Revolution #251, November 27, 2011

Voice of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA

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Revolution #251, November 27, 2011

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BA Everywhere... Imagine the Difference It Could Make!

A Mass Campaign to Raise Big Money to Get
BA’s Vision and Works Into Every Corner of Society

The editorial in the November 6 issue of Revolution, "BA Everywhere... Imagine the Difference It Could Make!" made an important and exciting announcement: A Mass Campaign to Raise Big Money to Get BA’s Vision and Works Into Every Corner of Society.

And to do just that, it said:

We are launching a major, multi-faceted fundraising campaign to project BA, his voice and his work way out into society—far beyond what it is today. A fundraising campaign which will raise the necessary major money to make this possible. A fund drive that unleashes and develops imagination, defiance and community in everything it does.

Imagine what we could change... and imagine how we could change it.

Recently, across the country, mass conferences were held to get into this big vision. People who have defied the powers-that-be at the Occupy encampments came together with the new Freedom Fighters who are determined to STOP "Stop and Frisk" and police murder and brutality, with students from high schools and colleges, with artists and doctors, lawyers and academics, with people from the community who catch hell every day under this system, with revolutionaries, and many others. The conferences were scenes of lively brainstorming, as people learned from each other and joined together to launch this campaign to raise big money to get BA’s vision and works into every corner of society. Taken as a whole, hundreds gathered in a nationwide collective effort to dig into what difference this campaign can make in effecting a radical and fundamental change in the social and political atmosphere throughout society.

Coming into the conferences, participants read the "BA Everywhere" editorial, which imagined the impact this could have and set forth the essential vision and goals of this fundraising campaign ("BA Everywhere... Imagine the Difference It Could Make!" Revolution #249, November 6, 2011). This provided the framework and starting point for discussion. Plans coming out of the conferences begin with a serious launch of this campaign in the weeks between now and the end of 2011. There are dramatic plans to raise big money in 2012 and achieve our goal of making BA a household word.

There were two sessions at the conferences—each opening with video clips followed by presentations. (A file to burn these clips to DVD is available at Following this intro are slightly edited excerpts from the presentation outlining some beginning—big—plans which opened the second session and unleashed an afternoon of people energetically throwing in with their thinking and ideas. It is our hope and intention in publishing these excerpts both to inform people of how they can contribute beginning now—and to spark more ideas!

The time is now for this campaign to take off, with contributions being given online to fund the film Occasioned by the Publication of BAsics: A Celebration of Revolution and the Vision of a New World at and with a big outing on Black Friday to raise money to send BAsics to prisoners. Let’s get BA Everywhere!

Revolution newspaper will be at the hub of this effort, publishing frequent reports from those taking up this campaign and ongoing thinking about how to make new advances. It will play a pivotal role in building an organized network of people, a national community, who are taking up this campaign, connecting the work of people across the country to make this voice... this person a point of reference for all of society. We urge all our readers to correspond with Revolution. Share your experiences and ideas for how to get BA Everywhere and reach our fundraising goals! Write about the toughest questions that people are bringing up—and let’s begin a dialog about how to answer them! Get your copy of Revolution (in print or online) every week to get and stay connected with this movement.

Envisioning 2012 (Excerpts from the speech)

[W]e talked about WHY we’re doing that. We talked about how this system is a horror; that it doesn’t have to be this way; that because of what BA has done, there IS a viable way out of this and a way forward into something better; and that it’s up to us to get that out there and make it real. Now we have to get into the WHAT of that and the HOW of it.

We’re getting to the time when people start thinking about what they want to see happen in the year to come. So let’s collectively try to envision a 2012 where at the end of the year we can say, "Wow, you know what? We made Bob Avakian a household word. We made it so that a whole lot of people are checking out different possibilities and when they do, they not only have heard the name, but they have some sense of BA and what he represents. We changed the mental landscape of people in this country and even around the world. And we’ve done it in a way that has both drawn from and given inspiration, direction and meaning to a growing movement of fighting the power, and transforming the people, for revolution."

Now we’ve got a whole set of ideas on HOW to do that. But let me say three things about those ideas. Number one, they require a whole lot of money to do them right—and we do intend to do them right. So that’s why we’re launching this massive, multi-pronged fund-raising campaign. Number two, these are still rough ideas—some of these are going to spark ideas in your minds or in the minds of people you take them to, some of these are going to get modified or expanded as we take them out, and some are going to get discarded when we see that they don’t really measure up to what we need. But the point is that taken together, they should give us a vision today of how all these things can work together to get us to the goal I laid out. And number three, remember that in the very raising of funds for these ideas, we’re also spreading the word about BA as we do this, and we’re also building community and building movement.

Right now, we’ve got six big ideas for next year.


"I hope he gets number one We need to get this kind of word, this kind of conversation out—it needs to be disseminated, it needs to be in the mainstream more. We got to stop thinking that this kind of stuff just belongs at the very, very fringe of society..."
—journalist and writer

"I wish I had a copy of BAsics in high school so that I could counter the bullshit being taught to me. I didn’t have that opportunity, but there are millions of students today who need to hear the voice of Bob Avakian so they can join the fight. BAsics presents an essential challenge to all that is oppressive and intolerant. It paints not only a picture of a new world, but it leaves room for innovation and growth, as a communist future will have, as Bob Avakian says, ‘a solid core with a lot of elasticity.’"
—student from the Midwest

"I want to urge everybody out there to get their hands on this book and to help get it into the hands of others, not just prisoners, but into the hands of youth who are in danger of becoming prisoners themselves... Help them unlock their potential and give them a sense of purpose that doesn’t involve killing each other. Give them an alternative to the criminal lifestyle that doesn’t involve conforming to this horrid system. That is what they need, that is what they ache for. They want to rebel, they just have to be introduced to the correct way to do so. Put them on the path to becoming communists..."
—prisoner from California

First, we’re going to get BAsics much more out into society. That means raising funds for a dramatic national advertising campaign; it means raising funds to get BAsics on a more massive scale into prisons, into the schools and into the hands of people who are fed up and looking for a whole different world; and it means talking to people who have some expertise in how you break something out in a much bigger way into the world. It means raising funds for all kinds of BA and BAsics gear... for example, defiant T-shirts with quotes from BAsics, T-shirts and patches with the BA image, reaching the youth across the country who are looking to speak loud, bold, and make a statement in their style.

Second, we’ve got an idea for a whole movement of cultural events and works that are the result of the wellspring of creative energy connecting with and inspired by BAsics or other works of BA... You saw some of that in the trailer from the cultural event last April that we showed. And as important as that event and the works produced or shown at it are—and as important as it will be to produce the film of this so it can reverberate throughout society—it’s just one of many pieces that could be part of a major cultural flourishing. Think about visual arts exhibits, think about concerts and dance and theater, poetry slams and videos. Think about panel discussions and symposiums and dialogues on what kind of culture we need, and what kind would be possible in a radically different society. Where you begin to get a sense that there are artists stretching across different disciplines and outlooks who are all doing work that relates to this framework.

Third, we’ve got an idea for a whole BA film project. We’re talking about raising serious funds for many different kinds of short films and videos that could be made... inspired by Avakian’s words and speeches and documenting the impact the further projection that is having on different sections of people... what it’s drawing forward from all kinds of people... prisoners and suburban mall rats, immigrants and ivy league students, secretaries and social workers... the controversy, excitement and radical vision all that’s provoking. And we are considering an idea to raise funds for a major documentary film about BA and his vision getting out into the world—and being of the quality to play at film festivals and on public or cable TV.

Fourth, we’ve got some people who can put forward this vision in a compelling way. So let’s raise money so that people like Raymond Lotta, Carl Dix, Sunsara Taylor and others have the financing to crisscross the campuses and take on all comers in debates and dialogues, and to bust into the talk shows and op-ed pages.

Fifth, we talked about this Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal) ( This really does put forward a way to re-organize society on an emancipatory basis. Let’s raise the money to make possible high-profile dialogues with other thinkers and people with different ideas; let’s raise the money to create and promote lesson plans for teachers at various levels; and let’s raise the money for a major symposium where this sets the framework and scholars and activists with different viewpoints debate it out. All this and more can make this Constitution something that transforms the whole framework in people’s thinking about what is possible... and what is desirable.

And finally, let’s raise funds for a national tour of the BA bus heading out to communities all over the country and raise funds to free up full-time organizers to be on that bus. Imagine young people hanging out on the corner in front of where they live... or hanging out in a 7-11 parking lot... and this bus with eye-catching decorations rolls up with bright letters REVOLUTION... and "You can’t change the world if you don’t know the BAsics." You hear this voice projected through loudspeakers... "we need a revolution... the most radical revolution in the history of humanity." A bunch of people jump out and start talking about BA, the revolution, about a whole other way the world could be... saying things you felt like you always felt but could never quite put into words. And this then gets on the news in the local areas, and online, and into the broader public awareness.

* * *

Now the overall point of this is not just a lot of good things. The idea is to get all this working together—working in synergy—so that together they create something new. Through all this and more we’re aiming to create a situation where this becomes un-ignorable and where those who begin to raise their heads—and to ask why—have this circulating in their minds... a situation where those who take the first bold steps of fighting the power also find out about what BA represents. Where all this taken together creates space for a different idea in people’s minds about what’s possible.

We want to create a situation where BA is a reference point. What do I mean by that? Well, when people are debating whether and how to change society, you want someone to be saying, well, what about BA and what he puts forward? And where people have some sense of what that is and feel like they have to know enough to have an opinion on it. We want to create a situation through this massive fund-raising campaign and all the projects that make it up where people feel compelled to engage the whole BA vision and framework.

And we think that this plan has the potential to do that.

But we’ll be doing something else as well. The editorial we’ve been referring to makes a key point in this regard:

Fundraising—if it’s done right—does two things. It raises the money that is badly needed to make a huge difference; and it brings people together—in this case to engage with BA, and what he represents and the whole process of changing the world. And the fact is that there are many, many people who may not agree with everything BA stands for, or who feel that they themselves need to learn more about this, but who also understand very deeply how important it would be, what a difference it would make, to have this voice and vision being projected, and engaged and debated, by people in every part of society. ("BA Everywhere... Imagine the Difference It Could Make!" Revolution #249, November 6, 2011)

In doing this, everyone’s efforts will be part of something that is bigger than themselves but in which their actions, creativity, and participation will be decisive. Again, think about the connections that can get forged between different sections of people... what it changes when a university professor agrees to match the contributions that are raised in one housing project in a weekend... or a group of youth all come together for a car wash or yard sale to reach into the prisons with the essential revolutionary truths in BAsics... we’ll be changing the world, and breaking down walls as we do.

People from different walks of life will be coming TOGETHER to think about these things and wrangle deeply over them and relate them to their own experiences, in all different kinds of places and all different kinds of scenes—from campuses to basic neighborhoods, from the prisons to the Occupy camps, in all kinds of cultural scenes and concerts, and out into the suburbs. We’re talking about people who are looking to change their whole lives... and those who only have maybe an hour a week that they can put to this, but want that hour to mean something... and people in between. There needs to be a place for every one of those people in this campaign.

We’re talking about a whole range of activity to raise the required funds... one-on-one meetings with people who have the resources to contribute many thousands of dollars, big mass activities where you’re collecting single dollars, fives, and tens through bake sales and big parties... door-to-door canvassing and online fund-raising. Big efforts where we all act together all across the country to accomplish a big goal in a week or weekend. Whether you’re a handful of people in Kankakee, Illinois, or a few dozen in Harlem, New York... whether you’re setting up a dramatic street-side display or selling dinners in a neighborhood, you’re coming together for a BIG COLLECTIVE IMPACT... forging community and raising broader awareness as you do. And whether you’ve got big questions and big time constraints, or big ideas and a lot of free time... there’s a place and a need for you.

This has to involve thousands and thousands of people, from different perspectives, in a range of activity at whatever level people are able to contribute. The editorial also made the point that "if you are a decent, thinking person, a person with a conscience, someone who just can’t go along with the notion that it’s acceptable for great social injustices to repeatedly be tolerated or swept under the rug, then this campaign is for you." Well, let’s just say that applies to many, many, many thousands of people who need to be reached and involved in this.

And through this, we’re talking about having a big impact in society through the projects we’re able to fund and in the fact that we’re all coming together to do so... which has a bigger impact in society... which draws forward more interest, debate and engagement... and more people who want to be part of this campaign... which has an even bigger impact on society... which... OK, you get the idea.

And each thing that we accomplish—if really learned from, and amplified—can put us in a different position to make greater advances. See, this won’t go in a straight line march. If we do this right, it’s gonna be more like a series of long jumps. With a long jump, you start jogging down the track at a certain pace, building up momentum and picking up speed, and then you leap as far as you can. You take a minute to brush the dust off and catch your breath, figure out what you did right and wrong, and then make another jump—this time further and higher. This is where the analogy has a limit because we’re not just talking about going further on the same ground but even changing the platform from which we’re making those leaps.

In other words, we’re getting ourselves organized and spreading the word for some big fund-raising effort, meeting new people and drawing them in as we do, and then the effort itself—the jump—spreads the word about BA, raises a lot of money, and involves new people. We accumulate funds... new people... and new knowledge about how people are thinking, and how to engage with them.

And here’s a further point: all these different projects are working together... and then they’re working in relation to the ways in which people are also coming forward and fighting the power, getting into Revolution newspaper, and the rest of the very important components to this movement for revolution. There’s a powerful back and forth here... as people are standing up and fighting the power, big questions arise about what we’re up against... and what will it take to bring into being a whole different world... BA’s works, his voice, and vision actually becoming a point of reference will impact all that... increasingly forging hope and daring, bringing—and breaking open debate over—a scientific understanding of the world, encouraging people to think critically and on a global scale.

I want to emphasize: we are talking about a whole ensemble of things—a whole creative, compelling mix of the different elements of this campaign. This campaign to raise big money to get BA’s vision and works into every corner of society ALONG WITH a WHOLE package of fighting for a different and far better world... all this will come through to people.

* * *

All of us together are setting out to make a very big difference in the world with this...

...if we succeed with this—if we collectively raise enough money to make it concretely possible to project the whole BA vision and project into all corners of society and to introduce him and what he is bringing forward to millions who are not yet familiar with his works and vision; if the framework he is bringing forward and advocating for becomes increasingly debated and wrangled over by thousands and by millions of people from all walks of life; if, together, we manage to accomplish this, this will actually make a very big difference. The whole social and political culture will "breathe" more freely, people will wrangle passionately over "big questions" concerning the direction of society (like knowing that much of the future of humanity hangs in the balance) and the times will once again resonate with big dreams for fundamental change and the emancipation of humanity. ("BA Everywhere... Imagine the Difference It Could Make!")

Let's do it!

Send us your comments.

Revolution #251, November 27, 2011

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Three versions of Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund (PRLF) holiday gift cards

Here are 3 versions of Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund (PRLF) holiday gift cards:

These color files are designed to print two cards on each 8.5x11 sheet. When printing, set your printer to "flip on the short side," to make the printed text inside and outside the card be in the same direction.

Send us your comments.

Revolution #251, November 27, 2011

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Sample Fundraising Letter for

"Occasioned by the Publication of BAsics:
A Celebration of Revolution and the Vision of a New World."

Dear friend,

I am writing you with a little over two weeks remaining to raise $21,000 for an important film that won't be made without your support.  Please consider making a tax deductible contribution at

Last April, a range of artists, musicians, dancers and actors came together from a diversity of perspectives in a unique cultural event: On the Occasion of the Publication of BAsics: A Celebration of Revolution and the Vision of a New WorldBAsics is a book of quotations and short essays from Bob Avakian, the revolutionary leader who has developed a new synthesis of communism.  This event brought people together who hadn't shared a stage before, and a remarkable connection was forged between these artists and the hundreds in the audience that night.

