootings since her brother was shot and killed by police said, "This is a day of remembrance and a day of acknowledgment that brutality will not be tolerated."
Among those rallying on October 22nd in Fresno, CA was the family of Everardo Toreres. Everardo had his life stolen on the night of October 27, 2002. He was arrested, handcuffed, and put into the back of a Madera, CA police car. A short time later, police officer Marcy Noriega came over to the car that Torres was in, pulled her service revolver and shot him to death. Noriega says she thought she was using her Taser gun. Torres’s family says Everardo was murdered by the police and they want justice.
Many protesters in Detroitwere family and friends of Jevon Royall, a young man killed in July on the 40th Anniversary of the Detroit Rebellion, blocks from where the rebellion started over police brutality, and they described how he was killed by police when he stepped outside of a family celebration. People marched to the site where Jevon was killed and held a Stolen Lives/Memorial service, with participants giving testimonials remembering and honoring Jevon and reading the names and stories of other victims of police brutality and murder.
In Santa Rosa, CA, organizers told Revolution that several hundred people were part of a rally and march. The march went through Roseland, a poor and mainly Latino community, where police have been setting up DUI checkpoints -- not set up late in the evening when people might be leaving bars -- but at rush hour when people are returning home from work. People in the community suspect that the roadblocks are aimed instead at immigrant workers without papers. Ben, an organizer with Copwatch in Santa Rosa, told Revolution that as the march went through Roseland, “There was an incredible response. People were honking their horns and raising their fists. People pulled over on the spot and parked their cars and joined the march.” Over the past year nine people have been killed in Sonoma County by local police and sheriffs, and in a recent nine-week period, local police shot and killed five. At a rally after the march, Ann Gray Byrd, chairwoman of the Sonoma County chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, said, "The families of those shot down in our communities have not been heard."
In Cleveland, Dorothy Chappell, whose grandson, Brandon Mc Cloud was murdered by Cleveland cops, September 1, 2005, called out the cops who killed her 15 year old grandson at the 4th district police station where the October 22nd protest was held.
In Seattle, family members of people killed by the police joined activists and proletarians of all nationalities- many with experiences of being brutalized or harassed by police to march through Seattle’s Pike Place market. All the way, people chanted “Hey cops, whaddya say, how many kids did you kill today?” A Seattle cop had just shot a 13 year old kid in the leg the week before.
A volunteer at Communities United Against Police Brutality in Minneapolis told Revolution that an October 22nd protest was held outside the Minneapolis Juvenile “Justice” Center in solidarity with the Jena Six, and because the police “are targeting and criminalizing the children.” Parents and youth coming out of the Juvenile Detention Center stopped and joined the rally and spoke out.
Activists in Minnesota have worked to document 85 deaths at the hands of police over the past ten years. Among them are several Native Americans: Franklin J. Brown, a 21-year-old American Indian man, was killed May 15, 2005 in his home on the White Earth reservation when police entered to conduct a search. He was shot 17 times. Some of the shots went through a closed door. He was unarmed. David Croud, an American Indian, was slammed into a stone wall and otherwise abused as he was arrested by six Duluth police officers on October 12, 2005. He slipped into a coma and never recovered. He was 29 years old. Benjamin DeCoteau, a Native American, was killed on January 22, 2005. He was unarmed when he was shot by officer Mark Beaupre under suspicious circumstances. He was 21 years old at the time of his death. On November 6, 1994, Richard LeGarde, an Anishinabe rights activist, was illegally arrested and then driven home to by a deputy, who was the last person to see him alive.
Revolution #107, November 4, 2007
Revolution #107, November 4, 2007
Danger of U.S. War On Iran
Editors’ Note: On October 27, demonstrations of tens of thousands took place in cities around the U.S., with the mainstream media reporting that protesters called for an immediate end to the Iraq war and for the impeachment of Bush. These demonstrations are important, and show some of the potential for much more resistance against the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, and against a war on Iran. Nonetheless, much more is needed.
There is an urgent need for people in this country to soberly and honestly confront the dangerous trajectory leading towards a U.S. war on Iran. And to massively oppose that war.
Bush invokes “World War 3.” Cheney is reported to be cooking up plans for Israel to attack Iran, and then for the U.S. to dive into the war when Iran counter-attacks. The massive concentration of U.S. naval power off the coast of Iran puts the U.S. in position to attack at any time. The placing of units of Iran’s army on the U.S. “terrorist” list puts a whole country in the crosshairs of the “war on terror.” As we go to press, the White House is demanding $88 million to modify B-2 Stealth bombers to carry a newly developed 30,000-pound bunker-buster bomb—very possibly for use in a war on Iran.
In the pages of Revolution, we have addressed and analyzed the factors that are driving events towards war (for a comprehensive overview, see “Bringing Forward Another Way,” by Bob Avakian at revcom.us/avakian/ anotherway). But whether a war against Iran seems to make any sense at all to a normal person, the fact is that massive preparations are going on now for such a war.
Between punitive economic sanctions (remember the role sanctions played preparing for—not preventing—war on Iraq), and painting Iran into a military corner, the U.S. has created a tinderbox that could ignite at any time, whether by design or even accident.
Moral Clarity, Strategic Nerve, and a Clear Understanding
Here’s where the sober and honest part comes in: If you see the danger of this war, there is a need to act in a way commensurate with that danger. In these circumstances, we need moral clarity, strategic nerve, and a clear understanding of what is behind the U.S. moves towards war on Iran. Let’s cut to the heart of the matter: The people in power making accusations against Iran are the same proven liars who sold the Iraq war with the “Weapons of Mass Destruction” hoax, and nothing they say should be accepted as true. But even if all the things the U.S. says about Iran were true: that they are aiding forces in Iraq who are attacking the U.S., that they are an oppressive Islamic theocracy, that they have a nuclear program and aspirations to be a regional power… NONE OF THAT would make a U.S. attack on Iran anything but imperialist aggression.
Even on their own terms—which, to be clear, should NOT be accepted—the arguments made by the U.S. are blatantly hypocritical. The U.S. is the country that invaded Afghanistan, and that six years later rains bombs on villages—routinely killing scores of non-combatants. This government invaded Iraq under false pretenses and has brought massive death and destruction to that country, creating the greatest refugee crisis in the world, with more than 2 million Iraqis driven out of the country and another 2 million forced from their homes but remaining within Iraq. The U.S. has no right to attack yet another country because that country is (allegedly, or in fact) interfering in Iraq!
The puppet regimes that the U.S. installed and manages in Afghanistan and Iraq have embedded adherence to Islamic law into their constitutions. Throughout both countries, most women are forced into brutal and degraded conditions. U.S. ally Saudi Arabia does not allow women to drive. This country has no right to attack Iran to supposedly “liberate women.”
People are rightly horrified by the spread of nuclear weapons, and the increasing chances they will be used. But the U.S. not only has the largest stockpile of nuclear weapons, but is further developing its nuclear arsenal. And the only country in the world to ever use the atomic bomb, to purposely target over a hundred thousand civilians for horrific death (at Hiroshima and Nagasaki), the country that has the world’s largest arsenal of nuclear bombs…has no right to attack a country that might develop the capacity to build nuclear weapons.
The Need for Mass Resistance
Paralysis and passivity are complicity.
Many people say they are discouraged because the protests of millions, worldwide, did not stop the U.S. from invading Iraq. People are wondering if protest accomplishes anything. True, the unprecedented protests against war on Iraq did not stop that war. Butwithout them, the rulers of the U.S. would have claimed international legitimacy for their invasion of Iraq, and very possibly be even further down the road of invading and/or imposing their agenda on other countries in the Middle East. It was fundamentally because of global protest that Bush couldn’t even get the U.N. to back the war.
The fact that the protests against the invasion of Iraq did not prevent war does mean we need to build a stronger, more determined movement to stop war on Iran. One thing that has become clearer since the invasion of Iraq is just how radical is the agenda of those at the core of power. They are determined to tear up and radically re-order the Middle East. They lied to us about their motives, and they lied to us and deluded themselves about how easy this was going to be.
