Voice of the Revolutionary Communist Party,USA
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Revolution #202, May 31, 2010
We received the following from a reader:
Bob Avakian, the leader of the movement for revolution that we are building, begins his talk Revolution: Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About by recounting the history of lynching in the United States. As Avakian describes a few especially horrific instances of the lynching of Black men and women at the hands of white supremacist mobs...as he unfolds the details of atrocities that are unbearable and infuriating almost beyond words, he returns to this refrain: "AND THAT'S STILL NOT THE WORST OF IT."
This is exactly how I have felt during the past several days, as details and reaction surrounding the execution of Aiyana Stanley-Jones continue to emerge. For those who have still not heard, Aiyana Stanley-Jones is a 7-year-old girl who was shot and killed by Detroit police during a raid carried out in the early morning hours of May 16. You read that correctly—7 years old.
Around 12:40 am on the morning of May 16, Aiyana Stanley-Jones was sleeping on the couch next to her grandmother, Mertilla Jones, when cops swarmed their home. During the raid that followed, Joseph Weekley, a member of the Detroit Police Department's Special Response Team, shot Stanley-Jones in the neck and head, killing her.
In the aftermath of Aiyana's murder, Detroit police—led by assistant police chief Roger Goodbee—have claimed that Weekley's gun went off accidentally after he entered the home, during a struggle with Mertilla Jones; as if, even if that were true, this would excuse the fatal shooting of a 7-year-old child.
But Aiyana's family, and their lawyer Geoffrey Fieger, say the police are lying through their teeth. They have filed lawsuits charging violation of civil rights, gross negligence, and a conspiracy to cover up the actual circumstances of Aiyana's death.
During a news conference announcing the lawsuits, Fieger—surrounded by Aiyana's grieving family—said that somebody stopped by his law office to show him a videotape that very clearly shows what actually happened during the raid. Fieger said that he is not currently in the possession of the video, and he urged the person who does have it to come forward.
As Fieger described it, here are the actual circumstances of the raid:
Multiple hooded police officers converge on the residence. They encounter a male outside whom they throw to the ground, proceeding to step on his back. He pleads with the officers, "There are children in the house."
Indeed, there were several small children in the house, which police had every basis to know before even conducting the raid; there were toys scattered on the front lawn, and a police surveillance van had been watching the residence earlier in the day.
Police then throw a flash bang grenade through a window, and it lands "either onto Aiyana, or close enough to her to burn her severely," as Fieger put it.
"BUT THAT'S STILL NOT THE WORST OF IT."
Almost immediately after throwing in the flash bang grenade, an officer fires a shot from the porch outside the house, clearly exposing as a lie the police claim that the shot was fired accidentally from inside the home during a struggle with Mertilla Jones. The bullet kills 7-year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones.
"I seen the light leave outta her eyes," Mertilla Jones recounted, sobbing uncontrollably, during the news conference. "I knew she was dead. She had blood coming out of her mouth. Lord Jesus, I ain't never seen nothing like that in my life. My 7-year-old grandbaby—my beautiful, beautiful gorgeous granddaughter. My goodness, what type of people?! ... what type of people?! You can't trust the police. You can't trust Detroit police."
"BUT THAT'S STILL NOT THE WORST OF IT."
How do officers respond to the crime against humanity that they have just perpetrated—supposedly "by accident"? By carrying Aiyana's dead body out of her home "like a rag doll," in Fieger's words.
"BUT THAT'S STILL NOT THE WORST OF IT."
After they have just murdered her 7-year-old granddaughter right in front of her, the cops put Mertilla Jones in chains and lock her up for several hours, testing her for drugs and gunpowder in the process.
And on top of all this, it appears that the police did not even have the right address.
"What's being reported in the press is, well the fugitive or the suspect was found upstairs. He wasn't found upstairs in this home!" Fieger said during the news conference. "I don't know why you keep reporting that. This home is a lower flat. There is no upstairs in this home. There's an upstairs flat...which is a separate home, which they did not have a warrant for; they went in there and they subsequently got it and that's where he lived."
"BUT THAT'S STILL NOT THE WORST OF IT."
While Chauncey Owens, the man whom Detroit police were looking for, has already been arrested and charged with murder... Not only has Joseph Weekley not been arrested and charged with Aiyana's murder... Not only has he not been fired from the police force... He is on paid administrative leave.
And how has Dave Bing, Detroit's mayor, reacted to this atrocity? By calling Aiyana's death a horrific crime and demanding Weekley immediately be arrested and charged with murder? NO. In fact, he has urged people not to fault the police!
"Too many people are pointing to the police department," Bing said. "I don't think they are the problem. They have to be the solution."
On the other hand, Bing has been more than happy to blame Fieger, the lawyer for Aiyana's family.
"He's taking advantage of a terrible situation," Bing said, "and it's about money as far as he's concerned."
And Bing has also, somehow, found a way to blame the masses of Detroit. Like many other politicians and reporters in the days since Aiyana's death, Bing has sought to lump the murder of Aiyana Stanley-Jones together with recent violence in Detroit among the masses, which is also a product of this system—more specifically, of the severe desperation and misery and hopelessness into which this system has forced tens of millions of African-Americans and Latinos—though of course, Bing does not say that.
"It's a behavior problem, it's a cultural problem," Mayor Cosby—oh, sorry, Mayor Bing—said on May 20, speaking about Aiyana's murder and other recent killings of people in Detroit. "When people don't have jobs, they get frustrated and angry and people are making bad decisions."
Pardon me, Mayor Bing, but one brief follow-up question: Besides everything else that is wrong with what you just said, what the hell does any of that have to do with the police burning and then gunning down a 7-year-old girl in cold blood, as she slept next to her grandmother? What, pray tell, was the "bad decision" that Aiyana Stanley-Jones made?
To the reader: Pause for a second and think about these questions...
Whether or not this revolution—and this leader, Bob Avakian—become known broadly in this society, among millions of people of all strata and in all spheres, has everything to do with how people in this society and across the globe understand the answers to all of the above questions.
The entire Revolution: Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About talk by Bob Avakian can be viewed online at revolutiontalk.net, and selected clips are available at YouTube.com/revolutiontalk. As soon as you finish this issue of Revolution, go online to watch the talk. If you want the DVD of the talk, order from RCP Publications or pick it up at the nearest Revolution Books store.
So, in closing, let me just say: If there were anyone with any doubt—or any need for a reminder of—the need for revolution... of the urgency and stakes of the campaign we are building to make this revolution and its leader known to millions in this society... or of the crucial importance of the upcoming conferences in terms of taking that campaign to another level...
Just think of the name: Aiyana Stanley-Jones.
Who Is Bob Avakian?
This is a leader who has an unmatched understanding of, and visceral hatred for, this capitalist-imperialist system, the countless horrors it produces, and the ways in which those horrors are linked. He also has a firm, scientific grasp of the fact that, as he put it in the title of a recent talk, "THERE IS NO 'PERMANENT NECESSITY' FOR THINGS TO BE THIS WAY—A RADICALLY DIFFERENT AND BETTER WORLD CAN BE BROUGHT INTO BEING THROUGH REVOLUTION."
As "The Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have: A Message and a Call from the Revolutionary Communist Party" puts it: "Bob Avakian has developed the scientific theory and strategic orientation for how to actually make the kind of revolution we need, and he is leading our Party as an advanced force of this revolution."
Bob Avakian has also developed a radical new synthesis of communism, based on a vision of a vibrant socialist society that is organized in order to meet human need, overcome all exploitative relations and ideas, and draw the masses of people increasingly into running society. In this socialist society, which is a transition to the final goal of communism, security forces will be enforcing a system that is based on overcoming the exploitation and oppression of the masses, not enforcing it. Consequently, a member of these security forces would sooner give up his or her own life than steal an innocent one like that of Aiyana Stanley-Jones.
One of the defining features of Bob Avakian's leadership is his understanding of the centrality of the oppression of Black people to the functioning of this system, and the related centrality of the fight against that oppression to the process of making revolution. This is a particular aspect of who Bob Avakian is as a revolutionary leader that must become much more broadly known in the days, weeks, and months to come: There is a reason that he opens his "Revolution...." talk by speaking at length about the horrors this system has, and continues to, inflict on Black people. And there is a reason that he has said:
"There will never be a revolutionary movement in this country that doesn't fully unleash and give expression to the sometimes openly expressed, sometimes expressed in partial ways, sometimes expressed in wrong ways, but deeply, deeply felt desire to be rid of these long centuries of oppression [of Black people]. There's never gonna be a revolution in this country, and there never should be, that doesn't make that one key foundation of what it's all about."
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Revolution #202, May 31, 2010
Reporter's Notebook from the Funeral of Aiyana Stanley-Jones
An unspeakable horror lay over an already devastated Detroit, reaching into the hearts and souls of Black people here. It is the horror of the Detroit pigs throwing a flash bang grenade and then gunning down, yes, a 7-year old Black girl as she lay sleeping on a couch. It has been a week since the brutal military commando style murder of 7-year old Aiyana Stanley-Jones as she lay sleeping on her couch in Detroit. A Detroit Police SWAT team with a "no-knock" warrant in search of an alleged murderer attacked the wrong flat on Detroit's east side on May 16. They threw a flash bang grenade through the front window. It landed on Aiyana who was sleeping on the living room couch and severely burned her. Within seconds, a Detroit cop opened fire from the porch, killing Aiyana with one shot. Then the stormtroopers invaded the house and brutalized Aiyana's grandmother. They grabbed Aiyana's father, Charles Jones, and threw him to the floor, his face down in shattered glass and the blood of his daughter, as he pleaded with the cops that there were children in the house and to please stop their violence.
There was an all-day public viewing of Aiyana's body at a funeral home on Friday May 21. From 10 in the morning to 9 at night, thousands of overwhelmingly (but not exclusively) Black Detroiters stopped to pay their respects. Communist revolutionaries were also present at the viewing, distributing the Message and Call from the RCP to all who came in and out of the funeral home.
The public viewing of Aiyana's body was a brave act by her family. It was plain to see she had been brutalized. There had to be reconstruction on her face and she hardly looked like the photos of the happy, smiling child displayed by the casket. People who had never met Aiyana or her family filed past the open casket, many openly weeping. People spoke out loud, saying "this didn't have to happen." It reminded many of the way Emmett Till's family brought his body back from Mississippi after he had been murdered by white racists and held an open-casket viewing so that all could see what had been done to him. And now in Detroit people are watching a 21st Century lynching unfold before their eyes, carried out by the forces that claim to protect the people.
People coming out of the viewing were shaken, but also full of anger. Anger is seething amongst the largely Black and poor population of Detroit. At the same time, the city's police officials and politicians have been working to try to contain the rage of the people and to blame the family for Aiyana's death.
The Detroit police deny that the cop shot into the house from the outside, and offer no apology for their brutal assault. They lied, saying the officer's gun discharged by accident as he struggled with Aiyana's grandmother. And they lied and spread confusion right after the murder, saying that the suspect they were looking for was in the house they raided.
There is a huge weight in this city where vast areas of what used to be residential homes now stand as empty land. The Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality held a rally immediately after the murder right in the neighborhood, but since then there has been no protest from among the people. There have been over 300 people killed in the last year by violence among the people. The authorities are using this to spread fear and to justify the police murder of a 7-year-old child.
There is a lot of confusion among people about the causes of this violence. A widespread sentiment is that "we have to save our babies"—from the violence of both the police and the people. It was echoed by preachers at Aiyana's funeral on Saturday May 22. Rev. Al Sharpton gave the eulogy in which he called on Black men to take care of their families, and to "put down the dope, and get the guns out of your houses." He claimed that "this is not about us vs. the police, but all of us against crime."
Geoffrey Fieger, attorney for Aiyana's family, spoke at the funeral about the meaning of Aiyana's death. "This was not an unavoidable accident," he said. "It is not just her death but the entire system that has allowed too many children to die unjustly...The goodbye [to Aiyana] today doesn't have the finality of peace until justice is achieved...There will be no justice until all are compelled to confess the truth...By her death Aiyana has paid the price for justice that will save many other youth. Each and everyone of us must pledge ourselves to get justice for her."
Communist revolutionaries have also been in the midst of this turmoil.
Here are some of the things people at the funeral home were saying:
A very basic general sentiment was expressed by one woman who said "Something has got to change. If it doesn't, I don't know what will happen."
A Black man exclaimed "The police are doing their job. They are keeping people down by shooting and terrorizing them."
A Black woman walked by, taking a flyer with "The Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have" Message and Call from the RCP. She said as she reached for the flyer: "I saw you on TV. We do need a revolution in this country."
A Black woman sitting in her car in the funeral home parking lot said "They are sweeping this under the rug — but it cannot happen any more. This time they got caught in their lies. They are trying to cover it over because it is in the Black community where there is no accountability by the police force... A revolution is an option if we come together to make change. But my concern is that people won't stick together."
Another Black man sitting in his van had read the flyer and called over one of the revolutionaries to talk. "A revolution is needed — but you need leadership." The revolutionary directed him back to where the Message and Call speaks to the leadership we do have in Bob Avakian, the Chairman of the RCP and he said he would go online to see Bob Avakian's Revolution Talk.
Carl Dix from the Revolutionary Communist Party was out at the funeral home talking with people and he invited people to view parts of Bob Avakian's Revolution Talk on a laptop on the spot. One woman who watched part of it came out to a rally and march called by the revolutionaries the next day. She brought all of her children with her to the march.
The next day, the funeral was held at a mega-church with a huge parking lot surrounded by fences in the middle of a devastated Detroit neighborhood. The church holds 3,500 people and several thousand people attended. Many had been at the funeral home the day before and the revolutionaries had summed up that there was a clear sentiment among the people for taking action to protest Aiyana's murder. People distributing the RCP's Message and Call in the huge church parking lot were threatened with arrest by sheriff's deputies. But the revolutionaries stood their ground, determined to get this crucial message to the people. As people drove out of the church lot after the funeral, a dozen people, including some who joined the effort on the spot, held up signs saying "Justice for Aiyana Jones" and "The Whole Damn System is Guilty" along with the time and place for a rally and march later that day.
