Voice of the Revolutionary Communist Party,USA
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Spreading Revolution and Communism
Revolution #159, March 22, 2009
On February 19, dozens of students occupied the third floor of the Kimmel student center in the heart of the New York University (NYU) campus. They barricaded doors and made 13 demands on the University, including budget disclosure, endowment disclosure, student representation on the Board of Trustees, and—in the wake of the devastating Israeli invasion of Gaza—that NYU donate spare equipment to the Islamic University in Gaza that was the target of Israeli attacks, and grant 13 scholarships to students from Gaza. (The entire list of demands are online at www.takebacknyu.com).
NYU is the largest private, nonprofit institution of higher education in the United States. The students’ actions have created an ongoing, charged, politicized atmosphere on campus; sent out a message across the country; and inspired messages of support from students and others around the world.
Takeover at New School
In late December of last year, students at the New School—a university with several campuses in New York City—occupied the Graduate Faculty building for 32 hours. They were violently attacked by campus security.
Among their demands was the resignation of school president Bob Kerrey, whose initial appointment in 2002 drew widespread student protest due to Kerrey’s prominent role in the “Committee for the Liberation of Iraq,” a ruling class venture to prepare public opinion for the Iraq war. Kerrey’s invitation to John McCain to deliver the keynote address at the school’s 2006 commencement resulted in protests, a tumultuous graduation ceremony and a “die-in.” During the recent occupation, some students and their supporters chanted, “War criminal Kerrey, get out now,” referring to an incident during the Vietnam War in 1969, when a Navy SEAL team led by Kerrey killed 21 civilians — women, young children and an elderly man—while on a mission in Thanh Phong village.
The current demand for Kerrey’s resignation revolves around his mission to transform the school into a profit-making enterprise. One student leader, speaking outside the occupation, said that “Kerrey’s way of running the school — the top-down corporate structure — leaves very little room for students and faculty to guide the learning community here.”
The occupation—which was joined by some students from other area schools—lasted nearly 40 hours. On midnight of the 19th, a thousand people, mostly students from area colleges, filled the streets outside the Kimmel Center in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village in solidarity with the protest.
The occupation of the Kimmel Center was broken up by campus police and administrators who cut off power and Internet connections, pushed through barricades, and physically forced the students out of the building. Eighteen NYU students were initially suspended—a punishment later revised to academic probation after widespread outrage, including a letter of protest signed by 170 faculty.
At a Revolution Books-sponsored forum on campus on March 10, a woman undergraduate at NYU painted this picture of the climate on campus that gave rise to the occupation: “Education has been becoming increasingly corporate in America, and specifically at NYU, and that is a power that is really unquestioned and accepted in a lot of ways.” She said students are given the message that: “You’re a customer here, you’re here to purchase your education.” And she explained that: “What we’ve been trying to do this whole time is to challenge that logic, and challenge the logic that education is something that can be purchased by those who can afford to purchase it, that it is a commodity that can be charged accepted prices for, and that as customers we have no rights to demand that we can participate in our education, that we can have a say in how it works. So from the beginning, the idea has been challenging that idea, and reclaiming our university, Thus the name ‘Take Back NYU!’.”
Another NYU student at the same forum posed that “Goals like transparency and accountability don’t sound that radical, or shocking. So you might imagine you could get accountability and transparency through things like petitions. But what was shocking is that the university doesn’t want any part of it.” He recounted how when a member of Take Back NYU! was elected to the student government, administrators literally laughed when they brought up the issues of endowment disclosure, and budget disclosure.
Hampshire College Students Win Demand for Divestment from Israel
On February 7 of this year, in response to student demands, Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts became the first college or university in the U.S. to divest from companies on the grounds of their involvement in the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Student activists pressured Hampshire College’s Board of Trustees to divest from six specific companies due to human rights concerns in occupied Palestine. More than 800 students, professors and alumni signed a statement initiated by the campus group Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) calling for the divestment.
According to a statement issued by SJP, the six corporations, all of which provide the Israeli military with equipment and services in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, are: Caterpillar, United Technologies, General Electric, ITT Corporation, Motorola and Terex.
The divestment from Israel movement has been endorsed by Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, Rashid Khalidi, Vice President of the EU Parliament Luisa Morganitini, Cynthia McKinney, former member of the African National Congress Ronnie Kasrils, Mustafa Barghouti, Israeli historian Ilan Pappe, John Berger, Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire and Roger Waters of Pink Floyd, among others, and is seen by activists as part of a movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel.
The statement from SJP expresses hope that “this decision will pave the way for other institutions of higher learning in the U.S. to take similar stands.”
Up against a wall of administration arrogant disdain, including from University head John Sexton (student activists call him “CEO,” not President), students began launching direct action protests. Last December, they organized a protest dance party in the lobby of a campus library, where the administration occupies the upper floors. One of the students at the Revolution Books event described the building as “a physical representation of the way our university is run: We have a very vertical building, and the administration sits at the top, and students do most of their work literally below ground, in the bottom, where there is only iridescent, very frustrating neon lights, and you are down there at the bottom, and you never see the people on the top floor, and you never know what they’re doing, and you don’t know how to talk to them, and you don’t know how to reach them. The elevators that go to those floors, we literally are not allowed to take.”
When Israel invaded Gaza, many of the activist students at NYU felt a tremendous need to act. Two weeks before the occupation of the Kimmel Center, six NYU students, along with four other people, bound themselves together and barricaded a $1,500 a plate reception sponsored by American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) in support of Israel. Ten people were arrested after two hours, and face criminal charges. Support for them, and demanding charges be dropped, is an important challenge.
The inclusion of the demands around Gaza was controversial—some mainstream news accounts featured students saying they would have supported the occupation except for those demands. Debate over Israel, and the relationship between that country and the U.S., and NYU—which has a special relationship with Tel Aviv University—has been part of the politicized atmosphere on campus, along with larger questions of the role of the University in the world.
A recent forum on campus, “NYU-Tel Aviv University: A Partnership in Occupation,” posed: “Tel Aviv University has long played a vital part in the occupation and colonization of Palestinian lands, and proudly trumpets its support for the Israeli military and its role in designing new weapons systems with which Israel wages war on the Palestinians. Despite these criminal activities, NYU has partnered with Tel Aviv University, thereby tying itself more directly to the occupation of Palestine and the oppression of the Palestinians than ever before. NYU’s expansion to Tel Aviv is not an isolated event, but part of a larger vision of becoming a ‘global university.’ This corporatized vision entails the expansion of the university at the expense of populations variously deprived of elementary human, labor, economic, and social rights, be they Palestinians under occupation, workers at NYU’s branch campus in Abu Dhabi, or workers at its home campus in the heart of New York City. It is a vision which, by its partnership in occupation, oppression, and autocracy, repudiates the mission of higher education to serve humanity.”
The spirit and attitude represented by the NYU occupation, and the ongoing protests on campus, are all the more precious given the ice sheet of repression and intimidation that has descended on U.S. campuses particularly in the wake of 911 and as part of the so-called “War on Terror”—really a war for empire. The firing of tenured University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill for controversial remarks in the wake of 911 was a key nodal point in the assault on critical thinking on campuses (see “Ward Churchill Lawsuit Against University of Colorado Begins March 9th,” at revcom.us). Joel Kovel, an outspoken critic of Zionism whose book Overcoming Zionism has been suppressed, and who himself was recently fired from Bard College for his views on Israel, spoke in solidarity with the NYU activists at the March 10 Revolution Books event at NYU.
Students at NYU are finding creative ways to continue the struggle, and challenge others. On March 12, a snowfall of flyers, for which no organization took credit, blanketed the lobby of the University’s Bobst Library. One flyer read: “We are PEOPLE not PROFIT.”
Another had this message: “The time has come to begin our refusal. We cannot allow ourselves to stand idly by while NYU profits by our intelligence, lining other people’s pockets while our future slips away. The crises we face are too great for self-interest-as-usual. This is the beginning of their end, and our beginning. Out of their fall, we will rise. Will you rise with us?”
That is a challenge to every student, and the people in this country in general.
See also a letter from a reader, “Spreading Revolution and Communism at NYU and the New School.”
For more coverage of student protests go to revcom.us
From Ike to Mao and Beyond
My Journey from Mainstream America
Revolution #159, March 22, 2009
Last week, Revolution published a Declaration: For Women’s Liberation and the Emancipation of All Humanity. This is a breath-taking and sweeping piece.
At a time when almost no standards exist in treating women like full and equal human beings even among progressive people, and at a time of miserably lowered sights and tremendous disorientation, this Declaration forcefully calls out the intolerability of the current deteriorating situation for women in every part of the world. It analyzes the source of this oppression and sets a new standard for all those concerned with the liberation of women and of humanity as a whole.
This Declaration has the potential to reshape the way a whole new generation of women—and men—understand the whole question of the position of women in society and the future possibilities. There is an ocean of untapped anger, potential to contribute, and impatience among millions and millions of women the world over. This Declaration has the potential to call it forward, temper and unleash it as a mighty force for revolution.
A CALL TO SPREAD THIS DECLARATION
Get bundles of this Declaration and get it out all over—to high schools and college campuses, to all the women’s studies departments and women’s organizations, to the buses largely filled with women going to visit men in prison, to the women behind bars, to gatherings of progressive people, to the neighborhoods and beauty salons, to the malls where teenagers hang out and to concerts and movie lines. Take it to artists and musicians, to medical professionals and scientists, to writers and public opinion makers, to rape crisis centers and battered women’s shelters. Take it everywhere people are discussing and debating, and everywhere they should be discussing and debating the conditions of women. Spread it through email, on websites and chatrooms... help it go viral and change the terms in which people are thinking, talking, and acting.
Talk to people, challenge them, stir things up.
Especially where people are gathered to talk about the conditions of women—take this Declaration out to people. Study its line and SPEAK UP. Challenge people sharply to break out of the limits and confines of how this question is currently posed. Bring to them the need for the most radical revolution in the history of humanity and BRING PEOPLE INTO THIS REVOLUTIONARY MOVEMENT.
Then, write in to Revolution and share with us your experience.
This Declaration can transform and strengthen the character of the revolutionary movement—from how fiercely and defiantly we fight the power, to how fully we unleash the fury of women in all we do, to how we ourselves think and even feel about the role of women in society and the relations between men and women. This Declaration can forge this movement into an even more powerful embodiment of the liberated future we are fighting to bring into being, and an even more powerful force of attraction to all those who yearn for a liberated world.
This Declaration is a tremendous breakthrough in communist theory and analysis of the origins of women’s oppression, the pathways (and obstacles) to liberation, and the understanding of what kind of future is possible and necessary for all of humanity to flourish. It is an expression of the breakthroughs Bob Avakian has made in developing a new synthesis on revolution and communism—and it is a form through which many can be introduced to his leadership and brought into this revolution as a whole.
In this Declaration, the Revolutionary Communist Party has developed a tremendous tool for transforming one of the most unnecessary and agonizing contradictions of all class societies—the subjugation and crippling of half of humanity—into one of the most powerful and dynamic factors of the communist revolution to get beyond all systems based on oppression and exploitation.
But, in order for that to be the case—this Declaration must be deeply studied, wrangled with, and taken out to people with substance, clarity and confidence. Ending the oppression of women will take more than tears and more than outrage. It will take a scientific understanding and a revolutionary solid core that is clear on where it is going.
It is worth it to step back further and really take in and appreciate the content—and the breakthroughs—that fill this Declaration.
This Declaration goes further than ever has been done before into the material roots of women’s oppression—digging deep into human history and into the ongoing development of the economic base of society—to reveal where this oppression comes from. Why it is not simply a matter of “human nature.” Or of the “attitudes of men.” Or of a “divine” or supernatural plan. This Declaration reveals how the earliest division of labor of human societies—a division of labor whereby, of necessity, women played a bigger role in childrearing—was transformed into an institutionalized relation of men oppressing women at the point in human history when society became divided into classes.
This Declaration is internationalist. It reveals how the oppression of women is integral to all reactionary social and economic systems, and how—very importantly—in this era of global capitalist imperialism it is the structures of global capitalism that have integrated in, reinforce and require not only the forms of oppression of women dominant in the “West” but also those which characterize the Third World countries they dominate and exploit.