But what happened in reality is that the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq has fueled Islamic fundamentalism. And now, stuck in a quagmire in Iraq, the U.S. rulers look to up the ante, and expand the war into Iran.
A war with Iran would compound the death and misery the U.S. has brought to the Middle East. And it would further fuel the deadly McWorld/McCrusade vs. Jihad clash, on a whole other level. A former high-level expert with the National Security Council told Esquire magazine that “an attack on Iran could engulf America in a war with the entire Muslim world.” (“The Secret History of the Impending War with Iran That the White House Doesn’t Want You to Know,” by John H. Richardson, 10/18/07)
No Excuse for Paralysis
U.S. imperialism has so much at stake in the Middle East crusade that, from their perspective, they couldn’t back out now even if they wanted to. To do so would open the door to the unraveling of their empire. And the whole ruling class, at this point, is onboard with this mission, grumbling or not.
Hillary Clinton is not going to stop a war on Iran. She just voted for the provocation of putting a section of the Iranian military on the “terrorist” list, in effect “tightening the screws” on Iran and forcing that regime’s back up against the wall in a way that increases the chances of war. Obama is not going to prevent a war on Iran. Part of his role is to make you feel OK about doing nothing real to stop the war. The worried (ex) generals, who warn about the strains that war on Iran will put on the U.S. military, are reflecting real concerns about real dangers for the ruling class if there is a war with Iran. But when push comes to shove, they will fall in line with the war. And anyway, why is it morally acceptable to say that Bush & Cheney might well be about to unleash a terrible war, but in 15 months they’ll be gone?!
In the face of all this, there’s no excuse for paralysis. It will take determined and massive opposition to stop a war on Iran. But the point of understanding this is to confront and act on the fact that we are what we are waiting for.
Part of the paralyzing dynamic in the world today is that it is in the interests of both sides of the McWorld/Crusade vs. Jihad conflict to tell people that their only choices are one or the other of these oppressive and backward poles. This holds people back from acting. But critical to breaking out of that paralyzing dynamic is for a force of millions to step forward in this country, making it clear that this government does not speak for us! Such a movement will generate oxygen for secular, progressive, and genuinely revolutionary forces to emerge in the Middle East and Central Asia. And help bring a new, different dynamic into being, of global resistance to oppression in any form.
Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, posed the challenge this way: “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.” (“On the Importance of World Can’t Wait and the October 5 Day of Mass Resistance,” Revolution #62)
There Is a Way
There is a way to do this. The World Can’t Wait/Drive Out the Bush Regime organization has put out a call to WEAR ORANGE! As World Can’t Wait says at their web site, “Millions of people oppose the Bush Regime’s unjust war in Iraq and its mounting threats against Iran – but if you don’t show it, it doesn’t count; if you don’t act when it counts, it doesn’t matter. Wear and display orange all day, every day.”
Dennis Loo, of the World Can’t Wait Steering Committee, explained the significance of wearing orange: “People taking up orange and wearing it DAILY is designed to be both a statement against all of the horrid things that this regime is responsible for AND a statement to the rest of the people. It’s designed to provide people a vehicle to express their too long suppressed sentiments and to bring to life the people’s political potential. It’s designed to bring home to people the fact that we are the majority and it will be you and I and the rest of us in our millions who will make history, not the criminal president and vice-president, not the culpable and complicit Congress and the Democratic Party leadership, and not the corporate media who are largely merely the scribes to power.” (From “Shifting the Center,” worldcantwait.org)
Wearing orange can help both spark and support other forms of political action, both broad and determined, which are urgently needed as this escalation looms.
The call by World Can’t Wait to wear orange is in the context of the challenge posed by their founding Call:
“That which you will not resist and mobilize to stop, you will learn—or be forced—to accept. There is no escaping it: the whole disastrous course of this Bush regime must be STOPPED. And we must take the responsibility to do it.
“And there is a way. We are talking about something on a scale that can really make a huge change in this country and in the world. We need more than fighting Bush’s outrages one at a time, constantly losing ground to the whole onslaught. 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.”
Radical… Yes! Necessary… Yes! Act now!
Revolution #107, November 4, 2007
MAKING REVOLUTION AND EMANCIPATING HUMANITY
PART 1: BEYOND THE NARROW HORIZON OF BOURGEOIS RIGHT (CONTINUED)
Editors’ Note: The following is the third in a series of excerpts from a talk by Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA earlier this year (2007). This has been edited for publication and footnotes have been added (among other things, in preparing this for publication, the author has considerably expanded the section on Karl Popper). These excerpts are being published in two parts. Part 1 is available in its entirety, as one document, online at revcom.us. Part 2 will also be available in the near future, as one document, at revcom.us; the excerpts comprising Part 2 will also be published as a series in Revolution after the conclusion of the present series of excerpts.
Communism Will Not Be a “Utopia”—It Will Be a Radically Different and Far Better World
Proceeding from the basic theoretical breakthroughs that Marx made, and building also on what Lenin had added to this understanding—with regard to the state and in terms of an analysis of imperialism and other key dimensions of human society and its revolutionary transformation—Mao made a crucial addition or extension in the understanding of communists about these basic questions. He stressed a number of times (this is found particularly in Mao’s more informal speeches and talks, conversations and writings, more than in the officially published works of Mao, even the ones that were put out before the revisionists took power in China in 1976) that even with the achievement of communism, society will still be marked and driven forward by the contradictions between the forces and relations of production and between the base and the superstructure. Now, this was not exactly denied previously in Marxism, but there was not the kind of clear understanding and emphasis that Mao gave to this. Previously, there were some aspects of how communism was conceived that actually, and ironically, incorporated some metaphysical thinking. For example, Engels, and Marx as well, talked about moving from the realm of necessity to the realm of freedom, with the achievement of communism, as though—I’m exaggerating, or overstating, but there was a certain tendency toward thinking that—when you get to communism you will be in a realm of freedom in relation to necessity in a whole different way. And this, Mao came to see, is not really correct—does not correctly grasp the essence of things.
It is true that, with communism, human beings will be consciously interacting with nature, and with each other, in a qualitatively greater way than at any previous time; but they will still be dealing with constraints and the transformation of constraints. You will always be dealing with the basic principle that Marx enumerated about the foundations and the driving contradictions of human society. No matter how far ahead you go into communist society, you will still be dealing with necessity which presents itself as something “external” to you, which you have to act on and struggle to transform—and, in doing so, bring forward new necessity. The contradictions between the forces and relations of production, and between the base and the superstructure, are still going to be the things defining and driving forward society. And it will be a question of more and more consciously grasping this—but never having anything approaching complete freedom in this regard.
Even in Mao’s early writings you see references (invoking some traditional Chinese terms) that talk about communism as the “Kingdom of Great Harmony.” Well, the more Mao went on and dealt with reality, and the revolutionary struggle, the more he came to see: that’s not exactly the way it is. But that notion of the “Kingdom of Great Harmony” corresponds, in significant measure, to at least much of the understanding in the international communist movement prior to Mao. You can see it in Stalin: In his discussions of socialism, you see things tending toward a notion of the end of contradiction. Not that he literally said all contradiction has come to an end in socialist society, but he did say, in the mid-1930s, that class antagonisms had come to an end in the Soviet Union.
Now it’s true that, in communist society, you won’t have class antagonism, but it is the case—and something that has been demonstrated very dramatically and through bitter experience with the restoration of capitalism in formerly socialist countries—that in socialist society there remain antagonistic class contradictions. And even in communist society, you are still going to have to struggle to transform necessity, you are still going to have to grasp and act in relation to the driving forces in society which are based in the contradictions between the forces and relations of production and between the base and superstructure, and the interrelation between the dynamics of those two contradictions.
Fundamental to this is the fact that freedom is the recognition—and, as Mao emphasized, the transformation—of necessity. That’s where freedom lies. It doesn’t lie in idealist notions of how you would like things to be. Not that there’s no role for imagining—there is indeed a very important role for this (which is why a major part of my “Revolution” DVD talk is referred to as “Imagine”). There is a great role for imagining. But, while this imagining should proceed without being narrowly restricted at any given time to the prevailing conditions, in an overall and ultimate sense it does have to be grounded in and returned to material reality, if this imagining and dreaming is really going to be able to be realized in the real world (this is a point Lenin gave emphasis to).