The rally began at 4 pm at a major intersection in the neighborhood where Aiyana lived. Carl Dix was on the scene and he spoke sharply about the outrageous crime against the people by the system. He exposed the lie about the youth and their families being the ones to blame for violence in the community. "The youth didn't take the jobs out of Detroit, the youth didn't bring the drugs into Detroit, the youth didn't destroy the educational system." He called out the system of capitalism as the source of these problems and he declared that we don't need this system any longer, that the people taking power and building a socialist society could liberate everyone to have a meaningful life. He called on people to join the movement for revolution and that to do that, we need to fight the power and transform ourselves, for revolution. [see Carl's recent statement from Detroit on the murder of Aiyana on YouTube, www.youtube.com/watch?v=mWFyeCASfZk]
Around 40 people had come to the rally off of the call issued only a couple of hours earlier at the funeral. Carl called on people to step up to the mic and talk about how they felt and their own experiences at the hands of the police. Several people stepped up, including the woman who had met the revolutionaries at the funeral home. She said that she is now determined to change things and that she had brought all her kids to the march because people need to stop this police violence for all the children's sake.
Juanita Young, the mother of Malcolm Ferguson who had been killed by the New York City police, had come to Detroit with Carl Dix and she spoke to the crowd about what difference it makes for people to stand up and fight against police brutality.
At the rally, one young girl saw the huge "Danger! Police in Area" placard with the stick-figure image of a cop shooting a person. She went up and put her hand in between the illustration of the bullet and the victim. She then put her hand over the image of the cop's nightstick.
The march soon formed up and went through Aiyana's neighborhood. One of the chants taken up by the people helped speak sharply to the lies of the system: "Aiyana Jones-she has a name! Her family is not to blame! It's the system that's doing wrong-we have to stand strong!" A contingent of young Black teenagers took up a huge enlargement of a centerfold from Revolution newspaper around the October 22 National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality and that also features the quote from the RCP's Message and Call: "The days when this system can just keep on doing what it does to people, here and all over the world...when people are not inspired and organized to stand up against these outrages and to build up the strength to put an end to this madness...those days must be GONE. And they CAN be."
Aiyana's neighborhood is one of the Detroit communities where vacant, boarded up and burned out houses exist among empty lots and even some newly built homes. People came out of the houses where folks are still living and were eager to hear the message of the marchers. Some joined in, and a half dozen cars of people who did not have the strength for hitting the pavement followed the march. When the march reached Aiyana's house (the family is not staying there now), it stopped to hold another rally in front of the huge memorial decorated with balloons and flowers. Carl Dix again called out the capitalist system as the source not only of the rampage by the police against the people, but also the violence among the people. More people took the mic and talked about how sick they are of the police murders and how important it is to have a protest like this. Two of Aiyana's young classmates, wearing T-shirts with her picture, stepped up as well, talking about what a great friend Aiyana was. One was so overcome with emotion she could not continue.
As the march ended, people felt they had begun something important, a fight to bring an end to the horrors of a system that will burn and gun down a 7-year old black girl.
One young woman said that she didn't want to leave because she didn't want this day to end. A mother said that she had felt sick to her stomach for days after the news of Aiyana's murder, but that this rally and march had helped her feel better for the first time in a long time. There was a feeling that some hope is in the air in Detroit. And some people are checking out the movement for revolution and Bob Avakian.
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Revolution #202, May 31, 2010
At every point, we must be searching out the key concentrations of social contradictions and the methods and forms which can strengthen the political consciousness of the masses, as well as their fighting capacity and organization in carrying out political resistance against the crimes of this system; which can increasingly bring the necessity, and the possibility, of a radically different world to life for growing numbers of people; and which can strengthen the understanding and determination of the advanced, revolutionary-minded masses in particular to take up our strategic objectives not merely as far-off and essentially abstract goals (or ideals) but as things to be actively striven for and built toward.
The objective and orientation must be to carry out work which, together with the development of the objective situation, can transform the political terrain, so that the legitimacy of the established order, and the right and ability of the ruling class to rule, is called into question, in an acute and active sense, throughout society; so that resistance to this system becomes increasingly broad, deep and determined; so that the "pole" and the organized vanguard force of revolutionary communism is greatly strengthened; and so that, at the decisive time, this advanced force is able to lead the struggle of millions, and tens of millions, to make revolution.
Fight the power, and transform the people, for revolution.
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Revolution #202, May 31, 2010
In this issue:
The powers that be tell us over and over—"this is the greatest country in the world," "this is the land of freedom and democracy." But in this issue of Revolution:
Read all this. Then ask yourself—is this the best of all possible worlds? Do we have to live this way?
Read all this. Then ask yourself, don't we need to GET RID of this system?
We need revolution. And we have the leadership to make revolution. Bob Avakian has developed the scientific theory and strategic orientation for how to actually make the kind of revolution we need, and he is leading our Party as an advanced force of this revolution. He is a great champion and a great resource for people here, and indeed people all over the world. And the possibility for revolution is greatly heightened because of Avakian and the leadership he is providing.
Bob Avakian's piece in this issue of Revolution, "Some Principles for Building A Movement for Revolution," provides an important framework for understanding the significance of fault line issues in society—and what this means for building a movement for revolution.
A very crucial part of the movement for revolution we are building is mobilizing and organizing people to wage real resistance and a determined struggle to NOT LET THE SYSTEM GET AWAY with its crimes against the people. And such struggle is an important part of the campaign the Revolutionary Communist Party is now carrying out to let people know what communist revolution is really all about... to get them acquainted with the leadership of this revolution, Bob Avakian and the RCP, USA which he leads... and to draw them into this movement—which puts before people the real possibility that a better world can actually be brought into being.
As the Party's Message and Call, "The Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have," which is the pivotal glue of this campaign, says:
"It is up to us: to wake up... to shake off the ways they put on us, the ways they have us thinking so they can keep us down and trapped in the same old rat-race... to rise up, as conscious Emancipators of Humanity. The days when this system can just keep on doing what it does to people, here and all over the world... when people are not inspired and organized to stand up against these outrages and to build up the strength to put an end to this madness... those days must be GONE. And they CAN be."
Already thousands have been involved in demonstrating against Arizona's attacks on immigrants. Among the masses there is tremendous anger at the murder of Aiyana Stanley-Jones and beginning protests. Millions of people are just heart-sick and outraged at what BP's oil spill is doing to the environment. The RCP has a slogan, "Fight the Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution." This is exactly what needs to be done in response to these outrages—and many other towering crimes by the system. And revolutionaries need to be right in the thick of all this, finding the ways to raise the political consciousness of the people—concretely showing and bringing to life the necessity and possibility of things being a whole different way.
Resistance is essential to the masses of people not being ground down to what Karl Marx called a "level mass of broken wretches." Such struggles can serve to reveal the essential illegitimacy of this system to millions. They must be part of actually defeating, or doing all we can to defeat, the system's attempts to drive people down further, or divide them up, and put them in an even worse position from which to raise their heads. And such resistance must be waged as part of a movement for revolution if the masses are to actually achieve REAL emancipation.
This is why the role of revolutionaries in such battles is so crucial. Daily and hourly, this system carries out numerous and horrific crimes against the people. But this will not automatically lead to the kind of consciousness, organizational strength and capacity the people need to make revolution when the time is ripe. And the role of revolutionaries in organizing resistance today can make a real difference in what happens: in whether a growing section of people start to question the system's legitimacy; in whether people begin to transform their own thinking and start to see that there is no permanent necessity of existing conditions; and whether many more people come to see the need and possibility of a whole new economic and social system leading to the emancipation of all humanity.
All this is not something to just think and work for somewhere down the road, in the future. We ARE BUILDING a movement for revolution RIGHT NOW. Fighting the power, and transforming the people, for revolution—is a crucial part of this. And this has everything to do with whether or not, when the time is ripe, we are able to make revolution.
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Revolution #202, May 31, 2010
To all those who have participated in the campaign "The Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have"...
To all those who want to see this campaign succeed....
Your ideas, creativity, energy and struggle—your participation—is needed.
Concretely, you are needed at the Memorial Day Weekend conferences being called by the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA to take this campaign to another level.
* * * * *
The RCP has been undertaking a campaign with world-historic stakes. As one student put it, "it's a question of whether revolution will die out with the '60s generation"...or whether it will take on new life as a vital force in the world. When headlines scream about obscene oil spills...about Nazi-like anti-immigrant and Latino laws in Arizona...about American troops dealing death in Afghanistan and Pakistan, while the president jokes about it at fancy press dinners... When you hear about yet another police shooting or murder going unpunished...when the airwaves assault you with anti-woman propaganda...when people are murdered because someone suspects them of being gay...when sharp cutbacks hit the schools, while the prisons keep filling up...when fascist movements are being fanned from high levels of government...can there be any question that such a revolutionary force is needed—urgently?
People need to hear and see that things DON'T have to be this way. They need to hear about revolution. And they need to know there is a Party that is building a movement for revolution. That is what this campaign is about. We aim to make known to millions the goal and character of this revolution, communist revolution, as it has been revitalized and reconceived by Bob Avakian; to make the leader of this revolution a household word; and through all this to forge a core of dedicated fighters who are going to advocate for this revolution and make it a driving dynamic force in society and the world.
Many of you have joined in these efforts and much has been accomplished—growing numbers of people are hearing about the revolution. More people are hearing about the leadership of Bob Avakian, and some are finding out about and getting deeper into what he's bringing forward. From the streets to the campuses, from the prisons to the suburbs—the revolutionary movement has begun to simmer and percolate. The Message and Call that is the foundation of this campaign is beginning to get out...and new things are happening that combine to give life to what that call says: "This is NOT the best of all possible worlds...and we do NOT have to live this way!"
But this campaign is still only just getting its footing. And let's face it—we are far from the goals laid out above. We need to get into a higher gear, and we need to do it very quickly. Because again—think about what is going on, every day...think about how the horrors every day, about how the future is being foreclosed and the walls are tightening...think about how people face all this and either think that there is no way out, or go with false and destructive paths... It is true: we can NOT afford to lose; anything short of the goals laid out above—anything short of getting revolution really on the map as a contending force—is unacceptable. There is a very real and very pressing need to accomplish the objectives of this campaign, as a key part of transforming this whole political and ideological "terrain" and "polarization," from terms that are currently quite negative to ones which are more favorable, in relation to the goal of revolution, and which lay more of the basis to further repolarize things in line with this goal.
Now the fact is that we CAN do this. But in order to do this we have to do much better at doing what the message and call says: "giving people the means to become part of this revolutionary movement, and organizing into this movement everyone who wants to make a contribution to it, who wants to work and fight, to struggle and sacrifice, not to keep this nightmare of a world going as it is but to bring a better world into being." That is what these conferences are going to be for and about: giving people a sharper understanding of the content of this revolution and its leadership and of WHY this campaign is so important right now; getting much more deeply grounded in the ways that this campaign can put this revolution into people's thinking and spread the word about its leader; and getting us closer to actually making revolution and emancipating this battered planet and its suffering and bitterly suppressed people.
The Party's going to be bringing some big ideas into these conferences—and then there's going to be massive wrangling with those ideas, debating and getting into them and working on them and letting all that spark new ideas. Everybody will be able to put the vexing problems and sharp challenges we've run into on the table. We'll also look deeply at the advances that have been made and figure out how to spread and build on those. These conferences will be key—to forging plans to get this campaign into a higher gear...and to getting a whole lot better organized, so we can actually bring all these ideas much more powerfully to fruition, and accomplish the aims of this campaign.
These conferences are not just for those who have already been into this campaign (although they definitely ARE for them); these conferences are for everyone who recognizes that the stakes for humanity are too great to sit it out, who recognizes that making revolution is a living process and requires the collective problems solving of all of us, and who sees in the revolution being fought for by Bob Avakian and the RCP a real hope for the future. They are for everyone who sees in the mission and objectives of this campaign a way to actually do something—again—"not to keep this nightmare of a world going as it is but to bring a better world into being."
If this is you—and it should be—you are needed to be part of this process. Clear your decks. Talk to someone connected with the Party about what it will take to get there. You are needed to be at this conference.
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Revolution #202, May 31, 2010
Arizona has passed another reactionary bill, signed into law by Governor Jan Brewer on May 11, that aims to eliminate Mexican-American Studies and all ethnic studies programs in Arizona public schools. House Bill 2281 declares that a school district or charter school in the state cannot include in its program of instruction any course or classes that include any of the following:
And the new law has teeth; any violations of its provisions will be punished by having 10% of their state funds withheld from the school district or charter school.
This new law comes on the heels of Arizona's reactionary anti-immigrant law, SB1070, which legalizes racial profiling by requiring police to stop and question anyone who they suspect is undocumented. That was followed by an announcement by the state's Department of Education that teachers with heavy accents must be removed from classes for students still learning English. Many have interpreted this as targeting immigrant teachers who were first hired under a program to teach bilingual education, a program later abolished as part of the overall anti-immigrant climate. This attack on ethnic studies represents yet another "brick in the wall" of an officially sanctioned white supremacy and American chauvinism in Arizona, while encouraging its spread around the country. Arizona has become an ugly battleground, and testing ground, for a new "Jim Crow," reviving an official second-class status for the 30% of the people of Arizona who are Latino.
The author of this new law is Tom Horne, Superintendent of Public Instruction for the State of Arizona's Department of Education, and Republican candidate for state attorney general. Horne has made it no secret that the law is specifically aimed at eliminating the Tucson Unified School District's (TUSD) Mexican-American Studies program and ethnic studies programs in general. Roughly 56% of the TUSD district's 55,000 students are Latino, and about 3% of the students take these classes, which offer a rigorous course of study that gives students college qualifying credit. But Horne said the new law will put an end to this; it "would ban La Raza (Mexican-American) studies because it's a course that's aimed primarily at members of one race, and we have testimony that this has promoted resentment toward one race." And he also said the law would end other ethnic studies courses as well. [5/1/10 Arizona Republic]
Horne has been point-man for a years-long campaign to wipe out ethnic studies classes and courses in the secondary schools. In June 2007, on official state Department of Education stationary, Horne wrote "An Open Letter to the Citizens of Tucson," arguing that the TUSD Ethnic Studies Program should be terminated. He charged that "ethnic studies in the TUSD teaches a kind of destructive ethnic chauvinism..." He said "...students should be taught that this is the land of opportunity, and that if they work hard they can achieve their goals. They should not be taught that they are oppressed."