This film will tell the story of what those artists did and why they did it.  What brought together some of the top avant-garde jazz musicians today, a cutting edge "tropical punk" singer, a former member of the Black Panther Party, poets with their roots in the 60s and poets who shaped the more recent spoken word movement?  And why was all this occasioned by the release of a book from the leader who has re-envisioned revolution and communism?

Watch the trailer here to get a taste.

The film will weave footage from this beautiful event with interviews from artists and other participants, and it will speak powerfully to the question of how art and culture can be part of creating a different and better world.  It will speak to why and how all this diversity was brought together around celebrating revolution and envisioning a new world.

Getting this film made and out into the world will be a significant contribution to the discourse and a source of  inspiration to those lifting their heads and asking if there is a different way for people to think, feel and be.  After leaving the event, a student described it this way, "It feels like hope. That's honestly what it feels like..."

This film needs to be made, and needs to be seen, but this will only happen if we reach this crucial goal of $21,000 in the next two weeks.  There are two things you can do NOW which will make all the difference:

1. Make a tax-deductible contribution at Contributions at any level—from $10 to $5,000—make a big difference.

2. Help spread the word.  Post this on your facebook page and twitter feed.  Share the trailer, favorite the page and link to the campaign,

Thank you in advance for your support and participation.



Send us your comments.

Revolution #251, November 27, 2011

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From a Reader

Holiday Fund-raising for the BA Everywhere Campaign

We recently attended a family gathering and found a great deal of openness to the fund-raising campaign to get BA Everywhere. There is a great deal of deep concern with the state of the economy—both national and international levels of crisis—(and this includes anguish over environmental sustainability), there is disillusionment with Obama, and there is a real attraction to the Occupy movement—and even where people have serious reservations about its viability, it is setting terms.

In this environment, we were able to have a number of significant discussions with people. We learned a great deal, and several people have found ways to significantly contribute to and/or participate in the campaign. We want to quickly draw a few lessons as people prepare for the holidays:

1) If you can, try to set up talks with people separate from the "big holiday dinner." Our experience has been that the setting of the big holiday dinner can and should be a time when there is some discussion of bigger social questions. But it is also a time where people are paying attention to kids, eating, drinking, joking, reminiscing, catching up on the news, and so on—all of which is very important! In addition, some people are shyer in big groups and may not feel comfortable getting into their questions. We were able to set up significant times apart from the big dinner with nearly everybody we asked. In some cases these meetings were only 45 minutes; in others we talked for several hours. In some cases, four or five people got together with us; in others, we got deeply into it with one person.

2) Meet with everybody. There is a lot to learn from the concerns and views of those relatives and friends who not only disagree, but have deep disagreements. And often, these disagreements are rooted in fundamental misunderstandings. The engagement you have today with them will not only enable you to understand more deeply how people are thinking and what they are concerned about, but will also impact them—even if that impact may not show up until later.

3) Lay out very clearly at the very beginning of any discussion that because of Bob Avakian and the work he has done over several decades, summing up the positive and negative experiences of the communist revolution so far, and drawing from a broad range of human experience—there really is a viable vision and strategy for a radically new, and much better, society and world, and there is the crucial leadership that is needed to carry forward the struggle toward that goal.

Make sure that people understand that this alternative is not only a good idea, but has been concretized in the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal).

Make sure to state clearly that there is an actual strategy for how you could go from where we are today to a situation where thousands could actually win millions to revolution and organize them to carry the struggle through to revolution. You will very likely need to return to these points: that, due to the work that BA has done, there actually are very concrete answers to both these big questions. You may also need to stress that while you can say some things about both of these, people are not going to really get what it is all about without getting into it themselves.

Make sure that people understand that there is a book—BAsics—which gets into just that—the fundamentals of this vision, and that people should get into it. Have these materials with you.

Emphasize that there is a huge need for these ideas to be available to, and engaged by, millions of people, and that this would change the whole idea in society as to what is possible and desirable.

Particularly if you yourself are new to all this, you should not feel that you have to be able to explain or defend these at length—part of the purpose of this campaign is to enable people to hear these alternatives explained and debated in much greater depth, and you yourself are just beginning to learn about this and sort out your own thoughts in relation to it... and that you think it would be great and very important for millions of others to have that chance.

If you use the videos—and they can be very helpful—you should do it after you have made these core points. This intro doesn't have to be more than a few minutes but it does help people understand what the videos are part of.

4) Keep coming back to the basic point: that getting what BA represents out into every corner of society and introducing him and what he represents to millions would make the whole social political culture breathe more freely. People would wrangle passionately over big questions concerning the direction of society, and the times will once again resonate with big dreams for fundamental change and the emancipation of humanity.

5) Let people know that there are a number of projects, giving some particular emphasis to getting BAsics to prisoners, involved in this—that they will all work together to have a greater effect than any single project could have—but that people can contribute to, and participate in, whichever ones particularly appeal to them. Make the materials on each project available to people. These include both BAsics and the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal), and also Revolution newspaper and other materials posted at

6) Be open to people not only contributing themselves, but to having house parties to raise funds. Let them know that these parties can and should include people of different points of view, who want to wrangle with these ideas. As we brought up this idea with one couple, one of them became very enthusiastic as we got into thinking about different people who might come, saying that it sounded like it would be a lot more fun than the Obama party they had four years ago. It helps to think with people about who they might invite—people often begin with a narrow vision of who might be interested. And it helps to help them with some ideas on how to frame it—sometimes people think that they have to frame it as if they agree with everything and if they don't, they aren't sure how to make clear both that the party has a very specific content, but its purpose is to wrangle with that content and find out more about it and contribute to getting it out there. You may need to return to the point that you don't have to agree with or even understand everything about what BA stands for to be part of getting this projected, engaged and debated in every corner of society.

7) Once you get into this, people often have ideas for fund-raising and they have ideas that they think the Party should do. Listen to these ideas and draw them out further—there is a lot to be learned, and unleashed, in the process. Make sure to let them know you are going to follow up with them, send them further materials, consolidate the things they might have offered to do or perhaps to make further suggestions as things develop.

8) Make sure that you DO have time to play games with kids, have a cup of coffee with someone who recently had a bad loss or a big triumph, have a laugh with someone you see all too rarely and just generally catch up with people's lives!

Send us your comments.

Revolution #251, November 27, 2011

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BA Everywhere Campaign:

$23,000 to be raised for the film:
Occasioned by the Publication of BAsics: A Celebration of Revolution and the Vision of a New World

By Monday, December 12

Here's the plan, and it needs you!

Gathering momentum off of Black Friday sales of BAsics and raising funds to send it to prisoners, we are moving to the next nodal point of a six-week plan which is kicking off the full mass campaign to raise big money to get Bob Avakian's vision and works into every corner of society: BA Everywhere... Imagine the Difference It Could Make!

As we learn from this last experience and continue the fundraising for copies of BAsics to prisoners (which will be reported on soon in the pages of Revolution newspaper), the focus of this next nodal point involves raising funds for the production and release of the film of the cultural event last April which was occasioned by the release of BAsics. All of it continuing to raise funds, making BA known in the process and building up community and connections as we do.

The deadline for the $23,000 goal is Monday, December 12 at midnight EST. You can see the latest that has been raised at

Over the next two weeks, we have a three-part approach to raising the $20,000 more that's needed. All the funds for the film are coming in online through a campaign on Donors may give directly online. It's all tax deductible, and donors may make their identities or donation amounts or both appear anonymous online. Some donors will prefer to give cash or checks, which can be bundled and donated through Revolution Books across the country. (In New York City, contributions will be given through the fundraising coordinator, who can be emailed at

What this will be and why it matters:

April 2011 marked the release of BAsics, a book by Bob Avakian, the revolutionary leader who has developed a new synthesis of communism. This book of quotations and essays speaks to essential questions of revolution and human emancipation. On this occasion, a range of artists, musicians, dancers and actors from a diversity of perspectives came together in a unique cultural event to celebrate revolution and the vision of a new world.

This film will tell the story of what those artists did and why they did it. It will bring a taste of the remarkable connection between these artists and the hundreds in the audience that night.

For everyone who has dreamed of a different and better world or wondered how art and culture can be part of creating it, this is a film that needs to be seen.

But it won't be made without your support.

Contribute toward the production and release of the upcoming full-length film about this event (currently set for late winter). Be part of something that can be a source of great inspiration, enabling imagination to take flight with revolution and envisioning a whole other way the world can be.

This basic message should come through in everything we're sending out. Along with that, at, you can see a trailer of the film, still photos of the performers, and short video clips. There will be regular updates sent from the page, so keep checking. Also, a new sample fundraising letter is at Revolution online which talks more specifically about what came together in this event and why it needs to be seen. You can read this here. Over the next two weeks, we will be releasing more short video "asks" and statements from donors on indiegogo.

All this will provide the essential content for:

1. Mass online fundraising

Online fundraising works when thousands of people hear about it through websites, email, text messages, phone calls, Twitter and Facebook, and then when a few people start donating and commenting... they tell others they're doing this, who tell others... and the momentum builds.

Whether thousands of people have the chance to donate depends on dozens, and preferably hundreds of people, concentrating on spreading the message in a focused way.

Over the next two weeks, we are planning to make a big deal out of online TUESDAYs on November 29 and December 6, asking everyone to forward, share and post online during those days.

Use the text from and include the film trailer in your messages! There are icons on indiegogo right under the film trailer where you "like" on Facebook, embed on websites, email contacts, and tweet a link. Also, people can "favorite" this online campaign on by choosing "add to favorites" under the trailer.

When you donate, or see others donate, spread that online—or call a friend, and say, "I donated, now your turn." People can donate in the name of someone else, and get creative with promoting what they like about BAsics, the Bob Avakian clips, or any of the performers.

2. Larger / matching / challenge donations

Larger donations will help "challenge" and "match" smaller online donations. We are aiming for a large matching donation over the weekend of December 3/4 which we will post to encourage more donations.

If you know of donors who will give $250 or more, please contact immediately, so that we can coordinate their gift with a plan to build momentum and bring in more donations.

3. Our first all-together weekend December 10/11

This weekend will cap off the film fundraising and be an important way for everyone to come together informally, raise the rest of the funds needed to make this important film, and let people know about the BA Everywhere mass fundraising campaign.

Imagine: "There are big parties, with food donated from local restaurants, in the projects and on campuses. Car washes, bake sales, and yard sales are organized and publicized. In another part of town, there's a big cultural benefit. A fundraising salon is held among wealthier sections of people. Maybe someone with more resources publicly pledges to match whatever is raised by a big group of people in a housing project. Everyone participating in something that is bigger than their individual efforts while at the same time, their individual efforts have a decisive effect as part of that." (From "BA Everywhere... Imagine the Difference It Could Make!" Revolution #249, November 6, 2011)

If you're hosting a social gathering—a brunch, dinner party, or fundraising dance party—send out invitations to all your friends, especially anyone agonizing about the state of the world and yearning for a liberatory alternative, a different way to think, feel and be. Invite people to your social gathering, and in the invitation let them know you're throwing this to raise funds for this film, and say why you think it matters for this to be out in the world. Link to the trailer and the indiegogo page, and invite your friends to attend a fun evening, find out about this film, and kick in some funds.

Through holding dozens of such events around the country, we plan to bring in the final chunk of funds. Just sending out the invitations—even if people can't attend—will build awareness, and lead to donations.

Send us your comments.

Revolution #251, November 27, 2011

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By Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA

The main—and, up to this point at least, the overwhelming—aspect of these "Occupy" protests has been their very positive thrust: in mobilizing people to stand up against injustice and inequality and the domination of economic, social and political life, and international relations, by a super-rich elite class whose interests are in opposition to those of the great majority of people; and in contributing in significant ways to an atmosphere in which people are raising and wrangling with big questions about the state of society and the world and whether and how something much better can be brought into being. It will be a very good thing if these protests continue to spread and further develop, with this basic thrust and this positive impact. And these "Occupy" protests can be a significant positive factor in contributing to the revolution that is needed—IF this is approached, by those with the necessary scientific communist understanding, in accordance with that understanding and the strategic orientation and approach that flows from it.

At the same time, and in keeping with this understanding, it is also very important, indeed crucial, to compellingly make the case, for broad and growing numbers of people (both those who are involved in these protests and people more generally), that the idea (or ideal), which at this point has considerable currency among many involved in or supportive of these protests—that a "horizontal" (as opposed to a "hierarchal") movement can in itself serve as a means of major social change and perhaps even a model of a different society—this idea (or ideal) does not and cannot measure up to the reality of what is actually required to fundamentally uproot and transform a society, and indeed a world, marked by and grounded in profound inequalities and relations of oppression and exploitation, within every country and in the domination by a handful of powerful, imperial powers over the great majority of countries in the world and the great mass of humanity. To uproot and transform all this requires nothing less than an unprecedented revolution: a radical overturning of the entrenched, and violently repressive, ruling forces and imperial powers who now dominate human social existence, and the deep-seated economic, social and political relations of exploitation and oppression of which they are the embodiment and enforcers. And to achieve such a radical overturning and transforming requires a scientific approach to the strategic orientation, program, and organization that is actually required for the revolution that is really needed.

This revolution is necessary not only in order to deal with the basic, and antagonistic, relation in which the masses of people are ruled over by an exploiting class representing a small part of society, but also in order to transform the relations between different sections of the people themselves—including the transformation of the contradiction between those who (primarily) engage in physical labor and those who (primarily) engage in intellectual labor (the mental/manual contradiction)—in such a way that these relations no longer involve oppression and no longer contain the seeds of antagonism. Without such a revolution, even very positive developments, such as what is represented, in its main thrust and content, by the "Occupy" protests, will ultimately run into their limits. Such a movement cannot be extended linearly, and in its present form, into the radical change that is fundamentally needed. As with very positive movements in the past (including the very broad and very radical movements of the 1960s), left to their own spontaneous course (that is, without the necessary process of revolutionary communists uniting with and working to build these struggles but also working to provide direction to divert things onto a more fully and consciously revolutionary path) these movements, even while they can involve truly large numbers of people and have a very positive impact, will eventually be repressed and/or dissipated, and/or brought under the domination of the ruling class, in one form or another—unless masses of people involved in them are won to, become firmly convinced of, the need to develop the struggle further, into a movement for revolution, with the necessary understanding and organization—yes, including the necessary structure and leadership—that is required to finally sweep away this system and bring into being a radically new system with the aim of ultimately abolishing all exploitation and oppression.

In fact, as positive as things like the "Occupy" protests are, and despite the sincere intent and efforts of a great many involved in them, they cannot fundamentally provide the means for "equal participation" by people from different parts of society, since the very nature and functioning of the capitalist-imperialist system—in its historical development in this country, down to the present time, and in its international relations of exploitation, oppression, plunder and depredation—results in a situation where, within U.S. society itself (and in an even more pronounced way on an international level), there are profound and deeply rooted inequalities between different sections of people, which cannot be overcome within the framework and confines of this system and its fundamental relations and dynamics. Along with oppressive divisions based on race (or nationality), gender and sexual orientation, there are, within this society, significant differences in economic and social position. There are layers of people who are part of what is broadly referred to as the "middle class" and who generally occupy a more privileged position, in terms of access to education (and the whole realm of working with ideas), better-paying jobs and the benefits that go along with this, and a life relatively free of constant and intense repression, so long as they do not "step out of line," and yet they are subordinated to and, yes, dictated to by the ruling class of this country and, especially in these times, they find the quality of their lives and their prospects for the future significantly demeaned and diminished and many feel increasingly acute anger and disgust at basic inequalities, injustices and outrages which are in fact built into and expressive of the very fabric and nature of this system. At the same time, there are tens of millions, especially among those in the inner cities and the immigrants, who are deeply discriminated against and heavily weighed down under this system, which subjects them to the most profound and bitter exploitation, oppression and repression, binding them in chains which, in ultimate and fundamental terms, can only be broken by shattering the grip of this system and fully dismantling its apparatus of violent repression. As is demonstrated in the "Occupy" movement, there is a basis for a broad unity among these different sections of the people—in opposition to many of the manifestations of the oppressive and truly murderous nature of this system, and in a basic searching for a better way that human beings could relate to each other—but that unity cannot eliminate nor cancel out the reality and the effects of the profound inequalities that are so deeply rooted in this system and will continue to have force and effect so long as this system remains in power and its relations and dynamics set the fundamental and ultimate terms for things. This is yet another expression of the fact that nothing short of revolution, with a leadership grounded in a communist understanding and orientation, can fully penetrate to the depths of, let alone uproot, the relations that oppress and divide masses of people.