This Declaration cuts through the crap of pitting different forms of women’s oppression against each other—where women in “democratic” “enlightened” countries like the U.S. are told there are no limits on what they can achieve (despite the constant and suffocating limits and dangers that surround them at every point) and that they should be grateful they are not in the countries where women are stoned to death. And, where fundamentalists of all varieties—from the Islamic fundamentalists growing in strength and influence throughout large parts of the world to the Christian fundamentalists who are every bit as misogynist and “medieval” right here in the U.S.—point to the degradation of pornography and sex trafficking to argue for and enforce their Dark Ages forms of patriarchal subjugation of women. From the burka to the thong—this Declaration cuts through the appearance of difference to the essence of women’s subjugation with materialism and science.
This Declaration goes deep into that “much cherished” institution of the family, getting to the roots of WHY it continues to be the most dangerous place for women and children. It ties together the origins of the family as a “household of slaves” to the way the family has evolved in capitalist societies. It reveals how marital relations are still fundamentally property relations and how this has everything to do with the double standard that deems women who have many sexual partners as “sluts” and men who have many sexual partners as “studs.” It even illuminates why men in this society feel entitled to venture outside their marriages for sexual gratification rather than striving for a more loving relationship and caring intimacy with their wives—and why so many women are forced into the material conditions and indoctrinated with the ideology of their “place” that makes them so available to be used and abused as sex objects by men.
This Declaration examines and makes sense out of the tremendously positive achievements of the Women’s Liberation movement of the 1960’s and early 70’s as well as the shortcomings. It draws the lessons essential for advancing today and dissects the difference between the bourgeois feminist movement and those who take up the struggle for women’s emancipation as part of the overall fight to transform the whole world.
Repeatedly throughout this document, it is revealed how capitalism has not and cannot achieve the liberation of women but only has transformed the ways in which women are oppressed. It reveals how the Christian fascist movement to reinforce patriarchy and the traditional family became an essential vehicle of the ruling class as a whole to reverse the tide on a whole number of wide advances that had been made by the radical and revolutionary movements of the 60’s and 70’s. And this Declaration shows how the poison of patriarchy and religion has been a vehicle through which the rulers have drawn many who are still bitterly oppressed and once dreamed of another world into their reactionary fold.
A PARTICULAR INVITATION
From April 3 - 5 there will be a major conference at Hampshire College, “From Abortion Rights to Social Justice: Building the Movement for Reproductive Freedom.”
Every year this conference draws many hundreds of progressive and radical minded students from around the country who are dedicated to women’s advance. There will be many in attendance and on the panels who have contributed significantly to the fight for women’s liberation. At the same time, this conference will be marked by the very limitations polemicized against in the Declaration.
Everyone attending and organizing this conference needs to get this Declaration, be challenged with its content, and invited as well as challenged to relate to the revolutionary movement as the only way to liberate women and as a key part of emancipating all of humanity.
I will be attending and am putting out the call to all the readers of Revolution to join me in attending this conference. This will be the chance to intersect in a concentrated way with women and progressive men on campuses from around the country as well as a concentration of forces in the current women’s movement. This is a strategically very important way of impacting the country as a whole, spreading this Declaration coast to coast, and laying a foundation for wrenching out a new revolutionary movement for the liberation of women among a new generation.
If you are interested in attending as part of this revolutionary team, contact us through email@example.com.
Also, begin really wrangling with and getting experience taking out this Declaration. Use the editorial in this issue, “A Challenge to the Readers of Revolution” as a guide for getting further into the content and what is being called forward through this Declaration. Attending this will be an opportunity to really get trained in the revolutionary line of this Declaration and to spread it to a strategic and pivotal section of the population as a key part of hastening the development of and preparing politically to be able to seize on a revolutionary opportunity.
— Sunsara Taylor,
This Declaration reveals how, because an actual revolution was not made during the upsurges of the ’60s, the advances made were not able to be maintained. At a time when disorientation has engulfed so many, this Declaration takes the time to remind us that an actual revolution means the overthrow of one class by another and the establishment of a new state—not merely a lot of upsurge and struggle and change of attitudes.
This Declaration gets into how central the question of women’s right to abortion and birth control is to the full emancipation of women—why attacks on these fundamental rights have been a leading edge of the reactionary assault of the rulers of this country and the Christian fascists they have unleashed. And this Declaration challenges and calls out the disorientation and defensiveness on the question of abortion that has taken hold in the official bourgeois feminist movement.
From here, this Declaration goes into four major roadblocks to emancipation. These are questions that not only plague people broadly, but even muddle and confuse those who are genuinely seeking to contribute something positive to humanity. It is revealed how these wrong views—championing U.S. imperialism as a force that can “liberate women,” failing to challenge the cult of motherhood, fighting for “strong families” among the oppressed, and “choosing” to be a sex object as an act of “empowerment”—not only fall short, but lead people AWAY from the liberation that is so urgently needed and possible.
Never before has the communist movement spoken with such materialism and scientific sharpness to the need to break with the ideology that sanctifies motherhood and childbirth, to break with any romanticism around the family, to really step out of being played by the lose/lose “choice” between U.S. imperialism and Islamic fundamentalism, and to get fully beyond viewing women as sex objects and commodifying sex itself. These polemics speak powerfully to people “where they live” and there is an urgent need for sharp and uncompromising ideological as well as political struggle around these questions.
At the same time, it is essential to grasp that these polemics rest on—and are as powerful as they are precisely because they are rooted in—the materialism of a full understanding of the dynamics of capitalism-imperialism and the way it puts its stamp of oppression, exploitation, and bourgeois right on everything from the way people’s lives are curtailed to the way that even their dreams and aspirations are shaped. What makes these polemics searing and irrefutable, what makes them able to be so damning while at the same time so “sensitive” and lofty is the fact that they are so deeply scientific.
In opposition to all the settling in to the world as it is and the wrong, but “settled” verdicts against communism and revolution, this Declaration powerfully makes the case that ONLY communist revolution can liberate women. It busts the lid off the imagination and vision of human potential—painting a powerful picture of what could be accomplished very quickly with state power in the hands of the revolutionary proletariat led by their vanguard party. This Declaration boldly and correctly declares that revolutionary state power is “a most liberating thing!” It challenges people to imagine a society without rape, without systematic brutality and degradation of women, with full access to birth control and abortion as well as the scientific understanding necessary to destigmatize these fundamental rights. To imagine a revolutionary society where women and men are relating in radically new ways and women are being fully unleashed as part of the overall revolutionary process. It paints a vision of a society that goes beyond any which has been brought forward before; one that views outbreaks of struggle against vestiges of women’s oppression as a positive factor to be welcomed, learned from and unleashed—even where it bumps into and “disrupts” other very pressing needs of the new society. It shows how this can be a positive factor in forging new ways to meet society’s pressing needs that are both an embodiment of the liberated communist world being fought for and a living advance towards that goal.
Nowhere else is there such a sweeping, uplifting, and radical vision of what humanity can achieve—and nowhere else is there a vision that is so thoroughly grounded in a scientific understanding of reality and the ways in which it can be transformed.
This Declaration sets the record straight on the tremendously positive achievements of previous communist revolutions, including on this crucial question of the liberation of women—digging in particular into what was accomplished in China with the leadership of Mao Tsetung.
And this Declaration goes even further—pointing to the lessons that have been drawn from that period, overwhelmingly positive as well as negative—and made part of a new synthesis on revolution and communism developed by Bob Avakian. As the Declaration states, “There has never been a stream of human thought or endeavor that has been more radical when it comes to the emancipation of women than that of communism; and never has communism been more far-seeing and radical and scientific than with its development through the leadership of Bob Avakian.” How this is so is gone into.
Tune in live Tuesday, March 17 to: Beneath the Surface,” with Michael Slate, on KPFK 90.7 FM
Sunsara Taylor will be on live and taking calls about the RCP’s new Declaration: For Women’s Liberation and the Emancipation of All Humanity.
5:00 to 6:00 PM, Pacific Time on KPFK, 90.7 FM.
NOT IN THE LA AREA? You can listen online at kpfk.org; click “listenlive.” In Santa Barbara, tune in at 98.7 FM.
Sunsara Taylor is available broadly for interviews and select speaking engagements. Direct inquiries to her via firstname.lastname@example.org.
At least as important, this whole pathbreaking Declaration: For Women’s Liberation and the Emancipation of All Humanity is itself an expression of the breakthroughs Bob Avakian has made: in its historical sweep, its materialist dialectics, its thoroughly scientific approach, in its appreciation of the ways that not only people’s options—but even their desires and aspirations—get shaped by the class society in which they live, in its confidence in the people to come forward as emancipators of humanity, in its willingness to challenge people “where they live,” in its putting forth of a new standard and communist morality, and in its vision of a realizable and desirable future worth fighting to bring into being.
Never in history has such a radical, liberatory, and scientific document been produced on the oppression of women and the means through which that oppression can be abolished, as well as how this relates to and is bound up with the emancipation of all humanity.
Anyone and everyone who is serious about ending the oppression and degradation of half of humanity—and anyone and everyone who dreams of another world needs to take the time to seriously study and wrangle with what is in this document.
This Declaration: For the Liberation of Women and the Emancipation of All Humanity needs to mark a new day in the revolutionary movement. All of us—whether we’ve been in this struggle for decades or whether we are just now coming into political life—need to struggle to grasp deeply and on that foundation live up to the challenge and call forward the revolutionary movement articulated in this pathbreaking, breath-taking DECLARATION: FOR THE LIBERATION OF WOMEN AND THE EMANCIPATION OF ALL HUMANITY.
Revolution #159, March 22, 2009
Editors’ Note: The following is an excerpt from the text of a talk by Bob Avakian, “Out Into the World—As a Vanguard of the Future,” to a group of Party members in the first part of 2008. This has been edited and footnotes added for publication here.
First, I want to speak to an important aspect of our understanding of what is the essence of capitalism and how this relates to certain philosophical and political-economic theories about what capitalism is, and what society is. One of the most important and fundamental aspects—one of the defining aspects—of capitalism is, as Marx pointed out, the historical separation of masses of producers from the means of production. This has a great deal to do with how we understand the role of classes and of individuals—and the relation between individuals and classes. Here a statement in America in Decline (from page 30) is very relevant: “the violent separation [note: the violent separation] of the immediate producers from the means of production constituted the social basis of capitalism’s rapid development in parts of Europe.”1 This is true historically, and in regard to capitalism’s rise in Europe, but it is also important to grasp that this continues to be an essential component of capitalism’s development, in the era of imperialism, and it takes place in this era, more than ever, on a world scale—and in this particular phase of the imperialist era, it is taking place on an even more globalized basis.
Here what I want to focus on—going back to the point about classes, individuals, and the relation between individuals and classes—is that, even with regard to individuals’ pursuing their own particular interests (which is a lot of the “outer form” of how things take place within a given society, and in particular capitalist society) it is of decisive importance (without in fact falling into reductionism) to grasp, and to emphasize, what Marxist analysis (scientific communism) makes clear: this “pursuit” takes place through definite social relations—and in class society, definite class relations—which shape and fundamentally determine the nature of those “individual interests” and the means of pursuing them. So where, and to the extent that, a proletarian and a bourgeois, or someone in the middle strata (petite bourgeoisie), may be pursuing their own individual interests, they are doing so within a framework which casts them (or has cast them) into very different positions—so that the definition of what those interests are, and the means for pursuing them, is very different in the one case and the other. This is a fundamental point which once again is covered over and distorted or ignored in the normal course of a society like this—as well as through the propaganda of its representatives and apologists.
This point that I’ve been emphasizing—about how the pursuit of individual interests takes place through definite social relations, and in class society definite class relations, and how even the character and content of people’s interests and the means of pursuing them is largely shaped by this—is very important in relation to the discussion in “"Making Revolution and Emancipating Humanity,” Part 1, on “The crimes of this system—and the rationalizations for these crimes” (under the subheading “Historical Experience and the New Synthesis”),2 where it talks about how bourgeois apologists and philosophers, and so on, put so much emphasis on individuals and “individual rights” while in fact, under the domination of the bourgeoisie and imperialism, through the normal operation of the accumulation process, as well as through the functioning of the state apparatus and the superstructure generally, all this casts billions of people literally into a situation where their individuality and individual rights count as nothing and are stamped out, including for hundreds of millions of children.
This understanding, the grasp of this essential point about capitalism (and this would apply to other societies ruled by exploiting classes, but here I am speaking specifically of capitalism, and its particular production and social relations), that the pursuit of individual interests takes place through definite social and class relations which shape and fundamentally determine the nature of those individual interests and the means of pursuing them: this is a direct refutation of Adam Smith—of the basic Adam Smith thesis that somehow through individuals’ pursuing their individual interests, the greater societal good is achieved (so long as there are certain constraints in regard to this). The truth, however, is that not only is the greater societal good not what is being pursued in capitalist society, but the outcome is also not the greater societal good—precisely because of the historical role of the capitalist accumulation process and the social and class relations through which this takes place. Rather, what is achieved, the result and outcome, is that the interests of the ruling class are served and furthered—even while this takes place through a process that involves acute struggle among the ruling capitalists themselves, both more directly in terms of economic rivalry and in terms of different perceptions of the overall interests and strategic objectives of the ruling class.