In other words, in the view of Arizona's Superintendent of Public Instruction the purpose of public education is to tell students what to think—not to enable them to develop the ability to be critical thinkers. "Truth"—for Horne and those like him whose starting point is protecting and preserving this system—is whatever set of ideas correspond to achieving their goals. What is being demonstrated now in Arizona is that raw power dictates what "narrative" about this country's history and present-day reality will be taught—that "might makes right."
Horne's letter went further; it singled out for attack particular books used in the curriculum, including Occupied America: A History of Chicanos by historian Rudolfo Acuña, a book which received the Gustavus Myers Award for an Outstanding Book on Race Relations in North America, and has been used as a standard text in college-level curricula for Chicano (Mexican-American) Studies for many years. And Horne targeted the student group MEChA for attack as well.
State Senator Russell Pearce, author of SB 1070, made this point even more openly in his amendments to a bill in the state Senate, SB 1108—a bill that had nothing to do with education—approved by the Arizona Senate's House Appropriations Committee in mid-April. It would withhold funding to schools, including on the college level, whose courses "denigrate American values and the teachings of Western civilization," and would bar teaching practices that "overtly encourage dissent" from those values, including "democracy, capitalism, pluralism and religious tolerance." Pearce too targeted Mexican-American Studies at the TUSD, and included provisions that would ban student groups like MEChA on any public campuses. The Senate bill would have confiscated books and teaching materials that are deemed "anti-American." Pearce also singled out Acuna's Occupied America, saying it amounted to "sedition." It appears these provisions did not make it into this final law, but they reveal the whole climate around this dangerous offensive.
As the national liberation and anti-imperialist struggles of the 1960s developed and a revolutionary current emerged, one powerful expression was the hard-fought student strikes demanding courses, departments and schools of ethnic studies. While the students of oppressed nationalities had to fight just to get into the universities, what they confronted when they got there was an educational system which distorted or suppressed those aspects of history and present-day reality that challenged and put the lie to the bullshit about America's "shining example," and its "special place" in the world. They began at San Francisco State University in 1968, which saw the longest student strike in U.S. history, led by the Third World Liberation Front (a joint effort of African American, Asian American, Chicano, and student organizations of other nationalities). That strike established the first School of Ethnic Studies.
Ethnic studies programs, which later expanded to include women's studies, gender studies, etc., established a foothold where oppressed nationality students especially could for the first time learn about and be part of discovering their own history; the struggle and resistance; and the contributions to art, culture, science, etc. of Black, Chicano, Native American, Asian and other oppressed peoples in this country. This contributed significantly to bringing to light the truth that America's ultimate global domination rested on the foundation of the kidnap of millions and millions of African peoples and their enslavement in the "new world," the genocidal destruction of the Native American peoples, and the theft through war of 40% of the territory of Mexico as the start of a process of conquest that ultimately spanned the globe.
An essential element in the reassertion of the white supremacy and American patriotism on the rise today is the need to restore that "official narrative" about America and its "special role" as the "good guys" in the world. To these reactionary forces, the Mexican-American and other ethnic studies programs on the secondary school and college campuses are an obstacle that must be eliminated.
Whether or not those in power in Arizona succeed in banning ethnic studies outright, the reactionary assault on education that's now been given the official stamp of approval by Arizona's new law is already having a chilling affect on those coming under attack, and it is taking a tremendous toll. In the face of attempts to put them on the defensive, the faculty and administrators have denied the charges against their programs with assurances that the allegations are untrue. Now each teacher entering a classroom will have to teach while looking over one shoulder, facing the choice of self-censorship, or risking state intervention for telling the truth. It is the responsibility of people everywhere to strenuously oppose the whole reactionary offensive that is gaining momentum in Arizona.
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Revolution #202, May 31, 2010
When you stick your finger into one of the orange-brown or black, asphalt-smelling globs of oil now washing into the wetlands where the Mississippi Delta meets the Gulf of Mexico, it just gloms on and sticks. It's hard to get off. You see it stuck to the stalks of the roso-cane reeds, which hold the wetlands in place. Then you start thinking about what happens when a fish, a bird, or some other creature gets caught in this toxic stew. And you think about how these pools are only the first, small waves of oil from the exploded wellhead of British Petroleum's "Deepwater Horizon." And you just can't take it.
The Gulf oil spill is an almost immeasurable environmental crime, an immense catastrophe seemingly without end. Vast marine areas are becoming polluted and clogged with oil, causing largely unseen havoc. Much larger regions in the sea, near shore and on land are threatened. Most of the devastation this spill is causing is unseen—out in the marine ecosystems of the Gulf. In recent days more of the oil has begun to hit land. This is beginning to bring home the reality of the immense scope of this disaster to many people who had previously been fervently hoping against hope that the worst wouldn't happen.
Oil has now washed into the Chandeleur Islands—a breeding ground for brown pelicans and shorebirds. Hundreds of dead fish and hermit crabs have been found in oil-contaminated waters and marshes east and west of the Mississippi Delta. Some pockets of the Delta marshlands themselves, the center of a vast and rich ecosystem with deep connections to the life of the entire Gulf—have also been hit with oil in some places.
We saw this on May 20 when we went by boat into the Pass a Loutre area of the Delta, about 10 miles out from Venice, the southern-most town in Louisiana. Fishermen here are deeply anguished—one told us he cried for the first time in years thinking of the possible destruction of a "way of life," and an area that supplies 30 percent of the seafood people consume in the U.S. We rode by at least a mile of coastal salt marshland with cane grasses soaked in orange-brown oil, with oil sheen on the water and clumps and blotches of oil mixed in. The booms and absorbent pads the government claims will protect the wetlands were either non-existent or sat ineffectually, sometimes floating back and forth in the current, in front of canes soaked in oil.
If the cane and other grasses get saturated and oil penetrates to their roots they will die, and this whole ecosystem will be done. The marshes, already disappearing, can literally be washed away. These areas are breeding grounds for fish, crabs, many fish species, marshland birds and many other species. The marshes, bays and estuaries are the centers generating life for the entire Gulf.
All this is criminal. And it's a sharp expression—and escalation—of how the system is endangering the planet's environment and imperiling human destiny. It's part of the global environmental emergency we face.
Revolution reporters seized an important moment to protest a hearing organized by the Coast Guard and Minerals Management Service (MMS) to begin the first official "investigation" of the causes of the explosion at the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig. They were determined to make known that it isn't just BP or some bad government officials or particular agencies, but that it is the whole capitalist system itself that is the driving force behind this disaster and is not fit to be caretaker of this planet. And that it is outrageous and completely illegitimate for organizations who are key components of this system and intimately involved with allowing and creating this situation (MMS and the Obama administration) to investigate their own criminality. And to clearly put out the message that we must resist this crime on the planet and that things don't have to be this way—we can have a whole different system and we are building a revolutionary movement for that. This action was widely covered in the press and warmly upheld by many people the reporters spoke with afterwards.
There is a profound environmental, economic, and political crisis unfolding in the Gulf. It threatens to wreak havoc with the lives of millions, destroy an ecologically rich region that is a key link in the food chain that hundreds of millions depend on, and do enormous environmental damage. BP and government officials and agencies from Obama down are trying to assure people they're on top of the situation, and doing all that's possible to stop the oil geyser and protect the environment. The authorities have been downplaying the extent of the disaster from the beginning, including because they don't want any questioning of their basic plan to go ahead with the highly risky deepwater offshore drilling that is so central to their energy program and they don't want people to start to call into question their "legitimacy" to govern. But they're not fully in control of events.
They are portraying the crisis as being the result of "accidents," "mistakes" or "corruption" of some low-level officials. Yet each day, new exposures reveal that it's the entire capitalist-imperialist system that created this disaster, that has proven an utter failure in responding to it, and that is not capable of protecting the earth's ecosystems.
Global capitalism is structured around, and fueled by the extraction of fossil fuels like oil, coal and natural gas—of the 10 largest companies in the world in 2007, six were oil companies and three were car companies. It is both enormously profitable—for the whole system, not just oil companies—and central to the whole way contemporary capitalism works. U.S. global imperial power depends on control of massive global energy reserves—in order to shape the global economy and control all who depend on oil (one reason the U.S. has hundreds of thousands of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan). The U.S. military runs on fossil fuels. There is fierce global competition for control of these resources. That's why the U.S. and other big powers are determined to drill for oil and gas regardless of the well-documented dangers. Since 2009, the Obama administration has "approved 3 huge lease sales, 103 seismic blasting projects, 346 drilling plans." (New York Times, May 14, 2010)
Nothing Obama or Congress have done since the April 20 explosion of BP's drilling platform—the grandstanding, the finger-pointing, the resignation of an official or two, the investigative commissions and agency reorganizations—have touched anything fundamental about the capitalist system's addiction to fossil fuels, and its compulsion to "drill, baby, drill."
They've lied about the size of the gusher coming up from BP's blowout wellhead—which is crucial to assessing the enormity of the crisis and dealing with it. BP initially claimed that 1,000 barrels (42,000 gallons) were coming out a day. Then the estimate was raised to 5,000 barrels a day. BP and U.S. officials dismissed demands by scientists for more data on the size of the spill. Finally, some three weeks after the disaster BP was forced to release a brief video of the oil gushing out of the broken wellhead. (This video had been available but kept secret by BP and the Obama administration.) It soon became clear why it had been suppressed. A number of scientists quickly analyzed the flow rate using methods more accurate than BP's and found that BP and the U.S. government's claim was ridiculously low—5, 10, even 15 times too low.
And BP (with U.S. government backing) continues to refuse scientists access to the drilling platform and all their information. Scientists from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts with such expertise recently offered to fly to Louisiana to measure the gusher, one saying that if BP and the government can't get good numbers "the whole world is ready to help them." BP turned them down.
It also gives lie to BP's claim that it's making progress capping the well. Their latest "fix" is a 4-inch pipe they call a "Riser Insertion Tube Tool" inserted on May 16 into the 21-inch pipe coming out of the wellhead. By BP's estimates, this pipe is capturing 3,000 to 5,000 barrels a day. This might seem successful if BP's figures were to be believed—but as little as 5 percent of the oil may be being captured. (On May 20, as oil continued to pour into the Gulf, BP admitted its "estimate" may be too low.)
This is one of the worst environmental catastrophes in history, yet there is absolutely no systematic round-up of where oil is making landfall. There is more on this available from the citizen group Louisiana Bucket Brigade (www.labucketbrigade.org), which receives and then verifies reports from people, than from all these government agencies combined.
Oil is pouring out 5,000 feet below the Gulf and then rising, so it is being mixed with water, becoming "emulsified." It's getting hit by the 517,000 gallons of chemical "dispersants" sprayed by BP and the Coast Guard to break it up. These dispersants are themselves toxic. Use of dispersants seems to be contributing to huge amounts of the oil staying under the surface, even creating giant plumes floating in as far as 4,200 feet deep.
Websites from government agencies in charge tracking and responding to this disaster—NOAA, the Interior Department, and the EPA—are filled with glowing reports of how hard they are working, how many miles of boom have been laid, how many responders have been mobilized, and how air quality, water and sediments checks indicate there's no threat. In reality these are attempts to keep people passive and maintain the illusion the danger is not that great.
Marine biologists have repeatedly warned of potentially devastating consequences to fragile ecosystems in Florida's keys, Everglades and coral reefs, and to Cuba and the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, if oil enters the Loop current. Yet the head of one of the main governmental agencies in charge of responding to the disaster, Jane Lubchenco of NOAA, stated that such consequences would be "highly unlikely," claiming without any basis that the oil would be diluted and degraded and pose "minimal risk" to ecosystems. Last week scientists on the research boat MV Pelican reported discovering "giant plumes of oil in the Gulf"—huge underwater masses of oil 2,400-4,200 feet deep, some 10 miles long, 3 miles wide, and 300 feet thick in places. The Pelican scientists found lower than normal oxygen levels in these areas, spurring worry among that the plumes could cause spreading dead zones in the Gulf. Lubchenco attacked these findings as "misleading, premature and, in some cases, inaccurate."
Ian MacDonald, an oceanographer with Florida State University, who has been speaking out to counter BP and the government's underestimation of the spill's size stated, "not only is nobody listening to us in this, but it seems like they really want us to shut up...It's very, very punitive and anybody who is doing this is getting attacked by NOAA."
Other scientists have condemned the administration's utter failure to scientifically assess the size and impact of the spill.
One outrageous and maddening fact is the almost total lack of any systematic picture by any of the agencies "in charge" that details the impact the spill is already having on wildlife and species. Instead one has to comb through news articles and websites. It is known that 156 sea turtles have been found dead, 3 times the normal average. A dozen bottle-nosed dolphins and 23 oiled birds have been found dead. Rowan Gould, head of the Fisheries and Wildlife Service, said, "It's important to note that the visibly oiled birds are a small part" of the spill's impacts. "What concerns us most is what we can't see."
This is all horribly saddening and also enraging. This is an ongoing crime for which this whole system is responsible. It is the latest assault and an escalation in the environmental emergency and the destruction of the ocean and wetland ecosystems by capitalism. It should fuel us to both take the level of opposition and resistance to this spill and the system that caused it to another level, and to widely bring people to see how this whole system is responsible and that we can do much, much better.
The political terrain here is complex and changing, something we'll be reporting on in the future. The oil remains mainly offshore, so the full impact can't yet be seen. All this must be more thoroughly broken through on, with exposure and mass resistance.