While uniting with the basic and very positive thrust of the "Occupy" protests; while continuing to work to broaden and deepen them; and while learning as much as can be learned from the already rich experience of these protests and the initiative and creativity, as well as determination, shown by many involved in them, it is crucial to influence and win more and more people to seriously engage with the scientific communist understanding and orientation—particularly as this is embodied in the outlook and strategic approach of our Party, the RCP, and in a concentrated way in the new synthesis of communism that I have brought forward over the past few decades and that I am continuing to work to further develop. For, once more, as emphasized in the first supplement in BAsics,* this is not "our thing," in some narrow and sectarian sense—it is what, in accordance with the deepest reality, is required to end the outrages and injustices continually perpetrated by this system, and the horrendous suffering to which this continually subjects the great majority of humanity, and to bring into being a radically new and better society and world.

Once again, this understanding is crucial not only in an overall and basic sense, but also more specifically in relation—in opposition—to the idea of a "leaderless revolution" and related concepts, which are not in accord with the reality that must be confronted and transformed, in order to truly achieve the kind of world that many in the "Occupy" movement are searching and struggling for.

* "Reform or Revolution, Questions of Orientation, Questions of Morality," supplement of Chapter 1, "Worldwide System of Exploitation and Oppression," BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian (Chicago: RCP Publications, 2011), pages 25-32. Originally published in Revolution #32, January 29, 2006, and available online at [back]

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Revolution #251, November 27, 2011

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Two-Month Anniversary of Occupy Wall Street

Resistance Up Against Nationwide Attacks

by Andy Zee

Two days before the two-month anniversary of the start of Occupy Wall Street, in the dead of night, Mayor Bloomberg cleared OWS from Zuccotti Park, in what mainstream media called a military operation with secret training and massive force. Encampments in Oakland, California; Portland, Oregon; University of California Berkeley; University of California Davis; Columbia, South Carolina; San Diego, California; Chapel Hill, North Carolina; Albany, New York; Salt Lake City, Utah; St. Louis, Missouri; and Denver, Colorado were assaulted and demolished in what has become increasingly clear were coordinated raids and an emerging ruling class consensus to stop the movement by shutting down its very essence—occupying public space in the face of the symbols of government, finance, and authority, spaces where people have left their “normal lives” behind and are putting their lives on the line every day to oppose and expose the brutal inequities of 21st century USA and in so doing enabling people to imagine, to think, and dream of new possibility.

On the November 17th two month anniversary, tens of thousands protested in cities around the country and the world. They were inspired by the defiant stand of the Occupy movement against the deep suffering the economic crisis has wrought, the enormous inequalities in the U.S., and a broad feeling that the political system works against the people's interest. They were propelled as well by outrage at the massive police attacks that evicted Occupy Wall Street from Zuccotti Park as well as several other occupations nationally. The day ended in New York City with many thousands jubilantly marching over the Brooklyn Bridge.

We sat packed around a table in a famous pizza parlor under the Brooklyn Bridge late Thursday night, November 17, Wall Street Occupiers and revolutionaries—hungry and cold, really half frozen. Looking around the table there was a sense of accomplishment mixed with a battle-hardened determination reflected in our faces. We had just been through a day of struggle declaring that OWS was not over, defiant in the face of the police clearing of Zuccotti Park, joyous in learning about the protests around the country and the world. We spoke about the long day, the young Occupiers telling of having turned a corner in their lives and not wanting to go back. Sixteen hours ago, as dawn broke, these new comrades in struggle were part of surrounding the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE)—facing an army of cops, the young woman with us had been hit hard in the chest by a pig billy club and was still short of breath, one of the guys had been grabbed by the neck and a third beaten several times by rabid police who beat so often and freely that it was clearly the orders of the day. Somehow no one in this group got arrested in this morning.

As they told of the day, recounting the miles they marched, their tales wove with stories of their lives: a midwestern tale of watching a mother die of cancer because the family had no money or insurance; of a young Black man working without any prospects of a meaningful future in Cleveland; and a Black veteran from Brooklyn telling of walking into stores and watching shoppers clutch their bags tight while security kept an eye as if he were a criminal or alien. People spoke of lives of not being treated like a thinking human being and then in two short months being part of changing the world, standing up against all that is wrong—from getting arrested twice for doing nonviolent civil disobedience to STOP “Stop and Frisk,” to living outdoors in the shadow of Wall Street, claiming a patch of land for humanity and thereby exposing the venality and the huge injustices of this system.

The stories of their lives are echoed as you travel through the Occupy movement—by those living in the encampments and the tens of thousands more who visit and support. Students crushed by debt with no job prospects. From the long-term homeless to the recently foreclosed, from a young woman in the media tent in San Francisco volunteering while dying of cancer because she couldn’t get insurance, to young doctors outraged and frustrated with how the system prevents them from really providing care for their patients, the Occupations have become magnets and poles of people saying Enough! This must change.

On the evening of November 17, as we marched across the Brooklyn Bridge, there was a giant projection on the Verizon Building that flashed messages of the 99% that were marching in 30 other cities. In New York the attempt to shut down the NYSE met an army of cops who effectively turned Wall Street into a totally locked down militarized zone with barricades, checkpoints, helicopters, and special vehicles. Police wantonly beat protesters with fists and billy clubs—with 170 arrested in the morning, and another 70+ throughout the day.

By mid-afternoon, thousands of college and high school students had walked out of school. Led by a banner that said “Revolution Generation,” students marching past the New School [university] looked up to see more banners hanging from upper floor windows saying, “Occupied.” This has begun spreading to campuses around the country from Ivy League to community colleges. University of California Berkeley became a flash point as a YouTube of police beating protesting students went viral. Students walked out at Harvard University and a tent city sprang up. Video can be seen online of police viciously pepper-spraying students directly in the face who are sitting in at UC Davis, as hundreds of others watch in shock.

Swelling the ranks of the thousands who gathered at dusk to march over the Brooklyn Bridge were several unions, with a couple of City Council members and the local Service Employees International Union (SEIU) leaders getting arrested in a nonviolent civil disobedience at the beginning of the march.

The massive turnouts and determined protests in many other cities underscored that the Occupy movement has captured the imagination and aspirations for change of large numbers of people.

It has forced the enormous inequity and brutal injustice of life for millions, from the bottom of society that reaches up deep into the crushed middle class, into the consciousness of and discussion throughout society broadly. Every night for weeks now, local and national news has reported on economic and political inequality; in the actions of OWS, the defenders as well as those who would reform capitalism have argued their cases in op-eds while in the streets and the encampments, protesters were debating and imagining many different ways the world could be.

Revolution, once far from people’s lips and minds, is now being discussed. Communist revolutionaries have been in the swirl—a Revolution Working Group was formed at OWS, hundreds of copies of Bob Avakian’s BAsics and dozens of Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal) have been sold, and revolutionary communists have spoken at large mic-check gatherings and in small groups. On Thursday morning, very close to the New York Stock Exchange, a banner was hoisted on the side of a building that said: “For a Future Without Wall Streets—We Are Building a Movement for Revolution—” in defiance of police orders and to the cheers of the crowd.

All of this has been forced into the air because people put their lives on hold, occupied space in the eye of the empire, and set about each day to work together in new ways while taking to the streets to expose and fight against what this capitalist system is doing to humanity and the planet.

Zuccotti Park is one city block of inhospitable corporate marble, yet for two months it came alive with hundreds and thousands debating and acting for something new every day—the library, the collective empowerment of mic check, the communal kitchen, the continual dialogue, the hard yet exhilarating work of discussing the course of action for the day, the tents, and the beat of the drums with all of their rogue spirit and all the controversy, with efforts by the City Council to restrict their constant rhythm that served as yet another way to attempt to stifle this movement.

All of this has captured the imagination of millions.  It has stood in defiance and opposition to the dog-eat-dog of so-called normalcy of life in this most parasitically perverse of cities and cultures. Tour buses came to OWS from around the world. Teachers brought their classes, and one of the young revolutionaries told of how he always made a conscious effort to ask the kids what they thought of OWS.

Occupy Wall Street in its actual and its larger metaphorical occupation of this space, at this time, began to exert a beginning alternative authority that was felt around the world. This is what the capitalist class and their whole state apparatus cannot tolerate. OWS and the occupations around the world enabled people to peel the crust from their eyes that was skewing their vision so they believed that the world could never change, to think, to dream of a better world, to stand up and assert our humanity, defying the status quo, carving open the possibility that things don’t have to be this way. All this now hangs in the balance.

All this political initiative needs to be pushed forward, opening up broader and deeper resistance and critical questioning. And this too will continue to have impact and import on the movement we are building for the revolution that is needed to put an end to all forms of oppression and exploitation.  In Bob Avakian’s statement, “A Reflection on the ‘Occupy’ Movement: An Inspiring Beginning... And the Need to Go Further”—which really needs to be circulated widely, Avakian says:

“The main—and, up to this point at least, the overwhelming—aspect of these ‘Occupy’ protests has been their very positive thrust: in mobilizing people to stand up against injustice and inequality and the domination of economic, social and political life, and international relations, by a super-rich elite class whose interests are in opposition to those of the great majority of people; and in contributing in significant ways to an atmosphere in which people are raising and wrangling with big questions about the state of society and the world and whether and how something much better can be brought into being. It will be a very good thing if these protests continue to spread and further develop, with this basic thrust and this positive impact. And these ‘Occupy’ protests can be a significant positive factor in contributing to the revolution that is needed—IF this is approached, by those with the necessary scientific communist understanding, in accordance with that understanding and the strategic orientation and approach that flows from it... [and]... masses of people involved in them are won to, become firmly convinced of, the need to develop the struggle further, into a movement for revolution, with the necessary understanding and organization—yes, including the necessary structure and leadership—that is required to finally sweep away this system and bring into being a radically new system with the aim of ultimately abolishing all exploitation and oppression.” (See full statement.)

The question of whether and how Occupy Wall Street will continue is sharply posed. People continue to gather at Zuccotti Park, but tents, sleeping bags, even guitars and bicycles were not allowed the day after the mass protest. And NYPD detectives prowled NYC churches that are housing some of the Occupiers, counting and observing. All this must be opposed with great determination and creativity. Will the outpouring of broad support in the streets on November 17 be marshalled to re-establish an occupation, or will it be dissipated, marginalized, or channeled into forms of protest that no longer put the ruling class on the defensive, that no longer galvanize people into active opposition to the injustices of the system, that no longer throw up big questions about the direction of society?

There are real stakes in standing up to the attacks and continuing to occupy space. Think about the effect if the movement is able to advance through the current challenges, forcing the ruling class to pay a political price, wrenching more space from which to oppose all that this system does to the people here and around the world. Think about how fighting forward through this can further undermine the legitimacy of an illegitimate, oppressive system. On the other hand, if these recent assaults result in squelching the Occupations one way or another, this will serve to shove the aspirations and anger of so many back under the rug.

The ruling class finds it an intolerable anathema to have the brutal reality of their system exposed through people stepping out of politics as usual and exerting even an embryonic alternate authority. Mayor Bloomberg, as arrogant and condescending as ever, tried to trivialize OWS while planning to crush it, opining: “It’s fun and it’s cathartic... it’s entertaining to go and blame people”—meaning himself and his Wall Street cronies. Even when paying his obligatory, absurd lip service to First Amendment rights to protest while ordering massive and brutal police repression, Bloomberg could not conceal his disdain for the message and people of OWS. The New York Post and New York Daily News were filled for weeks with lurid and vile depictions of OWS. Long Island Congressman Peter King, echoing the Nazis’ descriptions of Jews as vermin, or the KKK speaking of Black people, said: “These are people who were living in dirt, these were people who were involved with drugs, there was violence, there was rape ... they’re angry people who are losers who are on the outside and screaming...”

It must be said that the evictions of the Occupy movement had absolutely nothing to do with public safety, concern for victims of sexual assault, prevention of crime, rules against tents, cleanliness or sanitation. Want to see vermin and filth—check out how well the New York Housing Authority does at keeping public housing fit for human beings. OWS mobilized people to form security, sanitation, and recycling committees that worked to deal with acute social problems in ways which actually serve and respect the humanity of those involved—with an approach precisely the opposite of what the NYPD and city agencies are able to do within the confines of a system where maximizing profit determines what will be done, and where the labor of people is viewed as a commodity to be exploited or discarded.

All of the vitriol about filth and crime was marshalled to develop pretext and garner support for forcefully bringing the full force of state power to wipe out OWS. When you see clubs swinging into the bellies of students at University of California, Berkeley, or rupturing the spleen of a veteran from the war in Iraq in Oakland, the pepper-spraying in the mouth and face of a young woman in Portland and of an 84-year-old woman in Seattle, the use of sonic cannon developed for war zones deployed to evict OWS from Zuccotti Park, and police with assault rifles and paramilitary uniforms in several cities, you witness the brutal strong arm of the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, the capitalist class and their state apparatus. Lessons must be learned.

The “1%,” to use that term as evocative of the capitalist class, has a monopoly on the legitimate use of armed force and they will wield it any and every time they feel their interests and rule fundamentally threatened. The police are not part of the 99% but exist only to serve and protect the interests of Capital against all those they exploit and oppress. Thus far, their repression of OWS has been met by more and broader resistance, from the general strike in Oakland to the November 17 protests. Now, with several of the key Occupations temporarily evicted, others under daily assault, the movement needs to steadfastly rise to meet new challenges.

There are those who look at this movement and see opportunity to advance narrow agendas of seeking some reform to benefit a few—striving to bring the movement up under the wing of a section of the ruling class.  Others look at the power of the state and seek an easier path.

These views reflect and even emanate from those in power. Oakland liberal Mayor Jean Quan who ordered the brutal evacuation of Occupy Oakland after revealing that she was part of a 18-city conference call to develop strategy for the evictions, said: “...what I think you’re starting to see is that the Occupy movement is looking for more stability. I spent a lot of last week talking to peaceful demonstrators, ones who wanted to separate themselves in my city away from the anarchist groups who had been looking for a confrontation with the police.”

The protests on November 17 across the country targeted bridges as symbolic of the crumbling infrastructure of the U.S. A potent symbol, yet also one that dovetails neatly with the Democratic Party’s efforts to corral the Occupy movement to serve its objectives. “The McClatchy Report,” the website of a large newspaper chain in the U.S., wrote:

“The protests Thursday in many cities included bridges as a backdrop—mirroring President Barack Obama’s call for Congress to boost the economy by spending money on public projects. Indeed, the Washington protesters appeared at the same bridge where Obama appeared earlier this month to press Congress to pass his $447 billion jobs package, which calls for spending billions on road and bridge repair.”

Outpourings of protest where the goal increasingly becomes putting pressure on Congress or City Hall, and where tents become symbolic protest signs can ultimately only serve to channel the initiative away from what’s urgently needed. Within the Occupy movement this can take the form of moving on from the encampments to working in communities for the illusion of tangible reforms. This is expressed in the pull to find some space to establish an encampment off to the side in a safe space—a micro protest that devolves into an ignorable part of protest ecology while imperialist plunder grinds on.