This basic reality is also a refutation of Immanuel Kant, once again—and, specifically, of his attempt to make it a universal principle (or a categorical moral imperative) that everyone should be treated never as a means to an end but only as an end in himself or herself. If you understand this basic point that I quoted from America in Decline, and the basic phenomenon it is speaking to—the separation, indeed the violent separation, of producers from the means of production, and everything that flows from that—you can see that in capitalist society in particular, and in class-divided society in general, this maxim (or attempt at a universal principle or categorical moral imperative) of Kant’s is impossible to realize in such a society. The operation of the capitalist accumulation process—and, along with that, the operation of the state and the superstructure as a whole in capitalist society, and all societies ruled by exploiting classes—makes this impossible to achieve. In fact, as I have discussed previously (for example, in “Views On Socialism and Communism”3 ), in communist society there will still be definite production and social relations, even though they won’t have the character of class relations, let alone class antagonisms.
There will still be the contradiction between the economic base and the superstructure, as well as between the forces and relations of production (and the inter-penetration and inter-action of these two contradictions), whatever particular forms this takes at any given point in communist society. And in communist society, this will have an impact on the dimension in which individuals are pursuing (and even how they perceive) their own wants and needs—this will still be shaped by the larger society (and the contradictions that define that society, in an overall sense—as discussed here as well as in “Making and Emancipating” and other works). Here, once again, is the basic point that freedom does not lie in the ignoring of necessity, or in the attempt to evade necessity, but in the recognition and the transformation of necessity, and that this takes place in any society—including socialist society and, yes, even communist society, at any stage—through definite social relations (and in the context of certain defining and driving contradictions) which are fundamentally independent of the wills of individuals and which in fact have a decisive influence in regard to the wills of individuals.
How to correctly handle that phenomenon—now, in the struggle for a new society, and then, once power has been seized and consolidated and socialism established in a basic sense, in the transition toward communism—how to correctly act in accordance with and on the basis of the recognition of this reality, so as to handle in the best way possible the relationship between individuals and classes, all in the context and framework of moving to the abolition of classes (but not the abolition of all social relations or social constraints): this is a very important question that we are going to have to repeatedly return to—and the more we deepen our materialist understanding and foundation in regard to this, the more we can not only expose the actual mainsprings and workings of capitalism and bring to light, in a compelling way, why we have to abolish the capitalist system and bring a new, socialist (and ultimately communist) society into being, but the better we’ll be able to handle the whole struggle toward that goal, including once the dictatorship of the proletariat—revolutionary state power representing the interests of the proletariat, in the largest sense—is in fact established and the communist vanguard has the responsibility of leading the new society.
With regard to the relation of individuals and classes, it is very important that we deepen and apply—and continue to further deepen and to better apply—a dialectical (as opposed to a mechanical) materialist view of all this, correctly taking into account and approaching the contradictory aspects involved in all this. The polemic against K. Venu speaks to the relation of individuals and classes by way of refutation of a distorted use by Venu of a statement by Marx and Engels in The German Ideology, which was utilized by Venu in the service of undermining scientific Marxist class analysis and promoting bourgeois democracy and bourgeois individualism. There was, on K. Venu’s part, a whole encomium, I guess you could say (a whole hymn of praise), to how bourgeois society fosters individuality in a way that was never before achieved or possible in any society (or at least any class society). It is worth reviewing this discussion of individuals and classes in the polemic against K. Venu.4
This refutation of K. Venu is very correct and very important, but it is also important not to actually adopt a reductionist approach to this question—treating existence as part of a class in a way that would be more appropriate (to the degree it would be appropriate at all) to analysis of feudal (or slave) society, where there is an extremely limited social mobility for individuals, and in a way that tends toward negating the particularity of capitalism, as well as individuality, with a one-sided emphasis on what is in fact principal (the fact that, in class society, individuals exist as part of social classes). We should not fall into eclectics—we should recognize what is principal, which is the fact that individuals are part of classes in class society and that this largely shapes and determines even how they perceive and attempt to realize or pursue their individual interests. But we should not, because that is principal, negate the secondary aspect. We should grasp firmly the division of society into classes and the overall decisive role this plays in terms of the life of individuals, but we should not therefore and on that basis negate the role of individuals or individuality—which, as we know, has been an historical tendency in our movement (and in the experience of socialist society).
Such a reductionist approach, can of course also go along with reifying the proletariat: negating individuality while (ironically) at the same time identifying the interests of the proletariat as a class with individual proletarians—who, we should remember, may as individuals cease to be proletarians and become part of some other class or strata, and who in any case do not, as individuals, embody the interests of the proletariat as a class. The decisive point, from a materialist and dialectical standpoint, is the position and role of the proletariat, in the broadest sense, as a class and as a motive force in resolving the fundamental contradiction of capitalism—between socialized production and private appropriation—and advancing to communism.
Here again, it is important to keep clearly in mind the reality that has been previously spoken to (for example, in “The End of a Stage, the Beginning of a New Stage”5 ) that the position of the proletariat, as a class, is not only not that of an absolute, undifferentiated and unchanging “category” under capitalism, but it is also not that under socialism.
In fact, under socialism the position of the proletariat is qualitatively different than it is under capitalism—and becomes more so the more the advance through socialism toward communism is carried forward. And this divides into two in some significant—and in certain aspects, acute—ways. In “The End of a Stage, the Beginning of a New Stage,” this point was made: Under capitalism the proletariat is the exploited class, and this has a great deal to do with its revolutionary role (it’s not simply that it is exploited, because there are other exploited classes that don’t play the same role in relation to resolving the fundamental contradiction of capitalism, but the exploited condition of the proletariat does, after all, have a great deal to do with its revolutionary role); under socialism, however, while this is contradictory and in motion, the proletariat is becoming less and less an exploited class—and in fundamental terms is not an exploited class, although there are remnants of exploitation in the remaining production and social relations in socialist society.
Does this have any effect on socialist society? Yes it does. This is something to which insufficient attention has been paid in our movement, historically and today. (This is related to points which will be spoken to later in this talk, concerning the separation of the communist movement from the labor movement and the dialectical—that is, the contradictory—relation between driving forces for revolution, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, key forces for socialist transformation once you’ve entered the socialist stage, after seizing and consolidating revolutionary state power—that is, the dictatorship of the proletariat, in one form or another.)
As opposed to a reification of the proletariat (and related viewpoints and approaches) what, after all, is the point? Here I can’t resist repeating a little story that I’m fond of telling, which concerns Monday Night Football back in the 1970s when it first came on the air and there was the trio of announcers: Don Meredith, Howard Cosell, and Frank Gifford. Frank Gifford was the main play-by-play announcer, and then there was this back and forth commentary between Howard Cosell, with his inimitable style, and Don Meredith (or “Dandy Don” or “Danderoo,” as Howard liked to call him). Well, at one point there was a play in one of these Monday night games (I don’t remember which) where a pass was thrown by one team and a defensive back for the other team intercepted the pass, and Howard Cosell made this observation: “Look at that wily and furtive veteran, hiding behind the line backer and then emerging out to intercept the pass.” And Don Meredith, who played the role of the rube (the representative of the uninitiated populace), said: “The what, Howard, the what?” “The wily and furtive veteran,” Cosell repeated. To which Don Meredith replied: “Just who are you talking to here, Howard? You talking to just a few folks, or to everybody out there?” And then Howard Cosell came back with a very good punch line: “The point, Danderoo, is to educate the masses!” Well, the point for us is not simply to educate the masses—although that’s part of the point, as well as learning from them—but the much more profound point is to get to communism, with the abolition of classes, the production relations on which classes rest, and everything bound up with this—all the exploitative and oppressive relations, and the corresponding customs, traditions, and ways of thinking in which, for thousands of years, the great majority of humanity has been enchained—and from which it can now be finally and fully emancipated.
1 Raymond Lotta, with Frank Shannon, America in Decline, An Analysis of the Developments Toward War and Revolution, in the U.S. and Worldwide, in the 1980s, Vol.1, Banner Press, Chicago, 1984. [back]
2 “Making Revolution and Emancipating Humanity,” Parts 1 and 2, is available at revcom.us and in Revolution and Communism: A Foundation and Strategic Orientation, a Revolution pamphlet, May 1, 2008. [back]
3 Views on Socialism and Communism: A Radically New Kind of State, A Radically Different and Far Greater Vision of Freedom appeared as a series in Revolution #37, #39, #40, #41, #42, and #43; a complete online version is available at revcom.us/bob_avakian/views. [back]
4 This polemic, titled “Democracy: More Than Ever We Can and Must Do Better Than That,” appears as an Appendix to the book Phony Communism Is Dead...Long Live Real Communism!, 2nd edition, by Bob Avakian (Chicago: RCP Publications, 2004). The polemic originally appeared in the 1992/17 issue of the magazine A World to Win. [back]
5 “The End of a Stage, the Beginning of a New Stage” by Bob Avakian appeared in Revolution magazine, issue No. 60, RCP Publications, Fall 1990. [back]
Revolution #159, March 22, 2009
Fighting Against Criminalization of Protest:
A very important case is unfolding in Minnesota—eight people are being singled out by the government for their role in the political protests at the 2008 Republican National Convention (RNC).
At the September ’08 RNC in St. Paul, war criminal John McCain and right-wing religious fundamentalist Sarah Palin were being selected as the Republican ticket for the presidential race. The national media spent endless hours on things like Palin’s unmarried pregnant daughter. Meanwhile, the streets of St. Paul were turned into a militarized zone with massive police mobilization. Over the course of four days, thousands defied the armed clampdown to make known their opposition to U.S. wars-torture-spying and the imperialist globalization that has brought suffering to a huge section of humanity and caused catastrophic environmental damage. Over 800 people were arrested and scores were brutalized by the police.
Even before the protests started, law enforcement authorities carried out preemptive raids and arrests of activists and independent journalists throughout Minneapolis/St. Paul (the Twin Cities). Among those arrested were eight who are now being targeted for persecution, facing over 12 years in prison. They are known as the RNC 8.
For the first time, a state version of the fascistic USA Patriot Act is being applied to political demonstrations. The RNC 8 are charged with felony conspiracy to riot in furtherance of terrorism and felony conspiracy to commit criminal damage to property in furtherance of terrorism, along with two other felonies. They were sitting in jail for the duration of the Republican convention—but they are being held legally responsible for anything that any protestor did during that time.
The prosecution of the RNC 8 would set a very bad precedent that criminalizes political protest. But too few people even know about this case. Everyone who understands the importance of dissent and the ability to resist the crimes being committed by the government and ruling institutions needs to speak out. A big demand to drop the charges on the RNC 8 needs to be raised from a broad cross section of society. This railroad must be stopped cold in its tracks.
Read Part 1: The Case of the RNC 8
A striking feature of the government’s repressive strategy which has come to light in relationship to the Republican National Convention (RNC) in St. Paul, Minnesota in fall of 2008 was the use of informants and undercover agents against the radical and progressive forces who were organizing and participating in the protests outside the RNC. For a number of years there has been an intensification of this more openly repressive expression of bourgeois dictatorship.
As it has in the past, especially when it felt threatened and challenged, the government sent people into movements of resistance around the RNC to disrupt, discredit and to spread ideas in the context of it, which the authorities then turn around and seized on to attack the movement.
For any movement which is serious about trying to challenge the hideous objectives of the most powerful imperialist empire that has ever existed, there is a difficult contradiction to handle well. On the one hand, how not to easily get set up or entrapped and do this without falling over into creating an atmosphere of suspicion and paranoia. The former is aimed at destroying the movement from the outside and the latter would essentially destroy it, but from the inside. The role of the informants and undercover agents in Minneapolis and in the months leading up to the RNC is important to examine.
First, the use of informants/undercover agents has a lot of bearing on the magnitude of the injustice of the raids, arrests and prosecutions of demonstrators, including the case of the RNC 8 who are charged with felony riot and property damage in furtherance of terrorism and face 12+ years in jail as well, and undoubtedly will continue to be an important element of legal defense strategies. (See Part 1: The Case of the RNC 8) Second, there are important general lessons to learn for all who are struggling to bring into being a better world. Learning those lessons now is one way of raising standards so as to not get derailed by the government’s strategies arrayed against progressive, radical and revolutionary movements.