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Revolution #202, May 31, 2010
This report was written before WWL news in New Orleans reported on May 19 that thick black oil washed into the marshes in the South Pass region of the Mississippi River Delta at a place called Pass á Loutre. This is probably the largest impact on land that has been seen so far since the spill began. WWL said that there was a half-mile area of marsh grass filled with oil and six to eight other areas just like it. The news is having a devastating, upsetting impact and causing real anger among fishermen who fish in these waters. One fisherman told me today that this area is the richest fishery he has ever seen and that the spill will have huge impacts on all the species that use the marsh as their spawning areas. He said he didn't think it would come to this, that somehow the worst wouldn't happen—but now it has. There is real anger that everything needed to be done to protect the marshes has not been done, and there is potential in this developing sentiment to unleash more opposition to this ongoing crime.
The threat to ecosystems from the oil spill in the Gulf is multi-leveled and multi-layered. What is shaping up is truly an almost immeasurable crime.
The ecosystems of the Gulf are varied, rich, and multi-faceted–truly a wonder of the natural world. They also form the basis for the lives, culture, and existence for many millions of people in this region and beyond.
At least 40% of the country's wetlands are in Louisiana. One of the largest wetland areas is the Mississippi River Delta, which was created over millennia by floods from the river that deposited sediments, creating a delta region of a half million acres. These are interwoven ecosystems of freshwater bayous, bays, channels, and marshlands—areas where there is a mixing of salt water from the Gulf with river water (the combination is called "brackish" water) in channels, bays and estuaries; and then saltwater estuaries; and then the various marine ecosystems of the open Gulf. In the wetlands near shore, there is a back and forth between the salt and fresh water with tide flow and currents from the river. Beautiful and amazingly rich diversity of fish, birds, reptiles, and mammals move back and forth in the environments they survive best in.
Larry Everest and I took a boat trip around some of this area during our reporting trip to the Gulf. We traveled out from Venice, through Red Pass in the Mississippi, and then moved into smaller channels that crisscross each other throughout this area, and then out into more open bays—six miles out all told. Recently oil has been found in some places in the delta, and the threat of a much more massive contamination is extremely real.
The captain of the boat, Brent Ballay, pointed out areas that used to be land but now are submerged by sea water due to the loss of land, because the river is confined and no longer building up new wetlands from over-spilling its banks and depositing new sediments. Channels have been dredged to open the area up for shipping and extraction and transport of oil. This is also contributing to the loss of wetlands, as they settle and disappear beneath the sea water. Katrina and other hurricanes have taken their toll. Another increasing cause of wetland disappearance, I am quite sure, is sea level rise due to melting of the ice caps from global warming.
According to an article in National Geographic in 2004, "Since 1930, 1,900 square miles of coastal wetlands—a swath nearly the size of Delaware—have vanished beneath the Gulf of Mexico. Despite nearly half a billion dollars spent over the past decade to stem the tide, the state continues to lose about 25 square miles of land each year, roughly one acre every 33 minutes." These wetlands are not only extremely biodiverse, they also form a natural barrier protecting the Gulf coast, including New Orleans, from hurricane winds and storm surges. So their disappearance is one reason Katrina was so devastating.
Brent showed us the channels where he catches bass in fresh water, the areas where redfish live, and further out where speckled trout can be found. In the fresh and brackish water areas, marshland sediments are held together by a plant the fishermen call "roso-cane"—a tall reed-like plant some eight feet high or more—that grows thick so you can't push through it. In the salt water areas, sea grass predominates. These plants "cement" the marshland sediments and hold them together. Without them the wetlands disappear and, as Brent put it, "The Gulf would be at our doorstep." And in the sediments, algae and other microorganisms live that, along with the grasses, form the base of these ecosystems.
These marshlands also have many other plants, cypress trees, a tree the fishermen called hackberry, flowering plants of orange and purple, thistles, and beautiful white spider plants. And throughout, these wetlands are filled with incredible bird life: snowy egrets, herons, red-winged blackbirds, ibis with their prominent long beaks of orange and brown, gulls and terns, brown pelicans sitting on old pilings and occasionally taking to flight. Huge man-o-war (frigate birds) soar in the wind. They have a seven-foot wing span and occasionally sail down to grab fish off the water. These birds have been recorded in flight for 4 days at a time. In one fresh water channel, we came across a small alligator.
These bays and estuaries are also home to oysters and crabs and other crustaceans. Many of the larger species, including juvenile fish, worms, crabs and other crustaceans, depend on the microalgae that live in the sediments to survive. It's been estimated that 97% of all the marine species in the Gulf depend on the estuaries at some point in their life cycles. So there is a close dependence and back and forth between life in the ocean and coastal wetlands.
Imagine these wetlands filled with oil. Scientists say the grasses are pretty resilient and if just their leaves or stems are coated, they can put out new shoots. But if the oil covers and penetrates to their roots, they die and the sediments supporting this whole ecosystem can begin to be washed away. If the oil kills the algae, the food is gone for many other organisms. If some of these organisms are poisoned and die off, the algae can grow all out of control. Oil in these marshes will cause untold death to many of these wonderful species, and could cause devastation to the whole ecosystem. The oil could last for decades, mixed into the mud.
The thought of all these threats to the wetlands is sickening and shows again that this system is not capable of caring for the earth and its ecosystems.
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Revolution #202, May 31, 2010
A Great Crime
It was May 13, 1985, when hundreds of police surrounded the MOVE house in the 6200 block of Osage Avenue on Philadelphia's west side. This was not the first police attack on members of the Black radical organization MOVE. This came after a lengthy campaign aimed at its eradication.
The timing was calculated. Police made sure the children, who went out on a daily schedule, were still at home. At 5:30 in the morning Police Commissioner Gregore Sambor shouted arrogantly through a bullhorn: "Attention MOVE! This is America!"
Police then proceeded to prove that this was indeed America, shooting thousands of bullets into the MOVE house. A confidential police report obtained by the media listed the ammunition expended by the police: 4,500 rounds from M-16s, 1,500 from Uzis, and 2,240 rounds from M-60 machine guns.
Police demolition teams next used explosives to try to blast holes in the walls of the MOVE house from adjoining buildings. Finally, in the late afternoon, a helicopter swooped low and dropped a bomb with a C-4 military explosive. The explosion started a fire. Now, stop and think about what happened next: The police ordered the fire department not to put the fire out. And people trying to flee the house were fired on and repeatedly driven back—people trying to escape the fire were gunned down in cold blood, others were devoured inside by flames. Then the fire spread to neighboring houses.
When the inferno was over, 11 people who had been in the MOVE house were dead, including five children. An entire city block of houses was burnt down, making 250 people homeless. From the MOVE house, there were only two survivors, Ramona Africa and a 13-year-old boy, Birdie Africa. Investigations showed the basic outline of this massacre had been well planned in advance by top police and government officials.
Why were the rulers so threatened by this group of unrepentant Black rebels living in a communal compound? MOVE refused to respect present-day America and its prevailing values. Its members openly defied official power and tirelessly preached against a system they considered utterly corrupt and destructive to life on this planet, particularly through the use of modern technology and the killing of animals. And when threatened and confronted by the authorities, they did not back down. From its beginning, MOVE has exposed the rulers of this society for the liars, racists, and murderers that they are.
In particular, MOVE vigorously exposed the prior police assault on their house in 1978 and fought against the resulting imprisonment of nine MOVE members who were sentenced to 30 years to life in prison. One of the cops attacking their house was shot, but it was never established by whom. The trial judge openly admitted that he had no idea who had killed the cop, but that didn't stop him from handing out collective imprisonment to all those in the house who refused to renounce their allegiance to MOVE. (The political nature of all the cases against MOVE is starkly revealed by the fact that renouncing MOVE has always been made a condition for leniency or parole.)
There is a mountain of hypocrisy at work when U.S. officials today decry "terrorist bombers." America has a history of brutal violence, up to and including bombing, against its own ghettos. In 1921 local cops flew six planes to attack the Black community of Tulsa, Oklahoma (26 Blacks killed and most of the Black community burned down). The 1960s saw the police and National Guard gun down hundreds in the vicious repression of Black rebellions such as 1967 in Detroit (with 43 killed and a particularly vicious police massacre at the Algiers Motel). And the Black Panther Party was made a special target of assassinations and military-style assaults on their offices (several dozen dead, including the police assassination of Fred Hampton in Chicago).
In the aftermath of the bombing of MOVE, capitalist law took its normal course. Were the police officers who dropped the bomb sent to jail? No. Were the police officials who ordered the bomb sent to jail? No. Was the Fire Commissioner who deliberately allowed the whole neighborhood to burn down sent to jail? No. Was the Black mayor who okayed the plan sent to jail? No.
Only one person was sent to jail: Ramona Africa, who served seven years in prison. Charged with conspiracy, riot, and multiple assaults, her real "crime" was that she survived the MOVE bombing, which had been intended to wipe out the MOVE organization.
Around the time of the bombing of MOVE, many people had placed their hopes in the election of Black officials around the country. Wilson Goode had been elected in 1984 as Philadelphia's first Black mayor. This was after the long reign of the notorious white racist mayor Frank Rizzo and many expected Goode to defend the interests of the Black community. In reality, Goode's role was to paralyze resistance of Black people and provide cover for the system's further attacks. Goode did not hesitate to give the order to drop the bomb.
Some people in Philadelphia tried to oppose the police massacre and some were arrested in the neighborhood just for verbally denouncing the assault. However, taken in by an unending media and police campaign against MOVE and shocked by the scale of violence unleashed against MOVE, too many people stood by paralyzed and did not rise up in response. A "Draw the Line" statement, initiated by Carl Dix and others, was signed by more than 100 prominent Black figures and others denouncing the collusion of Black elected officials in the repression of the Black community. The statement read, in part: "When Black elected officials use their positions of power to attack Black people, or to cover up for or excuse such attacks, they are no friends of ours."
Twenty-five years after the bombing of MOVE, Black and Latino communities are still continuously subjected to raids, brutality, and outright police murder—and building resistance against these attacks must be part of the movement for revolution we are building.
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Revolution #202, May 31, 2010
Throughout most of human history, if a woman had sex with a man, getting pregnant was always possible; the woman had virtually no control over that. In 1960 the FDA approved the birth control pill. For the first time, the act of sex could be deliberately and reliably separated from procreation. The Pill was a historic scientific development that meant millions of women could have control over whether or not they became pregnant. Since then hundreds of millions of women around the world have used the Pill to prevent pregnancy.
It's hard for people now to remember what it was like before the Pill. For unmarried women who were having sex there was that feeling of terror in the pit of the stomach if a menstrual period was late. For married women, being pregnant constantly and having a new baby every year or two—that was a married woman's role and her future.
This was not simply because effective contraception had not yet been developed. The social morés that are romanticized in the 50s TV shows: Ozzie & Harriet, Father Knows Best, Leave It to Beaver—cover over the suffocation and brutality of the time. The Catholic Church in Boston taught married women that if they were practicing birth control—using a diaphragm or condoms or spermicidal creams—the faces of their unborn children would haunt them on their deathbeds and they would burn in hellfire for eternity.1 There was no such thing as marital rape, a man could force his wife to submit to sex whenever he wanted. Women were wives and mothers—period. In Connecticut and Massachusetts it was a crime for even married couples to use birth control and 22 other states had similar restrictions.
It wasn't until 1965, in the court case Griswold v. Connecticut, that the Supreme Court overturned those laws that limited the distribution of contraceptives and ruled that the right to privacy gave married couples throughout the U.S. the right to use contraceptives.
The birth control pill would have been a controversial medical breakthrough in any society where patriarchal relations reign, but the Pill made its appearance at a time when throughout society social conventions, politics as usual and cultural traditions (and what had been the traditional morality) were coming under assault. The civil rights movement—and the more rebellious and revolutionary movements against national oppression that followed; the movement against the Vietnam War; the revolutions in Third World countries, many inspired by the revolution in China led by Mao Tsetung; the many forms of counter-culture: music, movies, new forms of art—that flowed, bubbled and exploded in the sixties, gave impetus to and interpenetrated with tremendous upheavals in social relations that existed between women and men and among people generally. The Pill allowed women greater freedom to jump in to these movements with two feet. There was more basis to question and resist the double-standards that governed the roles of men and women in society, and to experiment in many different realms. Many women and men were demanding equality for women in society, in the streets and in the bedroom. Women together with many men fought and won the right to abortion; they challenged the stigma and shame that hung over women's sexuality. The "sexual revolution," as it has been called, had many positive aspects—fostering healthy openness about women's sexuality, women's bodies, homosexuality, and even the right for women to openly enjoy sex and explore one's sexuality without being demeaned for it.
Fast forward to 2010—50 years after the Pill. All of that heady freedom has been distorted and twisted by the dominant patriarchal and capitalist relations into today's mainstreaming of pornography featured regularly on TV programs and other forms of "popular culture" as well as the more hard core display of women in a degraded state for the titillation of viewers—including grotesque brutality and violence against women involved in much of this. This sadly gives rise to many women seeing themselves as a commodity that can be sold or rented by the highest bidder.
The movements of the '60s, including some with a revolutionary thrust, had the initiative for a period, but there was no revolution, no overthrow of the ruling class that could bring a fundamental change to the social relations in society, the class divisions that underlie it and the production relations that gave rise to those classes. And internationally, the revolution was set back with the counter-revolutionary coup in China which instituted a capitalist, exploitative society, even as it retained the name socialist.
And then the "Reagan Revolution" in the 1980s unleashed a reactionary right-wing backlash against all the progressive accomplishments brought into being by the upheaval of the 1960s and 70s. For the rulers in the U.S., the reassertion of the "traditional family" and "family values" has become essential to reasserting patriarchy and stitching back together the reactionary fabric of society that had been significantly frayed.