Bob Avakian writes in “A Reflection on the ‘Occupy’ Movement: An Inspiring Beginning... And The Need to Go Further:”

“As is demonstrated in the “Occupy” movement, there is a basis for a broad unity among these different sections of the people—in opposition to many of the manifestations of the oppressive and truly murderous nature of this system, and in a basic searching for a better way that human beings could relate to each other—but that unity cannot eliminate nor cancel out the reality and the effects of the profound inequalities that are so deeply rooted in this system and will continue to have force and effect so long as this system remains in power and its relations and dynamics set the fundamental and ultimate terms for things. This is yet another expression of the fact that nothing short of revolution, with a leadership grounded in a communist understanding and orientation, can fully penetrate to the depths of, let alone uproot, the relations that oppress and divide masses of people.”

The national Occupy movement, with a concentrated expression at Occupy Wall Street in NYC, is at a crossroads that will require determination and creative strategies to build on and broaden while deepening the movement’s stand against the whole way that capitalism is destroying people and the planet.

Send us your comments.

Revolution #251, November 27, 2011

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having an impact, growing the movement, building up our muscles.

Coming out of these conferences through the New Year, we’re going to get off to an exciting start to this campaign to raise big money to get BA’s vision and works into every corner of society.  We’ll learn as we go... building up experience, forging a community, getting the word out in important ways, and raising funds to make important things happen.

Our focus will be on raising the funds to get 1,500 copies of BAsics to prisoners, making a splash with BAsics with people giving it as a gift for the holidays, raising $23,000 to fund the production and release of the film that will be made about an incredible cultural event last spring inspired by BAsics, and kicking off the fundraising for a BA bus tour in 2012.  Meeting these goals will be the first phase of this campaign to raise major funds.  The idea here is for each of these to accomplish three things: spread the word about BA; raise the needed money; and involve more and more people in this movement.  So each focused effort should put us in a stronger place than before, with more capacity... and taken together, these should help lay the basis to really come out roaring when the new year begins.

These efforts will have THREE major nodal points where people all over the country will be acting together:

1. Thanksgiving and Black Friday.  Through the Thanksgiving holiday, share what’s on the DVD video kit with your family and friends with a particular emphasis on raising money for copies of BAsics to prisoners.  Show the dramatic reading of prisoner letters responding to a quote from Avakian on living a life of meaning (the rough cut is on your DVD and the short film will be posted online before Thanksgiving).  Let people appreciate and help realize the potential of BAsics to impact on those locked behind the walls.  It costs $10 to send one book to a prisoner and the goal is to send 1,500 books by the end of the year which will require $15,000.

Then on Black Friday and that whole weekend after Thanksgiving, people can make plans together to go out with gift tables selling copies of BAsics to send to prisoners and BAsics for the holidays.  Make a big sign to display: “Want the alternative to capitalism?!  Get the BAsics.”  This should have a lot of pizzazz and even be newsworthy so everyone should also be developing press plans.  Get a lot of copies of the BAsics special issue (Revolution #244) out and sign up people who are interested in getting involved.

2. The weekend of December 10 and 11.  Imagine all kinds of people, all over the country, doing different things to meet that goal. There are big parties, with food donated from local restaurants, in the projects and on campuses. Car washes, bake sales, and yard sales are organized and publicized. In another part of town, there’s a big cultural benefit. A fundraising salon is held among wealthier sections of people. Maybe someone with more resources publicly pledges to match whatever is raised by a big group of people in a housing project. Everyone participating in something that is bigger than their individual efforts while at the same time, their individual efforts have a decisive effect as part of that.

December 10/11 will be our first all-together-out weekend like this where we’ll raise money for the production of the film, Occasioned by the Publication of BAsics: A Celebration of Revolution and the Vision of A New World.  The ongoing online drive will end on December 12.

We should also be spreading this online now, coming right off this conference... encouraging our friends to give, emailing the film trailer out to everyone we know, send via Facebook and Twitter..., and then the organized activity on December 10/11 will be to make that final major push to fulfill the goal.

3. Finally, we’ll end the year right with year end or New Year’s parties to fund the kickoff for the BA Bus Tour in 2012.  Come together to celebrate the debate and engagement we’re getting going with a radically different and far better vision of how the world could be... come together to celebrate the coming together from different perspectives and different walks of life... to really do something meaningful in the world.  And raise funds while doing so.  Ask a DJ or a band to play, get a space... a rec room, community center or church... or there may be someone who wants to open up their home.  Local businesses or artists might volunteer door prizes which can be raffled off at the party and ask for a $10 contribution for tickets.  These will happen nationally all on the same week from 12.26 – 12.31 so whatever is raised from one party contributes to the whole effort.

Send us your comments.

Revolution #251, November 27, 2011

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Want the alternative to capitalism?
Get the BAsics!

$20 buys a copy, and another for a prisoner


On “Black Friday”—”the biggest shopping day of the year,” Americans will spend $10 billion to buy gadgets assembled in Chinese sweatshops, food picked by immigrants in the fields of Alabama, and sporting goods stitched together by little children in Bangladesh. The capitalist system of exploitation will recharge to grind on, crushing lives and spirits around the world.

But this year, something radically different is happening on “Black Friday.”

In the midst of, and in the face of this obscene orgy of “shop till you drop,” teams of people in communities and shopping malls are out to create a whole other kind of scene. The mission: to get BAsics into the hands of many and cover the cost of responding to requests from prisoners for copies of the book. And in doing so, to jump-start an emerging fundraising campaign: “BA Everywhere... Imagine the Difference It Could Make.”

BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian is a book of quotations and short essays that speaks powerfully to questions of revolution and human emancipation. BAsics concentrates more than 30 years of Avakian’s work. BAsics can not only introduce many more people to the thinking of BA—who has put communism back on the agenda as a vital and viable force—it can play a major role in bringing forward and forging a new wave of revolutionaries.

And the BA Everywhere... campaign has the potential to effect a radical and fundamental change in the social and political atmosphere of this whole country by projecting the whole Bob Avakian vision and framework into all corners of society.


Many, many requests for BAsics remain to be filled and await your contribution! $15,000 is needed to send 1,500 copies of BAsics to prisoners. $100 will pay for pending requests for BAsics by prisoners in Mississippi and Alabama. $250 will fill pending prisoner requests in Illinois. And $600 will pay for requests in New York. YOUR GIFT CAN BE TAX DEDUCTIBLE. How to Donate: Tax-deductible and other donations can be made online at www.prlf. org. Make tax-deductible checks payable to: IHCenter/PRLF. Make other checks/money orders payable to PRLF. Mail all checks and correspondence to: Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund, 1321 N. Milwaukee, #407, Chicago, IL 60622

PRLF is an educational literature fund that fills requests from U.S, prisoners for revolutionary literature. PRLF is a project of the International Humanities Center, a non-profit public charity, exempt from federal income tax under section 501 (c) (3) of the IRS code. PRLF:, (773) 960-6952 or

Hundreds of prisoners have received sponsored copies of BAsics so far. The initial impact has been profound and inspiring, with a deep connection taking hold amongst some of the 2.3 million people in prison.. taking up BAsics as a lifeline, some transforming themselves into emancipators of humanity.

A prisoner in Alabama wrote:

“I want to thank you for sending me a copy of the BAsics. This book is what it is. It allows you to see America in its Web of Lies for what they are. So when you watch the news or read the newspaper you can screen what’s being said by the information contained in the book so you can see what’s really being said and not said.”

Another prisoner, at California’s Pelican Bay wrote:

“...I recently received the new book BAsics and really dug its content. Over the years while reading Revolution newspaper I have been able to build my understanding of the society we live under here in America. While growing up in the ’hood all one knows is being poor broke and hungry is ‘just the way it is,’ gangbanging becomes a release for the anger that consumes those in the ghetto, and ultimately prison is where we end up and yet don’t know why we got here. The truth is this society is not set up in our interests and it doesn’t have to be this way, it’s this way because too many people are focusing on ‘coming up,’ on hanging on the street corner or chasing that high and taking their eye off the prize and not creating a Revolutionary environment wherever they are at!

“...College campuses like prisons are places where people are often exposed to ideas outside the normal American Imperialist view for the first time in their lives and so colleges like prisons are fertile grounds for Revolution. It is in colleges like prisons where people first start paying attention to World events and how everything they been told about this country being land of the free etc are lies.”

And another prisoner wrote:

“When I talk to people about BAsics I tell them to think about it in the following way. ‘Let’s say you’re sick and you want to get rid of the sickness, first, you have to know what the sickness is. In this way, you’ll know what steps you have to take to get rid of the sickness. So, if you identify the sickness as a cough, then you know that you’re going to need cough medicine to get rid of the cough. In this case, capitalism is the sickness and B.A. and his synthesis is the medication to the sickness.’ It’s a crude analogy, but it helps in getting people to understand why a book like BAsics is so important.”

Buy a copy of BAsics right now—and another for a prisoner—from activists on the street, or online at

Your friends, family and loved ones will not only get this powerful and inspiring book, but they will know this same book is reaching one of the 2.3 million people held behind prison bars in the U.S.


NEW video at
Share with your friends and family over the holidays
Raise funds for BAsics to prisoners

April 2011 marked the release of BAsics, a book of quotations and short essays by Bob Avakian, the revolutionary leader who has developed a new synthesis of communism. Before publication, Revolution newspaper called on its readers to suggest quotes to include in BAsics. A number of prisoners who read Revolution responded; and many mentioned the same quote, from the last section of Avakian’s memoir. Go to to see a video of actors reading this quote from Avakian intermixed with responses from three prisoners.

Show this short video to friends and family over the holiday for a living example of the connection of BAsics to prisoners. Raise funds to send copies of BAsics to prisoners for this connection to spread.

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Revolution #251, November 27, 2011

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20 Freedom Fighters Arrested

STOP “Stop and Frisk” Hits Queens, NY

Saturday, November 19. The Stop Mass Incarceration Network, along with Jamaica, Queens (New York City) community members and members of the clergy, anti-police brutality advocates, and students, and with the support of Occupy Wall Street, Occupy the Hood, and Occupy Queens, held a successful, peaceful civil disobedience protest at the 103rd Police Precinct in Jamaica yesterday afternoon. Eighty-five people stood in solidarity with the 20 demonstrators arrested during the nonviolent action, including Carl Dix of the Revolutionary Communist Party; Elaine Brower of World Can't Wait; and several Columbia University students. Nineteen of the 20 arrested protesters were held overnight at Queens Central Booking and not released until the next day. The 20th, a young woman, remains in police custody as we go to press on November 21.

STOP "Stop and Frisk" hits Queens, NYBeginning at 1 p.m., demonstrators rallied at King Park in Jamaica where local residents spoke about the repressive and harmful impact the NYPD policy of stop and frisk has had on their neighborhood. It was in the 103rd Precinct’s cachement area on November 25, 2006 that a group of undercover and plainclothes NYPD officers shot and killed the unarmed Sean Bell on the morning before his wedding. Two of Bell’s friends were severely wounded in the attack, which the city later described as a use of excessive force. As the demonstrators marched up Jamaica Avenue to the 103rd Precinct, many carried signs in memory of Sean Bell.

The November 19 rally is the third in a series of successful demonstrations in New York City neighborhoods that are heavily targeted by the NYPD for stop-and-frisk enforcement, a policy that the Center for Constitutional Rights and other groups have challenged as illegal.

Among the many arrested during the first two demonstrations are: Dr. Cornel West; Rev. Luis Barrios, professor at John Jay College for Criminal Justice; Carl Dix of the Revolutionary Communist Party; Randy Credico, social comedian/activist and former director of the William Kunstler Fund for Racial Justice; Margaret Ratner Kunstler, widow of the late William Moses Kunstler; and Gbenga Akinnagbe, the actor who portrayed Chris Partlow on the TV show The Wire.

Just out of jail, Carl Dix told Revolution:

STOP "Stop and Frisk" hits Queens NY“The significance of what happened yesterday lies in the fact that something very important has been started with this campaign to STOP ‘Stop and Frisk’ and we faced a challenge of building on and broadening and deepening the momentum that had been created with the actions in Harlem and Brooklyn. In a basic sense, we achieved this.”

A contingent of students from Columbia University not only participated but said why they did—that the heart of this was recognizing that they are being prepared to be functionaries in the existing set-up and they are rejecting that because they see the set-up as racist and unjust and are siding with the community, by which they mean the oppressed communities of Black and Latino people. A couple of reverends from Queens participated in the march and rally, as well as the co-founders of the group Occupy the Hood, Malik Rashaan and Preach.

“This is part of the whole struggle against mass incarceration because stop and frisk is a major pipeline to prison,” Dix said. “In New York, they’re on pace to do 1,900 each and every day, five out of six Black or Latino, and more than 90 percent the cops can’t even find anything to arrest them on. Stop and frisk is one aspect of a world that is a horror for the majority of people—all over the world. And as a communist, I am fighting this horror as part of building a movement for revolution, a movement that can get at the system that enforces this as part of enforcing a status quo of extreme inequality.”  


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Revolution #251, November 27, 2011

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William Parker Quintet Performs Excerpts from "Blueprint for a Cultural Revolution"


William Parker Quintet Performs "Blueprint for a Cultural Revolution"
PHOTO: Revolution/Li Onesto

On Tuesday, November 8, the audience at the Nublu Club in lower Manhattan experienced an amazing event when The William Parker Quintet, along with spoken word artists, performed excerpts from "Blueprint for a Cultural Revolution." The music and spoken word piece are inspired by and feature readings from BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian, and the show was a benefit to send copies of BAsics to prisoners.










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Revolution #251, November 27, 2011

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Now Available: BAsics e-Book Edition

We're excited to announce that the e-book edition of BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian is now on sale, for $5.99. Just in time to show it off to friends and family over the Thanksgiving holidays. Wait until you see the hyper-linked bibliography!

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Revolution #251, November 27, 2011

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New Threats of U.S.-Israeli Aggression Against Iran

by Larry Everest

Threats of U.S.-Israeli aggression against Iran—perhaps military strikes—have heightened in recent weeks.

On November 8, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), an imperialist-controlled international body monitoring nuclear activities, issued a new report on Iran, claiming that “Iran has carried out activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device.” The Washington Post editorialized that the report “ought to end serious debate about whether Tehran’s program is for peaceful purposes.” (“Running out of time to stop Iran’s nuclear program,” November 9, 2011) In response, the Islamic Republic of Iran vowed to continue its nuclear program, which it claims is strictly for generating nuclear power, not to build nuclear weapons.

The U.S., Israel, and a number of European powers, deeply involved in shaping this report, are now seizing on it to call for more diplomatic, political, and economic aggression against Iran—while explicitly leaving the military option “on the table.” On November 13, President Obama stated, “The sanctions have enormous bite and enormous scope ... we’re going to explore every avenue to see if we can solve this issue diplomatically. I have said repeatedly and I will say it today: We are not taking any options off the table...” (Meanwhile, Russia and China have voiced differences with some of the U.S. plans for escalating pressure on Iran. See, for example, “Note shows big power split over Iran,” Associated Press, October 24, 2011.)

The IAEA report and subsequent calls for tougher action on Iran come in the wake of a series of incidents over several weeks which The New York Times called part of a “deadly dynamic” between the U.S. and Iran. (“America’s Deadly Dynamics With Iran,” November 5, 2011)

In early November, the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz reported that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and “Defense Minister Ehud Barak are trying to muster a majority in the cabinet in favor of military action against Iran,” (“Netanyahu trying to persuade cabinet to support attack on Iran,” November 2, 2011) A few days later, Israeli President Shimon Peres warned that such an attack is becoming increasingly likely. (Democracy Now! November 7, 2011) In late October, the Israeli Air Force conducted a large training exercise off the coast of Italy “in which IAF long-range fighter bombers practiced an extended-range attack plan with the Italian, German, and Dutch air forces.” (“Will Israel Really Strike Iran?” Daily Beast, November 2, 2011) On November 7, Israel test-fired a ballistic missile capable of striking anywhere in Iran. Israel reportedly has German-supplied nuclear-missile-armed submarines off Iran’s coast. (Democracy Now! November 7, 2011)

Britain’s Daily Mail reported, “Sources say the understanding at the top of the British Government is that Israel will attempt to strike against the nuclear sites ‘sooner rather than later’—with logistical support from the U.S. A senior Foreign Office figure has revealed that ministers have been told to expect Israeli military action, adding: ‘We’re expecting something as early as Christmas, or very early in the new year’... Ministry of Defence sources confirmed that contingency plans have been drawn up in the event that the UK decided to support military action.” (“Israel may launch strike on Iran as soon as next month to prevent development of nuclear weapons,” November 10, 2011)

A History of Unproven Charges Against Iran

Since the 1990s, the U.S., its European allies, and Israel have repeatedly charged that Iran is secretly pursuing nuclear weapons. However, they have never been able to prove these charges. Previous IAEA reports have raised questions about Iran’s nuclear program, but never stated unequivocally that Iran has had a nuclear weapons program—until now.