There is a lot of room for dreaming and imagining that isn’t immediately and “tightly” tied to whatever the material reality is at a given time. This is a point I have made in talking about myth (in the Observations book1). I recalled there (in that discussion about myth) that in a conversation with a comrade, a number of years ago, I had taken this really wrong position that, when we get to communism, we shouldn’t have science fiction anymore. And then, fortunately, before too long I realized that it would amount to liquidating the role of art, if you were to follow that out to its logical conclusion. Why is this so, and why is this important? Because there is a big role, an important role, for things like science fiction, in terms of people’s needs aesthetically, if you will, but also in terms of the larger societal need to be able to envision, or imagine, how contradictions might play out in the future. There is, and there always will be, for individuals and for society, a very real and important need to look at things from different angles, through the distorting prism of art, if you will.
But, fundamentally (and, so to speak, underneath all this) freedom does lie in the recognition and transformation of necessity. The point is that this recognition and the ability to carry out that transformation goes through a lot of different “channels,” and is not tied in a positivist or reductionist or linear way to however the main social contradictions are posing themselves at a given time. If that were the case—or if we approached it that way—we would liquidate the role of art and much of the superstructure in general. Why do we battle in the realm of morals? It is because there is relative initiative and autonomy in the superstructure. And the more correctly that’s given expression, the better it will be, in terms of the kind of society we have at a given time and in terms of our ability to recognize necessity and carry out the struggle to transform necessity.
It is also very important to emphasize that necessity is both necessity residing in material reality beyond human society—the natural world as a whole—and, more specifically, the necessity residing in human social relations at any given time, grounded in the fundamental reality whose essence Marx concentrated. Both of those constitute necessity, and understanding this is particularly important for people setting out to transform reality in any essential way. It is not just that you have nature “out there”; nor, on the other hand, is it just that you have society somehow divorced from the rest of nature. What is society, but human beings interacting with each other and interacting with nature and transforming nature in one way or another—sometimes for ill and sometimes for better in terms of human needs in the largest sense?
These basic points of materialism and dialectics constitute and establish the theoretical basis for a thoroughly, consistently and systematically scientific understanding of and approach to the freedom of humanity as a whole—and, as a matter of fact, for the freedom of individuals in relation to human society overall.
Freedom, Right, and
the Nature of Society
This relates, once again, to that well-known statement by Marx—which we also, for good reason, keep returning to—about how right can never be higher than the economic structure of society and its cultural development conditioned thereby—another little-known and even less understood statement. All the time, in discussions which, in fundamental terms, are proceeding from a bourgeois standpoint and outlook, you hear things put forward which are ignorant of, or ignore, this basic principle and understanding (it’s either ignorance, or more deliberate ignore-ance).
Let’s go back to the comments by a youth in Oakland who said, in referring to my talk “Revolution”: “I agree with everything in there, and I really liked the vision of the future society”—but “if I invent something, I want to get more for it.”2
Well, in terms of the “right” to “get something more” by inventing something, even if you could realize this “right,” where does that “right” proceed from and what does it correspond to? It proceeds from and corresponds to a certain economic structure of society, as Marx put it, and a culture conditioned thereby. It corresponds to and proceeds from a certain economic base and the corresponding superstructure. And, in turn, it reinforces that kind of society and that kind of world. For that “right” to have meaning, it is necessary to have the kinds of conditions and the kinds of relations that make this possible. In feudal society, even though there were fairly developed commodity relations, if you were a serf, you didn’t have any such conception of a right. Now, at a certain point in feudal society, there began to be a certain amount of social mobility, although it remained limited in many ways. Still, this notion of getting more for inventing something was not a right characteristic of feudal society—it is a right characteristic of a certain kind of economic structure and culture, a certain kind of system, namely capitalism. And insofar as that right (to get more for inventing something) applies, it applies and can only apply for a relative handful of individuals. At the same time, all the conditions that are bound up with this economic structure, and the corresponding culture, involve all kinds of horrific consequences for the great majority of individuals in the world and for humanity as a whole. So there we can see—by negative example, so to speak—how right is embedded, if you will, in the economic structure of society and the culture conditioned thereby.
Let’s turn to some examples of more “positive rights.” What about the right to live in a world in which human beings no longer confront each other through antagonistic relations? Where does the “right” to do that exist—under what conditions does that right have any meaning? Certainly, in the present world, you don’t have that right. You may proclaim it as much as you want. You may develop all kinds of utopian schemes to give expression to your desire to live in a world in which human beings no longer relate to and confront each other through antagonistic relations. But, within the present social system and with the way in which that system dominates and shapes the world, you have no ability whatsoever to effect such an ideal. That right can only be realized with a different economic structure, a different set of production relations, namely those of communism, and the culture conditioned thereby—or, in other words, the superstructure that corresponds to communist economic and social relations. Only through the revolution to advance to communism can humanity reach the point where finally human beings no longer confront each other through antagonistic relations. This is another expression of the fact that, as Marx put it, right can never be higher than the economic structure of society and the cultural development conditioned thereby.
What about the “right” of the masses of people in the world to explore scientific questions? What kind of economic structure and culture—what kind of production and social relations, and what kind of superstructure—is necessary for that, and does that correspond to? Again, only a communist world. With the kind of division of labor that has existed in and has characterized every form of class-divided society—and in particular societies ruled by exploiting classes—there is no real right for the masses of people, for the great majority of society, to explore scientific questions. It doesn’t exist for them. A few individuals here and there may emerge from among the masses and change class position, if you will, and be able to do that as their life’s work and avocation. But for the masses of people there is no such right. The very functioning of the economic base, in dialectical relation with the superstructure—the dynamics of capitalist accumulation and the workings of the corresponding political system, the educational system, and the dominant ideas propagated throughout society, along with the division of labor that’s bound up with all this—make it impossible for the masses of people to have the “right” to explore scientific questions.
And what about those who presently do have the ability to do this? What about their “right” to explore scientific questions in a whole new social context and framework, where much greater numbers of people are increasingly being freed and enabled to do this as well? What about the ability of people—even those who are presently conducting scientific work—to carry this out in a much more unfettered (not absolutely unfettered but in a qualitatively more unfettered) way, freed from the constraints imposed by exploitative and oppressive relations in society and the corresponding ways of thinking? What about that? What about having a situation where you’re not scrounging around for grants on the basis of having to vitiate your own scientific project by presenting it in a way that meets the requirements of the ruling class—for example: “This will help the Defense Department.” What about that “right”?
The point is not that in communist society everybody will do everything—or will want to do everything—all with the same emphasis, or passion, or in the same way. There are and there will always be differences among human beings, and certainly this will be so—and will be consciously recognized and given expression, in a qualitatively greater way than ever before—in communist society. Not everyone will want to be engaged in science all the time, or in politics all the time. But the barriers and social divisions that presently exist and are characteristic of exploitative society will have been overthrown and surpassed.
What about the “right” for all that to happen? What kind of economic structure and what kind of “cultural development conditioned thereby” is necessary for that to happen? This is impossible under the present system, and is only possible under the future system, in other words, in communist society. This is what the “4 Alls” are all about—this is what it means to achieve those “4 Alls” that mark the advance to communism: the abolition of all class distinctions; of all the production relations that underlie those class distinctions; of all the social relations that correspond to those production relations; and the revolutionization of all the ideas that correspond to those social relations. All that, and all the “rights” which adhere to that, are only possible in a future communist society—which is not some utopian ideal but an actual possibility, a possibility whose realization lies in the freedom that can be wrenched out of the current necessity that confronts humanity in this era, and in particular confronts the proletariat as a class and those who consciously take up the worldview and objectives of the proletarian revolution.3
What about the “right” of people in society, in the world as a whole, to have to spend only a small part of their waking hours and energy in simply contributing to the reproduction (and the expansion of the means of production) of the material requirements of life? What about the “right” of the people to only have to spend a few hours a day doing that, and to have more time, instead, to devote to political, social and cultural affairs, and to recreation…and just plain fucking off? Where does that “right” exist for the great majority of humanity, including little children, now? The present economic structure and the culture conditioned thereby prevents the great majority of humanity, including small children, from having anything approximating such a “right”; and only with communist society can that “right” be actually realized (and then, in fact, it will no longer be conceived of as a “right” but will be a “natural” part of the functioning of human society, without having to be institutionalized and to assume a special status as a “right”).