Christian fascists have been unleashed and supported by important sections of the ruling class to spearhead this movement back to traditional values. A key lever to accomplishing that is the anti-abortion movement. Make no mistake, these people who say they are "protecting the unborn" clearly want to re-establish a traditional patriarchal society, where women have no rights to control their reproduction or sexuality. Having succeeded in sharply curtailing access to abortion, the Christian fascists are now turning their sights on contraception. "We see a direct connection between the practice of contraception and the practice of abortion," says Judie Brown, president of the American Life League, an organization that has battled abortion for 27 years but that, like others, now has a larger mission. "The mind-set that invites a couple to use contraception is an anti-child mind-set,...So when a baby is conceived accidentally, the couple already have this negative attitude toward the child. Therefore seeking an abortion is a natural outcome. We oppose all forms of contraception."2
The Democratic Party, which claims to be the party that supports abortion rights is itself supporting the reimposition of "family values" by accepting the terms set by the anti-abortion movement. Obama himself has moved far away from defending women's rights, saying "abortion is never good" and seeking to find "common ground" with the fascists. Sunsara Taylor wrote on the occasion of Obama's graduation speech that focused on abortion at Notre Dame in May 2009, "What 'common ground' can there be between Christian fascists—who have never given a damn about the sentimentalized 'value' of fetal life, but have only ever been motivated by an arcane biblical mandate to forcibly subjugate women and reduce them to breeders—and those who insist that women are human beings capable and worthy of participating in every realm of society?!?!?!
"In reality, when there are two completely antagonistic views, 'common ground' can only exist if one side capitulates to the other. This is exactly the dynamic at play in the 'new era' of Obama around abortion and women's basic rights."3
With the official women's movement tied to the tail of the Democrat donkey, the fight to protect the right to abortion has been subordinated to the needs of electoral politics. So instead of fully unleashing women and men in the fight for reproductive rights as abortion doctors are murdered, pharmacists are legally allowed to deny prescriptions for birth control and several states are moving to give personhood to a fertilized egg, we instead get Gloria Steinem on the 50th anniversary of the Pill quoted in Time Magazine as saying the importance of the pill is "overrated"4; the refusal of the leaders of the mainstream women's rights movement, NARAL, NOW, and the Feminist Majority, to attend Dr. Tiller's funeral; in 2006, when South Dakota banned abortion, the leaders of the official women's movement didn't condemn it, but said it went too far by failing to make exceptions for rape, incest and the life of the woman; and when the Stupak amendment to the recent health care bill came up for a vote in Congress NARAL, Planned Parenthood, NOW and the Feminist Majority cancelled a "Day of Action" in favor of calling people out to lobby.
The birth control pill was a scientific breakthrough of historic proportions. For the first time in the history of humanity it gave women effective control over when and if they will have babies. The question is what will humanity do with that science, and within what kind of society will that medical breakthrough be used? The Pill, as part of a whole societal upheaval created tremendous freedom for women in the '60s. But women are still not liberated. Patriarchal relations—in the form of the burkha or the thong, as A Declaration for the Liberation of Women succinctly put it—still characterize the world as well as U.S. society. Now with not only abortion, but birth control itself coming under assault by the Christian fascists and their ruling class backers, the question is whether there will be a real two-sided battle to defend the right of women to control their reproduction or whether this society will head backwards to a time when women's role and sexuality were confined and subordinated to home and husband.
If we are envisioning a world in which all of humanity is emancipated—and we are—then women's control of their reproduction through contraception and abortion is fundamental and any attempt to limit that must be aggressively opposed as part of building an overall movement for revolution.
2. "Contra Contraception" New York Times Magazine, 5/7/2006 [back]
3. Revolution #165, May 24, 2009 [back]
4. "The Pill at 50: Sex, Freedom and Paradox" Time, April 22, 2010 [back]
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Revolution #202, May 31, 2010
The Prison Ban on Revolution Newspaper is Inhumane and Unconstitutional
Overturn the Ban!
Imagine you are in the Security Housing Unit (SHU) of a prison, locked in a solitary cell for 23 or more hours a day, every day, year after year. Your lifeline to the world is a newspaper and all of a sudden prison officials decide that you cannot read it anymore. As a prisoner wrote: "I've been getting the Revolution paper for about 8 years and can't imagine being in this dungeon without it."
In February, 2010, prison officials at California's Pelican Bay State Prison declared that Revolution newspaper was banned from their institution. The ban must be OVERTURNED.
Many people from all sections of society who have listened to these prisoners' voices have been struck by the power of their words and their moral vision for transforming society. Now it is up to those on the outside to make sure this lifeline is not cut off and these voices are not muffled or worse silenced.
Soledad Prison, 4/2/2010
To Whom it May Concern:
This correspondence is in regards to the Pelican Bay Ban of the Revolution newspaper.
I've been incarcerated for over 20 years and reading Revolution newspaper since 2000.
Revolution is a very informative newspaper. It has caused me to think outside "the box" and really think about what's really happening in the world not just in the U.S. or just within the prisons. The contents printed within has motivated me to write letters to teenagers whom are getting in trouble and heading down the path towards ruining their young lives before they've even begun to really live and experience life.
The newspaper has broken racial barriers as well. Prisoners of other races have witnessed other prisoners and myself discussing articles that we've read and have approached and joined in with their opinions or asked about coming and joining our next discussion with bringing some of their homies. Within the nearly 10 years I've been reading the newspaper I've not once heard of an incident being caused about an issue or any contents within the paper.
I sincerely feel the pain of the prisoners whom are being denied access to this informative newspaper. Cause I ache when issues are allegedly lost and not received. These papers aren't instigating violence amongst prisoners nor staff.
DONATE TO Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund!
OVERTURN THE BAN!
Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund (PRLF), which provides revolutionary literature, especially subscriptions to Revolution newspaper, to prisoners across the country, for many their lifeline to the world, is launching a major fund drive, to expand its work in the context of mounting a wide-ranging legal and political struggle to overturn the banning of Revolution newspaper that has just taken place at the Pelican Bay State Prison in California as well as Menard prison and other prisons in Illinois.
Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund needs to raise $15,000 by the end of May. After reaching that goal, we are aiming to double those funds, reaching our goal of over $30,000 by the end of June.
Funds are urgently needed for the following expenses:
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP REACH THIS GOAL:
GIVE A LEAD GIFT! We already have one lead gift of $2,000 and smaller donations that together are 1/2 way to matching it. Let's finish matching it right away. And this week we need 4 more lead gifts of $1,000 to $2,000 each. Please write Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund with the amount of your lead gift and your reason for giving it, so we can challenge smaller donors to match it.
GIVE A DONATION! When you make any size donation, write 5 friends and tell them why you gave and ask them to match your contribution.
ADOPT A SUBSCRIPTION! Give Revolution newspaper for one year—$35 for each prisoner. If you can do so, adopt a block of subscriptions. There are now 65 California prisoners on the waiting list and 40 in Texas alone. When you adopt a subscription, PRLF will tell you the state and institution where the prisoner receiving the subscription you funded is incarcerated and remind you when it is time for its annual renewal.
All donors will receive the PRLF newsletter.
Your gift can be earmarked for a specific purpose. If you only want your gift to go to fighting the censorship and overturning the ban then please specify on your check or when you make your donation online and we will honor your request.
The Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund is in affiliation with International Humanities Center, a nonprofit public charity exempt from federal income tax under Section 501[c](3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
Send your checks to Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund, 1321 N. Milwaukee, #407, Chicago, IL. 60622
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Make tax deductible checks to: IHCenter/PRLF
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Revolution #202, May 31, 2010
There is a little-known unit within the California prison system called the behavior modification unit, which was set up in 2005 to segregate prisoners who the state considers "troublemakers," for acts like refusing a cellmate. Now renamed the behavior management unit (BMU), these units are supposedly a middle step between the maximum security cells (the "hole") and the general prison population. Part of the official rationale was to provide "life skills," like classes in "anger management."
But in reality, such classes—for whatever their worth—have little to do with these behavior units. A recent two-part piece in the Sacramento Bee* exposed that at the Corcoran prison, none of the prisoners in the behavior unit had taken so much as a single class. Instead, the whole unit was on lockdown nearly 24 hours a day. The Bee found that throughout these BMUs (originally at six prisons, now at three), prisoners have been routinely subjected to humiliating strip searches, pepper sprays, and other physical brutality as well as extreme isolation and sensory deprivation where prisoners are locked in cells for months without TV, radio, exercise, or contact with people other than guards.
According to the Bee, court records indicate that prisoners who are suicidal or who are heavily medicated for psychosis and other mental disorders are "typical" in these units.
And racism is open and rampant. Guards at the High Desert prison called the behavior unit there the "black monkey unit" and joked about how "monkeys" are "always hanging around in there"—a sickening reference to suicide attempts by Black prisoners. One former prisoner in the unit recalled how he was pepper-sprayed in the cell—for not returning the meal tray in the required 2 to 3 minutes—and then paraded through the cellblock naked, with his hands and feet shackled. "They're walking me on the chain and it felt just like...slaves again," the prisoner said. "Like I just stepped off an auction block."
In the name of "behavior modification," what the state is doing to these prisoners is nothing less than trying to crush their very humanity. Who are the real criminals?
* "Probe uncovers strip searches, chains and racism at prisons," Charler Piller, Sacramento Bee, May 9 -10. [back]
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Revolution #202, May 31, 2010
Revolutionary "Will" Arrested in Harlem for Standing Against the Police Murder of seven-year-old Aiyana Jones in Detroit
On Saturday, May 22, Will and another revolutionary were swarmed by cops and arrested when they were speaking out on 125th Street and Amsterdam in Harlem against the police murder of seven-year-old Aiyana Jones in Detroit. Seven uniformed and undercover cops, with several more police looking on, brutally jumped Will and forced his face to the pavement as they handcuffed him. People who saw this were outraged. Will has been charged with resisting arrest and disorderly conduct.
These revolutionaries are known for leading the people to stand up and to put an end to the system whose enforcers here murder children in their beds and whose armies in Afghanistan murder children at wedding parties. We can't let this go down this way! Act now!
See the youtube of Carl Dix of the Revolutionary Communist Party speaking on the murder of Aiyana Jones:
Also see the youtube of Will's arrest: www.youtube.com/watch?v=bNYFa1ziiLw
Send us your comments.
Revolution #202, May 31, 2010
Spreading Revolution and Communism
Here are two ideas that came up at the recent conference on the campaign "The Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have" that we want to announce immediately. There were many good ideas to be synthesized into more of an overall plan that were worked with at the workshops and will be further developed and integrated into the campaign. A very important and overarching point was the importance of there being a culture of fund-raising—in everything that we do—including passing the hat on every street corner we are saturating and at every event and meeting we hold. The conference in New York City raised thousands of dollars as a powerful closing to the conference. Determined to raise the funds for the first massive printing of the statement, the fund-raising at the conference indicated the collective strength of what we accomplished that weekend. It was an indication that we came out of this roaring and ready to really put this campaign into a higher gear! As one participant put it, this showed that people are serious—and that we ARE going to do this.
So we are excited to announce that we are going full steam ahead with one of the ideas that really began to take shape at the fund-raising workshop in NYC. An all-day web-a-thon to raise money for the campaign. This will be a nationwide all-day event (at least 16 hours, when you consider the advantage of time differences)—to combine phone banking with a full day of web programming on the campaign.
On Sunday, June 20, everyone will need to clear their calendar for a concentrated nationwide feat to really raise big money. Begin assembling your e-lists and phone lists now—we should by the end of the first ten-day saturation have many more names and numbers to work with. Revolutionaries need to be serious and professional about compiling these every day and getting them into the appropriate set of lists—so that no one who says they want to be contacted is lost, forgotten and their potential squandered. This is another key element of reporting. Begin organizing now, where you will be collectively and individually phone banking, so that everyone is hooked in and momentum can build throughout the day.
There will be, in connection with the webcast, special programming for people to listen to and take part in: special reports from Revolution newspaper reporters from the catastrophe in the Gulf, an important speech on the environment by Raymond Lotta, a recent speech by Alan Goodman on the massacre of internationals bringing humanitarian aid to Gaza by the Zionist State of Israel, developments in Arizona including reports from youth going to Arizona for the summer to stop the fascist laws scheduled to go into effect on July 29, Sunsara Taylor, a report from Carl Dix on the U.S. Social Forum and putting revolution on the map in Detroit—with a major saturation to take place in the city as a whole and at the U.S. Social Forum—and more.
The webcast will also have coverage of the impact of getting the statement out there and pictures of the graphic image of Bob Avakian going up around the country. In fact, one of the things we will be fund-raising for that Sunday will be to put this up on billboards and as huge murals on walls that we are able to get with permission or rent in Detroit and New Orleans and Arizona.
If there are YouTube videos of people wearing the image of Bob Avakian shirt or displaying the poster—and those same people testifying as to why they are doing so—be sure that these are being sent into Revolution newspaper so that some of the best of these can be played that day—no matter where you are, in a major city or small town or an outlying area of the revolution—you can be part of this—it will be a nationwide collective event. If you would like to film a special report of key advances in the saturation from the city where you are—you can film these and send them in also.
This web-a-thon will actually begin on Sunday afternoon, June 13—where especially people who have volunteered to work on fund-raising will do an initial broadcast—with coordinated phone banking—to begin raising funds as soon as possible and to also get some necessary experience in doing this before the really big all-day event. This is important in its own right and is crucial as a building block.
We will need hundreds of people phone banking on June 20—there will be a basic template or script so that people who have never done this can jump right in—and so that people they call can call or email ten of their friends. One of the favorite approaches that someone came up with at the East Coast conference was "Hi, this is the revolution calling—we're calling you because we have a whole better way to run society and you need to be part of the movement for revolution... We are raising $_____ today to put this revolution on the map."
A supplemental idea that came up in the fund-raising workshop for the July 4th picnics—organize a walk or run, or both, that morning, or that weekend, where people sponsor you by the mile. People who register will get the image T-shirt before the walk—and people can walk/run in them together advertising the campaign as they go, through busy parks or waterfronts or through neighborhoods. Do it on the weekend of the 4th—and/or do it again later in the summer.
Send us your comments.
Revolution #202, May 31, 2010
Israel's Killing of Humanitarian Activists:
May 31, 2010: In the middle of the night, in international waters, Israeli military forces stormed the Mavi Marmara, one of six ships carrying humanitarian relief to Gaza, killing at least 9 activists and injuring dozens of others. This is a shocking, horrific, and belligerent massacre.