This past June, investigative journalist and author Seymour Hersh summed up: “Despite years of covert operations inside Iran, extensive satellite imagery, and the recruitment of Iranian intelligence assets, the United States and its allies, including Israel, have been unable to find irrefutable evidence of an ongoing hidden nuclear-weapons program in Iran, according to intelligence and diplomatic officials here and abroad.”

The U.S.’s 2007 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran concluded “with high confidence” that Iran had halted a nascent nuclear weapons program in 2003. This assessment was reaffirmed, according to Hersh, by a new, secret NIE in 2011. (Iran denies that it has ever had a nuclear weapons program.)

Mohamed ElBaradei, the former head of the IAEA, told Hersh, “During my time at the agency, we haven’t seen a shred of evidence that Iran has been weaponizing, in terms of building nuclear‑weapons facilities and using enriched materials.... All I see is the hype about the threat posed by Iran.” (“Iran and the Bomb: How real is the nuclear threat?” New Yorker, June 6, 2011. See also “New Iran Revelations... and the Specter of War,” Revolution #238, July 3, 2011.)

What’s Driving U.S.-Israeli Charges and Threats Against Iran?

The Islamic Republic is a reactionary theocracy, bitterly hated by millions of Iranians. Despite a certain amount of rhetorical posturing, it is not challenging the system of imperialism, with its division of the world into oppressor and oppressed nations. But Iran does have its own needs and ambitions—which may (or may not) include mastering the technology needed to make nuclear weapons, or even building weapons, which clash with U.S. objectives in many different ways. Iran seeks to increase its influence and strength in the Middle East (and other areas), including by maneuvering within the current regional turmoil and upheaval. These efforts have led to clashes between Iran’s objectives and U.S. and Israeli goals in Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq, and across the Middle East.

This regional clash, as well as the nature of Iran’s Islamic Republic and its efforts to forge ties with various regional and global powers, poses challenges to U.S. dominance of the Middle East and to its ally and outpost Israel in particular, which for over six decades has been a key pillar of U.S. global power and the functioning of U.S. capitalism-imperialism. This is why the U.S, its European allies, and Israel have worked for over two decades to isolate, weaken, and perhaps overthrow Iran’s Islamic Republic, as well as threatened war, even though they have not been able to prove that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons.

Iran with nuclear weapons—even the potential to develop nuclear weapons—would both exacerbate these contradictions and seriously challenge unchecked U.S.-Israel military supremacy. In 2010, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the U.S. would “face a ‘different world’ in four to five years” if Iran developed a nuclear weapon. (“Fear of ‘different world’ if Iran gets nuclear weapons,” Guardian (UK), November 28, 2011) All this has driven an ongoing and escalating clash, including the threat of war between the U.S. and Iran.

Gaping Holes Already Punched in IAEA Report

U.S. officials and much of the capitalist press have called the new IAEA report “definitive” in proving that Iran has had, and may still have, a nuclear weapons program. But a number of journalists and Iran experts, including former weapons inspectors and government officials, have poked gaping holes in this claim. They’ve exposed that a number of key charges in the report are a mélange of hype, half-truths, un-sourced allegations, recycled claims, and outright lies reminiscent of the propaganda campaign mounted against Iraq before the 2003 U.S. invasion. Readers should recall that the lie that Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction was also propagated by many “authoritative” accounts, which at first glance seemed carefully constructed and voluminously documented. In other words, the U.S. rulers have never let the truth stand in the way of their imperial objectives, and have proven time and again to have no compunction about fabricating outrageous lies.

For instance, an assessment of the new IAEA report was posted at, the website of former National Security Agency officials Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann (who fear the current Iran strategy will harm U.S. imperial interests). In “Pulling the IAEA into the ‘Attack Iran’ Debate Will Backfire,” November 8, 2011, they argue:

“But the report, arguably the most anticipated document of its kind since the NPT was first advanced in 1968, does not in any way demonstrate that Iran is ‘developing a nuclear weapon.’ Rather, it once again affirms, as the IAEA has for decades, Iran’s ‘non-diversion’ of nuclear material ... the report [is focused] on unsubstantiated intelligence reports, provided almost entirely by the United States, Israel, and other Western governments, alleging that the Islamic Republic is working on a nuclear weapons program.

“There are many reasons to question virtually every detail in the IAEA’s accounting of the ‘possible military dimensions’ to Iran’s nuclear program ... no one has ever produced a shred of evidence that Iran has ever actually tried to build a nuclear weapon or taken a decision to do so.”

The UN and the IAEA are imperialist-dominated organizations—not independent agencies that stand above politics. They are very useful to the U.S. and other world powers to confer legitimacy and credibility on their great power designs and interventions. For instance, the U.S. pays over one-quarter of the IAEA’s budget, and it was instrumental in the choosing of the new head of the IAEA, Yukiya Amano. A 2009 U.S. diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks reveals that the U.S. agreed to support Amano’s selection to head the agency in return for his agreement to support the U.S. campaign against Iran’s nuclear program.

Behind the Headlines—A Battle for Regional Dominance

Behind the IAEA’s report, U.S. calls for more aggressive action, and Israel’s threats of war on Iran, represent a sharpening battle for control of the whole Middle East. The U.S. and Israel (which has its own necessities and interests, even as it is overall under the U.S. wing) view taking down Iran as the leading edge of their efforts to win out in this contention and strengthen their grip on this volatile region.

The U.S, Israel, and the major European powers are united over the need to strangle Iran and win this battle, even as there are divisions over precisely how to do so without unleashing a level of upheaval that could radically weaken their grip on the region. At this point, the U.S. is clearly continuing to work for some form of regime change in Iran through covert operations, much more aggressive economic sanctions, and other means short of war. Yet these “less drastic” measures can also help prepare the way for war. And the possibility of war continues to be real, even growing. The IAEA report and the U.S. response are not designed to rid the region or the world of nuclear weapons, or to prevent war. Israel has over 150 nuclear weapons and the U.S. over 5,000—yet there is no IAEA report on Israel or the U.S., no demand for inspections, no UN outcry—even though both powers have repeatedly threatened nuclear war—and the U.S. is the only power to have ever used a nuclear weapon.

Stepped up intervention against Iran—no matter how the U.S., Israel, and the United Nations attempt to justify it—is criminal aggression in service of imperialist domination of hundreds of millions of people—domination which many millions are rising up against in different ways. Any U.S.-Israeli military attack or war on Iran would be a huge crime that would likely result in many, many people killed in Iran and in the region. People, especially in the U.S., have to say—loudly, clearly, and actively—NO!

• • • • •

The following statement, posted at, is circulating, with initial signatories:

An Appeal to United States and Israeli Air, Missile and Drone Crews to Stand Down From Orders to Attack Iran

November 2011—

We are at an historic moment when decisions are being made in the United States and Israel on whether and when to attack Iran.

These will be decisions by politicians and individual commanders and air, missile and drone crewmembers charged with the responsibility of raining down munitions in a strike that will likely kill hundreds if not thousands of Iranian people and potentially spread deadly nuclear contamination to millions in Iran and surrounding nations.

Beyond this, an attack on Iran will almost certainly bring retaliation that will result in even more human casualties and will disrupt global oil shipments, with severe human consequences around the world.

An attack against Iran by the United States and Israel will violate morality, international and domestic law and the interests of humanity. Additionally, both Iran and the United States are parties to the Kellogg‑Briand Pact which forbids the use of war.

There are those of us signing this appeal who have been members of the United States and other armed forces and understand very well the difficulty of refusing to follow an order to attack. At the same time, each of us has the responsibility to preserve human life and nature in the face of inhuman and illegal orders, a responsibility defined by the Nuremberg Conventions.

We urge all of you who may be called upon to attack Iran from the air, and indeed all military personnel who may be engaged in any kind of attack on Iran, to refuse to do so.

Sign Your Name Here.

(First register and log in to prevent spam.)

Medea Benjamin, Cofounder of Code Pink
Nick Mottern, director of
David Swanson, author of When the World Outlawed War; War Is a Lie; and Daybreak.
Debra Sweet, director of World Can't Wait
Ann Wright, retired U.S. Army Reserve Colonel and former U.S. diplomat who resigned in opposition to the Iraq war


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Pauley Ballroom,
University of California Berkeley

CORNEL WEST is one of America’s most provocative public intellectuals and has been a champion for racial justice since childhood. His writing, speaking, and teaching weave together the traditions of the black Baptist Church, progressive politics, and jazz. The New York Times has praised his “ferocious moral vision.” Dr. West currently teaches at Princeton University.

CARL DIX is a longtime revolutionary and a founding member of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA. In 1970 Carl was one of the Fort Lewis 6, six GIs who refused orders to go to Vietnam. He served 2 years in Leavenworth Military Penitentiary for his stand. In 1985 Carl initiated the Draw The Line statement, a powerful condemnation of the bombing of the MOVE house in Philadelphia. In 1996, Carl was a founder of the October 22nd Coalition to Stop Police Brutality. Carl coordinated the Katrina hearings of the 2006 Bush Crimes Commission.

Initial sponsors include: Hermanos Unidos • 100 Black Men • African Arts Society • Kroeber Anthropological Society • Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity • Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity • Cross-Cultural Student Development Center • Townsend Center for the Humanities • Department of English • Department of Art Practice • Center for Race and Gender • African-American Studies Department • Revolution Books • Laney College Black Student Union

Email: Search “Dec. 2 UC Berkeley Cornel West Carl Dix” on Facebook. This event is free and open to the public.\

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$23,000 by December 12 for Occasioned by BAsics: A Celebration of Revolution and the Vision of a New World


  For everyone who has dreamed of a different and better world or wondered how art and culture can be part of creating it, this is a film that needs to be seen. But it won't be made without your support.

If you want to contribute to changing the culture in our society, to bringing into being a culture that is uplifting instead of degrading, to tapping into people's highest aspirations in opposition to a me-first ethos, and to opening up mental space to engage and explore ideas of fundamental change... if you like the idea of celebrating revolution and the vision of a new world through art, dance, theater and music and think a wide range of people from different perspectives need to be part of that, then you need to contribute and help raise the funds for this film to be made.

But in order to produce it, and release it, $23,000 is required by December 12. Reaching this goal is essential, and possible.

What is this film going to be about?

Last April, a range of artists, musicians, dancers and actors came together from a diversity of perspectives in a unique cultural event: On the Occasion of the Publication of BAsics: A Celebration of Revolution and the Vision of a New World. BAsics is a book of quotations and short essays from Bob Avakian, the revolutionary leader who has developed a new synthesis of communism. This event brought people together who hadn't shared a stage before, and a remarkable connection was forged between these artists and the hundreds in the audience that night.

This film will tell the story of what those artists did and why they did it.

What brought together some of the top jazz musicians today, a cutting-edge "tropical punk" singer, a former member of the Black Panther Party, poets with their roots in the '60s and poets who shaped the more recent spoken-word movement? And why was all this occasioned by the release of a book from the leader who has re-envisioned revolution and communism?

Watch the trailer at to get a taste.

The film will weave together footage from this beautiful event with interviews from artists and other participants, and it will speak powerfully to the question of how art and culture can be part of creating a different and better world. It will speak to why and how all this diversity was brought together around celebrating revolution and envisioning a new world... and how that can be a harbinger for changing things in the culture and society more broadly.

Getting this film made and out into the world will be a significant contribution to the discourse and a source of inspiration to those lifting their heads and asking if there is a different way for people to think, feel and be. After leaving the event, a student described it this way, "It feels like hope. That's honestly what it feels like..."

Succeeding in our goal

Raising the funds, and getting this film made, will change the foundation from which to go further forward with the whole campaign, BA Everywhere... Imagine the Difference It Could Make! A Mass Campaign to Raise Big Money to Get BA's Vision and Works Into Every Corner of Society.

It will mean bearing down in the next ten days and really fighting it through, but not only is this possible, we can get stronger, reach out more broadly and have a big impact in the process.

Learning from experience

We're still gathering reports from the fundraising efforts over Thanksgiving where people opened up discussion about this fund campaign to their families and friends, and Black Friday where we kicked off a major fundraising initiative to raise copies of BAsics to prisoners. Stay tuned to Revolution newspaper for reports. New things were tried, new people met and new connections forged. We also raised money to send many, many dozens of copies of BAsics to prisoners (full tallies will also be printed soon).


BAsics 2:8

Let's imagine if we had a whole different art and culture. Come on, enough of this "bitches and ho's" and SWAT teams kicking down doors. Enough of this "get low" bullshit. And how come it's always the women that have to get low? We already have a situation where the masses of women and the masses of people are pushed down and held down low enough already. It's time for us to get up and get on up.

Imagine if we had a society where there was culture—yes it was lively and full of creativity and energy and yes rhythm and excitement, but at the same time, instead of degrading people, lifted us up. Imagine if it gave us a vision and a reality of what it means to make a whole different society and a whole different kind of world. Imagine if it laid out the problems for people in making this kind of world and challenged them to take up these problems. Imagine if art and culture too—movies, songs, television, everything—challenged people to think critically, to look at things differently, to see things in a different light, but all pointing toward how can we make a better world.

Imagine if the people who created art and culture were not just a handful of people but all of the masses of people, with all their creative energy unleashed, and the time were made for them to do that, and for them to join with people who are more full-time workers and creators in the realm of art and culture to bring forward something new that would challenge people, that would make them think in different ways, that would make them be able to see things critically and from a different angle, and would help them to be uplifted and help them to see their unity with each other and with people throughout the world in putting an end to all the horrors that we're taught are just the natural order of things. Imagine all that.

Three things about that experience can be said now.

First, we are in a time of rapidly shifting thinking. In this context, the fact that Avakian has done the work he has done, over several decades, summing up the positive and negative experience of the communist revolution so far, and drawing from a broad range of human experience, the fact that through this he has brought forward a new synthesis of communism—a viable vision and strategy for a radically new, and much better, society and world, and the fact there is the crucial leadership that is needed to carry forward the struggle toward that goal... all that stands out even more sharply right now, with even more potential to connect.

Very big questions are up among a large swath of people and we should be putting BA's work directly in their hands. People will find a lot they resonate with in BAsics, or in the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal), in Avakian's online talk: Revolution: Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About or in other works. There are answers here. At the same time, people will have a lot of questions, uncertainty and differences. That's exactly the process of engagement that is a big part of this fund campaign which is set on nothing less than "effecting a radical and fundamental change in the social and political 'atmosphere' of this whole country by projecting the whole BA vision and framework into all corners of society where it does not yet exist, or is still too little known, and getting all sorts of people to engage and wrestle with it..." (from the editorial,

Second, work has to be done to organize people now to take up the efforts of this campaign in the ways they see fit. It's not enough to open a door... people have to walk through that door. And the numbers of people taking up this campaign should be growing in the process. If someone sees the need to get copies of BAsics to prisoners, that's an opportunity to talk with them about not just them contributing but how to reach out to others. If someone is excited about what this film will mean in society, and sees a need for the ideas in BAsics to connect up with a whole new wave in the culture, we should talk with them about hosting a house party for the weekend of December 10 & 11.

This actually concretizes and even sharpens the political wrangling people are doing. It makes people really think through what they want to see in society, and what they want to fight to make happen. We want this happening, and want to work with people to figure out how, where and why they want to carve in.