This is a profoundly important point that we have to really grasp deeply. And, again, the point of grasping this is to act on it, including by popularizing it and bringing forward more people who consciously understand this and act on that understanding.
Does it make a difference if people think that we’re just trying to impose one ideal of society over another? Or whether, instead, they really have a materialist and dialectical understanding of how the possibility of achieving the things I’m talking about here relates to the existing contradictions in society and is called forth through the struggles based in those contradictions—how the possibility and the potential for a whole different human society, characterized by radically different and much better relations among people, and the corresponding culture and ways of thinking, actually exists and resides in the present material contradictions of society, in the world today? Does it make a difference whether they understand this in a completely utopian and idealist way, or with materialism and dialectics? Will that make a difference in terms of what they think is desirable, what they think is possible, what they believe is worth struggling for? Of course it will.
Grasping and acting on all this is a crucial part of making a real leap and rupture in our conception and understanding of reality and how it can and must be changed—a leap and a rupture beyond what is indeed a very narrow horizon of bourgeois right. Democracy, or an attempt at “perfecting” what is in fact—and, under this system, with its material base, can only be—bourgeois democracy: this is not our goal. That is still well within the bounds, the narrow horizon, of bourgeois right. It is not what humanity needs. How many people have you heard who are generally progressive, or are oppositional in some serious way, who always formulate their political objectives, and their vision of society, in terms of—what is in reality bourgeois—democracy? It is very much like the scientists who always have to formulate (or re-formulate) their projects in terms of how this will help the Defense Department or the Department of Homeland Security or some other agency of the current state. How many people do you hear fashioning their “political projects” to talk about “perfecting our democracy,” when in reality we need to leap beyond and rupture with that whole framework, beyond that narrow horizon.
Democracy, let us be clear, is an expression of bourgeois right. And bourgeois right means all the things that we are all too familiar with, all the suffering in the world that goes along with this system of bourgeois rule grounded in bourgeois production and social relations. That’s what bourgeois right—including the democracy that people are so enamored of—actually amounts to and means in living terms for humanity as a whole. And we really have to struggle with people about this: quit fashioning everything that comes out of your mouth in terms of bourgeois right. Let’s struggle about what humanity really needs.
1. See “Materialism and Romanticism: Can We Do Without Myth?” in Observations on Art and Culture, Science and Philosophy (Chicago: Insight Press, 2005).[back]
2. See the first installment in this series, in Revolution #105, October 21, 2007.[back]
3. This discussion of the “4 Alls” relates to the observation by Marx, in The Class Struggles in France, 1848-50, that “socialism is the declaration of the permanence of the revolution, the class dictatorship of the proletariat as the necessary transit point to the abolition of class distinctions generally, to the abolition of all the relations of production on which they rest, to the abolition of all the social relations that correspond to these relations of production, to the revolutionizing of all the ideas that result from these social relations.” (See Marx-Engels Selected Works, Volume 1, emphasis in original)
The formulation of the “4 Alls” to refer to this analysis by Marx was popularized by the revolutionaries within the Chinese Communist Party in the course of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, during the years 1966-76.[back]
Revolution #107, November 4, 2007
Thoughts on reading Clarence Page’s “Hung Up on Noose News”
There is a piece by Clarence Page* on October 17, “Hung up on noose news”—whose title is more than a subtle hint as to its stance—which essentially criticizes the struggle to free the Jena 6, by lecturing people, particularly young Black people, about how the noose does not have the same symbolism as it did in the past. While assuming the posture of a veteran of the struggle (“I knew the ’60s”) and while seemingly taking an “even-handed” approach—saying it is not either Al Sharpton or Bill Cosby but the role of both that is needed—Page in fact promotes the Cosby line, including through statements such as: “Today’s young black males kill more young black males in a year than the Ku Klux Klan killed in its entire history.” Here we see constructed, in a way that is typical of these Black bourgeois types, the false and misleading—or, perhaps better said, misdirecting—device of posing the dichotomy (or contradiction) as between racism (or white people), on the one hand, and, on the other hand, lack of personal responsibility on the part of Black people (including parents as well as youth). This false posing of the contradiction is part of, or in any case generally serves, the argument to Black people: “Yes, there is racism, and yes many white people are racists—but get over it, you can overcome this if you apply yourself diligently enough and with enough discipline.” What is left out in this—or evaded, consciously or not—is the heart and essence of the matter: While racism, and racist white people, are a real problem, the fundamental problem is THE SYSTEM—a system which, under certain historical conditions, spawned and utilized the KKK (and similar forces) to terrorize Black people, and which today relies mainly on the police to carry out violent repression, brutality and murder, against Black people and Black youth especially. IT IS THE SYSTEM which has put, and maintains, Black people—and, yes, in a particular way Black youth—in the situation where they are brutalizing and murdering each other. And IT IS THE SYSTEM which must be taken on and fought against—resisted now, through mass political mobilization, and finally, when the change has come about to where there is a revolutionary situation, it must be swept aside and abolished through mass revolutionary struggle. Once again, the basic point must be emphasized: It is only in and through the process of carrying out this resistance, and ultimately revolutionary struggle, and becoming increasingly conscious of the need and possibility of a radically different and far better society and world, brought about through revolution, that the masses of Black youth, Black people generally, and other oppressed people, can also transform themselves—into the emancipators of humanity.
* Clarence Page is a Black syndicated columnist and member of the Chicago Tribune editorial board.
Revolution #107, November 4, 2007
From A World to Win News Service
July 30, 2007. A World to Win News Service. On July 17 the manager of a kiln in north China and one of his subordinates were sentenced to life imprisonment and death respectively. This followed the shocking news in June about the slave labour scandal, which revealed how people have been forced to work in brick kilns in Shanxi province.
These men were accused of holding workers in virtual slavery and forcing them to work in furnace-like brick kilns. The kiln owners ran the factory like a prison according to state media reports, using guard dogs and beatings to deter escapes.
During the trial of the accused it was also revealed that at this particular kiln they had enslaved 34 labourers, including nine who were mentally disabled. In the year before their arrest, 19 workers were injured. The state media reported that at least 13 died from overwork and abuse, including a labourer who was allegedly battered to death with a shovel. Their daily toil started at 5 in the morning and lasted for 16 to 20 hours. The slave workers were locked in a bare room with no bed or cooker, allowed out only to work in the red-hot kilns, from where they would carry heavy loads of newly fired bricks on their bare backs. Many were badly burned. They were fed once a day, given steamed bread and cold water during the only break of the day, lasting 15 minutes. Witnesses testified in court that the hard work was accompanied by lashes and beatings.
Worried that such scandalous news would tarnish the image of the so-called “Chinese economic miracle,” the authorities at first tried to give the impression that such incidents are rare and happen only due to the cruelty of some individuals and greedy kiln owners. However, it came out in various reports that working in brutal and sometimes slave conditions appears to be common, if not in all of China, at least in some inland provinces such as Henan and Shanxi. The authorities, at least on the provincial level, were aware of this situation but deliberately ignored it because of a commitment to boosting economic growth at any cost.
Hundreds of parents had been looking for their missing children and had reason to believe that they had been forced to work at the brick kilns. The government took action only when these parents posted an open letter on the Internet accusing the Henan and Shanxi authorities of ignoring them and even protecting the kiln owners and human traffickers. “A Henan reporter who had helped expose the business accused officials of keeping parents from finding missing children. ‘In our reporting, the biggest obstacle has been lack of cooperation from some authorities in Shanxi’, Fu Zhenzhong, a television reporter, told The China Youth Daily. ‘Some are still coming up with any number of ways to keep parents from rescuing their children.’” (Reuters, June 17) Finally, close to 1,000 workers were released in a series of police raids and inspections of 7,500 kilns in the central China provinces of Henan and Shanxi.