Who were the so-called terrorists that the government was busy enlisting informants to ferret out? Apparently the kind that hung out in vegan potlucks. An article from the alternative paper, the Minneapolis/St. Paul City Pages, reported that a University of Minnesota student was approached by the FBI on behalf of the Joint Terrorist Task Force (JTTF), in May 2008, months before the convention. The student had been busted for a tagging incident on campus and the campus security police summoned him to a meeting with the FBI agent. She tried to recruit him. “She told me I had the perfect ‘look’ and that I had the perfect personality—they kept saying I was friendly and personable—for what they were looking for,” the student told City Pages. He said they wanted an informant “to show up at vegan potlucks throughout the Twin Cities and rub shoulders with RNC protestors, schmoozing his way into their inner circles, then reporting back to the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force.” According to the article, and this is very important, the student would be “compensated for his efforts, but only if his involvement yielded an arrest.” And equally as important, this student went public immediately and exposed the JTTF effort to recruit him.
In December 2008, Brandon Darby emerged as a key FBI informant-provocateur in relationship to the RNC protest scene. There is much that remains to be learned about Darby. Some of his closest former associates have started a working group and a web site to piece together the picture of his role and “personna” by gathering information and analysis from people who knew him over a number of years. These activists are trying to determine at what point Darby began informing for the government and what his behavior looked like so others can learn from their experience. Those who knew him feel deeply betrayed by his actions. While almost everyone was shocked, some were less so than others, as there had been controversy and disagreement for some time among those who worked closely with him about his role. This was well before it became known he was an informant.
There is a lot of uncertainty about when or why Darby became an informant or if he was in fact an undercover agent (an actual employee, not a volunteer as he claims), especially in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. It is not known what other investigations he might have been a part of besides in relation to the RNC protests. It is important that the movement and those who knew him scientifically figure this out as he has been a known social activist for 10 years in the Austin and New Orleans areas.
While being careful to not jump to an unwarranted conclusion, it is worth considering what Darby himself says about his “ideological” change of heart, (particularly in the context of the “we are one” patriotism promoted by Obama that there is not a “red America and a blue America” but the United States of America). What is noteworthy here is that Darby justifies his actions not on the basis of Bush-style reactionary Republican politics, but on more traditional values of American bourgeois democracy: that as long as people are allowed to participate in politics within the (highly confining limits of) the political system, it’s appropriate for the government to spy on and attempt to imprison those who do not confine their political opposition to those constraints.
In an interesting piece titled, “The Informant, Revolutionary to Rat: The uneasy journey of Brandon Darby,” by Diana Welch, Austin Chronicle, January 23, 2009, the author interviews Darby and reports that while Darby says “he is ‘the furthest thing from a Republican,’ it was protecting the rights of Republicans, ...that finally persuaded him to work with the feds. ‘One morning, I woke up and realized that I disagree with the group I was associating with as much as I disagree with the Republican Party,’ he recalls. Later the article goes on to quote Darby saying he opposed the RNC Welcoming Committee because when “they organize around the country, not to protest but to specifically prevent another group of American citizens to exercise their right to assemble, the U.S. government is going to get involved,” he says. “And they should get involved, and I support it wholeheartedly.”
After interviewing Darby and others who have worked with him including some who suspected him long ago of being an agent, in Common Ground and in Austin, the author Welch writes, “None of this fully explains why Darby chose to go undercover as an FBI informant and surreptitiously spy on his friends when he could have instead simply left the movement and tried to get involved in public policy in some other productive way. ‘I’ve watched countless activists begin to work in the Legislature and begin to do things that participate in the system; we have a system that is wide open for our involvement,’ he [Darby] said. ‘You can get involved and have a say so; if you disagree with the way our city is run, you can get involved. If you have an ideological bent that’s on social justice, you can become a law enforcement officer, you can get involved with the FBI, or a lawyer.’”
One reason Darby’s working as an informant was such a big deal was because Darby was a major figure in Common Ground (a group formed in the wake of Katrina to enlist volunteers in clean-up and rebuilding efforts in New Orleans) and he used those credentials to do the government’s dirty work of spying on people who were trying to oppose the government’s crimes. Again, it is not known yet if Darby was an informant at any point when he worked with Common Ground in New Orleans. Darby has only publicly admitted he was paid by the government for his role as an informant since 2007.
Darby’s identity as a key informant became known during a case involving two men from Austin, Texas who were arrested during the course of the RNC protests. These two defendants do not have anything to do with the case of the RNC 8. When Darby’s role as an informant emerged, a co-founder of Common Ground and a long time friend of Darby initially publicly defended him against what seemed like possible snitch jacketing of Darby (i.e., falsely labeling Darby an agent). Discovery materials released during the case pointed strongly to Darby as the informant. Apparently, after being confronted by his former friends, Darby issued a public statement, arrogantly and unapologetically defending his role as an informant for the FBI as being in the best interests of the movement in order to protect it from “violent” elements.
The story of Darby the FBI informant sheds light on the government’s handiwork not only in the case of two Texas defendants arrested in conjunction with the RNC in Minnesota, but also on the underpinnings for the lurid and scary tales that authorities used to shape their rationales and pretexts and then fed to the public to justify their repression and the arrests.
According to a December 8, 2008 New York Times article: “Darby provided descriptions of meetings with the defendants [ed: two from Texas later arrested at the RNC] and dozens of other people in Austin, Minneapolis and St. Paul. He wore recording devices at times, including a transmitter embedded in his belt during the convention. He also went to Minnesota ... four months before the Republican gathering and gave detailed narratives to law enforcement authorities of several meetings they had with activists from New York, San Francisco, Montana and other places.”
Darby, age 32, had a lot of “street cred” lore surrounding him for his supposed role in the immediate aftermath of Katrina and for his work with Common Ground. In the spring of 2008, he worked with an affinity group in Austin, Texas which included two friends in their early 20s (McKay and Crowder) who wanted to protest at the RNC. Both were charged in Minnesota with the making of firebombs. They were not charged with ever using one. While Crowder pled guilty, McKay decided to fight his entrapment by Darby. McKay’s lawyer, Jeff DeGree, told the courtroom (according to an article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune on January 26, 2009):
“This is a case of a government informant who took it upon himself to make things happen,” he told jurors in his opening statement. He said that Darby showed McKay and Crowder jujitsu moves and lambasted protesters for looking like “a bunch of tofu-eaters,” saying, “You better start eating meat to bulk up and prepare for this,” DeGree said. And it was Darby who planted the seeds of violence after their [homemade] shields were seized, the attorney said. “Brandon Darby went crazy when that happened, [saying,] ‘We’re not going to take this lying down. You’ve got to do something about it,’” DeGree said.
McKay took the witness stand on his own behalf to argue he was entrapped by Darby into doing something he never would have done otherwise. FBI agent Sellers testified that Darby wore a transmitter on the night of September 2, 2008, when McKay allegedly told of plans to use the firebombs. Sellers said five federal agents were listening to the conversation, but they made no recording! And Sellers was the only one who took notes. How convenient that no less than five FBI agents forgot a tape recorder!
On February 2, 2009, in a highly unusual development the judge declared a hung jury because the jury could not reach a verdict of guilt or acquittal in McKay’s trial! The judge released McKay on bond pending a new trial. He had been sitting in jail since September 2008.
While Darby is one of the main informants for the FBI to surface in conjunction with the extensive repression surrounding the RNC, he is not the only one to have been publicly identified. There are at least three others who have covered in a December 1, 2008 Minneapolis Star Tribune article.
The father of one of the defendants pointed out that the Minneapolis Star Tribune newspaper has not had one good, substantial piece on the case of the RNC 8, yet they did manage to review 1,000 pages of notes from undercover operatives for the local sheriff’s department. Similarly, the New York Times did a story on Darby’s emergence as an informant after years as an activist in New Orleans and Austin but not on the scope of the repression and the legal cases unfolding in Minneapolis in relation to the RNC. These undercover agent stories prey on most people’s ignorance about the historical role of informants in political cases and movements as agents for the fabrication of evidence, for lying about what activists were planning and/or entrapment—all for the purpose of proving legal charges against those the authorities target. They also provide justification for the heavy hammer of repression that was brought down against all the protestors. These stories of informants can convey that somehow the ensuing legal cases are based on first-hand eyewitness accounts, so the general public should not be too alarmed that young people and protestors are being railroaded to prison. And at the same time it can breed distrust among activists, creating a paranoid atmosphere so it can be a “win-win” for the authorities to cover these cases through the eyes of the informants. This is one of the things that support for the protestors and exposure of the government’s repressive strategies can counter.
The Minneapolis Star Tribune ran an article on December 1, 2008, “‘Anarchist’ looked like someone’s mom. A deputy sheriff and two others infiltrated the RNC Welcoming Committee before GOP convention.” (Except where noted, all of the descriptions and quotes which follow are drawn from the Star Tribune article.)
The local sheriff’s department (which was working in close connection with the JTTF and other federal law enforcement agencies) in August 2007 sent Marilyn Hedstrom, a woman in her 50s into a storefront used by activists in Minneapolis and introduced herself as Norma Jean. According to her reports, she told activists she had issues with President Bush and the Iraq war.
Hedstrom, a narcotics officer, was partnered with a guard in the county jail in her 20s, who posed as Amanda, Hedstrom’s niece. “Amanda,” now a deputy, halted her undercover work after a few months. The sheriff, Fletcher, told the Star Tribune reporter that Amanda “didn’t have the level of acceptance that Marilyn had.” Hedstrom told activists that Amanda dropped out after finding a new boyfriend. Activists point out that Amanda had a fake Facebook page.
According to the article, most of the anarchists were decades younger than Hedstrom, but Fletcher said that posed no problem. “We’re not always looking for a person that seems to fit perfectly,” he said. “Someone that is not an obvious fit ... is least likely to be suspected.” Also, he said, pairing Hedstrom with “Amanda” increased their safety.
Hedstrom went “dumpster diving” at the group’s instructions to find food for the anarchists to eat. She cooked meals for some meetings, ran errands, coordinated committee discussions and represented the organization at some gatherings of the protest movement. She became friends of some of the activists. And she, ironically, even helped on security for the anarchists, who worried that the cops were infiltrating them.
The Star Tribune goes on to describe a third informant (paid and rewarded later with a job as a jail guard with an avenue to become a deputy). Chris Dugger “gave off different vibes and was often under a cloud of suspicion. In his late 20s, he was ‘kind of muscular,’ had tattoos and looked like a biker.” An activist account says that Dugger “portrayed himself as participating in a radical project for the first time and avoided helping except for the most basic tasks.” According to the undercover agents’ reports, at a meeting where Hedstrom was the facilitator, someone expressed concern that Dugger was a cop and he “became emotional and told them how bad he felt, he wiped his eyes and blew his nose.” He denied he was an informer. The memo said two activists told him they “don’t think he is a cop. They said a cop would have just walked away and never returned and wouldn’t cry.” In another chilling part, the article says that by August 2008, Dugger was urging an anarchist to suspect another anarchist of being an informer.
There is a fourth informant who worked for the FBI like Darby. His identity has been confirmed by news coverage of the January 2009 arrest of Andrew Darst for an incident where he allegedly broke into a house by ripping the door off the hinges and confronting his wife and striking two men present at the gathering. In an embarrassing development for the state, Darst is now charged with two felony counts of first- and second-degree burglary as well as fifth-degree assault, a misdemeanor. Darst is a key prosecution witness in the case of the RNC 8. His arrest for a violent rampage will likely become an issue as it reveals his instability and propensity for violence.
When he was an FBI informant, Darst was known as Andy “Panda,” about 30 years old. According to those familiar with the movement scene in Minneapolis, “Panda” began attending RNC Welcoming Committee meetings, introduced to the group as an avid urban explorer, and was (and still may be) active in the regional urban exploring scene. According to an account posted on Indymedia in the Twin Cities (Minneapolis/St. Paul), Darst was “first seen within the anarchist circle at the Crimethinc convergence three years ago, and has attended the convergence annually ever since. Like the other infiltrators, he was active in committee meetings and attended functions with other, non-anarchist organizations. Importantly, however, ‘Panda’ was also involved in anti-RNC activity independent of and unrelated to the RNC Welcoming Committee.” According to this same account, in addition to recording meetings he attended, his apartment in Minneapolis was wired for audio and video recording.