While the details of the Israeli attack and killings are not all clear at this writing, and Israeli officials and media are unleashing a massive disinformation barrage, what is known is that the Mavi Marmara and other ships in the Freedom Flotilla were in international waters when stormed by heavily armed, elite Israeli military forces. Videos taken from the Mavi Marmara show armed Israeli commandos rappelling down from helicopters onto the ship. According to news reports, Israel claims the commandos used force only after coming under attack from those on the ship. But activists on the Mavi Marmara said the Israeli troops opened fire as soon as they stormed the ship.
Those onboard the Mavi Marmara ranged in age from 88 to 1, and included Christians, Muslims and Jews determined to break Israel's blockade of Gaza. Some 700 activists from 40 countries were participating in the entire flotilla, including elected officials, former diplomats, aid workers and activists, a Nobel laureate, news correspondents and independent journalists. Most of those on the Marmara were from Turkey. According to organizers, the relief effort was carrying 10,000 tons concrete, toys, workbooks, chocolate, pasta and substantial medical supplies.
Israel's massacre was illegal under international law, immoral, and intolerable. Like the murder of Rachel Corrie,1 and other brazen and outrageous attacks on those standing with the Palestinian people, it is a bloody statement from Israel to the people of the world that Israel's terrible crimes, particularly the brutal, inhumane mass-imprisonment of the people of Gaza, cannot be challenged. This massacre must be exposed and politically opposed by anyone with a basic sense of right and wrong.
At the end of 2008 and beginning of 2009, Israel launched a one-sided massacre of Gaza, delivering weeks of collective punishment to the people of Gaza, destroying schools and shelling hospitals, killing some 1400 Palestinians, and locking down the 1.5 million people of Gaza in what is called the world's largest outdoor prison. Efforts to break the siege of Gaza, including the Gaza Freedom March a year after the massacre, have been blocked by Israel and Egypt, with the full backing of the U.S. government.
Israeli officials are combining brazen gangster belligerence with obscene lies about being set up for a "lynching" by the protesters. Available video and accounts from the activists show Israeli storm troopers attacking the ship in international waters (which is a crime under international law).
And the massacre on the Mavi Marmara is a crime to enforce an ongoing great crime. Amnesty International's current Annual Human Rights Report states that Israeli's siege on Gaza has "deepened the ongoing humanitarian crisis. Mass unemployment, extreme poverty, food insecurity and food price rises caused by shortages left four out of five Gazans dependent on humanitarian aid. The scope of the blockade and statements made by Israeli officials about its purpose showed that it was being imposed as a form of collective punishment of Gazans, a flagrant violation of international law."2 According to a recent World Health Organization (WHO) report,3 there has been an increase in malnourishment, now at over 10 percent of children in Gaza, because of a chronic lack of protein, iron, and essential vitamins. Israel's 2008-2009 invasion damaged 15 of 27 hospitals in Gaza and damaged or destroyed 43 of its 110 primary health care facilities, none of which have been repaired or rebuilt because of the construction materials ban. Some 15-20 percent of essential medicines are commonly out of stock. And Israel's sadistic lockdown means that the people in Gaza are not allowed to leave and are totally cut off from family and friends outside.
Defending the massacre on the Mavi Marmara, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak declared that "there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza."
The Israeli massacre on the Mavi Marmara takes place in a tense, complex international arena, in which the U.S. is waging a widespread war in the Middle East to impose regimes and power relations that strengthen its position as the world's sole superpower. Within this, Israel plays a critical role as an attack dog in the region and beyond. It is in that light that Barack Obama's silence on this massacre must be condemned and exposed, as part of exposing and politically opposing Israel's massacre on the Mavi Marmara.
*Read Revolution's coverage and analysis—including articles by Alan Goodman—of the history of Israel's crimes against the Palestinians, the role and nature of the state of Israel, and the role of the U.S. in backing Israel at revcom.us.
*Watch video from Alan Goodman's report-back from the Gaza Freedom March at youtube.com/alanxgoodman, including documentation of Israel's destruction of the American School in Gaza and shelling of Al-Wafa hospital.
*Watch an Interview with Alan Goodman outside the Holocaust Museum in Manhattan: "After the Holocaust, the worst thing that has happened to Jewish people is the state of Israel."
*Read/Watch the speech by Alan Goodman at the Emergency Town Hall Meeting on Gaza, New York City, January 13, 2009.
|Today, I returned to the Holocaust museum in Manhattan with a banner with the quote from Bob Avakian, "After the Holocaust, the worst thing that has happened to Jewish people is the state of Israel."And I challenged people coming out of the museum: "You just went to an exhibit on one of the great moral crimes in history. If you were there then, would you have been silent? Silence today, in the face of Israel 's crimes against the Palestinians is just as morally unacceptable." [see Youtube video at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RlGZrA0Oj6M]|
1. Rachel Corrie, 23-year-old from the U.S., was killed by an Israeli military bulldozer in 2003 during a non-violent protest against the occupation of Gaza. For more, see "The Courage of Rachel Corrie." [back]
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Revolution #202, May 31, 2010
I want to offer some of my thinking on this piece from the Chairman: "There Is No 'Permanent Necessity' For Things To Be This Way—A Radically Different And Better World Can Be Brought Into Being Through Revolution."
First, I too thought that was one of the more important statements in the Manifesto from our Party—the quote from Marx that "once the inner connection is grasped, all theoretical belief in the permanent necessity of existing conditions breaks down before their collapse in practice."
The more I think about it—the more I think this is very important—strategically but also immediately in terms of the real, moving, living connection—living link if you will—between all our activity today and actually getting to the point where we could lead millions to seize power, go on from there to build socialism, and move toward the day when all classes, all exploitation, all oppressive relations between people, and all ideas that go along with this—that is, the "4 alls"—are uprooted and eliminated all over the world.
All we are doing is about this. Masses coming to understand and feel this. The different and various ways people come to see that this is what the revolution is about—and dedicate their lives to it.
I have to admit that at first I did not fully grasp or fully appreciate the relationship, the dialectical connection between the theoretical and political dimension of this.
This is what I think is very important: a mass movement for revolution. Keeping in mind our understanding that there "are masses and masses." And what the Chairman says about a big part of transforming people is developing a different consciousness and a different morality which we have begun to do, and need to continually do better. But this needs to have much more a mass character to it—we also need growing cores who are entering the political fault lines, political points of contention in society and the world—leading masses with the orientation of "what do we want? Revolution! When do we want it? Now!"—communist revolution to emancipate humanity.
I'm not raising this as something different than "fight the power, and transform the people, for revolution." Or as something different from "the days when this system can just keep on doing what it does to people, here and all over the world...when people are not inspired and organized to stand up against these outrages and to build up the strength to put an end to this madness...these days must be GONE. And they CAN be."
No, I'm trying to give added emphasis to this—added emphasis to our full ensemble of revolutionary activity in connection with hastening while awaiting a revolutionary situation.
As we know, without this orientation, despite our best intentions, we will get caught up in what is criticized in the "Revolution We Need...The Leadership We Have" Message and Call from our Party—of waiting for some "fine day" when revolution will occur. Which is never.
This relates to Revolution Clubs, creating a culture of appreciation, popularization and promotion around Chairman Avakian, really getting the newspaper Revolution out there in big and bold ways. Also the talk Revolution: Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About by Bob Avakian. The public face of the party really bubbling over with this and representing this and not something short of this. The need for the dictatorship of the proletariat (DoP) and a constitution for the new socialist state, applying the understanding developed with Avakian's new synthesis. All this has to be WAAAAY out there in society and the world.
For me this heightens the importance of the vanguard leading, allowing the masses to come to this understanding. Something to learn from: I was involved in a mass organization that was about revolution in 1969-1970. This was a very short period of time but nonetheless this went a long, long way making you and others feel, think, and begin to understand that this was really about revolution. And even given all the limitations of that organization (i.e., the Black Panthers), you felt this, and at some point decided to dedicate your life to it—before you theoretically understood all of it.
Why? Cause you saw a few others going all out in this way—and boldly challenging others to relate to this. When they were hit with counter-revolution, they reached out to others and brought them into things or into support of this for a brief period of time.
I am not arguing that this is the only way people can come to this understanding (that we are building a movement for revolution) but there is great importance that this be accessible to people in this way and in this form.
One of the things is that we need to give better leadership on this. I agree with this proposal for the constitution talking about what the socialist society would look like and enumerating the rights of the people, including the people who disagree. This is part of building a movement for revolution, for a new state power, making it clear what the goals of the revolution are, how it would be fundamentally different and better from how things go down in this system, and how it would be better from the socialist societies of the past.
This is the movement we should be building. We need to go ahead with that. I think we need to do a similar thing around what is the struggle or fight leading up to where you can make that leap to getting over the first hump. Building a movement that is capable once there is a major crisis that engulfs all society—that can bring the power of the revolutionary people in their tens of millions to meet and defeat the power of counter-revolution. Replacing it with a new revolutionary state power. A movement that is geared towards this and has its eyes on this prize...
When people join this movement for revolution, they should feel it in their bones that what they are contributing to is revolution—on whatever level that might be—and not something else. I.e., they are interacting with people who are doing this and not something else in the name of revolution. In all kinds of ways it hits them, it exudes all around, strikes them with awe, wonder, inspiration and determination. And it sets things on a whole different trajectory. It powerfully contributes to radically changing the terms in society.
Broadly in society people got to relate to the revolution—not "let me see, should we have a revolution." People got to relate to the fact that there IS a revolutionary movement.
In the '60s this objectively was an inspiration and posed a challenge. Even with all the shortcomings and limitations of the time, there was a compelling, captivating inspiration that things could be different. That there could be a revolution.
This is why I think a constitution of a new socialist society with the new synthesis of communism and what the new society will look like—and the struggle leading up to that—getting over the first hump—has to be linked more and more deeply, intimately, comprehensively—with the revolutionary political work we are doing today. So that when there is a sudden and major change in the objective situation we and the masses of people are ready and prepared to do what will be required of us to seize a new revolutionary power out of that situation.
Some of the stuff in "On the Possibility of Revolution" talks about it. You can see some of the contours of how things are shaping up politically. What kind of situation a revolution could come out of, the kind of social upheaval it would have to be ripped and torn out of.
You can see it with the tea baggers, the Glenn Becks and their efforts to cohere this society around a new, different, fascist governing ruling authority.
There is the struggle at the top of the "pyramid of power" and what that causes and what this can potentially cause at the bottom of the pyramid. Things splitting apart...where is it all going to go and how can it go? What do we have to say about the likely outcome of things? How can a revolution develop out of this? This has been spoken to by Avakian in things like "The Pyramid of Power," "The Coming Civil War and Repolarization for Revolution in the Present Era," and the pamphlet Revolution and Communism: A Foundation and Strategic Orientation.
This "no permanent necessity" is something we need to continually come back to and grapple with in all its dimensions.
There needs to be growing cores of people who are gelling around "The Revolution We Need...the Leadership We Have." This is all part of the objectives of the finite campaign we are now in the middle of.
If you get this, going amongst our social base, getting into Bob Avakian is one of the on-ramps that people enter the revolutionary freeway from. This is opposed to falling into routinism and accommodating ourselves to where things are presently at.
What we've done with A Declaration: For Women's Liberation and the Emancipation of All Humanity, and the recent national tour by Sunsara Taylor, also shows there is no permanent necessity for things to be this way. Sunsara's speech was really good. Because of the whole history of economism, we are not accustomed to hear communists talk about sexuality, how and why women's sexual desires are suppressed, devalued, de-humanized, and mutilated. Sunsara was ripping this up showing the historical basis for why human sexual relations are patriarchal and are closely bound up with the emergence of private property and the splitting of human society into classes—showing, illustrating how things do not have to be this way—shattering all this kind of shit.
I want to speak about a couple of other things more briefly. On the 19 letters on "An Historic Contradiction: Fundamentally Changing the World Without Turning Out the Lights." My main hit off the letters is that it really made me feel—I don't want to say "comfortable" or "at ease"—because I don't think that characterizes it. What struck me is that it gave me a lot of confidence or of welcoming...to really want to be part of leading alongside people like these—people are leading with this method and approach and outlook, really grappling with the new synthesis. How you lead without letting the lights go out? People working in this way. It was all different in terms of what people were speaking to. There was a lot of diversity with the same method and approach—a solid core with a lot of elasticity. It made me feel real good about having this kind of leadership. This is what people need.
"There Is No Permanent Necessity For Things To Be This Way—A Radically Different and Better World Can Be Brought Into Being Through Revolution" is not separate from "The Revolution We Need...The Leadership We Have." I agree we need to push out more on this as we go out there. We need to bring this more to the forefront too. Reading over this and some other things, as well as in discussions, has made me think that we need to continue to do everything and situate everything in the new synthesis.
It has made me think more deeply about the difference between being the emancipators of humanity versus just freeing the working class and all humanity which tends towards and did in fact reify the working class.
In China there was the reification of the peasant masses. It was thought that because they did manual labor they were "clean" and closer to the truth. In another way there was reification of intellectuals. It was thought that those who did intellectual labor were "dirty" and far away from what is true.
What is communism? With our scientific method and approach and our sweeping view of history, we can see that within certain social relations, there emerged a group, a class, the proletariat, that represents new social relations for humanity that can take human history to an entire new place, an entire new world.
"...where people work and struggle together for the common good...Where everyone contributes whatever they can to society and gets back what they need to live a life worthy of human beings...Where there are no more divisions among people in which some rule over and oppress others, robbing them not only of the means to a decent life but also of knowledge and a means for really understanding, and acting to change, the world." As it says in the statement: "The Revolution We Need...The Leadership We Have."
This is what we do and must represent. This is our "identity." The necessity and possibility of this. Grasping and acting on the truth of this. Shaking and awaking others to this. No matter what section of the people you might come from. Comparing and contrasting everything with this. With the new synthesis. Acting on this necessity and possibility.
Some food for thought...
In thinking about the future as opposed to "The Halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli," we need a new song "From the skyscrapers of New York City—around the globe—to the shores of Hawaii—fighting for our historic mission to free all humanity."