The traffickers connected with the kilns hunted children on the streets. They used false promises and even kidnapping to obtain children under ten years old and then sold them to kiln owners for less than 50 euros each.
As a result of this scandal, Shanxi courts convicted a total of 29 people for their role in this slavery. A dozen more are awaiting trial.
The Chinese government could not limit the scandal to one isolated case in one kiln, but did its best to limit the impact by punishing a score of low-level officials. Higher-ranking officials were cleared of wrongdoing. Disciplinary measures were taken against nearly a hundred so-called Communist Party members.
Contrary to what the Chinese authorities and their promoters in the West might want people to believe, there are reasons to think that working conditions in various places in China are not totally different from the situation that came to light in these kilns. For example, the UK Guardian reported June 18, 2007: “From the densely packed factory zones of Guangdong Province to the street markets, kitchens and brothels of major cities, to the primitive factories of China’s relatively poor western provinces, child labour is a daily fact of life, and one that the government typically turns a blind eye to… as Hu Jindou, a professor of economics at Beijing University of Technology, says, ‘Forced labour or child labour is far from an isolated phenomenon. It is rooted deeply in today’s reality, a combination of capitalism, socialism, feudalism and slavery.’”
(Actually, while capitalism, feudalism and slavery do mingle in contemporary China’s economy, socialism was abruptly overthrown there through a coup d’état in 1976 after Mao’s death, when those whom Mao called the capitalist roaders within the Communist Party took power by force. The continued existence of state-owned industries today is not a sign of socialism, but of a state capitalist sector of the economy in which the working people are just as exploited as in the private sector.)
The same report refers to a different case in Guangdong province. Middle school students from faraway Sichuan Province complained that they were being abused through a work-study programme that supplied young workers from western China to an electronics assembly plant in the southeastern industrial boomtown of Dongguan, where labour shortages are common. They were forced to work, supposedly to pay back their school fees. Students complained that they worked 14-hour days, including mandatory overtime. They also said that their pay was withheld from them. In some instances, those who wished to quit the programme had no way of telephoning their families or paying for transportation home.
A similar report of this sort appeared in the German magazine Der Spiegel February 6, 2005. Ullrich Fichtner wrote that the two-decade long economic miracle of Shenzhen province, whose annual economic growth rate has hit 15 percent, rests on the shoulders of young women factory workers such as the malnourished Tang Shotsen, who works from early morning until late night seven days a week making coffee machines for 500 yuan (45 euros) a month, and the young women who assemble plastic dolls, put together watch bands from unfinished leather, make trainers and glass parts for copy machines and do numerous other jobs. In these factories the risk of injury is high. Labourers are often badly injured, losing a finger or burning part of their body, but there is no sign of insurance and medical care, only a few plasters and bandages.
The journalist Fichtner reports that women constitute 70 percent of the 5.5 million seasonal workers from all over China in Shenzhen and the factories in the surrounding area. In some parts of the province such as Nanshan, a high tech centre, this figure is even higher. The migration of young women started in 1980 when Deng Xiaoping called Shenzhen, a city in Guangdong province, a laboratory for the watchword he adopted for China: “To get rich is glorious.” The march of young women searching for a better life coming from all over China to Shenzhen hit a peak in the mid ’80s and early ’90s, when the news of this place of “dreams” spread all over China. Soon these dreams turned out to be illusions and Shenzhen a place where life pours out of the workers and into the products they make.
One result was that a vast number of women ended up working as prostitutes in the city and surrounding area. The German report describes the lives ofwomen such as Chou Venil, who works in a massage parlour seven days a week from 8 am to 8 pm for 54 cents per hour. The report continues, “Older women with bad teeth stand on the sidewalks holding photo albums. These albums are in fact catalogues of prostitutes, with page after page of passport photos of deformed and swollen faces indicating the vanished dream of the poor girls. The older women whisper, ‘Girls, mister, they are young, they don’t have AIDS, mister…’”
Prostitution seems to be an integral part of this economic boom. These women face huge problems. Their dreams have vanished, and now they have to fight for a job they never dreamed of: “In the southern boom city of Shenzhen, thousands of armed police were deployed earlier this week to quash a protest by more than 3,000 prostitutes and karaoke hostesses who were left without jobs after a crackdown on massage parlours and discos.” (Guardian, January 21, 2006) The city is notorious not only for the street prostitutes but the huge number of concubines kept as “second wives” by foreign businessmen, especially from Hong Kong.
Behind this reality is another bitter truth: many of those young women who came to Shenzhen are from families where female children were not welcomed. They come from places where giving birth to a girl once again is considered as a disaster and infanticide of baby girls is common. This evil disappeared or vastly diminished after the new democratic revolution in 1949 and China’s advance toward socialism. It has once again erupted in the last couple of decades in China, along with many other aspects of capitalism and other oppressive economic and social relations.
These examples from Guangdong are particularly important because, unlike Shanxi, where the slave labour brick kilns are located, Guangdong is not an isolated, backward area but a coastal province emblematic of China’s rapid growth and the success of its export industries. It is the country’s richest province. Guangdong’s success depends on the super-exploitation of workers from other, far poorer areas, especially the hinterlands, and, to a large extent, women. Without the kind of backward conditions in the countryside symbolized by slavery in the brick kilns, China’s modern industry would not be so profitable.
We often hear about the “Chinese economic miracle” after the socialist road was abandoned following the death of Mao in 1976. Since then China’s economy has achieved a growth rate of about ten percent a year. But this growth has been achieved at the cost of enormous and galloping disparities, among them the economic gaps between the cities and the countryside, agriculture and industry, and the better-off coastal provinces and the poor interior, as well as the reversal of the emancipation of women. These inequalities are the source of enormous profits and enormous suffering. They are also a sign of a radically different social system since Mao’s time.
Mao said that the real difference between capitalism and socialism is not what a society is called but what road it is on. Socialism could not just immediately abolish what it had inherited from the whole history of exploitation, including these and other major oppressive social differences, above all the division of society into classes, and all the ideas, customs and practices that came from those property relations. But when the proletariat held state power, the revolutionaries under his leadership fought to reduce the very same gaps that have become yawning chasms in China today. They did this by policies based not on what produced the most wealth in the short run, but what would bring about the balanced, equitable and liberating growth of society as a whole.
Socialist China did achieve economic miracles. Its sustained growth rate was enormous compared to comparable countries like India. In only a few decades the people’s average lifespan doubled. But the question was not how to produce the most, but the purpose of production and consequently how to produce. Should the wealth produced by labour increase social disparities and inequalities and further enslave the working people? Or should it increasingly allow the working people to become masters of production and all of society? Should the working people be beasts of burden, or should they lead the vast majority of people in the revolutionary transformation of China and turn it into a base area for world revolution to liberate humanity and bring about communism, a globe freed of the chains of the social inequalities and relations that bring such misery and hold back human potential?
The policies of the leadership of the communist party regarding these issues, Mao said, determine whether or not a country is really socialist, and whether or not that party is really communist. The truth of this idea is dramatically demonstrated in the contrast between China of today and of Mao’s day—the contrast between his China on the road to an enormously different future for the whole of mankind, and the hell-bound country of the 21st century that has brought back so much of the evil of the past.
Since the capitalist roaders enshrined private property, made profitability the highest goal and dissolved the collective forms of ownership and way of life in the countryside, much of the two-thirds of the population that is still rural has been abandoned. In the cities, the vast majority have become wage slaves—able to earn a living only as long as their labour enriches capital. Even the country’s most profitable and highest-tech industries are dependent on super-exploitable rural migrants, and most of those businesses are in the hands of foreign capitalists. Poverty and oppression is a condition for the wealth the country produces. China has replaced socialism with globalized capitalism.