* * *
The on-going exposure of these agents and scientific (rigorous, and unsparingly objective) analysis about how they were able to insinuate their way into movements are important both for the legal cases and in combating repression in general because they will continue to be sent in to derail, disrupt and set up organizations and people who the government considers a threat, including those who are fighting for a better world.
Revolution #159, March 22, 2009
Afghanistan—Frequently Asked Questions
U.S. attacks in Afghanistan and in Pakistan are escalating. Recently the Obama administration announced it will send another 17,000 US troops (joining 36,000 already there) to Afghanistan with perhaps more to come later.
Yet there’s been far too little outrage and protest over U.S. crimes in Afghanistan, especially since Obama became President. I have run into a lot of different questions (and misunderstandings) about what the U.S. invasion and occupation of Afghanistan are really all about, and will be addressing them in the pages of Revolution. Readers no doubt have—or hear—others. Send those questions to Revolution so we can learn from and address them.
Here’s the first series of questions:
1) I don’t like the U.S. invading countries, and I know that those who make these decisions have their own agenda. But the Taliban are totally brutal toward women and enshrine it in law. So even if the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan isn’t perfect and innocent people get killed, isn’t the U.S. improving things at least a little bit for women in Afghanistan?
The Taliban are a horror for Afghan (and Pakistani) women (and for all oppressed people)—but the U.S. occupation has not made things better. During the 1990s, Taliban atrocities—like stadium stonings of women for “crimes” such as adultery—sickened people across the globe. Today, in the regions that they control, the Taliban continue to attack women for going to school and threaten ( sometimes even kill) women journalists, human rights activists, artists, and athletes.
Many feminists supported the October 2001 U.S. invasion because they convinced themselves that the Bush regime cared about their views and was actually waging war, even in part, to “liberate Afghan women from abuse and oppression,” as one May 2002 letter to President Bush signed by prominent feminists put it.
Reality check. A bloody invasion and nearly eight years of occupation have NOT improved things for Afghan women. Their lives are a nightmare—not significantly different or better than under the Taliban, and in many ways worse:
Today, now, under U.S. occupation…Thousands of young girls and women are confined to their homes, kept out of school or work. “Honor killings” of women are still carried out, and disputes or debts between people are often “settled” using girls as a form of currency. Men are routinely given custody of children in divorces. Violence against women and girls rose 40 percent in 2007, and today nearly 90 percent of Afghan women suffer abuse at home. “Across Afghanistan, women are setting fire to themselves,” the Guardian reports.
Today, now, under U.S. occupation… Every 30 minutes, an Afghan woman dies during childbirth. Overall some 24,000 die each year due to diseases and during childbirth—25 times the number killed in the war. Up to 70 percent of pregnant women don’t get medical attention. 87 percent of Afghan women are illiterate; only 30 percent of girls have access to education in Afghanistan; 70 to 80 percent of women face forced marriages in Afghanistan.
And today, now, under U.S. occupation… The U.S. “liberation” of Iraq also made the situation for women worse! There are now 740,000 Iraqi widows, many who are destitute and forced into “temporary marriages”—a form of prostitution sanctioned by Islamic Sharia law. Reactionary religious laws have been more deeply enshrined in Iraqi law and governance under the new U.S.-installed regime than under Saddam Hussein. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) estimates that of Iraq’s 1.6 million internally displaced people, more than half are women or girls, who are more vulnerable to rape and other forms of sexual violence.
This is not because Bush “messed up” the war on Afghanistan (or Iraq). It is because of the essential nature of the invasion and ongoing occupation of Afghanistan—for reasons I’ll speak to in addressing the next question:
2) The Bush administration has made a mess of things. They took their eyes off the ball in Afghanistan to invade Iraq. But now that Obama’s in office, he’s focusing on Afghanistan, and he sees the importance of an all-around approach. So why can’t he do better, especially if we pressure his administration to do the right thing, especially for Afghan women?
First, everything Obama has done since taking office is escalating the trajectory the Bush regime set in motion in Afghanistan that led to these horrors and strengthened the Taliban: adding another 17,000 troops, stepping up U.S. airstrikes in Afghanistan and Pakistan, killing even more civilians, and even arguing that detainees in the notorious U.S. torture center at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan have no constitutional rights.
When the U.S. intervenes in other countries—whether militarily, politically, or economically—the overall goal is to strengthen the system of exploitation. That means fostering capitalist-imperialist economic relationships, and political structures that support those relationships. Those political structures are not, and cannot be, designed to unleash the energy and anger of the oppressed to end oppression and exploitation— that’s the last thing the imperialists want. Instead, they’re aimed at maintaining class and social divisions and keeping the people subjugated. Even when some outmoded feudal customs and social relations—such as not having women work outside the home—poses an impediment to the operation of capital, the imperialist powers have, historically and repeatedly, found it necessary to incorporate feudal and semi-feudal relations and oppressive forces into imposing and maintaining the political domination of oppressed nations. This is why imperialist powers and occupiers have a long history of installing, allying with, building up and ruling through all manner of tyrants, warlords, tribal chiefs, and religious obscurantists and reactionaries.
This is exactly what the Bush regime did in Afghanistan—where its goals were to defeat Islamist forces and bring Afghanistan and Central Asia more fully under U.S. control, not to bring democracy and liberation there. After overthrowing the Taliban, the U.S. empowered a reactionary cabal of warlords, gangsters, tribal chiefs and feudal lords who maintained Afghanistan’s suffocating economic, political and social relations, including traditional feudal and Islamist relations concerning women, despite a few cosmetic legal changes. The Taliban resurgence is fueled by growing hatred of the reactionaries that the U.S. put in power.
Even to the degree the U.S. imperialists tried to foster economic development and modernization, they had to proceed through, and ended up strengthening, the reactionary political forces they had empowered and were counting on to carry out their interests and maintain order.
And the truth is that Obama couldn’t do anything fundamentally different or better even if he wanted to because what the U.S. brings to countries around the world is not democracy or liberation, it’s capitalism-imperialism and political structures that support that economic system.
U.S. capitalism-imperialism is driven by profit, or the competitive accumulation of capital, and it can only do so by exploiting labor, markets and resources on a global scale. That in turn demands political and military domination of many countries and whole swaths of the globe, while preventing rivals from doing likewise.
This was illustrated very sharply by the Soviet Union’s occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s. Despite calling itself “socialist,” the Soviet Union at that time was a capitalist-imperialist country with its own imperialist necessity. The Soviets tried to make some top-down reforms, including in the status of women (in line with their goal of supporting certain aspiring bourgeois forces and creating a loyal client regime), something the U.S. hasn’t even tried to do in seven-plus years of occupation. Yet because the Soviets were an imperial occupying power and weren’t about to lead the Afghan masses in tearing up all the old structures of domination, including patriarchy, they ended up trying to work through the existing rural power structure—which in Afghanistan is thoroughly patriarchal. So the Soviet experience ended up a case study of why an imperialist occupation cannot and will not abolish feudal shackles on women, even if some limited reforms are attempted. Because Obama represents and serves this same system of global exploitation and domination, he cannot break out of these fundamental constraints, and so won’t do anything radically different, no matter what he thinks of some of Bush’s particular moves.
In fact, it appears that because of the acute necessities now facing the U.S. rulers, in Central Asia in particular but globally as well, the Obama administration may be planning to focus more that Bush did on militarily trying to “stabilize” Afghanistan and working with reactionary rural and provincial authorities, and less on economic development and building a central government.
3) So are you saying that there’s nothing that can be done to support women in Afghanistan?
Not at all. There is plenty to be done. The March 7 International Women’s Day marches in Los Angeles—“Celebrate Resistance and Internationalism, ”initiated by revolutionary women from Iran and Afghanistan—were very important. And there is a presentation on March 8, also in LA, by the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA “Women Hold Up Half the Sky—Only Communist Revolution Can Emancipate Women!” as well as revolutionary internationalist celebrations of International Women’s Day in other cities.
These International Women’s Day events highlight the fact that there are revolutionaries around the world taking up this question of ending women’s oppression for real, fighting both Taliban and Taliban-type oppression and also resisting U.S. imperialist plans to further escalate the war in Afghanistan or to attack Iran. Such forces urgently need people’s political solidarity and support. Strengthening them is crucial to breaking out of today’s vicious dynamic where imperialist invasions, occupations, and wars fuel Islamic fundamentalism, and Islamic fundamentalism, in turn, strengthens reactionary, pro-imperialist relations. It is crucial in bringing forward another—liberating—way forward for humanity.
So anyone who wants a better day for women in Afghanistan (or anywhere in the Middle East-Central Asia) should be doing all they can to support these revolutionary women.
The essence of what exists in the U.S. is not democracy but capitalism-imperialism and political structures to enforce that capitalism-imperialism.
What the U.S. spreads around the world is not democracy, but imperialism and political structures to enforce that imperialism.”
Bob Avakian, Chairman of
National Democratic Organisation of Afghan Refugees in Europe, 10/2007; Ms. Magazine; IRIN, 3/8/08, citing Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC); Guardian UK, 9/9/08; afghan-web.com/woman/; UN Population Fund (UNFPA) in Afghanistan; New York Times, 2/23/09; “For Many Iraqi Women and Girls, 'Internally Displaced' Means Homeless,” Dahr Jamail, 2/24/09, http://www.alternet.org/story/128369/
Revolution #159, March 22, 2009
THURSDAY March 19 leave work & school to PROTEST the 6th anniversary of the Iraq War.
SATURDAY March 21 at the Pentagon.
Barack Obama says he will:
The election of the first Black president is effectively re-branding preemptive and illegal wars of aggression to make us feel good about them, enlisting us to “serve and sacrifice” for horrors we have no reason to support.
The U.S. war on Afghanistan is an unjust war of aggression—the supreme war crime, waged not to bring democracy and liberation to the Afghan people, but to control Afghanistan with the goal of permanent domination of the Middle East.
But, we don’t have to go along! It’s immoral to “wait and see” or hope for the best from Obama. If you care about humanity, get in the streets to send a message to the world that there are millions of us who don’t want these crimes carried out.
It’s time now to take action & make our demands visible everywhere.
Find actions or organize one at www.worldcantwait.org
Sign the “Letter to the Anti-War Movement”
Revolution #159, March 22, 2009
Early New Year’s morning phones in Hayward and Oakland were ringing: “Wake up, wake up. Something’s happened to the boys.” Calls were going back and forth between the families of 22-year-old Oscar Grant and his friends—families so close all the women were called “aunties.” The youth had gone to San Francisco to celebrate. “What the hell had happened?”
The hellish, heart-tearing news soon came. Oscar, their lifelong friend, the one they had played baseball with, gone camping and swimming with, was dead. Shot in the back by BART police officer Johannes Mehserle.
The police murder, caught on cell phone videos, has shocked people. In its wake, the system—the police, their lawyers, the District Attorney, the City of Oakland, BART, and the media—have spun all kinds of explanations: the killer-cop was a poorly trained rookie; he meant to go for his taser; he was scared; he’s a lone racist; it was a terrible, unexplainable mistake.
But the events of January 1 show that these “explanations” are lies designed to cover up the truth: the killing of Oscar Grant was not a mistake or an accident, it was cold-blooded murder. It wasn’t an isolated act by one rogue cop; it was the culmination of an orgy of brutality by a whole gang of police against a crew of Black youth that included racial profiling and slurs, threats with guns and tasers, assaults, and illegal detention.
The system didn’t treat the cops’ actions on January 1 as intolerable exceptions to what they’re supposed to do; instead, the system’s institutions moved to cover up and legitimize this violence and let all the cops but one go free. All this—and the whole nationwide epidemic of police brutality and murder—point to the cold truth that brutalizing, terrorizing, and yes murdering oppressed people—especially Black people—is what the police are supposed to do—not to “protect and serve,” but to keep people down.
At about 2 am, the BART train operator supposedly radioed that there was a fight on the train. She didn’t see any individual involved, and many would question how bad a fight it could have been: no “victims” ever came forward and no fighters were ever identified by any witness. Some said there had been a short shoving match which was quickly broken up. Everyone agrees: the atmosphere inside the train packed with revelers was calm when it pulled into the Fruitvale station, located in a mainly Black and Latino proletarian neighborhood in Oakland.
BART cop Tony Pirone, an ex-Marine, was on the platform and he immediately began targeting Black and Latino youth—although he had no description of anyone in the reported “fight.” When four of Oscar’s friends get off, Pirone let three of them leave but grabbed one. Then, yelling and cursing, Pirone banged on the train window and pointed his taser at two young Black men—Oscar and his friend Michael—and ordered them off the train.