I do think the more we get out there with the new synthesis, the Manifesto and of the breaking down of permanent necessity, the more people will be inspired to re-look at the lyrics to the communist anthem—"The Internationale" and to the reality of developing a new International. People will be inspired to write new songs and lyrics, and build organization that more reflect the emancipation of ALL humanity.
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Revolution #202, May 31, 2010
Big changes are coming at revcom.us in May—changes that will make the site one that welcomes people to real revolution, and gives them a big picture of the movement we are building.
At the core of the new revcom.us site are the two "mainstays" of the RCP's all-around revolutionary work. The site will feature and promote the work of Bob Avakian, his history and character as a rare and outstanding communist leader, and—on the broadest level—his connection to revolution. It will provide easy access to Bob Avakian's writings, audio downloads, and the video of his talk Revolution: Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About.
The new site will make the content of Revolution newspaper more attractive and accessible. Articles and other content will be updated frequently, indexed by topic, and easier to share across the web. And the new site will give people access to major documents of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA.
There will also be a section of the site devoted to Building the Movement for Revolution—including the RCP's current campaign (see editorial on page 3). This will be a center for sharing experiences, articles and comments from readers, correspondence, organizing materials, and much more.
This is a first step. And as the site develops further, it will increasingly become an online hub and pivot for the movement for revolution—a place where people can discuss and debate—in a uniquely vibrant atmosphere—the big questions of the hour, and the world. And a place people come to get organized to respond to major developments in the world—to fight the power, and transform the people, for revolution.
There is much ongoing work to do, and funds to raise, to bring the new site to life in May. To help, contact email@example.com; to contribute funds, click the donate link at revcom.us.
Send us your comments.
Revolution #202, May 31, 2010
Editors' Note: The following are points made by Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, in a recent exchange with other comrades. This has been edited for publication here.
One of the more important statements in the Manifesto from our Party (Communism: The Beginning of a New Stage) is the quote from Marx: "Once the inner connection is grasped, all theoretical belief in the permanent necessity of existing conditions breaks down before their collapse in practice." This is not just a matter of abstract theory—it has a broader effect. That belief weighs heavily on people who don't like the way things are—they are weighed down by a belief in the "permanent necessity of existing conditions." Over and over we are confronted by the fact that people can't see beyond the way things are now.
This has to do with the importance of constantly wrangling with what a revolutionary situation would look like and how a revolution could actually be made. There is a point in "Out Into the World—As A Vanguard of the Future" on grappling with what a revolutionary situation would look like.1 We need to give people a really living sense of what we mean by "hastening while awaiting" the emergence of a revolutionary situation. And this is linked to the point that what we're doing is building a movement for revolution and letting people know what we think that revolution would look like.
This question of belief in the permanent necessity of existing conditions—and the inability to see beyond those conditions—came up with World Can't Wait when people would ask: "What good would it do to drive out the Bush Regime?" Well, think of the pyramid dynamic2 in that light: what would the Democrats have had to do if there were a million people demanding "Drive out the Bush Regime"? If there were millions even today insisting in the streets that the Democrats not "bow down" to what is represented by the Republicans, even that would change the dynamic; the Democrats would have to make tactical adjustments to deal with this, and the adjustments would create more necessity and more freedom for the revolutionaries to deal with. We have to break people out of the belief in the permanent necessity of existing conditions.
This has to do with the idea of putting out a constitution for the future socialist state.3 It has to do with the Raymond Lotta speech.4 We are precisely taking on, in many different dimensions, this belief in the permanent necessity of the existing conditions. This also happens with initiatives among the proletariat and other basic people that project an alternate authority while challenging illegitimate and abusive actions of the current authority. And so is what we're doing with the woman question, and morality and culture—because what we're doing with popularizing and actually creating a movement where people live our morality is nothing less than projecting an alternate authority in the realm of ideology. All of these initiatives are saying that the world does not have to be this way; they are all different avenues of bringing people to grapple with the reality that the world really does NOT have to be this way.
A big part of transforming the people is, yes, a different consciousness and morality, but also people seeing the breakdown in their own understanding of the "permanent necessity of existing conditions" and the possibility of a whole different thing. This is related again to how we talk to people: we ARE BUILDING a movement for revolution—not asking them: "Would it be a good idea to have a revolution?"—after which they give all the reasons why it wouldn't, or why we can't, and that sets the tone and conditions for what follows. No, we don't ignore those questions—we talk with people about them, but by saying, "okay, those are points and we have thought about them and have answers we can get into—but we ARE BUILDING a movement for revolution and this is what that revolution will look like, and this is how everything we are doing is contributing to this revolution."
That Marx statement is very profound—and not just for the intellectuals. Just because "all theoretical belief" is used, we could make the mistake of thinking it only applies to people who grapple with high levels of theory. But in today's world, this belief (that the world cannot be fundamentally changed) has "filtered down" and is one of the main things that weighs on people. So this is a thread that has to come through much more in terms of this campaign that we're waging this year to really change the whole trajectory of things, now, very radically, focused on the message and call issued by our Party, "The Revolution We Need...The Leadership We Have."5 It is nowhere near the case that the basic spirit, substance and sense of what Marx is getting at there guides what we're doing now. And this is one of the biggest weights on people. There are ways in practice as well as theory that we have to begin to break down the belief in this "permanent necessity," as well as battling over whose morality is attracting people.
This has everything to do with the "hastening while awaiting" point. If you conceive of revolution as someday the world is somehow going to be radically different and at that point we will do something to radically change it...no, that won't happen—but that's not what we're doing. We have to elevate our sights and lead consistently with the understanding that the world does NOT have to be this way, and we ARE building a movement for revolution. This is not put forward, at least not in any consistent and compelling way, to the advanced around us at this point—whose number is still too small—this is not what's coming through to them. The whole thing about "revolution is real"—revolution made palpable—this is bound up with everything I'm talking about here. Actually building a movement for revolution and bringing that to the fore.
What follows that quote from Marx is that he brought to light not only the inner connections of capitalism itself, but its inner connection with other systems and showed on that basis that there was no necessity for capitalism or any other systems of exploitation. He showed that this is an historically evolved system. Marx made the point that bourgeois theorists will talk about all kinds of changes in capitalist relations, but always with the assumption that those relations are the highest and final end point of human development. But it's not the only way, especially in today's world, to do things—there's a much better way. This is the point that's made in the "Revolution" speech on the DVD, about how we can do all this complicated production without the imperialists, and do it better.6
But everything you say gets filtered through the existing production relations and superstructure that arises on this economic base. Look at the experience of the person who wrote the newspaper on the "Imagine" section of the talk on revolution: because they didn't first see it in the context of the whole speech, they understood it as just another "politician's promise." Then they saw the whole speech all the way through, and it clicked in a whole different way with them.7
All this has everything to do with whether we're building a movement for revolution and a radically different society, or whether we're just puttering around. We're not going to get there if this orientation doesn't infuse and inform everything we're doing. Then you get the phenomenon where people newly coming into this run into opposition and fall away, and while there are problems with our comrades taking an "all-or-nothing" approach with such people, this point I'm making here is even more essential.8 In fact the actual breakdown of the existing system is impossible in practice if it has not been done first in theory, that is to say, in the understanding of many people. This has to much more consistently come through, in everything we do—not just in speeches or articles, but in the whole ensemble of the work we do, this is what we should bring forward to people: There IS NO permanent necessity for the existing conditions.
There will never be an attempt at revolution, a real attempt, if you are not constantly grappling with what that might look like when, with the necessary qualitative changes and leaps in the objective situation, what is talked about in "On the Possibility"9 would be real. You cannot transform things through this capitalist economic base in a progressive way; if you want to "get beyond General Motors" you will have to do away with the existing state power. I'm not saying we should give a speech to this effect all the time, but this should infuse and guide what we're doing, and what we bring to people.
Then, when you do have a significant core that no longer believes in the permanent necessity of these conditions, they can do much better in going back and forth with broader masses. They can make clear to people who do come forward that, yes, you will get a lot of opposition out there, but that's just because there's a superstructure (there is a whole apparatus for "molding public opinion" and shaping "popular culture") which influences people to think that there's no other way to live than this—and in actual fact that's just not the case.
This is what it means to build a movement FOR REVOLUTION. Yes, fight the power, but this is the "for revolution" part.10 We should be going to people like I said: "We are building this movement for revolution and you should be part of this, but we're not having a poll as to whether people think it's possible...we have plenty to say about that...but we are in the meantime building this."
What is the actual new synthesis?11 The heart of it is solid core and elasticity. At a talk I gave, years ago now, someone asked: "How would you do better than the Soviet Union or China under Mao?" One of the things I said to him is: "I don't believe in tailing people because they're oppressed—we need emancipators of humanity." When you are in a qualitatively different situation than what we have now—when the present system has been swept aside and the new, socialist system has been brought into being—there would have to be an army, as the backbone of an actual state, that enforces the new system, and that army would be made up of very basic people in large part. But we have to train them to understand that, as part of that, they are going to have to be out there protecting the rights of people who oppose this new system, and they are going to have to defend the right of these people to raise this opposition, while at the same time they would also have to stop people who really are making attempts to smash the state power we have. I said that this will be a struggle with masses, but we have to bring forward on every level people who have this kind of understanding of what we're doing. The Constitution of the new, socialist system is going to enumerate the rights of people, and this state apparatus is going to protect people's rights who don't agree, so long as they don't actively and concretely organize to overthrow that state apparatus. That is where the Lenin point comes in: As long as there are classes, one class is going to dictate, and "better me than you"—that is, better the dictatorship of the proletariat than the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie (capitalist class).
But what is that dictatorship of the proletariat? BOTH aspects of this are important—solid core and elasticity. There would not be a General Motors in socialist society, and there would also not be an FBI or an LAPD. Those kinds of institutions would be abolished and—unless they agreed to abolish themselves voluntarily—they would have to be forcefully abolished under a future dictatorship of the proletariat. Maybe they would be given 24 hours to disband!...but disbanded they would have to be. There would be revolutionary institutions in place of those old, oppressive and reactionary institutions...and, yes, that is what we're building for—aiming for the time when there is a qualitative change in the objective situation, when a revolutionary situation and a revolutionary people in the millions and millions have been brought into being. And when that revolution is made, when a new, revolutionary state power is brought into being, there would not just be a new army, but that new army would be guided by very different principles. There would be a culture in that army, but it definitely would not be (as in the hymn of the imperialist Marine Corps): "From the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli"—that's just not going to be what guides the new state apparatus! No more General Motors and no more Marines. The principles we're talking about here, and the reason we're going out to win people to be emancipators of humanity, is that they're going to be the actual backbone of the new state.
This has everything to do with the "permanent necessity" point. It has to do with "human nature," and the fact that, just as there is no "permanent necessity" for the existing conditions, there is also no "unchanging and unchangeable human nature."
People say: "You mean to tell me that these youth running around selling drugs and killing each other, and caught up in all kinds of other stuff, can be a backbone of this revolutionary state power in the future?" Yes—but not as they are now, and not without struggle. They weren't always selling drugs and killing each other, and the rest of it—and they don't have to be into all that in the future. Ask yourself: how does it happen that you go from beautiful children to supposedly "irredeemable monsters" in a few years? It's because of the system, and what it does to people—not because of "unchanging and unchangeable human nature."
We're talking about a whole different and better way that we can bring into being...if we win.
Yes, we are talking about conditions that don't yet exist now, and our enemies can intentionally take things out of context and misconstrue it. So we had better learn how to talk about this well, because people do need to grapple with the possibility of these future conditions as part of having this vision out there. Let's inspire people—let's have a lot of expressions of a radically different culture, and let's write some new hymns for people—ones with a radically different message than that of a marauding, murderous, invading and occupying imperialist force—"From the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli"...NO. How are people being led and inspired to live and to die? We have to say to those who want a new world but who don't want—or don't understand the need for—the whole thing of fostering and protecting and listening to dissent: "If you want a new world where children are not killed by police and where all these other outrages don't happen, then we have to be down for this whole thing. We should not want these outrages to happen to any group of people. Our aim should be a radically different world, where all that has been buried in the past."
1. This refers to the following passage from "Out Into the World—As a Vanguard of the Future," a talk by Bob Avakian in 2008:
"Next, I want to turn to what could be called: more on—more work to be done on—a revolutionary situation (with its various components), particularly in a country like this. What I'm getting at here is the importance of continually wrangling with the questions: What would such a revolutionary situation actually look like? What could it emerge out of? What factors could come together to establish the necessary basis for such a revolutionary situation?
"It is very important to be continually returning to and wrangling with such questions. At the same time, it is also important to emphasize that this must not be approached in an idealist fashion—conjuring up a scenario and then seeking to impose this, in an apriorist manner, on reality. Rather, it is a matter and a need of constantly probing, digging beneath the surface to identify trends and forces, within a particular country and in the overall world situation, that could become part of, or contribute to, the 'mix' of a revolutionary situation; and it is important to do that in advance not only of the actual emergence of a revolutionary situation, but well before the specific features of that situation become immediately and obviously apparent. Well before that, and repeatedly, it is necessary to be grappling, in the realm of strategic conception once again, with both the objective and subjective aspects of such a revolutionary situation: with how objective factors could conceivably come together to provide the objective elements of a revolutionary situation and what position would the vanguard of the revolution have to be in, in terms of its influence as well as its organized ties with different sections of the masses, in order to seize on such a situation—and what the vanguard would have to do in such a situation to bring about its full ripening and to then lead people, in their millions, to wage the actual struggle for the seizure of power. This is another expression of theory, or strategic conception, 'running ahead' of practice. But, at the same time, it would be necessary and important to keep in mind and maintain the recognition of a decisive principle that Lenin stressed—that, in the event itself, life is much richer than its anticipation in conception and, in this sense, as Lenin emphasized, theory is gray while the tree of life is green—and accordingly, as real-life contradictions continue to unfold—including through the role of accident and contingency, in dialectical relation with necessity and causality—it is necessary to be continually returning to and grappling anew with the conception of what a revolutionary situation would look like and what demands its development would place on the subjective factor (the vanguard party).