While it is certainly true that the vast majority of people are not kept in the kind of literal slavery found in the brickyards, what has been happening in the poorest and most backward areas of China sheds light on the kind of society it has become. Most importantly, it shows what kind of social relations have come to characterize Chinese society. Where working people were once masters and liberators, now once again they are slaves.
Revolution #107, November 4, 2007
Background to Confrontation:
Part 8: Bush Regime Targets Iran After 9/11
For over 100 years, the domination of Iran has been deeply woven into the fabric of global imperialism, enforced through covert intrigues, economic bullying, military assaults, and invasions. This history provides the backdrop for U.S. hostility toward Iran today—including the real threat of war. Part 8 of this series examines why the Bush administration targeted Iran after 9/11, how the invasion of Iraq has backfired on them in many ways, and why this has increased their felt need to confront the Islamic Republic.
Iran, 9/11 and the “War on Terror”
George W. Bush’s capture of the U.S. presidency in 2000, followed by the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, led to a radical shift in U.S. global strategy and the launching of Bush’s “war on terror.” Iran was a key target from the start.
When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, the U.S. was suddenly the only global imperialist superpower. America’s rulers saw an opportunity to vastly extend their power, as well as the necessity to do so given the many contradictions—and potential contradictions—they faced worldwide. For a decade the “neo-cons” had been arguing for aggressively using U.S. military might to create an unchallenged and unchallengeable U.S. empire. They assumed key positions in Bush’s new administration.
After the 9/11 attacks, the Bush team felt compelled to forcefully lash back to preserve the U.S. empire’s global credibility. They also saw the opportunity—and the necessity—to push forward their broader agenda, which required crushing anti-U.S. Islamic fundamentalism and forcefully dealing with a host of impediments to their global power and ambitions —including states like Iran and Iraq.
During a secret November 2001 meeting, as reported by Bob Woodward in State of Denial: Bush at War, Part III, leading strategists close to the Bush administration argued that the 9/11 attacks did not represent “an isolated action that called for policing and crime fighting.” Their solution: a “two-generation battle with radical Islam” to defeat this movement—as well as take down regimes in Iraq, Iran, and Syria that were contributing in one way or another to the spread of anti-U.S. sentiments and fundamentalism or that posed obstacles to U.S. plans. They thought this would open the door to transforming the entire region—“draining the swamp,” as Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and his assistant Paul Wolfowitz put it shortly after Sept. 11—to eliminate the conditions giving rise to forces which, while reactionary, posed a growing obstacle to U.S. imperialist interests.
The first phase of this global war was launched on October 7, 2001 with the bombing of Afghanistan and the overthrow of the Islamist Taliban government. The Bush regime then decided that Iraq would be phase two. Saddam wasn’t an Islamist, nor was he allied with al Qaeda, but his continued rule was creating a variety of problems for the U.S. in the Middle East.
Even as they invaded Iraq, the Bush regime had Iran’s Islamic Republic squarely in their sights.
The Islamic Republic of Iran was not involved in the Sept. 11 attacks, and it aided the U.S. during the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan by backing the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance, allowing U.S. search-and-rescue missions to operate from Iranian territory, and passing on intelligence from Afghanistan. But the imperialists still had a big problem with the Islamic Republic—not because it is a reactionary theocracy that brutally represses its people. The problem, from the imperialists’ standpoint, was that Iran has been a key font of anti-U.S. Islamic fundamentalism. It was the first place where current-day Islamists seized state power—and they have used that power to promote Islamic fundamentalism and support Islamist movements in the region. Tehran’s rulers have also sought to redefine Iran’s place in the regional order, including by negotiating economic and political deals with U.S. rivals like Russia and China. All this has made Iran a big obstacle to U.S. plans in the region, and so the Bush regime placed Iran high on its target list.
On January 30, 2002, Bush charged that Iran “aggressively pursues these [nuclear] weapons and exports terror, while an unelected few repress the Iranian people’s hope for freedom,” and he included Iran (along with Iraq and North Korea) in the so-called “axis-of-evil,” which he said posed “a grave and growing danger.”
After Iraq, Debating Iran
After the March 2003 invasion of Iraq, some within the Bush administration argued that the U.S. should continue to pressure Iran’s Islamic Republic to end its support for Islamist movements in the region and give up its nuclear program, while also keeping the diplomatic channel to Tehran open, if only to use Iran’s influence to first stabilize post-invasion Iraq before moving on to other targets in the “war on terror.”
But the neocons, and those around Vice President Cheney in particular, argued that such rapprochement with Iran would derail the U.S.’s momentum and mission. “Our fight against Iraq was only one battle in a long war,” Meyrav Wurmser, a fellow at the right-wing American Enterprise Institute and wife of leading neocon David Wurmser, stated. “It would be ill-conceived to think that we can deal with Iraq alone.... We must move on, and faster.” (Jim Lobe, Asia Times, 5/28/03)
As further justification for their call for more aggressive action, Cheney and others pointed to new revelations about Iran’s nuclear program. In February 2003, Iran admitted that it was building two uranium enrichment plants, although it had not yet enriched uranium. By November 2003 Iran was in discussions with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) over verifying its compliance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), and stated it had suspended its enrichment program.
But the U.S. imperialists were determined to prevent Iran from having the bomb—not because they feared a preemptive Iranian strike on the U.S. or Israel, but because of the concern about “the constraining effect” a nuclear-armed Iran threatened “to impose upon U.S. strategy for the Greater Middle East,” as neocon Tom Donnelly put it. (Gareth Porter, Huffingtonpost.com, 9/8/07)
Iran’s rulers may want to acquire nuclear weapons, and they may have taken steps to do so. IAEA head Mohammed El Baradei, however, has stated that he’s found no evidence of any undeclared “source or special nuclear materials” or that such materials had ever been “used in furtherance of a military purpose.” (Farhang Jahanpour, oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk, June 2006)
In May 2003 the U.S. government secretly received a wide-ranging proposal from Iran’s leadership, perhaps motivated partly by fear that the U.S. was going to quickly turn its guns on Tehran. In exchange for an end to U.S. hostility, lifting of U.S. sanctions, and removal of Iran from the State Department’s list of countries supporting “terrorism,” the Iranian regime said it would meet the main U.S. demands and basically accommodate itself to a U.S.-dominated Middle East. Iran would also freeze its nuclear program and open it up to inspections that would guarantee it wasn’t making nuclear weapons. Iran also offered to support a democratic, non-religious government in Iraq, to cooperate fully in fighting al Qaeda and other groups, and to end its support for Hamas in Palestine. (Peter Galbraith, The NY Review of Books, 10/11/07)
The Bush regime summarily rejected Iran’s offer. The high-level dialogue between the U.S. and Iran over Iraq, Afghanistan, and other regional issues was abruptly shut down, and the neocons continued to push for regime change in Tehran.
The Fateful Decisions of May 2003
Before the U.S. invasion of Iraq, fervent advocates of the war had predicted that Hussein’s overthrow would trigger upheaval, even the fall of the regime in Iran. But, in fact, U.S. actions ended up strengthening Iranian influence in Iraq and across the region—intensifying some of the very contradictions the U.S. was trying to solve by invading Iraq in the first place.
The Bush regime attempted to quickly and radically reshape Iraqi politics, economics, and society in the interests of U.S. imperialism. In mid-May 2003, less than a month after Bush declared “victory” in Iraq from the deck of an aircraft carrier, occupation chief Paul Bremer issued decrees banning Iraq’s Baath Party, disbanding Iraq’s army and police force, closing unprofitable state-run industries, and beginning the privatization of Iraq’s economy. Bremer also scuttled the proposed interim government in favor of a “Coalition Provisional Authority” (CPA) which would gradually unfold the political process and form a new Iraqi government under Bremer’s tight control.