Three, we should recognize that for some people, it's a big step to go from donating or participating in something to calling something yourself. People have questions about whether this means they're representing for what Avakian is about, often when they have questions about this themselves. We should anticipate some people having second thoughts and keep a door open for them to raise their concerns. It's a positive thing when people raise their questions... it means they are seriously thinking about how they want to contribute and that impels them to sharpen up their own thinking about the world and the content of BA's vision and works.

Raising these funds really does matter to the world, and we should struggle in a good way about this with people. But we should also struggle in a good way for the space for them to contribute in the ways they feel comfortable. There is a process here of, as Avakian has put it, solid core with a lot of elasticity. Someone doesn't have to take responsibility for all of what BA is fighting for in the world to think it needs to be known. In particular, if someone is taking up a particular project—for example, raising funds for this film—all they are saying is they want this film to be made and seen. In this, it often helps if we work with people to concretize their thinking on where they do carve into this, and why they—from their perspective—want to help fund a particular project, or want to help fund the whole effort to make BA's vision and works more widely known and engaged. (It might also be helpful to share with people the statements from people on the Host Committee for April 11 to see the range of perspectives that brought this event together.)

As we go all out, we should apply these lessons, reaching out very broadly and working with people to take this up themselves setting out to reach our largest goal of projecting BA everywhere, making what he represents a point of reference in society, with the direct and immediate part of that now raising the money for this film—which we must and can do.

Four key links

1. Mass Online Fundraising

Thousands of people need to be driven to the IndieGoGo fundraising site over the next few days, with a major nodal point in this on Tuesday, December 6. This means that it needs to be posted on websites and blogs, sent out via email, and via Twitter and Facebook. You can use this sample fundraising letter. People broadly should be asked to "favorite" the page by choosing "add to favorites" under the trailer or should be visiting the site regularly for updates.

Key in this will be garnering a couple hundred $10 contributions. These matter because they grow the number of people following the page, people who are watching to see how it turns out and helping themselves to spread the word and asking their friends to donate. Lots of smaller contributions grow the core of people fighting to reach this goal. And it synergizes with people who are able to give larger contributions.

We should be reaching out to people who have big online followings and asking them to contribute and post about this. We have to find the creative ways to put this before thousands of people online.

A key part of building the online base will be phone banking. Invite a bunch of people over to your house or to a Revolution Books after hours, bring snacks and call all the people that have been met over the last six months. Use the sample script here. When you call people, have them watch the trailer and then call them right back. Learn their thoughts, talk with them about what this is aiming to accomplish and what they can give. This is also a good way for people without Internet to contribute as they can contribute right over the phone and it's a way to reconnect with all the people we've met over the last many months, learn how their thinking is changing and how they want to contribute.

There will be daily updates on the IndieGoGo page with specific goals, mini-campaigns, and new comments from people about why they're giving, and the key thing to be doing that day, so keep checking.

2. Social Fundraising Events Weekend, December 10-11

There should be lots of people who are just connecting with this movement or have been with it for some time who'd want to invite people to a gathering to raise funds for this film. It can be five people or 25 people... in a housing project or fancy loft. This will be a time where wherever you are, and however many people you're able to bring together, you will be part of having a major collective impact. Call your friends, and family, reconnect with people you haven't talked to in a while, connect in person with people you only connect with online. Invite them over, order pizza, have a potluck or cook a fine meal. However you want to do it... get people together in a movement of house parties to raise whatever else is needed to reach the $23,000 goal.

There could also be all kinds of different events to meet that goal including car washes, bake sales, yard sales, and small-scale cultural benefits.

This is part of reaching out even more broadly; getting a chance to talk to lots of people about this film, what difference it can make and the whole campaign it's a part of to project BA Everywhere. Just sending out the invitations—even if people can't attend—will build awareness, and lead to donations. And it's an important part of building community, bringing people together in a too often atomized world.

3. Larger/Matching/Challenge Donations

There are lots of people we should be approaching for more serious sit-down meetings who can give larger contributions. We may be just starting a relationship with a more propertied person who would consider giving more but might start with a $100 contribution. This is significant, and for online fundraising will be particularly important if people want to put out a call for their contribution to be matched. [RIGHT NOW, donors are willing to match whatever is contributed up to $1,500, so whatever you give before Saturday, December 3 at midnight will be worth twice as much.] (See ANNOUNCING MATCHING DONOR DRIVE.)

Also, there may be a potentially higher donor who would like to have a house party around the film, but would like more time to plan it. You can ask someone if they would pledge to raise a certain amount at a party to happen later, give it on a credit card and then have the party in mid-December or when it suits their schedule.

If you know of donors who are considering giving $250 or more, please contact immediately, so that we can coordinate their gift with a plan to build momentum and bring in more donations.

4. Creative Outings

Look in the local calendar listings and find out what cultural events are happening in your area, or what big gatherings. In one city, over a span of a few days, there is a big museum party and an experimental film festival. Get a few smart phones and laptops, load up the film trailer, make a big sign with something like: "ASK ME ABOUT RADICALLY CHANGING THE CULTURE IN THE NEXT TEN DAYS."

Get a few people, have someone reading Avakian's imagine quote on bringing into being a different culture, walk around with the laptop and smart phones and get small groups huddled around watching the trailer. People can give online on the spot, they can do live tweeting about the online fundraising campaign, you can get their email and phone number and send them an on-the-spot email and text so they can give and forward it to their friends.

Similarly, you can go around to professors and hang around the student lounges and take a similar approach.

We have an important goal and a way to reach it, let's raise these funds, reach waves of new people, learn a lot and have a big impact as we go.


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Revolution #251, November 27, 2011

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Contribute before MIDNIGHT EST, Saturday, December 3


Two generous donors will MATCH every dollar given to fund the film Occasioned by BAsics: A Celebration of Revolution & The Vision of a New World up to $1,500 total. The deadline for doubling your tax-deductible donation is midnight Saturday, December 3.

You can donate here.

We've now raised more than $5,000 towards the goal of $23,000 on December 12. A successful match will bring us over $8,000. A contribution of $10 will have the impact of $20, $100 will mean $200... take the opportunity and give now. The more people give, the more the word will spread and the closer we'll be to making this essential goal.

This film will contribute to bringing into being a radically different culture... and the fundraising for it will bring together those who want a different and better world.

Contribute today and help spread the word!


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Revolution #251, November 27, 2011

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READ why some people are contributing

Donate at and leave a comment to be shared.

Robert Young, film maker, on why he contributed to the online fund campaign to produce the film, Occasioned by BAsics: A Celebration of Revolution and the Vision of a New World:

I'm on the same page with all who see the need to raise money to help bring about an understanding of what is happening to us and the need for change. And I agree about getting the word out on Bob Avakian. The time is getting ripe for revolutionary change. So many people are finally speaking up about the inequality in society and their realization that they are not being represented in the Congress. I've donated to this film project and I urge other people to donate and help raise the needed funds by them urging others to donate. Even though times are hard and money is tight for most of us, we mustn't forget that we are all connected and need to be involved in the struggle for justice.

The following are comments from some of the other contributors:

From a former "military man"

I used to be a military man proud and indoctrinated into the ways of this system. The promise of coming home to a life where I would be able to sustain myself was a lie. Eventually, I got into the Occupy movement, still thinking some of the way I did. Then one day, I had a discussion with someone and that person asked me, if I knew that I was responsible for the deaths of many innocent men, women, and children abroad in immoral wars waged by our government. I had never thought of it that way. Not being the person that actually put my hand on a trigger, I didn't think that I was impacting anything abroad. Then soon enough I learned about BA and BAsics. That experience completely turned around and changed the way that I thought about society and the role that I play in it, and one that I can play in a revolution. To sum things up, it is imperative that people that want to change this world get their hands on this book. There is a film being made about a celebration of revolution and the vision of a new world, that took place when the book came out and a fundraiser going on to get this film made. I think this film is definitely what the world needs right now and donating to get it made is paramount to helping change the culture.

Revolution House Party with Poets and Occupiers

"On December 10th, we came together to raise money for this film, it is a celebration of human emancipation. Be part of something larger than yourself. We challenge you. A message from some occupiers coming from a variety of different views who all want to see this film made."

Last night at the party with occupiers and poets about 20 different people from different backgrounds and ideologies came together to party and support the fundraising campaign for this film. These people, mainly occupiers, found this fundraising drive compelling enough to help contribute. We raised $30. To give a sense of the meaning of this I'll tell you that a lot of occupiers have very little money right now, for example, last week three people had a total of $14 between them for food.

After viewing the trailer and promos—poetry, chicken wings, wide ranging discussion, and debate around questions of horizontal democracy and vanguard leadership, we collectively came up with this message around 1:15 a.m.

David Zeiger, film maker:

I want this film to not just celebrate, but to challenge. I want, at the end of the film, to question what I thought was true coming in to it. I want it to give me a hint of that better world. I want to know why Communism, as developed by Bob Avakian, is being celebrated and embraced by these wonderful artists. Is it real? Truly a new vision, or nostalgia for a forgotten and lost past? I want all of those things and more, and that’s why I am contributing to this film and hope you will too.

Erin Aubry Kaplan, journalist and author

Revolution used to just be a nice idea to me, but in these desperate an dangerous times it’s become an imperative. Supporting the humane, forward-thinking and musically engaging work and message behind ‘BAsics’ is not only the right thing to do, it’s a great deal for the money! Satisfaction highly likely and no bailout required.

Harry Lennix, actor and producer

With you in struggle!

This is the $ I’m matching from [a friend], who gave me $10 because I said I’d match what he gave. [My friend] gave because he said, “I want to see this film made.” I’m matching it because I want to see it made as well, so that YOU can see for yourself what the Revolution can look like.

I am very excited to be helping promote this kind of culture—a culture that reflects the better world we are trying to build!

Supporting art, culture and the new paradigm.

I am a teacher in the inner city of Detroit. I want to help contribute towards Revolution to bring about a better future for my students!

I was there. After it was over, I said to those with me: dang, I hope they make that film, 'cause I need to watch that over again a few times!!! Got to say, it was somethin' different and good. About a whole new world and stuff. I think it's a good thing and I'm supporting it for sure.

I just contributed $1,000 to this effort and am asking you to join me in making a significant contribution to this project. In the swirl of the "Occupy" movements going on here and all over the world, it's especially critical to have the ability to inject Bob Avakian and his vision into the mix. People newly awakening to political life and activism need to learn about and be challenged by his enlightened and refreshing ideas. Give as generously as you can.

I was at this event back in April. The amount of talent in the room and on the stage was unbelievable—I'll be spreading the word!

It was a great pleasure to be in the audience on April 11th at the Harlem Stage. I want many people to get to know Bob Avakian and his work through seeing the performers interpret and engage with BAsics on the stage that night. I hope my friends working for a better world, including those who are inspired by Bob Avakian's vision of a radically different, liberating society, will also donate. We've got to get this film finished and into the world in join me in giving $100, or more.

This was a really cool event, it contained so much it was hard to take it all in, so I really want to see a movie of it.

These are important ideas that cannot disappear from our conversation about our responsibility to create a just society. They are not the only ideas worthy of discussion but they must be part of it. It is equally important to understand the dynamics that caused people like Marx and Engels, Lenin, Mao and now Bob Avakian to analyze our misbehavior and dysfunction from this point of view. We cannot deny what lead them to this point nor be in denial about the cruelty of unfettered, unregulated capitalism.

Help get this film made and the message within so needed... out to the people.

Excited for people who weren't there getting a chance to experience such a special night. I have a feeling this film & BAsics will inspire even more art & nights like this in the future. 

This hits on so many levels. Nice to be a part of it.

Support a revolutionary movement that is thoughtful of all humanity!

It was an amazing night, but an even more important message was being brought forward. Let's make sure we get this film made so more can learn and enjoy.


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Revolution #251, November 27, 2011

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Call for Interns/Volunteers to work on Revolution newspaper project:

Mass Incarceration in the USA:
The history behind it... what it means today... the struggle to put an end to it

The United States—the richest and most powerful nation—has 5% of the world’s population, but 25% of its prisoners. More than 2.3 million people are behind bars in the country that brags it is the "leader of the free world." The courageous prisoners on hunger strikes have shined a light on how they are subjected to the inhumane, mind-crushing torture of solitary confinement—kept in small, windowless concrete cells 23 hours a day and denied human contact. Such mental torture is considered a war crime when carried out against prisoners of war, but the U.S. inflicts this on tens of thousands of prisoners.

If you find this situation intolerable—as you should—then you need to be part of exposing these conditions and joining the struggle against mass incarceration in the U.S. And one important way you can do this is by working on a special project Revolution newspaper is initiating to do research and deeply expose the reality of mass incarceration in the U.S.

Today, mass incarceration concentrates the way Black and Latino people are systematically discriminated against and oppressed by the system. In the U.S. Black people in particular have always filled the prisons in greatly disproportionate numbers compared to whites. But as the forms under which Black people have been subjugated in this country have evolved, the forms of the enforcement of their subjugation have evolved as well. And the massive numbers of African-Americans in jail concentrate that—in terrible ways with ominous implications.

There is an urgent need to raise people's consciousness about this and a pressing need for determined struggle against this outrage. And through this, people can come to see that things don’t have to be this way—that there is the necessity, and the possibility, of a radically different world.

Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, has summed up the positive and negative experience of the communist revolution so far, and drawing from a broad range of human experience, has developed a new synthesis of communism. There really is a viable vision and strategy for a radically new, and much better, society and world, and there is the crucial leadership needed to carry forward the struggle toward that goal. Revolution newspaper takes the work of Bob Avakian as its foundation and framework.

We are building a movement for revolution. We have a strategy. And Revolution is a crucial, pivotal part of this. This newspaper enables people to really understand and act to radically change the world. It cuts to the bone to tell you WHY things are happening... to show you HOW it doesn’t have to be this way... and to give you the ways to ACT to change it. It is a call to action and a means of struggle. It provides a scaffold upon which thousands today—and eventually millions—stay connected and learn to act in powerful and united ways.

The Revolution project around mass incarceration will do important new exposure and connect up with and help fuel mass resistance. Our methodology is to dig deep, to learn about and expose what’s really going on, to get at the facts. It’s not about putting a story together to support what we already think—it’s about getting to the truth. And this approach is both crucial and exciting.

We need high school and college interns and other volunteers to work on this project—which is about understanding and changing the world. Look at the important role students have played in doing research and digging up information that has led to the exoneration of innocent prisoners, many who were on death row. Such work has brought the searing injustice of the U.S. death penalty to the attention of millions of people and spurred others to act.

Good research includes digging up facts and figures—and through doing this to expose the ways in which this is the leading edge in new forms of systematic and systemic oppression of Black and Latino people . To put this all together, the human element of this is something this project needs to really focus on. For example this project will include:

Other aspects we need to get a deeper understanding of:

People can work on this project with Revolution reporters in different cities, and contribute from anywhere via e-mail and phone.

To apply for this project send us a letter ( or RCP Pubs PO Box 3486 Merchandise Mart, Chicago, IL 60654), telling us about yourself, why you want to work on this project, in what ways you think you can contribute, and what your availability is.

Suggested readings:

"Taking the Movement of Resistance to Mass Incarceration to a Higher Level Thru Unleashing Determined Mass Resistance" by Carl Dix

Special Issue on Prisons and Prisoners in the U.S.
From the Hellholes of Incarceration to a Future of Emancipation

Special Issue – The Oppression of Black People, The Crimes of This System and the Revolution We Need


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Revolution #251, November 27, 2011

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Chicago, December 2:

Political Disobedience vs. Revolution: An Exchange and Debate on the Significance and Implications of the Occupy Movement between Bernard Harcourt and Raymond Lotta

Friday, December 2, 2011, 3:00 pm to 4:30 pm
at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago: Sullivan Galleries Conference Room, Sullivan Galleries, 33 S. State Street, 7th floor

Bernard Harcourt, writing in the Opinionator blog of the New York Times, described the Occupy Movement as marking a "political paradigm shift": a new form of "political disobedience" involving a "leaderless" organization refusing to embrace "old ideologies"—whether of free markets or communism. In the editorial, Harcourt specifically engaged Raymond Lotta, an advocate of Bob Avakian's new synthesis of communism, who had recently spoken at Occupy Wall Street. Lotta responded: the question is not whether there will be ideology or leadership—these are in play one way or another—but what kind of ideology and what kind of leadership are needed to overcome oppression and exploitation.