As soon as Michael and Oscar stepped off the train, they were hammered. Pirone lunged at Michael, grabbed him by his dreadlocks, and slammed his head, face down, on the concrete, leaving a large cut on the bridge of his nose. Michael’s friends started to yell, “why are you doing that?” “What did we do?” Then Pirone grabbed Oscar and hustled him to a wall. Soon other cops came and threatened more youth with their tasers, yelling the “N” word at the young men, calling them “motherfuckers.”
When three of Oscar’s other friends got off the train they too were held against the side of the train by Officer Marysol Domenici who thrust a taser at each one, tapping one between the eyes with it.
Another video clip, not shown on TV until weeks after the murder, shows Pirone suddenly stride by Michael, who was handcuffed and lying on the cement, across the platform toward Oscar, hitting him hard in the face, causing his head to snap back.
Oscar fell to a sitting position and put his hands up in submission gesture. One video shows that Pirone then aimed his taser at all three youth in front of him. Although no media has reported it, the video then shows Mehserle striking the youth seated next to Oscar about three times and then handcuffing him. Oscar rises to his knees, protesting.
Pirone then pushed Oscar’s face to the pavement, still threatening to tase him. Mehserle straddled Oscar’s back, pulling his arms back. Pirone dug his knee into Oscar’s neck. People on the train started to shout, “that’s fucked up. Let him go!” Witnesses heard Oscar cry out in pain and tell Pirone, “I have a four-year-old daughter, don’t tase me.”
Oscar and his friends were fully in “police control,” not resisting. The video shows Oscar lying face down on the ground with both hands behind his back, barely moving, if at all.
But Pirone and Mehserle didn’t stop, they escalated. Pirone claims he heard Mehserle say to him “Tony, get away. Back up,” a chilling statement pointing to a cold, calculated decision. With Pirone still on Oscar, Mehserle wrenches his gun from its holster and shoots Oscar Grant at close range—in the back.
Mehserle’s attorneys suggest he was going for his taser and made a horrible mistake, while some media “experts” have speculated about how stressed Mehserle must have been. This is absurd. The X26 taser issued to BART cops is plastic and weighs seven ounces. The Sig Sauer that killed Grant is metal and weighs 30 ounces unloaded—more than four times as much as the taser, and feels completely different.
Videos also show that neither Mehserle nor any of the other six police were “stressed out,” horrified, or regretful about having murdered Oscar. As Oscar’s friends, still handcuffed, yelled for the police to help Oscar, the cops told them to “shut the fuck up” and said if they weren’t silent, they wouldn’t call an ambulance. No cop moved to administer first aid. Instead a video clip shows them flipping Oscar over, jerking him up and down, handcuffing him, and leaving him to bleed out on the platform.
The cops weren’t in shock or disarray: they immediately began a cover up. No cop radioed that a shooting had occurred. Pirone ordered the train operator to leave the BART station, taking all the witnesses away (instead of getting their names). As the train departed, Domenici ran after people, threatening them and trying to grab their phone cameras.
After the shooting, five of Oscar’s friends were detained in the BART police station for more than five hours. Sources close to the families say that the youth heard BART police laughing, saying, “We got a good one tonight.”
All this points to the reality that such brutality is ROUTINE for these pigs, including trying to cover it up afterward, and that murdering one of the people can be a cause for laughter and celebration.
What about the “higher-ups,” BART officials, the City of Oakland, the courts? BART officials express sorrow for the killing, yet their own “investigation” made no recommendations, they’ve reprimanded none of their police, and they claim there’s no BART surveillance video showing what happened, despite the fact that BART trains and stations all have cameras in them. BART’s Police Chief Gee wrote a memo to his troops, explaining how to send money to Mehserle while he was in jail.
Oakland’s DA didn’t arrest Mehserle for nearly two weeks (and then only because people rebelled); Pirone—who initiated the brutality that led to murder and could have been charged with felony murder—has not even been arrested. Nor have any of the other cops. And in its first “prosecution” brief, the DA reiterates the police’s version of events, including repeating Pirone’s claim that Mehserle thought Oscar was going for his waistband (and possibly a gun). Oscar Grant was unarmed.
All the police violence leading to Oscar’s murder has been treated as normal, “no big deal,” by the authorities and media. And in this system, police violence IS routine and systemic. Take Oscar and his friends: “These youth are used to being accosted by the police” said one of the aunties, “it’s been going on since they were 13 years old.” (Another mother showed Revolution pictures of the wounds her son received after a beating by Hayward Police several years ago, which broke teeth: he had to be treated in the hospital, including for severe taser burns on his back.)
This system is showing that it will do everything it can to protect the ability of its police to brutalize, terrorize and murder the people. Enough is enough!
There is a real need for continued and increased protest, and independent journalistic investigation into the murder and its cover-up. We cannot allow this kind of blatant murder to be “routinized,” excused, or tolerated.
On March 22, Revolution Books and the Bay Area Revolution Club are holding a People’s Tribunal on the Murder of Oscar Grant and the Nationwide Epidemic of Police Brutality that will indict Oscar Grant’s killer and “the whole damn system.”
The next day, March 23, is Mehserle’s preliminary hearing.
Both are key junctures in this battle, and big outpourings of people are needed at both.
[Links to videos of the events leading up to, and the murder of Oscar Grant are available at http://www.ktvu.com/news/18426590/detail.html]
Revolution #159, March 22, 2009
At the funeral for Oscar Grant one preacher got up and said: “I thought Oscar was going to be a preacher but god had other plans.” Think about that: “…but god had other plans.”
Another preacher got up and said: “We must respond with prudence. I understand that the youngsters are upset, but nonetheless we have to trust in god. This is not your fight.”
Think about that: “…with prudence…trust in God…this is not your fight.”
In other words with “sound and reasonable thinking”…don’t be reckless.
Why are things, outrageous things like the public police execution of Oscar Grant, other police murders of Black men, and the general oppression and suffering of people here and around the world attributed to “gods plan,” “trust”—when we know or can know why these things happen, continue to happen—and, more importantly, when we can fight to change and sweep away the system which is the cause of all this?
Why are these preachers with their religion allowed to get away with spreading and imposing these mental shackles on the minds of people? Calling people “reckless” when they begin to act on real causes of their oppression?
Who, what are they serving by doing this?
Let’s “keep it real,” to use a popular phrase. Preachers and religion in general are working to keep people in mental slavery. Believing in things that do not exist – and in rationalizing, making excuses, and justifying the harm that is done to people by “real things” everyday under this system. They are working to hold together a society, a system that can not exist without brutal, murderous inequality and discrimination at its foundation.
Let’s take a closer look at the slave mentality of religion.
Not long ago I attended the funeral of a friend of mine. He too was a 22-year-old Black man. He liked to be called Dred.
Dred found himself bouncing between minimum wage jobs and selling drugs. These are the choices he found himself confronting. Not because of some non-existent god but because of the real working of the system and the conscious policy of those who run the system.
Nonetheless, this is how Dred lived for awhile. This is how he kept his head above water and survived.
He was hoping to supplement the income of his mother who worked 2, sometimes 3 jobs at a time. Dred had six brothers and sisters who lived at home with their mom.
Dred wanted revolution and ran with the RCP for awhile. He was a dreamer and fighter, but like millions in this country and billions around the world, the system trapped his life in its big powerful murderous arms—before he had a chance to really understand this—those arms squeezed him so tight they snuffed out his life at a very early age.
Dred was shot by others trapped in the same situation—local competing drug dealers shot him down on the street where his mother lived. The paramedics were late getting there and he bled to death. He bled to death while crying out: “Help me! Help me!”
After his death his mom said to me and others she wanted a closed casket. She did not want people looking down on his dead body. All their lives people had looked down on them and she did not want yet one more insulting reminder of this.
At his funeral the preacher got up and said: “god had called Dred home…” and some other things along these lines of superstition and mental slavery.
Immediately after the preacher spoke I went up front to say some things:
If the social order, the system, we live in was just and fair, if it was a revolutionary system…Dred would still be with us.
He was an amazing self taught artist. He could look at a scenery for a few minutes and capture all the beauty and things that are not so beautiful in his drawings and sketches…capture even more than what the untrained eye could see.
There are tens of millions like him in this country and billions more around the world whose lives and human potential are both smothered and cut short by this system.
When people like Dred are born, they are like the lines in that old song by Earth, Wind, and Fire:
shining star, no matter who you are, shining bright to see, what your life can truly be.
Under a revolutionary system (and I would add under the dictatorship of the proletariat as opposed to what we now live under—the dictatorship of the capitalist/imperialist class) people like Dred would be amazing us and the little children with their art and in all kinds of other ways. In ways we don’t even know about.
We need a new social order. A new system. A revolution. A revolutionary social order—that is in transition to a whole new world where there are no people “looking down or looking up”—because there is no system holding up some while holding down most—where all people are truly citizens of the planet in all their rich cultural and language diversity. Where each receive from society what they need to continually give to society what they are capable of giving intellectually and materially.
But under this system, youth like Dred run smack up against the realities that they and their lives do not count for anything in this economic-social arrangement of things.
Because this is an unjust social order, a system based on brutality holding down and exploiting the overwhelming majority—we never get to know the human potential of billions of people. It is coldly, brutally distorted, twisted, mangled, and taken from us everyday…minute by minute.
Well, after I said more or less this, other people talked — including the preacher…again. But there was no more mental slavery talk about “god calling Dred home.” Or “god’s plan.” People talked about Dred—their hurt, pain, sorrow…their loss.
But people felt uplifted knowing this loss happened not because of some “mysterious plan” of a non-existent god, but because of real things that we can understand and yes, fight and change.
Ironically as soon as the funeral was over the preacher made a point of seeking me out to say in so many words she thought what I said made more sense than what she had said.
Returning to what the preachers at Oscar Grant’s funeral said—I say this: get the fuck out of the way with your religion, chains of mental slavery, and attempts to make people helpless, hopeless, mental slaves…believers in superstition.
To the people I say: if they don’t get out of the way—then knock and push them and their religion out of the way with a “keeping it real” revolutionary understanding of reality. Make them take a back seat to this. Continue to do this in deepening ways as we build this revolutionary movement to uproot and sweep away this system.
How many more Dreds will there be? How many more mothers like his? How many more Oscar Grants, Sean Bells? Everyday here and all over the world in direct and indirect ways people are crying out: “help me! help me!”
And religious figures are insulting and hurting them by telling them it is all part of “gods plan.”
How many more people and little children in Gaza must be bombed, including with chemical weapons by the U.S. hit-man Israel? By the U.S. itself in Afghanistan, Iraq? How many more must cry out “help me! help me” before YOU cast aside ALL the mental chains of religion and get with the revolution?
None of this is “god’s plan.” All of it can be traced to the needs, workings, and conscious policy of this global system of imperialism that is headed by the U.S.A.
These are real things that humanity CRIES OUT to be emancipated from—and which it CAN BE emancipated from with an approach that is rooted in a real revolutionary and scientific understanding of things instead of one that is rooted in superstition and religion.
Revolution #159, March 22, 2009
Revolution received this communication from PRLF:
Letters like the one below arrive at the PRLF mailbox every day, revealing what a difference Revolution newspaper makes to subscribers in prison. Those who have been cast off and written off by this system are lifting their heads, seeking to understand the world, sharing the newspaper and literature with other prisoners, and engaging with their cellmates, loved ones and the readers of this paper about what a profoundly different future could and should be. On average, each paper is read by a minimum of 5 prisoners. One ex-prisoner described the experience when the highly censored Revolution newspaper would slip through—“Word would spread and it was like Christmas. Everyone would gather around and the reading and debating would begin.”
Currently, 783 prisoner subscriptions come due by March 31 at a cost of $20,000. Previous contributors and new ones have stepped up to donate, thus allowing us to renew subs expiring in January and February. But there is an urgent need to raise $20,000 in the next month. A few PRLF supporters have written to express regret that, in today’s economic climate, they can’t afford to give as much as they hoped. These are real contradictions and we appreciate people’s understanding of how critical this newspaper is to those locked away from the world. PRLF encourages everyone to dig deep and also to spread the word to family and friends about why they support PRLF and encourage them to do the same. $350 will renew 10 subscriptions, and 7 people donating $10 each can ensure that two prisoners receive the paper for another year.