"It is not idle speculation—nor, again, idealist apriorism—that is being called for, but a continual wrangling with what, after all, we are trying to get to, in terms of the first great leap, getting over the first great hump, and how that informs and influences what we are doing now, even while our work in this period is qualitatively different than the work revolutionaries would be doing once a revolutionary situation actually emerged. This is another way of saying: what is the living link here?—in this case particularly on the level of strategic conception and its relation to practice at any given time.
"And it can also be emphasized, and must be emphasized, that not to grapple with this, in the way I've been speaking of this here, is another form of tailing spontaneity and will lead in the direction of 'gradualism'—or, to put it simply, revisionism—and of accommodation and capitulation to the world the way it is, as it's dominated and ruled by imperialism and reactionary classes." [back]
2. For a discussion of the pyramid dynamic, see Bob Avakian's most recent talk, "Unresolved Contradictions, Driving Forces for Revolution" at revcom.us/avakian/driving—in particular, the section "The Continuing Relevance and Importance of the 'Pyramid Analysis'" under "I. Once More on the Coming Civil War...and Repolarization for Revolution." [back]
3. Bob Avakian has recently raised the idea, among Party leadership, of having some comrades in the Party write a constitution of a future socialist state, as a way to give substance and life to how the new synthesis would apply to actually governing a society that would be both a radically new system itself and at the same time a society in transition to communism. [back]
4. This refers to Raymond Lotta's speech "Everything You've Been Told About Communism Is Wrong—Capitalism Is a Failure, Revolution Is the Solution!" given on college campuses in 2009-2010. [back]
5. See Revolution, #170, July 19, 2009, for this message and call. That issue also contains an editorial laying out the campaign's aims:
"First, we intend to really put revolution out there in this society, so that millions of people here and around the world come to know about THIS revolution.
"Second, we intend to make Bob Avakian, the Chairman of our Party and leader of the revolution, a 'household word'—someone known throughout society, with growing numbers checking out, getting into and supporting his work, his thinking and his leadership.
"And third, as laid out in Chairman Avakian's recent talk Ruminations and Wranglings, we aim to draw forward a core of 'people who see it as their mission, and are guided by the Party's vision and line, to go out and actually fight for this line, win people to it, organize them into the revolutionary movement and struggle for them to become communists and then to join the Party once they've made that leap to being communists.'" [back]
6. This refers to a passage in the speech Revolution: Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About, where Bob Avakian states: "Capitalism, especially now that it has reached the stage of imperialism, controls, dominates, manipulates and mangles the lives of people all over the world. Many times you hear these imperialists and their mouthpieces say things like this, 'well you say we're exploiting people. But without us there'd be no jobs.' They come out with this especially when it comes to light that they are paying people something like a few cents an hour in countries all over the Third World. No. The truth is, without these imperialists, there would still be people capable of working, people capable of planning and running an economy. There would still be natural resources and potential wealth for the people in those countries, when they take control over their societies and remake them in a radical way through revolution. But then, what there would be, is no capital, no capitalism, no imperialism, exploiting and robbing the people and plundering their countries. And the masses of people everywhere in the world would be much better off. You cannot make this system into something else than what it is. So long as it rules, so long as it is in effect, everything that it does, all the ways it makes people suffer all over the world, will continue and will only get worse. Because that's the only way this system can operate." [back]
7. The reference here is to a letter from a reader published in Revolution #190, "The Revolution Talk: 'A Precious, Rare, and Enormous Tool.'" [back]
8. The "all-or-nothing" approach being criticized here is one that demands a high level of activity and commitment from anyone who shows interest in revolution, communism and the Party, rather than finding the ways for people to check things out and participate at a level corresponding to their actual understanding of the world and their sense of how to change this at any given time, "giving them air to breathe" and room to learn through their own experience, while at the same time struggling with them over these questions—struggle which is carried out in a living, non-dogmatic way, encompassing both learning and leading. [back]
9. The reference here is to "On the Possibility of Revolution," which originally appeared in Revolution #102 and is included in the Revolution pamphlet Revolution and Communism: A Foundation and Strategic Orientation (May 1, 2008), pp. 80-89. [back]
10. The formulation "Fight the Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution" embodies a basic part of the Party's strategic approach for building a revolutionary movement. For a discussion of this formulation, see Bob Avakian's talk "Making Revolution and Emancipating Humanity," in particular "Part 2: Everything We're Doing Is About Revolution." [back]
11. Substantive discussions of the new synthesis can be found in "Re-envisioning Revolution and Communism: WHAT IS BOB AVAKIAN'S NEW SYNTHESIS?" (a talk given in spring 2008 and available online at revcom.us) and in a section from Bob Avakian's talk "Making Revolution and Emancipating Humanity," which can be found in PDF format at revcom.us/i/188/188new_synthesis-en.pdf. Go to revcom.us for more works by Bob Avakian. [back]
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Revolution #202, May 31, 2010
We ARE BUILDING a movement for revolution, concentrated now in mounting the campaign: The Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have. The point: to familiarize millions with the goal and character of communist revolution, as it has been reconceived by Bob Avakian, to inject this into the discourse in a radically creative and urgent way, and to make known very broadly in society the leadership of Bob Avakian—giving people a sense of the work he is carrying out, his history and character as a rare and outstanding communist leader, and—on the broadest level—his connection to revolution... and through all this to begin forging a core of dedicated, ardent fighters for this revolution.
We ARE INITIATING a new stage of communist revolution—with a leader, Bob Avakian, who has analyzed both the overwhelming achievements of the first stage of the revolution, and the significant shortcomings and problems... and developed a new synthesis that can take things further. And this paper is a major outlet for that new synthesis, both its foundations and basic principles, and in its ongoing development.
Today Revolution newspaper and the online edition is a lifeline and scaffolding for this movement. Thousands of people already read this newspaper every week—including many, many people in countries around the world—from those who value its unique analysis of events, to those who are learning what is worth living, and dying for, through its pages. It is an entry way for many thousands more—and potentially for tens and then hundreds of thousands more.
Your financial support is URGENTLY needed to enable this paper to flourish and develop, and indeed to continue its regular publication.
This is a time when the future is openly in the balance. After Copenhagen... and in the midst of brave people refusing to take it any more, from Iran to Oakland to the universities in California... there is a crying need for a vision, for an analysis, that reveals the real inter-connections between things, and that shows a real way out.
The restless and dissatisfied, the questioning ones, will hear about the "tea party" movement, they will be inundated with quasi-fascist conspiracy theories on the one hand and the killing confines of choosing between Republicans and Democrats on the other.
But will they get to read analyses that actually lay bare the real causes and real solutions of the horrors of today, and the greater horrors in the making? And will they not only learn about the horrors, but also the potential heights of humanity? Will they hear about Avakian's vision of revolution and have a chance to get to know what this rare and unique leader is all about? Will they be exposed to the movement for revolution that comes to life in its pages, spreading its advances, analyzing its problems, and criticizing itself where it falls short? Will they learn that there is a party that is actually and actively preparing people to make a revolution that could really bring about the changes that we need?
Only if you support this. Act—supporting this paper in both its print and online editions, and winning others to do so, is vital work toward revolution. Sustain this paper every month! Donate now!
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Revolution #202, May 31, 2010
Recently Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, drew attention to the following contradiction and then invited some people associated with or with responsibility in regard to the Party to respond with their thinking on this contradiction. Avakian wrote the following:
In the polemic against Alain Badiou's political philosophy in the online theoretical journal Demarcations, the following concise indictment is made of Badiou's ultimate reformism, and of reformism in general:
"And the world stays fundamentally unchanged. Capitalism-imperialism continues humming in the 'background,' crushing lives and destroying spirits in its meat-grinder of exploitation. And the horrors continue unabated."
This is our standing and powerful refutation of every other trend in the world. On the other hand, the way that a lot of people look at what we're about—and not entirely without justification—is: "Here come the communists, turn out the lights, the party's over."
All this embodies a real, and profound, contradiction that we must continue to wrestle with.
We are excited in this issue to run the following responses to Avakian's invitation.1
1. Editor's note:
The following replies were originally written as personal letters and hence assumed a certain "common language" between Bob Avakian and the correspondent. As a result, there is a lot of "shorthand" used. Sometimes the meaning of these terms are explained in context, or are otherwise clear; at other times, this may not be so. Some of those terms include:
New synthesis: the basic breakthrough in communist theory developed by Bob Avakian, in the dimensions of philosophy and method; internationalism; the character of the dictatorship of the proletariat and of socialist society as a transition to communist society, including the particular concept of "solid core with a lot of elasticity"; and strategic approach to revolution. [For more on the new synthesis, see especially the Manifesto from the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, Communism: The Beginning of a New Stage, A Manifesto from the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA.]
The 4 alls: this formulation was often used to drive home the all-round character of the communist revolution by the Chinese communists who sided with Mao during the last battle to prevent capitalist restoration in China. (Capitalist restoration began with a military coup that occurred shortly after Mao's death in 1976, in which Mao's closest followers—including his widow Chiang Ching—were arrested and/or killed.) Marx's formulation (from The Civil War in France) was: "This Socialism is the declaration of the permanence of the revolution, the class dictatorship of the proletariat as the necessary transit point to the abolition of class distinctions generally, to the abolition of all the relations of production on which they rest, to the abolition of all the social relations that correspond to these relations of production, to the revolutionizing of all the ideas that result from these social relations."
The two humps: this is a formulation from Bob Avakian's mid-'90s talk "Getting Over the Two Great Humps: Further Thoughts on Conquering the World." These "humps " refer to the process of 1) getting to the point where the forces of proletarian revolution are strong enough to seize power in a particular country; and 2) getting to the point internationally where the overall "balance of forces" has shifted in favor of the proletariat and the question of actually getting to communism comes more directly onto the agenda.
The "Ohio": the "Ohio" process borrows a metaphor from the Ohio State marching band and its routine where the band members spell out "Ohio" in script in a marching routine in which the first members of the band traverse through, and spell out in turn, each letter of "Ohio"—the point being that people who come around the revolutionary movement go through a process of development.
Class truth: this refers to the notion widely held in the international communist movement that "the bourgeoisie has its truth, and the proletariat has its truth," as if truth itself had a class character. In reality, truth has no class character; an idea is true to the degree that it accurately reflects the objective world. Bob Avakian is the first communist who identified and criticized this notion of "class truth," which ends up constraining and ultimately blocking the search for what is really true.
The proletariat, due to its position as a class which has nothing to fortify in the present order, has every interest in being as thorough-going as possible in getting to the truth of things; and the science of communism, and its outlook and method of materialist dialectics, is the best method for getting at the truth; and in these senses it can be said that communism is both partisan and true. But it does NOT follow that communists are always correct in their observations and conclusions, and that non-communists are never correct; relatedly, all statements must be judged on the degree to which they correspond to reality, and not who says them or what (often narrowly conceived) interest they seem to serve.
Reification: literally, turning a process into a "thing." As it applies to the proletariat, this refers to a view, also more or less explicitly unchallenged in the communist movement until Avakian's criticism, that confounded the fundamental interests of the proletariat as a class and the sentiments, views, and programs that conformed with those fundamental world-historic interests with the position, sentiments, views and programs that find a following among this or that section of the proletariat at any given time.
Reductionism: a philosophical method that reduces complex phenomena to a single determinant cause—e.g., reducing the causes of complex social behavior to a gene (or set of genes) and ignoring the social factors that come into play in shaping social behavior and constraining the forms it can/might take. This is linked to positivism, a philosophical school that limits the search for truth and the scope for statements about the dynamics of reality to immanent causes. Such views are often contrasted to the metaphor used by Bob Avakian of truth being like a multi-level, multi-layer, constantly moving map.
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Revolution #202, May 31, 2010
It is this system that has got us in the situation we're in today, and keeps us there. And it is through revolution to get rid of this system that we ourselves can bring a much better system into being. The ultimate goal of this revolution is communism: A world where people work and struggle together for the common good...Where everyone contributes whatever they can to society and gets back what they need to live a life worthy of human beings...Where there are no more divisions among people in which some rule over and oppress others, robbing them not only of the means to a decent life but also of knowledge and a means for really understanding, and acting to change, the world.
This revolution is both necessary and possible.
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Revolution #202, May 31, 2010
In Bob Avakian, the Chairman of our Party, we have the kind of rare and precious leader who does not come along very often. A leader who has given his heart, and all his knowledge, skills and abilities to serving the cause of revolution and the emancipation of humanity. Bob Avakian came alive as a revolutionary in the 1960s—taking part in the great movements of those days, and especially working and struggling closely with the most advanced revolutionary force in the U.S. at that time, the Black Panther Party. Since then, and while many others have given up, Bob Avakian has worked and struggled tirelessly to find the way to go forward, having learned crucial lessons and built lasting organization that could continue the struggle, and aim to take it higher, while uniting with the same struggle throughout the world. He has kept on developing the theory and strategy for making revolution. He played the key role in founding our Party in 1975, and since then he has continued the battle to keep the Party on the revolutionary road, to carry out work with a strong revolutionary orientation. He has deeply studied the experience of revolution—the shortcomings as well as the great achievements—and many different fields of human endeavor, through history and throughout the world—and he has brought the science and method of revolution to a whole new level, so that we can not only fight but really fight to win. Bob Avakian has developed the scientific theory and strategic orientation for how to actually make the kind of revolution we need, and he is leading our Party as an advanced force of this revolution. He is a great champion and a great resource for people here, and indeed people all over the world. The possibility for revolution, right here, and for the advance of the revolution everywhere, is greatly heightened because of Bob Avakian and the leadership he is providing. And it is up to us to get with this leadership...to find out more about Bob Avakian and the Party he heads...to learn from his scientific method and approach to changing the world...to build this revolutionary movement with our Party at the core...to defend this leadership as the precious thing it is...and, at the same time, to bring our own experience and understanding to help strengthen the process of revolution and enable the leadership we have to keep on learning more and leading even better.
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