Bush officials also calculated that Iraq’s Shi’ites (some 60 percent of the population) would be hostile to Iran. Some even predicted that backing the Iraqi Shi’a religious factions would serve U.S. aims. Neocon war architect David Wurmser wrote that “liberating the Shi’ite centers in Najaf and Karbala, with their clerics who reject the wilayat al-faqih [clerical rule], could allow Iraqi Shi’ites to challenge and perhaps fatally derail the Iranian revolution.” (Larry Everest, Oil, Power, and Empire, Chapter 9)
These were profound miscalculations. The Bush regime underestimated how the shock of the invasion and the dismantling of the Iraqi state would lift the lid on the deep contradictions roiling Iraq, including hatred of the U.S. and its ally Israel, and the growing strength of Islamic fundamentalism among both Sunnis and Shi’as. And it underestimated how the CPA’s handling of the political process and elections would raise tensions with Shi’as and strengthen Iran’s hand.
While the full scope of Iranian actions in U.S.-occupied Iraq is unclear, it appears that Iran has sought to prevent the re-emergence of a hostile Iraq on its western border, as well as extend its regional influence and strengthen the Islamist project. (And expanding its influence in Iraq as a means of increasing Tehran’s bargaining leverage with the U.S.) From 2003 to 2005, U.S. and Iranian actions in Iraq ran more or less parallel—even as the U.S. imperialists and Iran’s Islamic rulers had sharply antagonistic strategic objectives. During the invasion, Iraq’s Shi’a leadership (who have close ties to the Iranian regime) encouraged their followers to avoid confrontations with U.S. forces. Both the U.S. and the Iranians ended up supporting the same reactionary Kurdish and Shi’ite parties, neither wanted Sunni forces to return to power, and both wanted the establishment of a stable new Iraqi government.
But U.S.-Iranian tensions continued to develop. In June 2003, less than a month after coming to Iraq, Bremer complained that Iran was “meddling” in Iraq (this came from the mouth of an official representing a power that had just invaded this country!). Bremer singled out the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution of Iraq (SCIRI, which was formed in Iran in the early 1980s) for threatening to boycott a Bremer-chosen interim Iraqi administration. (Financial Times, 6/10/03)
Tufts University Professor Vali Nasr, an expert on Iran, recently told investigative journalist Seymour Hersh, “Iran’s policy since 2003 has been to provide funding, arms, and aid to several Shi’ite factions—including some in [current Prime Minister] Maliki’s coalition.” In the fall of 2004, during the run-up to the January 2005 Iraqi elections for a Transitional National Assembly engineered by the U.S., the CIA reported that Iran was spending $11 million a week to help the United Shi’a Platform, which ended up winning a majority of seats in the election. So while Iran wasn’t directly challenging the U.S. in Iraq, it was definitely increasing its leverage.
Revolution #107, November 4, 2007
Editor’s note: David Horowitz is a right-wing hit-man in the forefront of the attack on dissent and critical thinking in academia. He organized a so-called “Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week” (IFAW) on campuses around the U.S. October 22–26. On many campuses, this was a very two-sided political confrontation, with both Horowitz’s events and exposure of his agenda and his lies. We’ll have more coverage and analysis next week. But to give a flavor of what happened, we’re printing excerpts from the following correspondence from Berkeley, CA (see revcom.us for more coverage).
The University of California at Berkeley (UC) has not been Berkeley of the ’60s for a long time. A recent forum on creationism attracted close to a thousand supportive Christian students, while a forum to “Defend Science” attracted far fewer, and mostly non-students. That said, we are beginning to see some new fissures, like the recent protest of hundreds in support of the Jena 6. And now, students have started to stand up to the Horowitz assault.
On Monday, October 22, the “Peace Not Prejudice” people who were also mobilizing in response to IFAW showed the movie The Ghosts of Abu Ghraib, that exposes the torture there and the role of high-ranking people in the U.S. government in that.
And, on October 22, at the same time people were marching against police brutality, an activist organizing opposition to IFAW was on the UC campus talking to people about politically confronting Nonie Darwish later in the evening. Nonie Darwish was the IFAW speaker at Berkeley, and she is the spokesperson for the group "Arabs for Israel." On that day, there was a man in the middle of campus with a sign that said "Islam Abuses Women." There was a provocative “check list” on the back of his sign: "Polygamy, Incest, Wife Beating." A bunch of students crowded around and started debating with him. The anti-IFAW organizer got in the mix and did loud agitation and distributed a lot of flyers and posters. This went on for hours, with a constant group of about 30 or 40 students standing around arguing with this guy. People went and made signs and brought them back. One Black student was saying, “What would we do if the KKK came on our campus?” By 7 p.m., when Nonie Darwish was supposed to speak, a group of students, including some Muslim students, followed the guy with the “Islam Abuses Women” sign over to the IFAW event. Then there was a spontaneous rally/speak-out/debate in front of the building for about half an hour. World Can’t Wait activists were there with orange jumpsuits.
Revolution correspondent Larry Everest started reading quotes from the Bible about enslaving women, etc., which just infuriated the guy with the “Islam abuses women” sign. Then we all went in. There were about 60 right-wingers and about 40 on our side. Darwish’s speech itself—very narrowly, and through personal anecdotal evidence—described some of the horrors of radical Islam. She really didn’t put forward her actual positions though. What does she advocate in response? War? Torture? How does she feel about the Christian fascists she’s lining up with? The Q&A were on notecards and Darwish was even dodging the pre-selected questions, so people were forced to yell out our questions and comments. Someone asked her about torture and Abu Ghraib, which she dodged by asking “What about Daniel Pearl?” Finally, after being pressured to answer, she said she supports “really scaring them [the detainees].” The organizers—who claim they are the victims of constant censorship—very quickly shut down any potential discussion and ended the event. The whole thing was very two-sided, and it was clear that Nonie Darwish and the College Republicans were the ones who didn’t want to debate.
The next night (Oct. 23), Revolution Books put on an event called “What about U.S. Fascism?” with Larry Everest and graduate student teacher Roberto Hernandez. Although a call was put out on the Republican website to come to the event saying it was going to be “a lot of fun,” none showed. Roberto Hernandez discussed how the attack on Ethnic Studies is much more than an attack on the history of non-whites and their relationship to the U.S., it is an attack on critical thinking itself. Larry Everest pointed out that Darwish tells people not to ask questions like, “Why do they hate us?” There were a number of really good questions. People were trying to get a handle on the seriousness and implications of IFAW and what it’s tied into (the Christian Fascists, attacks on professors, war on Iran, etc.).
Wednesday night, October 24, was the College Republicans’ screening of the war propaganda film Obsession. We brought our own portable movie projector with speakers and battery power to show the World Can’t Wait video about IFAW on the side of the building in front of the entrance. Unfortunately, the cops said it was against school rules, but though they couldn’t tell us which ones, we still had to shut it down. So we got into our orange jumpsuits and kneeled in front of the entrance to the movie. Before it started, we went into the room and kneeled in front of the movie screen. There were about 30 or 40 people in the room, and some of the right-wingers started yelling at us and made jokes about Halloween. One of the jumpsuited activists took his hood off and started agitating about why we are here, and why we are wearing the jumpsuits—because movies like this prepare people to accept and justify torture and unending war in the Middle East. He encouraged people to watch the movie and see what they think, telling them that he’d watched it and, although they compare radical Islam to the Nazis, he said that this film was actually very similar to Nazi propaganda. The cops told them if they didn’t sit down or leave they would be arrested. They sat down and the one who’d been speaking walked out. When he was outside, the cop handcuffed him and said he was making a “citizen’s arrest” on behalf of the College Republicans. He was cited and released, but the message was clear: don’t question, don’t speak up. After the movie was over, three of the remaining activists stood up and very calmly started explaining that now it was time for free speech and they would like everyone to stick around because there are a few things this movie leaves out. The Republicans were trying to wrap it all up, saying they weren’t going to talk here but people were welcome to debate on their blog. When the activists continued to raise the issue a lot of loud arguing ensued and the police came in and pulled the activists out, injuring one high school student’s wrist. The police said they were there to prevent a physical fight between the two sides, but there was only a heated debate. The College Republicans might not have good arguments, but they have the power of the state behind them. On the positive side, several young women who were in the audience told us they wanted to be part of the counter-demo the next day for the Sproul Plaza rally that the Republicans were having.