NOW THE DEBATE CONTINUES: COME, ASK QUESTIONS, AND PARTICIPATE IN THIS DEBATE AND EXCHANGE ON THE OCCUPY MOVEMENT. The recent police attacks on the Occupy Movement underscore the importance of these questions.

Bernard Harcourt is Chairman of the Political Science department and professor of law at the University of Chicago. He is the author of The Illusion of Free Markets. Raymond Lotta is a political economist and contributor to Revolution newspaper. He is an advocate of Bob Avakian's new synthesis of communism.

NOTE TO READERS: The previously announced dialogue at Harvard University between Raymond Lotta and Tim McCarthy has been postponed until early Feburary.

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Revolution #251, November 27, 2011

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Revolution newspaper received the following information from a reader:


Constitution Center, 525 Arch St, Philadelphia
7:30 p.m. sharp - 10:30 p.m. (doors open at 7 p.m.)

No to the Racist Death Penalty, No to the Prison Industrial Complex,
No to Police Terrorism, No to U.S. Wars at Home and Abroad,

HEAR: Cornel West, Immortal Technique, Ramona Africa, Vijay Prashad, Michelle Alexander (by video), Amina & Amiri Baraka, IMPACT Youth Repertory, African Drum & Dance Ensemble, Attorney Michael Coard

212-633-6646 anytime after 2 p.m. weekdays
Call 212-330-8029 for bus tickets & other locations for pickup of palm card.

Buses leave NYC at 3 p.m., $20 roundtrip from 33rd St. and 8th Ave.

Click on link to open and download palm card from


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Revolution #251, November 27, 2011

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Report from One Area:

Getting Out BAsics on "Black Friday"

On "Black Friday"—the "biggest shopping day of the year"—teams of people in different cities went up in the face of the obscene orgy of "shop till you drop" to create a whole different scene. Their mission: to get BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian into the hands of many and cover the cost of responding to requests from prisoners for copies of the book. And in doing so, to jump-start an emerging fundraising campaign: "BA Everywhere... Imagine the Difference It Could Make." The following is a snapshot report from one area.

People in our area had a mix of exciting plans for Black Friday. We went to a new Target mall in an oppressed area, largely Puerto Rican (that is now being gentrified); another neighborhood that is mainly a mix of students and artists; the Occupy Wall Street encampment in our city, which is adjacent to a shopping area; a gourmet food store in a traditionally progressive middle class area; and the bus lines where families get on the buses to visit relatives in prisons 5-10 hours or more away. We also tried some important new things—dressing up and going to the opera, having a presence outside a world famous art museum (where there was an exhibit of a well-known radical artist), and going outside (and inside) the headquarters of major law firms known for their pro bono work.

A group of five of us took the alternative to capitalism and Black Friday to the heart of Occupy Wall Street. As we were getting going, a march being led by a group of drummers coming back from Wall Street and another march to end violence against women of a couple hundred people arrived at the same time. This was really favorable conditions and right away a couple of us jumped into the rally and did a mic check and read the entire quote 1:10 from BAsics about "look at all these beautiful children that are female in the world." A lot of people thanked us for that.

We got out several hundred fliers in the park and along the outer areas, which included thousands of holiday shoppers going by. This crowd was more difficult to penetrate and there were even some backward responses. Around the park, there were folks in town for the holidays who came down to see OWS and were just thrilled to be there as well as very concerned about the police presence. These people were especially open to BAsics. One woman from California had brought her 17-year-old son down to the park to check it out and to hand out stickers she had made, "Occupy Authority." She had heard of BA and one of our crew opened up to Chapter 6 on revolutionary responsibility and leadership and found a quote that spoke to the positive role of revolutionary authority as opposed to the notion of authoritarianism. She read the quote, then bought a copy for a prisoner. She also got a copy of Revolution newspaper.

We tried different things at the table, but it seemed the most effective was the "putting the book into hands" approach—to have as many people as possible standing there holding the book, and reaching out to those who looked really interested and giving it to them to browse.

Outside the Target, we had a large display featuring the centerfold letter from the prisoner in California along with images from that centerfold and the image from the cover of Revolution #247 (responses to 3:16) across the top. "Want the alternative to capitalism? Get the BAsics!" Our table featured a large display of BAsics, the RCP's Manifesto, Communism: The Beginning of a New Stage, the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal), the current edition of Revolution and the special Revolution #244 on BAsics. Although it was a struggle to cut through the "shopping fog," putting the book in people's hands and letting them look at it and letting people know the impact of this book on the prisoners—a lifeline to the revolution and transforming to be emancipators of humanity—had a big impact. "This is really some book! I've only gotten past the first two pages and it's really something!" said a man who bought it on the way into the mall. Others who bought it on the spot did so after reading one or two quotes and recognizing something of what BA and this revolution is about. People were much more willing to donate after we had an opportunity to show them some of the letters from prisoners and how their lives were changing as a result of being connected to this revolutionary leader.

In the artist area, we had an enlarged display of sections of the centerfold in Revolution #251. We were unable to put out the envelopes for prisoner books, as suggested, on our street display, so we put up stickers on the big poster to indicate books that had been bought for prisoners. A significant number of people who got the book were from outside the country—a design teacher from Scandinavia, a writer from South America, a doctorate student from Europe, a young woman from a southern African country, a woman from Israel. After spending some time reading BAsics intently, the woman from Africa gave us money to send a book to a prisoner. She then left, saying she didn't want to buy it for herself. Later, as we were starting to pack up to leave, she returned to buy BAsics! She said she now wanted to get a book—she had gone down to our city's Occupy Wall Street and while there, she heard someone reading aloud the quote "Look at all these beautiful children who are female in the world..." She was deeply struck by the quote and when she learned that the quote was from BAsics, she just had to come back to where we were to get a copy of the book for herself.

The team at the upper-middle-class neighborhood (in front of the fancy food store) at first had some trouble breaking through. Summing up, they decided they wanted the first thing to jump out to people was that this was a campaign to get 1,500 copies of BAsics to prisoners—and the idea of holiday giving a gift that matters. This drew forward a different sentiment—including those with more awareness of the prison issue—including a doctor from the Bay Area who is connected with health issues in California prisons; a woman who is a child of holocaust survivors, was born in a displaced persons camp in Germany after WW 2 and spoke about her feelings of empathy for people who suffer imprisonment and poverty; and a Black woman who spoke about her understanding of prison issues, who also wanted a copy for herself as soon as she looked at the table of contents and read the first quote. Also a white grad student who is doing a paper related to this, and an older Black man who returned to the book table after reading through the flyer and looking at BAsics. Also, although she didn't contribute on the spot, an older Black woman spoke about her church's work with ex-offenders and said she was going to show the material to the group at her church.

The legal/law firm team had a plan to go to law firms that have done ongoing pro bono work involving cases at Guantánamo as well as death penalty cases. We were able to go to one of these law firms first with a flyer saying we were coming back that evening when folks were going home and with a copy of the book in our hands. That evening we had buckets, a big donate sign and it was clear what we were doing, but it was dark. We came back several days later (as was printed in the initial flyer) in the morning with bigger signs and agitation which said "500 prisoners have this book BAsics and it has helped raise their political awareness and developed and trained a section of revolutionaries among them where they are changing the world and themselves in the process; 1500 more have requested this; help make this happen and DONATE. We need $15,000 to cover the costs for this."

What was striking was the demographics of who stopped. Some Black people stopped. Hardly any white people stopped. One young Black secretary told us she has been a supporter of the Innocence Project. Another Black woman who was just passing by told us her brother is in jail and she wants to get a copy of BAsics to him. Looking it over, she said to us: "It seems this is what he needs." A Black man, a truck driver and father of three who lives in Harlem, said he is going to support this effort and "work with you revolutionaries who are doing a mighty thing here." This struck a nerve and when people did take the time to undo their earphones connected to their i-pods and took in what was asked, it made a difference and they got that they were making a difference.

Interestingly, one young white guy who identified with the Occupy Wall Street movement and is a student at a college in the area donated $10. He knew and applauded that there was a beginning cross-over of sections of people coming from different places to fight against the system. He knew about stopping stop and frisk in New York.

The team that went to the museum felt it an important place to be—really part of the mandate of the BA Everywhere campaign, to get BA's works and vision to every corner of society. But there were not the lines of people we expected to be there and it was difficult to get out our fliers and get people to stop. We stopped often to sum up and readjust our agitation, etc.

One holiday gift pack was sold to someone who knew about Revolution Books and knew of Bob Avakian. Another was sold to a couple coming out of the museum who stopped to read our display, "Want the alternative to capitalism? Get a copy of BAsics!" They were walking away, but when they heard a seller talk about BA's new synthesis of revolution and communism, a vision of a world without exploitation and oppression, they came back. The wife looked at the husband and said something like "I know you want to contribute to this" or something like that! They wouldn't take a copy of BAsics but donated the full $20 for prisoner books.

The team is summing up more and plans to go back to the museum. There are times when one can go to the museum for free and people line up for tickets. The mural exhibit by the famous artist is moving and vibrant; the commentary doesn't do it justice. The team felt that we didn't reach all the people we could have and plan to go again.

Another team focused on a major crossroads in the large Black community neighborhood where we met the usual mix of students, professionals, travelers and residents. We had an anchor location at one spot and sent another team to another key intersection a few blocks away where we had some loud and effective agitation on the subject of mass incarceration. People are keenly aware of this, many know about and support the actions to STOP "Stop and Frisk." In about two hours at the second location, five holiday gift sets were sold as well as one individual sale. Back at the anchor location, which is a strategic but less busy spot, we sold five gift sets. Ten of the 11 people buying books paid for one to go to a prisoner as well. Overall we collected $333 on the day; $223 of this was in straight donations and gift set proceeds.

We spoke to people more on the movement for revolution and how prisoners by getting connected to BA are changing themselves and becoming emancipators of humanity. We talked to dozens of people with friends, relatives, loved ones locked away and others involved with various organizations that reach out to incarcerated people. A woman driving by stopped, was honking her horn to get our attention, and said "I've seen you guys here on the corner every Saturday, I want to find out more about you. I'll stop around the corner." (Cars behind her were honking.) When the seller caught up with the car around the corner, the driver already had her $20 out for a holiday gift pack. The seller asked her to park and come out and talk next time! Another seller spoke to a corrections officer who donated several dollars to get the book to prisoners. A postal worker bought a holiday gift pack. There were some people who have seen the revolutionaries on the corner for years who have started to get a sense of what this revolution is all about, having heard about the dialogs between Carl Dix and Cornel West, the STOP "Stop and Frisk" actions, the April 11 event on BAsics. Almost all these people gave some kind of donation. Other people said, "You'll be here next week, won't you? I'll have money then." A couple of people we know in the hood came out to greet us as we got ready to leave for the evening.

On Sunday at a church in the Black community, we sold two copies of BAsics that included one gift pack to a prisoner ($30). In addition we collected $57 in donations. Quite a few of these were $5 donations from people who had seen our flier either last week or earlier in the morning. We impressed people with the $500 dollars in combined sales and donations in Harlem over the "Black Friday" weekend. One woman laughed out loud, pleased with the fact that we had gone right in the face of the ugly consumerism with this and managed to raise this much money for such a cause. She was not a churchgoer but a passerby and did not think highly of church or churchgoers. She was surprised that we were reaching out to people at this church. We talked about this in relation to building the movement for revolution, people who are inspired to fight oppression out of religious convictions. We had a display with a thermometer challenging folks at this church to match the figure and she wished us luck. The woman who bought the gift pack was very animated when she learned of the movement for revolution and checked out the book's opening quotes. She bought the newspaper, the gift pack of one for herself and one for a prisoner and wants information on the STOP "Stop and Frisk" campaign.

One man, only out of prison two months, had bought the book last week after leaving church service. The same man came by today and shook my hand. He said he'd only read the first few quotes but said, "This is a very important book, I really want to thank you for what you're doing out here." He spoke of how people in prison are starved for information and many get broken. He said, "God bless you," as did a few others who gave donations.

Right now we have reports that, over the weekend, money for 85 books to prisoners was raised and 65 books were sold to individuals. We also distributed more than 5,500 flyers.

BA Everywhere Black Friday Team

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Revolution #251, November 27, 2011

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Readers Correspond on the Occupy Movement

The following are correspondences we received from several readers:

Occupy Cleveland, which has occupied a portion of Public Square in downtown, got word of an eviction on the west side of the city, so about a dozen tents went up at Beth Sommerer's house. Beth with two young children was due to be evicted from her home. At the last moment, she made a plea to the protesters of Occupy Cleveland. Soon afterward, Occupy Cleveland pitched about 12 in the yard, vowing not to move unless she was allowed to stay in her home. On November 14, a local court gave in and gave a 30-day stay on the eviction order. The Occupy group said they were taking their message of corporate greed and income inequality into neighborhoods to stop evictions and foreclosures. One Occupier said, "There are so many who get foreclosure notices and they lose hope. We are telling them they don't need to lose hope." Another battle to reoccupy a house that a Black woman was evicted from is planned by Occupy Cleveland and Occupy the Hood Cleveland.

On Saturday, November 12, 85 youth and students marched through downtown Cleveland, chanting "We are the 99%," stopping at all the major banks, exposing what they do, doing street theater to expose the banks and then putting an "eviction" sign on each bank door.


I have been watching news coverage of Occupy Portland.

Protesters marched toward a major bridge to stop traffic and as police blocked their way some protesters broke through. As they were being arrested the march took a pedestrian bridge and made it to the Wells Fargo bank. Ten protesters made it inside. The police moved in and started arresting them as protesters outside chanted "Let them go" and "Shut it down." Wells Fargo had to lock their doors.

Marchers headed to other banks and found Chase bank locked. As cheers went up an American flag was taken down and raised upside down.

Mainstream media were comparing marchers' tactics to the civil rights movement taking over lunch counters and the movements of the '60s.

Right now the march is breaking into sections heading to banks in other parts of the city.


They even came down on the little encampment that was in Dallas, and that was after the city told protesters they could stay! And, for the most part, it was kept out of the news. I only heard about it from 90.1, KERA, the public radio station. It happened on Tuesday or Wednesday. I heard from a friend it was happening on Tuesday, but the radio station said Wednesday. The police raided many of the Occupiers in many cities all at the same time. What a coincidence?!?!

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Revolution #251, November 27, 2011

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From A World to Win News Service

Egypt: Still out of control

Revolution Editors' Note: We thought this article on developments in Egypt would be of interest to our readers. For background on the uprising at the beginning of this year that led to the ousting of longtime U.S.-backed strongman Hosni Mubarak, see coverage at And we encourage readers to read the February 11 statement by Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA: "EGYPT 2011: MILLIONS HAVE HEROICALLY STOOD UP... THE FUTURE REMAINS TO BE WRITTEN."

November 22, 2011. A World to Win News Service. By Samuel Albert. Once again events in Egypt have taken everyone by surprise, even the actors. Through a conjunction of favorable circumstances and especially through their courage and daring, the youth who were at the core of the movement that overthrew Hosni Mubarak have regained the initiative and struck back at efforts to continue the old regime in a new form.