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This letter is addressed to Revolution Books Chicago and was forwarded to PRLF:
Feb. 10, 2009
Greetings: I am writing to you from a Texas prison. I am a reader of the newspaper Revolution. It is a good paper and I make a point out of getting it into the hands of as many prisoners as possible. I was extremely interested to read in the latest issue that I have (#154) that Feb. 12th is Darwin Day 2009. Never before have I heard of anything like this and I think it is great. There is so much that I am in full agreement with in the call put out in the paper.
I agree with Darwin that, “There is grandeur in this view of life”—much more grandeur and meaning than in a creationist mythology. People in here often ask me how, as an atheist, I maintain “hope” and a positive outlook. I respond by turning the question around—How do you do that if you believe in a god? If there was a god he/she is either a maniac dictator, or completely indifferent. Either way, it’s not a very hopeful situation. I find more comfort in the random factors and the algorithms of nature, it leaves almost unlimited possibilities.
But, I am not writing this letter to share my philosophical ideas with you. I am writing to ask for your help. I would really like to get a copy of the book “The Science of Evolution and the Myth of Creationism: Knowing What’s Real and Why it Matters” by Ardea Skybreak. You would be amazed to see the amount of creationist (Biblical of course) “literature” that is pumped into the Texas prisons. There are even free creation classes taught by religious volunteers, but we’ve got to pay $180.00 to take a college biology course. Speaking of college, I am in a Cultural Anthropology class where the teacher is claiming that objective science and the various creation stories are just different routes to knowledge. I would like to have the Skybreak book to be able to combat this relativism, to share with fellow prisoners, and to get a solid understanding of evolution myself. Can you help? I cannot afford to pay for the books and I am asking you to donate it to me if possible. I assure you, it will reach the hands and minds of many other prisoners. We would really appreciate your help.
I look forward to hearing from you. Keep up the good work.
Revolution #159, March 22, 2009
From a Reader
Following is an update Revolution received about the trial that began March 9 In Denver.
The first week is over in the Denver jury trial of Ward Churchill’s lawsuit against the University of Colorado, and already some remarkable testimony has been heard that backs up Churchill’s claim that he was fired in retaliation for writing a controversial essay about the 9/11 attacks, and not for “research misconduct.”* Through testimony under oath by most of the politicians and administrators who carried out the witch-hunt, Churchill’s attorney, David Lane, has shown that their “official story” for why they fired him is a sham. At the same time a number of scholars and academics familiar with Churchill’s scholarship, together with several former students, have taken the stand to talk about their high regard for his scholarship, and for his inspiring work in the classroom.
Several reporters are in the courtroom and posting reports of the testimony throughout each day at different “Churchill Trial Blogs”: for the Denver ABC TV channel 7; the Daily Camera and Colorado Daily Online in Boulder; and the University of Denver Sturm College of Law. Thanks to their work, a good picture of what is taking place is available each day online. What follows is based on their reports.
At the height of the controversy over Churchill’s essay in February, 2005, then-Colorado governor Bill Owens and other powerful right wing forces around the country publicly called for the University of Colorado to fire Churchill. Determining after an investigation that he couldn’t be fired solely for the content of his essay, the university administration changed their tactics, put together a faculty committee and gave them the job of pouring over a collection of old complaints about small aspects of Churchill’s large body of work. The committee claimed to have found evidence of research misconduct, which the university then used to justify firing him.
Here are a few of the “bombshells” that came out this week:
Betsy Hoffman, considered a moderate Republican, had been the President of CU since 2000 but resigned in March of 2005, less than a week after she told a faculty audience in Boulder, “We are in very dangerous times,” and warned about a “new McCarthyism,” referring to what was happening to Chruchill. A video of her deposition was played in the courtroom this week. In it she described “a conversation with the Governor [Owens] where she said he told her to fire Ward Churchill ‘tomorrow,’ that his tone was ‘threatening,’ and that if she didn’t he would ‘unleash his plan.’”
Owens said in his testimony that he couldn’t remember this conversation, doubted its tone if it did happen, and said he had no “plan.” But Churchill’s attorney, David Lane, then played a transcript of an interview on the O’Reilly Factor which featured Bill Owens. Owens told O’Reilly he didn’t have authority to fire Churchill, but that “I do have some budget authority over the budget,” which could be read as a veiled threat to cut state funding to the university if they didn’t get rid of Churchill. And then Lane pointed to this exchange:
O’Reilly: One more question for you. You have basically a strategy, and I want to get this right. You're not going to pay him off, so he's not going to get the big bucks. You're going to go through the lengthy process to prove that he did something that you can legitimately fire him [for], and then he goes—"See you."
Owens: That's exactly right. That's exactly right. That process is starting. I think it will ultimately result in him being fired.
In her deposition Hoffman also said “she felt like she was becoming the target of a right-wing attack machine, led by conservative media outlets and the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA), an organization she said had the goal of reducing left-wing bias on university campuses. ‘It was an all-out assault on Ward Churchill, the University of Colorado, and me,’ she testified. She said both former governor Bill Owens, and her successor at CU, former U.S. Senator Hank Brown, had been on the board of the organization.
ACTA is a Washington-based right-wing academic watch-dog group made up of very powerful forces close to those in power during the Bush regime. Ex-VP Dick Cheney’s wife, Lynn Cheney, was one of the co-founders, as was the CU President who fired Churchill–Hank Brown; and major ruling class operatives and mouthpieces for the clampdown in academia like William Bennett and Ward Connerly are involved. Right after 9/11 ACTA escalated their attack on academia by publishing “Defending Civilization: How Our Universities Are Failing America,” claiming that “colleges and university faculty have been the weak link in America’s response” to Sept. 11. Before the CU investigative committee claimed to have found evidence of academic misconduct, ACTA put out a pamphlet with the provocative title–“How Many Ward Churchills?” Their answer?—“They’re everywhere.”
This week also revealed some crucial elements that point to why the faculty investigation itself was a sham. The Dean of the CU Law School, David Getches, was relied on by then Chancellor Phil DiStefano for advice on whether Churchill could be fired for what he wrote. Getches wrote in an email:
Whether or not his particular remarks are protected by the 1st amendment, they are not befitting of someone in a position of leadership at CU. Since it has been disseminated, his paper has caused anguish to Jews and members of the very minority groups the Ethnic Studies program serves, and to 9/11 victims’ families. He has deeply embarrassed CU and flouted the principals of human decency that CU stands for. Moreover, his inaccurate and irresponsible comments cast serious doubt on his competence and integrity as a scholar. Therefore—
Actions 1) Remove him as Director of Ethnic Studies, 2) Suspend him with pay pending review by committee of his competence and fitness to continue as a faculty member at CU.
Churchill’s attorney then showed that Getches played a crucial role in shaping the investigation that he had just recommended. As John Aguilar reported in his blog for the Daily Camera:
Lane also attacked Getches for reviving old allegations of misconduct from an academic rival of Churchill’s—University of New Mexico law professor John LaVelle. He said it seemed like odd timing that as one of the key people looking into whether Churchill’s essay was protected speech, Getches was introducing allegations of academic misconduct that had first been brought to his attention by LaVelle six years earlier.
“All of a sudden here you are advancing LaVelle’s cause to this committee,” Lane said.
If you’re out to carry out a witch-hunt through a faculty investigation, it is important who you put in charge of leading and guiding that committee. The person they chose was Mimi Wesson, Getches’ colleague in the law school who had been an assistant attorney general for the state of Texas and an assistant U.S. attorney for the district of Colorado. It had come to light after the committee’s work was done that Wesson had expressed her animus toward Churchill prior to her appointment. As the reporter’s blog continues:
Lane finished his questioning of Getches by asking him why law professor and colleague Mimi Wesson was chosen to head up the investigative committee looking into Churchill’s scholarship after she had written in an email that Churchill was “a thoroughly unpleasant individual” and “another male celebrity wrongdoer” who had similarities with the worst attributes of O.J. Simpson, Bill Clinton and Michael Jackson.
He asked Getches if he’d want to be judged by someone who had made similar comments about him.
Getches said he wouldn’t.
The first week also brought many distinguished academics and scholars to the stand. Professor Hu-Dehart from Brown University had worked at CU in the 90’s and was colleagues with Churchill. She described Churchill as one of the most cited scholars in “Ethnic Studies” and that it is “not an exaggeration to say…that Ward is one of the leading Native American scholars.”
Professor Robert Williams, a Harvard educated University of Arizona professor with a joint appointment in American Indian Studies and American Indian Law, testified as an expert in both fields. He had been contacted by the CU provost about serving on the committee. Because he knew and respected Churchill and had recently invited him to the University of Arizona as a distinguished scholar, he asked if that would be considered a conflict of interest. Hearing nothing back he decided to decline, but also encouraged all committee members to do the same. He told the attorney for CU felt those on the committee “were just in over their heads.” Williams then went through the committee report and challenged many of their conclusions as unfounded, which he showed demonstrated a lack of understanding of the issues they were judging.
The distinguished civil rights scholar Derrick Bell, who taught law at Harvard University and fought for diversification of faculty on university campuses, testified as well. The judge would not allow him to express his view that CU acted outside the norm in firing Churchill, but he did testify that Churchill’s work falls within the field of critical race theory, which recognizes the integral role of race in the discussion of law and social constructs, and has its own methods of research and analysis.
And several former students took the stand to express their appreciation and admiration for Churchill as a teacher.
The trial reconvenes in Denver on Monday, March 16.
*For background on this case, see Revolution issues #92 & #98, and the article that appeared online at revcom.us last week—“Ward Churchill Lawsuit Against University of Colorado Begins March 9th.”
Revolution #159, March 22, 2009
Chicago Cops Kill 2 Black Men in 4 Days
On March 6 Pierre Ambrose, a 25-year-old Black man, turned the van he was driving the wrong way down a one way street. It was a mistake that ended up costing him his life. That turn brought him to the attention of three undercover police cruising through Pierre’s neighborhood. Pierre was shot to death by Chicago Police in front of the house where he lived with his grandmother.
All witnesses agree that Pierre had a gun, but put it down before the police started shooting. In the words of one witness, “He did everything right.” And the police still shot him! His mother described how she heard two shots and looked out the window to see Pierre fall to the ground.
By the time she ran downstairs, her son was laying face down, handcuffed and shot multiple times. She was quoted in a local news article saying, “When I was going down the stairs, the police stood over him and they shot him again twice. I said, ‘Why are you still shooting him, he’s on the ground?’ I saw this, and a lot of people saw it…. They shot him for no reason.”
Pierre leaves behind two young sons, and one news article stated that he was on his way to pick up his 5-year-old son with his 2-month-old son in the van with him.
We came to the neighborhood the next day with Revolution newspaper, to learn more about the incident and unite with people’s outrage around the murder. Outside the house a memorial had been set up at the spot where Pierre had been killed. Like thousands of memorials for youth cut down by America’s murderous police, this had a memorial photo, balloons and messages of love and mourning.
We spoke with one of Pierre’s uncles who described the murder to us. He made the point that police murders happen all the time. He talked about Oscar Grant, Sean Bell, and LaTanya Haggerty who was shot to death by police in Chicago who allegedly thought her cell phone was a gun. He was furious that this happens all the time and none of these cops are ever charged. To emphasize his point about how common this is he called his daughter to get the name of another youth who had been murdered by police a few blocks away from where we were standing.
This is the same police department that shot 12 people in a murderous rampage last summer—6 dead, 6 wounded and 6 were shot in the back. And on March 10, just 4 days after murdering Pierre, Chicago Police shot and killed Matthias Mayhorn. Matthias was shot when the police came to his house on an “investigative alert” regarding domestic violence. Police told his father they caught him climbing out a window and were holding him upside down out the window when he pointed a gun at them. Matthias’s father questions the police version due to the angle of the bullets that hit his son. And witnesses in the neighborhood say Matthias did not have a gun. He was shot multiple times and dropped to his death.
Both of these shootings have gotten almost no press coverage. What limited press coverage there was on the shooting of Matthias dug into his past to paint him as a criminal and justify the police shooting. Matthias’s father points out that Matthias had not been in any trouble for years and they were working together in a father-and-son electrician business. He commented in outrage, “They painted it like he had no brightness in his future but they took his bright future from him.”
The murder of Pierre Ambrose had his uncle reflecting on how things are. “They created the coke epidemic but they don’t have rehab for people. There are no resources, there are no programs out here—there are no alternatives for the youth. They are left with nothing but gangs and drugs.” He compared the situation of the youth to the situation of people scattered by Katrina. That people still don’t have homes to go back to.
We need to get in the streets and demand that these killer cops be indicted, convicted and jailed! This whole damn system is truly guilty as hell!