Thursday, October 25, the Repubicans read “Voices of Terror” at a rally in the center of campus. We came with jumpsuits and one of the young women we had met the night before put one on with another activist and went and kneeled in front of their speakers. We also held up big banners right behind the speakers with different quotes from the speakers of IFAW (Coulter, Santorum, Horowitz). The Republican quotes were mainly from Muslims attacking Jews. They only spoke for about a half hour and the crowd of about 200 students were very angry, sometimes yelling things like “This is racist.” Right after, some activists and a student did a little speaking out to the crowd about the sham that is IFAW. The student said something to the effect of “I’m a Jew and I’m not on the right or the left, but when they tell me I’m siding with the terrorist when I have a problem with the government, that gets in the way of my free speech.”
Later that evening, the coalition of thirty student groups, as part of the “Peace not Prejudice Week,” held a rally on Sproul. Over 300 people heard Rabbi Michael Lerner and others (including hip hop artists and spoken word poets) speak about racism, the power of students, and against the war.
The main campus newspaper, the Daily Cal, reported that students at the noon rally “yelled ‘What About Guantánamo.’” An annoyed campus Republican told Daily Cal, “For many people, the week had more to do with the military escapades of the U.S. rather than Islamo-fascism.”
Revolution #107, November 4, 2007
We received the following from PRLF:
The Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund (PRLF) is an educational literature fund that fills requests from U.S. prisoners for revolutionary literature.
The main requests received by PRLF from those behind bars are for complimentary subscriptions in Spanish and English to the weekly newspaper Revolution and for revolutionary and other books, including ones highlighted in Revolution newspaper. Through providing this literature PRLF provides an educational opportunity for prisoners to engage with world events and key political, cultural, and philosophical questions of the day from a unique revolutionary perspective, including discussions of morality, religion, science, and the arts. Every week prisoners can delve into the urgent and lively news and debate about unfolding political and social struggles, and can critically think about and dissect the current state of society as well as search for an alternative. PRLF works to counter increasing censorship that seeks to deny prisoners access to Revolution newspaper and the other revolutionary literature requested.
What Prisoners Are Saying About Revolution Newspaper
“As I mentioned above, I’ve been receiving Revolution free for over five years. Every year I tell myself, ‘Maybe this is the year they’ll need to commit their limited resources elsewhere in the struggle,’ and I definitely can’t be mad at that! The foundation has been laid. Nothing else to do but build on it and contribute where/when I can! Yet, to this day I continue to receive Revolution each week. But let me tell you! Many benefit from this one paper I receive, a testament to its importance behind enemy lines! It gets circulated and requested wherever I go—from the mainline to the Ad-Segs (Administrative Segregation) to the SHUs (Segregated Housing Units). Sometimes I don’t get it back for weeks and weeks, and it’s brown and tattered from having passed under so many cell doors and into so many anticipating hands. I love getting it returned all underlined and creased, with notes and ideas scribbled in the margins, sometimes not getting it returned at all! How wonderful! It’s so amazing to see furrowed brows and hear perplexed discussion and debate over the tier, as captives begin to call into question why things really are the way they are; how exactly we’ve been inculcated and indoctrinated by our oppressor to see the world and our place in it a certain way (the way they’d like, that keeps us oppressed and exploited!); how our captivity and the repressive measures of the bourgeois state apparatus is all a part of the workings of the system.
Folsom Prison, California
CONTRIBUTIONS URGENTLY NEEDED
Send checks or money orders made out to Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund to:
Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund (PRLF)
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Revolution #107, November 4, 2007
Readers Donate to Revolution $500,000 Expansion and Fund Drive... Challenge Others
We received this correspondence.
Four readers and supporters of Revolution newspaper decided to use something we love to do—ride bikes—to raise money for the fund drive. We chose an organized bike ride on Oct. 13 (“Escape from New York”) and reached out to ask people to “sponsor” us by pledging money for every mile we rode. We rode a metric century—100 km or 62 miles—so people pledged $.50, $1 or $2 per mile. We had pledges between two of us of approximately $1500. (One person is still getting pledges and another is riding a different ride so we don’t know about them yet.)
We reached out to family, friends and people who knew Revolution newspaper and many who did not. We also intended to reach out to people—bike riders—that might not be approached to get the paper. We went to one 60-mile ride three weeks before our ride. We cut out the front of the shirts “Wanted for Mass Murder…The Bush Regime” and pinned them on front and back of our bike jerseys. We got comments of “Hey, like your jersey,” or “Where do I get a jersey like that?” When that happened we handed them a card we printed that had the first paragraph of the fund drive broadsheet and told of our plan for raising money. At the rest stops along the way, we passed out several hundred of those cards.
At the end of that ride, we sold the paper and passed out more cards. The official organizers of the ride asked us not to pass out the cards at the very end because it made it seem like it was officially part of the ride. So they gave us a table a few feet away which was very cool of them. Very few people had seen the paper so we were reaching new people.
One rider is a revolutionary artist and sent an email asking for donations to his e-list. He got several responses from people he hardly knows. The most significant thing was when another artist known in an important arena of art sent the email out to his e-list, further spreading the solicitation and the knowledge of the paper.
The other rider had been part of a runners club in Detroit that is all Black middle class and mainly professionals. About the time he was writing an email to send to the club list, the head of the club wrote an email to the list forwarding a NAACP appeal for support for the Jena 6. So the rider sent the appeal for pledges and sent a couple of the Revolution articles about the Jena 6. Then after the Sept. 20 outpourings, the club head sent the rider an email asking “Where were the white people?” in Jena. He at first sent it only to the rider. Then he sent it to the entire club list, clearly aiming to spark discussion. So the rider sent further articles such as “Jena Journal: 48 Hours After a Great Day” and raised the question of how to end the oppression of Black people and all oppression, sending Bob Avakian’s recent series.
This did not lead to a large number of pledges but it did introduce the paper to 50-75 people. One assistant professor at a Detroit area university in the runners club sent the name of a colleague in New York City that might be interested in the paper.
The goal of reaching out to a new grouping of people was partially successful. However, we did not succeed in having the new people we met raise money themselves. This was because we did not follow up well enough. It is crucial to follow up on new people met.
We realized that there was a much greater potential overall than we had realized. This effort turned people who might not have given money to the paper if approached directly for a donation into financial supporters and introduced them to the paper. Family and friends were happy to “sponsor” a rider they knew in this effort for the paper. There were many that both of us did not reach that would have given. We realized we could have reached out much more broadly.
You can take any event with some sort of endurance aspect to it like a bike ride or run or walk and turn it into a fundraiser for the paper. There is a good reason why so many charities use that method. So add this to the list of 40+ ways to raise funds for the paper.
Revolution #107, November 4, 2007
We received the following from a reader who has pledged to sustain Revolution newspaper on a monthly basis. To sustain, subscribe, or donate to Revolution go to revcom.us
I never expected to see a communist newspaper in this country. Then I found Revolution.
To know that there’s more people doing something to change all this, all the things I’ve wanted to see changed, makes me feel like it’s more possible than I felt before.
I always think that we can change reality by doing something and not believing something supernatural will do it for us. Like the religious people tell you that you can’t change anything. All you can do is pray and wait for the next life.
I want to see an end to all the injustice, an end to the stupidity of human beings wasting our planet, an end to human beings abusing other human beings.
In this country we have enough food and live comfortably and we can close our eyes to the suffering and misery of the rest of the world. We say in Mexico Ojos que no ven corazón que no siente. [“Eyes that can't see, heart that won't feel.”—Eds.]
People who live here, even myself being so far from my country, can also close our eyes but we still suffer the consequences of what Tony Soprano does around the world. I’m the one whose television Tony Soprano stole. Now I have to wash his floors to buy a new one.
I grew up in a religious family and I always kept asking questions but was never satisfied with the answers. What I want is for people to question what’s real and what’s possible. Reading Revolution I find out that changing reality is more possible than I thought. The religious people were lying to me. Now that I know more about communism, I can see more clearly what is capitalism and the capitalists are responsible for all the lies I’ve been told. They profit from the ignorance of the people who give up and accept all of this. It makes me mad.
I won’t give up.
I want to fight back.
Mexicano Comrade in Brooklyn