Revolution #159, March 22, 2009
From a reader:
I wanted to share an interesting exchange I had taking out Revolution newspaper and building for the March 1 event in Chicago, Making Revolution in the USA, that underscores the importance of struggling with people to take responsibility for the world as it is and being part of a revolutionary movement really working at making revolution.
A few of us were out in Englewood, one of the most oppressed neighborhoods in the city with a sound truck and Revolution. We talked with one guy who lives in the neighborhood and he got a copy of Revolution. We were struggling with him to come to the event on March 1. He agreed things were fucked up in the world and that there needed to be real change, but that he had to focus on his family, going to school and the betterment of himself. I argued this was bullshit—look at the world around us, it's crying out for revolution, for communism and he needs to lift his head up out of himself and deal with this. He asked me what neighborhood I was coming from—as if to argue I had no right to speak.
I asked him why that was a relevant question and his answer was that it's enough of a struggle for him just to walk through these streets every day. I joined this sharply—think about what the youth have to walk through in Gaza—under fire from U.S.-backed Israeli bombs where frankly, the youth are lucky to reach his age. I don't give a shit what neighborhood you're living in, all of us have a responsibility to those people and the people of the world to make revolution and get rid of this system—which is not in our interests here and definitely not in the interests of those youth in Gaza. He stared at me for a second and answered, "Oh shit, I hadn’t thought of that. Do you have a card? You just really challenged me. Can I talk to y’all more sometime?"
He took a small stack of flyers and I gave him a way to reach us and got his address so we could stop by. Someone stopped by his house and made an appointment to talk further, and he kept emphasizing how much he wanted to talk more.
This is just one opening, but I thought it was a good example of someone responding positively to the necessary struggle for people to break out of “me and mine” and lift their heads up to think about and take responsibility for revolution.
Revolution #159, March 22, 2009
Recently, in an effort to step up systematic efforts in distributing the newspaper and integrating into that broad mass use of Bob Avakian’s DVD, REVOLUTION: Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About, we spent two weekends in a neighborhood in our city. Our orientation was to present in a concise, straight-up way to people that we are building a movement for revolution, and this newspaper is the core of and the organizational foundation for that movement—that “the revolutionaries are here” building a revolutionary movement and people need to find out what this is all about, and to get with it, including by regularly getting and building networks around this newspaper as a very powerful tool for building and organizing revolution.
This was a great thing to do—to go out there boldly with the paper, open up some new territory, lay a basis to bring forward new people to be a part of a revolutionary movement. We learned some things about how critical that is. And we got a sense of both the potential to forge a revolutionary movement—and the real challenge and necessity of getting into and struggling with people over all the things, including backward thinking, that hold them back.
With this kind of orientation, who was advanced and who was not was quickly sorted out and we could move on to someone who wanted the paper. ” The masses responded seriously in the main, with only a very few negative responses, including “I have my religion. I don’t need this.” We did not get into a series of long discussions with people, but introduced the paper if they seemed interested, we offered the sub, and said we would be back next week. This was a scientific and systematic approach—neighborhood scoped out in advance, teams set up, clear, simple orientation given, good visuals, and quickly out of the gate in the morning. Sum up mid day, then out again.
Some youth who went out with us for the first time were excited to see how our line really resonated with this section of the people. It wasn’t about a long scholastic discussion about why revolution is necessary but instead people coming from a basic understanding that the system is fucking people over and uniting with “we need a whole different future” and being eager to learn about what we are doing and how we are approaching this.
A young comrade of ours helped in selecting this neighborhood, which the team was not familiar with but he knew and thought it would be good place to start. He seemed to know where to not go, as well, which is important to know and not blindly walk into very contested areas. The neighborhood we chose is mixed Latino/Black proletarians, but not the roughest area of the city. It is overwhelmingly proletarian, many owners of small, very modest homes, about 80% Black, some who have been there many years, some who grew up in that area and may have inherited homes; others who said they are fighting to stay afloat with the mortgage crisis. Maybe 10% of the houses are boarded up or empty with for sale signs. People knew of others who lost their homes in the area. We sold a paper to two Latina women who were packing up their belongings after losing their home to foreclosure. They were moving just down the street to an apartment complex.
We divided up into teams, each with a particular area to cover. Each team had at least one Spanish speaker, which was crucial. In order to give a sense that the revolutionaries were there, each team had visuals—enlargements of the centerfolds from the newspaper, and the visuals were carried through the neighborhoods. Each team also had a bullhorn, though they weren’t used that much. At the end of the day, the teams came back together to turn in names and notes.
We set up a team of people to call all the names back during the week and see if people wanted to have a showing of the DVD at their house this week; we wanted to learn what they thought about the paper if they have read it.
People we spoke with in going door to door and to those on the street commented that we had not been there before though some recognized us from protests and TV. “Where have you been?” was a common response. Overall the response we very open, positive. Revolution, yes, but what kind? How do you do that in a country like this? A few of the people we talked to had connections to the 60's, the Panthers; others talked about recent police murders and the protests against them, proud they had been a part of those protests. And another proletarian woman said she is concerned about the fate of the planet due to global warming. There was, of course, a large helping of Obamamania and hope that things may change. But that was tempered by a lot of the reality of what is really going on, with the economy, with brutality.
After looking at the enlargements of centerfolds we had with us, several people motioned us over. Several said they remembered us being out there with the masses demanding justice for Oscar Grant and pointing out the role of the police, the epidemic nature of police murder. A group of younger men playing dice on the street corner recognized one of us from the protests and bought copies of the paper. Another time we sat down with a group of junior high school students who collected all the change and pennies that they had among them to get the paper and then gathered on the steps of a house with one of us, getting into big questions of can you make revolution, can we make a whole different kind of world.
The first weekend 25 people gave their names to be contacted. 8 subs were sold. Nearly 120 papers were distributed. We did not focus on leaving bundles of papers with people. Most were not familiar with the paper and we thought they should read the paper and we’ll get back to them next weekend about taking a bundle, helping them figure out how to get them out. It is interesting that the majority of subs were sold to women, and of that just under half of the women were Spanish-speaking women. One Spanish-speaking woman whose husband was somewhat cynical about this stuff about “revolution”, really like the cover story about revolutionary women of Iran and Afghanistan, and it resonated with her that these women want revolution and we need that here too. She was really heartened that we are fighting to build a revolutionary movement and welcomed the opportunity to be connected to it through the paper. We did sell papers to a lot of men, including Spanish-speaking men, in fact almost all of the Latino men talked to bought the paper.
During the week, we called those who bought subs, but we had a hard time reaching people. When we did reach people, most had not yet read the paper. But one woman who had read the paper, asked for 5 more copies to get out to her friends. Most people are really pressed for time—just trying to survive and didn’t feel they could set up a meeting with us in advance. We summed up that we needed to go visit people during the week, to go through an article or two with them, show them a section of the DVD. When we did that, one woman told us she had already ordered the DVD off of seeing the ad in the newspaper she bought. We suggested that she do a showing with a woman across the street who had also bought a sub. She said it was the woman across the street who suggested she order the DVD! We invited them both to the upcoming fundraising dinner for the newspaper and gave them leaflets for the dinner and upcoming tribunal. So already there is a buzz in the neighborhood. People have started talking to each other about us, talking about this movement and the things we are doing. And we need to encourage and promote a lot more people coming together to watch the DVD. Next weekend, we will make a big focus on showing the DVD on the spot and selling it to people, encouraging them to have home showings as part of building this movement for revolution.
The second “blitz” weekend , we went back again to the same neighborhood and sold 8 more subs. People remembered us from the week before. Some commented that their neighbor got the paper from us the first time we were there. In other words, boldly going out and having a presence makes a big difference. It gives people a sense that this is a movement. Our multinational character, different ages, the number of women who were part of the blitz tell people about what kind of movement we are building. And they were happy to see us back. People in the neighborhood got a sense that we are not a one time thing, that we want to continue connecting with people through the newspaper, and with the DVD, that we are serious, and really want to organize, with them, for revolution.
Revolution #159, March 22, 2009
We were inspired by the call from Revolución newspaper and the need to raise a lot of money so the newspaper can continue to come out and expand its reach and influence. As one comrade says, “Revolución is like the air we breath. I need this newspaper, and after thinking about it a lot I am worried by the idea that the newspaper will no longer be printed. Therefore we have to take care of it, and I am donating $100.”
After a couple of meetings and discussion we set about to organize a “Convivio”, a potluck dinner to raise funds and invite all Spanish speaking readers of Revolución newspaper. So we sent emails and made phone calls inviting everyone we knew who reads the newspaper, and of course those who aren’t familiar with the newspaper. After these calls we held the event on February 22 in a barrio in Queens, it being one of the areas with the biggest mix of different nationalities. We also went out the day before to sell the newspaper and invite more people.
At 4:00 pm people began to arrive, people of different nationalities, such as from El Salvador, Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador and El Salvador. There were students, poets, artists and others. They not only brought food but gave support by buying tickets for the event. After quickly setting up the room we began the dinner so that the people could eat and put on the event.
The entire event was in Spanish. We began with a brief introduction dealing with the nightmare that we are living and the world in which we find ourselves under the capitalist system and its crimes such as the criminalization of immigrants and police brutality, and of course its wars for empire throughout the Middle East and the rest of the world.
But the world does not have to be this way. Also, there exists a vanguard, the Revolutionary Communist Party and its chairman Bob Avakian, that have taken the responsibility on their shoulders to lead this revolution and along with all the people overthrow this system and create a new world and a flourishing society. We also used the newspaper centerfolds to show some of the ways the newspaper presents an understanding of the problem and the solution to the masses. Copies of “A Bold Initiative” were handed out to all present to tell them of the expansion of distribution of the newspaper.
Following this were testimonials from a few readers who spoke of their experience reading and distributing the newspaper. Some read letters that had much emotional impact and inspiration for them, especially those that spoke of religion and science such as the article on Darwin and evolution.
Much of the testimony gave rise to heated debate and comments. In some way it stirred in people a restless desire to question all those ideas which nobody wants to talk about. For example, one of the poets who participated said: “I liked the newspaper a lot, but what I liked best is how you have questioned religion and how you have talked about it. Other media don’t even mention it.”
One of the organizers read a letter sent to the newspaper and published in #49 entitled “I Didn't Know I Had the Choice: Confronting Reality as It Truly Is” from a Black woman in the deep South who broke with religious fundamentalism and embraced the liberating science of revolution. After reading the letter, he said that this letter meant a lot to him, it really moved him, because it practically summed up his own experience. He explained that he was thrown out of his home for the simple fact of not accepting the religion of his “Catholic” father, which was in conflict with his “Evangelist” mother. But neither of the two religions provided any real option for him. Rather he broke with religion and became a revolutionary to this day.
Another gentleman who gave a testimonial spoke of the importance of science and evolution. This theme caught his attention the most at a discussion in Revolution Books and upon reading Revolución #156 on the celebration of Darwin’s anniversary. He said, “Religion is something that people don’t want to touch. It is like the most private thing for those that believe in god and that a paradise in heaven awaits us. But science plays a very important role in demonstrating by means of science and evolution the truth that we exist in a world of matter in movement.”
We passed around a bucket to collect donations. After this some of the participants made comments and then we continued the program with poetry presented by a group of artists and poets. They not only recited poems but also explained their meaning. They also noted what they liked about the newspaper, mentioning important questions. For example one of the poets, a young woman, said, “I agree with revolution but how can we compete with the capitalist media and its brainwashing? How do we get people to not throw this paper in the garbage like other newspapers, you know like El Diario and others? And what about violence?” Another young woman asked, “Isn’t there already enough violence?” These comments along with others about religion gave rise to much discussion and debate in small groups during the last part of the event.
Revolución correspondent Alan Goodman also attended. He read a statement in Spanish to close the program and to speak of the importance of Revolución newspaper and to invite everyone there to become part of building the revolutionary movement around the newspaper, and of all the diverse ways that people can contribute as writers, translators, photographers, designers and of course monthly financial sustainers.
At the end of the event we had raised $298. One of the people said that he would like to be a sustainer at $10 per month. Two friends approached the bookstore table to ask how they can be in contact with us and participate in the distribution of the newspaper and that they would also like to help with photography and perhaps paintings and cartoons. A revolutionary artist donated a painting of the face of a fighter in the Intifada, representing the Palestinian resitance against the Israeli invasion.
We plan to hold more of these events and other things to continue raising funds. But for now we urge others to take initiative to support Revolución and its expansion throughout the country to build the most revolutionary movement ever seen.