Many people are talking about "Tahrir reloaded." They called last Saturday, when the youth first successfully resisted police attempts to clear them out of Cairo's main square, "day 19," a return to the 18-day revolt that began last January 25. But that Tahrir moment, the days when there was a consensus throughout Egyptian society—that Mubarak was finished—will not come again. The armed forces, which dumped Mubarak with U.S. assent, have been waging a war on the youth and made themselves that movement's main target despite initial illusions that the military might be a positive force or at least neutral. When protesters now revive the old chant, "The people want the fall of the regime," and explicitly add the name of Field Marshal Tantawi, the head of the Supreme Armed Forces Council (SCAF) that took over from Mubarak, it is in much more difficult circumstances, facing even more vicious battles at the beginning of the year, and with a much more divided population. And it is even more daring.

In retrospect, it may be that the last few months, when the movement fell back amid serious difficulties, should be considered as one of intense calm in the midst of a continuing revolutionary crisis rather than an ebbing of the revolutionary situation. While the revolt had lost the initiative, it is clear that a great many people remained deeply dissatisfied and were in fact becoming increasingly angry and desperate. When they saw a chance to act decisively, they took it.

That chance occurred in connection with a mass rally called by the Muslim Brotherhood meant to pressure the military regime to its own advantage. The Islamists are reactionaries seeking to use religion and religious rule to make acceptable the relations of exploitation and oppression that have made life unbearable for so many Egyptians. But their contradictions with the military regime created room for something entirely different, an ultimately successful attempt to "replay Tahrir" in the sense of a new occupation intended to bring down the new/old regime.

The November 18 rally started out with a different scene than witnessed in Cairo's Tahrir Square back in January and February, even if it was the biggest protest since then. That earlier Tahrir was marked by an almost utopian spirit of mutual aid, collective self-reliance and equality between ethnic groups, religions and even, to some extent, men and women. Photos show men, women and children present, and at the hours of Muslim prayers, some people kneeling in devotion and others standing up, all mixed together, with many people not praying. The Brotherhood, somewhat tolerated as well as sometimes repressed under Mubarak, boycotted the revolt in the crucial first few days. When the Brotherhood did come, their presence didn't change the movement's character.

In contrast, when the call to prayer came on Friday afternoon, November 18, hardly a head was left raised. There were some distinctions between the crowds brought out by the Muslim Brotherhood (especially strong among the middle classes, including doctors, lawyers, engineers and journalists) and the various Salafist groups (known for their support from the young urban poor), although these differences in class base are very approximate and often contradictory. There were a variety of views on whether the new government should be civil in form but Islamic-based, or one on the Saudi Arabian model (seen as a rich and modern country where Sunni fundamentalism rules supreme, as opposed to poor and backward Afghanistan or Shia Iran isolated by the West). But there seems to have been a shared sense that Islam should be considered the only source of morality and political legitimacy.

Among the youth groups and leftist parties that attended, most tried to literally keep a distance from the Islamist groups (each organized around its own podium and preachers) and maintain a distinct political identity focused on opposition to military trials and political repression, which the Islamists seldom talk about. There was debate about whether or not to try and occupy Tahrir Square. In the early evening, the Muslim Brotherhood and the main Salafist groups declared the event over and left. The April 6 Youth Organization, the best-known secular youth group, announced that instead of attempting to stay in the square they were calling for another demonstration the following Friday (the only day most people have off from work).

A previous attempt to "replay Tahrir" in July failed to gather enough momentum to prevent a police attack that cleared the square and then survive the month-long break for Ramadan in August. The SCAF had been forced to permit marches and rallies in Tahrir and elsewhere, but occupation, which has come to represent a challenge to the legitimacy of the prevailing regime, had not been permitted.

However, some youth, a few hundred according to reports, decided to stay overnight in Tahrir anyway. The next morning they were attacked by the Central Security Forces, Mubarak's well-trained and organized black-clad riot police. Twice that day, in the morning and especially the early evening, the police almost succeeded in driving them out, but thousands of youth began to pour in from around the city. At first they came individually and in small groups. Later, columns marched in from assembly points at other downtown squares and even more distant neighbourhoods, both middle class and poor. The fighting was intense; at least two people were killed. The police used tear gas, clubs, electric prods, shotguns firing rubber bullets and birdshot, and standard bullets. Soldiers on the rooftops of the surrounding tall buildings threw down tear gas canisters and other deadly objects. The underground station—one of the city's two main junctions—was closed to cut off new arrivals. Mohamed ElBaradei, the Nobel Prize-winning ex-International Atomic Energy Agency head who is the country's most prominent candidate for the as yet unscheduled presidential elections, came to the square. Some Islamists, particularly youth, came back.

Other demonstrations broke out in at least seven other cities. In Suez, where people had burned down the police station and other official buildings in the first days of the January revolt, the new police headquarters was assaulted. Along with Alexandria, there were also fierce protests in several smaller cities along the upper Nile.

Tahrir remained occupied Saturday night. The police attacked even more ferociously the next day, killing at least 11 more people. Hospitals reported about 1,800 injured Saturday and Sunday. Two well-known groups of football [soccer] fans ("ultras") came to reinforce the battle against the police, who have always treated them brutally. Military policemen and officers also took part in attacking people, according to some reports. But on Sunday and Monday, at times the protesters were able to take the offensive. They repeatedly marched on the Ministry of the Interior, one of the most important targets left unscathed after last January and February. Obviously they felt they had unfinished business.

Over the past months, the armed forces' increasing use of naked violence, sometimes directly by soldiers as well as police, has certainly scared many people, but it has also made many conclude that the military's rule is the problem, not the solution—that an attempt to "replay Tahrir," this time against the army, is the only way out of a deteriorating situation.

Yet it was the Muslim Brotherhood and not the youth organizations and certainly none of the traditional "left" parties that issued the call for a "Million Man March" in Tahrir Square November 18. (As it turned out, there were closer to 50,000.) It was billed as "The Day of One Demand"—that the military give up power. This might seem surprising, since the military and Islamists have been acting as "one hand" in trying to restore stability and steer people off the streets and into the polling booths for the scheduled November 28 parliamentary elections that the Islamists expect will hand them a central role in a new civilian government.

The Muslim Brotherhood's apparent conflict with the army was precipitated when a civilian minister, answerable, like the whole government, to the generals, proposed to a meeting of the major political parties that the armed forces be allowed to dictate certain constitutional principles now, choose most of the members of the panel to write a new constitution after parliament is elected, and permanently remain above civilian interference or even budgetary supervision. The Brotherhood's electoral arm, the Freedom and Justice Party, declared this a threat to the emergence of "democracy" in Egypt. Certainly a great many people saw these measures as a crude attempt to perpetuate military rule under a parliamentary fig leaf.

At the same time, however, as the Brotherhood's secular critics point out, the proposal contained articles and procedures that might make it harder to declare Egypt an Islamic republic, restrict the Islamist parties' options and of course keep them under military supervision. While the U.S. and its Egyptian flunkies are unanimous in their belief that parliamentary elections are the only way to restore the legitimacy of state institutions, and while most observers think that an Islamist-dominated parliament is the most probable result, there may very well be contention between various forces among the Islamists and the generals.

There is another factor likely at work, although no proof has been uncovered: the U.S. During the period when the Brotherhood was negotiating with the military as to whether or not to call off the threatened November 18 demonstration and was also officially in contact with U.S. State Department representatives, American government officials began to express unhappiness with the Egyptian military's efforts to formally limit the powers of a future civilian government. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, "If, over time, the most powerful political forces in Egypt remain a handful of unelected officials, they will have planted the seeds for future unrest, and Egypt will have missed a historic opportunity." (New York Times, November 16) In other words, while the U.S. might agree with the generals' project in the abstract, its officials fear that continuing brazen military rule could undermine U.S. interests, which require a government whose stability depends not just on violence but also on a sufficient degree of legitimacy in the eyes of the people.

This doesn't mean that the U.S. plans to try to do without the nearly million-man Egyptian armed forces. They are the recipient of $1.3 billion a year in direct American funding, and the U.S. has carefully cultivated its officer corps for decades. But the Egyptian military has its own political and economic interests, including a gigantic network of enterprises under its command. Roughly 40 percent of the country's economy is estimated to be controlled by a network of military and other state-owned enterprises and private companies run by retired officers.

The imperialist finance system, speaking through the IMF, has often complained that foreign investment would be better served by more "private"-sector opportunities. The U.S. once encouraged Hosni Mubarak's son and appointed successor, Gamal, because he sought to expand, at the military's expense, the "private" capital sector now championed by civilian presidential candidates such as ElBaradei. (Actually, in an economy organized according to the laws of capitalism, both state-owned and "private" capital are effectively private in terms of putting narrow, particular interests above the general interests of society.) The U.S. and the Egyptian military can't do without one another, but that doesn't mean that their interests are identical.

As for the U.S. and the Islamists, the American government's attitude seems to be "maybe." No one can say exactly where an Islamist government might lead, and U.S. officials are certainly aware of potential problems with an Islamic government bordering Israel. But the U.S., which kept Mubarak in power for three decades and clung to him almost to the end, does not have a lot of options. If Egypt slipped out of American domination, that would be a disaster for U.S. interests in the region and the world.

The basic question being fought over in the squares and streets is who will govern Egypt: Islamists, generals or those who declare themselves loyal to "human rights; and in what form, through a military junta, a parliament and civilian president, or an emir (religious political leader). These are very important questions with deep, long-term implications. But who governs and the form of governance doesn't settle the question of the content of rule—the class or classes that hold political power, and consequently the way society is organized economically and politically, for what purpose, and what ideology is promoted.

It is vital to understand that the common demand for an end to military rule covers opposing possible outcomes representing mutually antagonistic interests. The question is whether open military rule comes to an end in a way that encourages or discourages people's struggles to go further.

Even if the entire military-appointed government of the Prime Minister Essam Sharaf, a former Mubarak figure, were replaced in an effort to appease the revolt, it's likely that the military would still call the shots. Under any circumstances, no matter which civilian might become prime minister and eventually president, the armed forces would have the ultimate say, as well as control of powerful economic, social and political levers. After all, on what armed power would any other government rest?

This situation would not be changed by the resignation of the minister who suggested that the new constitution formally sanction continued military control, as the Muslim Brotherhood and other parties demanded, or even the resignation of all the ministers, an idea considered so extreme that these parties did not dare demand it Monday morning, but became a real possibility by Monday night. The SCAF may seek to "replay Tahrir" in its own way by jettisoning whoever necessary to keep from being overthrown.

ElBaradei is now proposing the replacement of the SCAF-appointed government with a government of national unity composed of all the major political parties, including the Islamists and people like himself. (According to Al Ahram, the April 6 Youth organization has endorsed this proposal.) It is also noteworthy that the SCAF's recent decision to accept IMF funds (and therefore decisions) sparked little controversy among these parties. However real their differences, they are all ultimately amenable to the global, imperialist-dominated economic system and power relations.

As long as the army is not dismantled by revolutionary force, it will continue to be the backbone and pillar of any regime. The Islamists may have their own interests and agenda, but they definitely plan on ruling with the army, not against it. (In another act of blatant hypocrisy, when their maneuver to use the streets to their advantage backfired, they called for an end to all street demonstrations. A prominent Brotherhood leader who came to Tahrir with a handful of supporters on November 21 was booed out of the square.)

To many people, the best-case outcome would be a government chosen by majority rule through elections. This is especially understandable in a country that has never known anything but monarchy and a military rule where the occasional opposition candidates not in the regime's pay often ended up in jail or exile. But even with real elections, parliamentary democracy is perfectly compatible with and often the best form for the dictatorship of the exploiting classes. The formal equality of citizens before the law masks and gives full play to the enormous inequalities that characterize Egypt at least as much as any other country.

Further, Egyptian experience of the last nine months is rich in examples of how a revolt unsanctioned by elections can draw ordinary people into political life and allow them to change basic things through their actions, and how the experience (and promise) of elections can strip them of their conscious, active role. It has also highlighted the limitations of a spontaneous revolt that doesn't seek state power.

The Muslim Brotherhood now argues that the latest clashes were encouraged by provocateurs to force the cancellation of the imminent elections. But maybe one factor in the current upsurge is that many people have already decided that they can't expect anything good from this electoral process, even if they haven't lost hope in parliamentary democracy in the abstract.

A few of the revolt's intellectual participants do question parliamentary democracy as a viable or even desirable alternative to the military. Some "moderate" Islamist arguments in favor of the so-called supremacy of elections are instructive in this regard. They reason that since the majority of Egyptians are practicing Muslims, then it is only right for the country to become an Islamic state. This might be considered just more hypocritical opportunism—after all, these forces intend to do everything in their power to set the terms of debate in the most manipulative and coercive manner and have never relied solely on persuasion—but there is a real, inescapable point here: the majority can be fooled, and certainly what the majority might think at any given moment doesn't necessarily correspond to the fundamental interests of the vast majority of people. Those who fought to overthrow Mubarak and have continued the revolt have not always had the visible broad support they wanted.

The fact is that in Egypt, not only would parliamentary democracy be a form of the dictatorship of the exploiting classes in which the interests and deepest desires of the people do not bear any weight in basic decisions, but it would be doubly empty because life in Egypt is ultimately determined by the interests and decisions of the imperialists, the powers whose twin instruments of subjugation are their military and the global market.

To take just one example: although the Nile valley and delta where most Egyptians live is among the world's most fertile land, imported wheat and other foodstuffs are cheaper than domestic production and the world market has crushed Egypt's agriculture. Consequently, the country has become the world's biggest wheat importer (American "aid" ensures that it is bought from the U.S.). To pay for this central component of people's diet, the country must depend on revenues from the Suez Canal (without which the military and bureaucracy would never have become so swollen), the export of gas (Egypt sends gas to Israel while Egyptians cook with fires or use inconvenient and dangerous propane tanks), tourism (which requires a docile population) and especially the export of people (the money sent home by Egyptians forced to work abroad). Dependence on these sectors is an obstacle to an all-around development of the economy, including employment. There are so many people hungry for work in the Nile Delta that China and Iran, in addition to the Western powers, have set up factories there to exploit cheap Egyptian labor.

Changing the country's subordinated development and its disastrous effects on every aspect of the lives of the people, including their day-to-day existence and their culture and thinking—not to mention getting rid of all the other exploitative and oppressive relations in Egyptian life—cannot conceivably happen without a thoroughgoing revolution, the forcible overthrow of the power of the exploiting classes and the establishment of a whole new kind of regime led by a party that has the goal and a plan for freeing Egypt as part of ending exploitation and oppression on a world scale.

Making a revolution in any country, including Egypt, is unthinkable unless a section of the people led by such a party can successfully navigate through a complex mix of favorable and unfavorable factors. But the current complexity of the Egyptian situation contains positive factors that are rare in the history of any country. The people's enemies have not been able to resolve a political crisis that has festered since January and now become acute. So far they have not been able to restore the legitimacy of their institutions of domination or establish new ones. If they have vacillated in choosing a course of action, it is because any choice they make entails the risk of inflaming this crisis further. For instance, beating and shooting demonstrators has been anything but a solution for them, but stopping that might allow the people's anger to boil over. Serious compromises to the people's struggle might give the rebels a taste of victory that leaves them hungry for more, now or at some later point, especially if these concessions fail to fulfil their expectations.

The persistence of youth and others—despite a difficult period in which there has been more passivity than street action, especially among the less well-off sections of the people—has proved to be a mood creating factor throughout society. It is true that this "Internet elite," as an Egyptian politician sneeringly labeled them, has not always been able to rouse the broader masses. Yet they have been a major element in preventing the military and Islamist forces from consolidating their hold and keeping alive the possibility that broader masses could once again intervene in determining the country's future, as they did during those 18 days in January and February.

As of now, a wide variety of youth, not only "the Internet elite" but also working class students and young men and boys of the lower classes in general, have become uncontrollable. They are actively supported by many thousands of other men and some women. In fact, they have won enough sympathy and support that millions may consider them more in touch with their interests and even more legitimate than the ruling regime. Their courage in the face of repression is such that many have adopted the habit of writing the phone number of their next of kin on their arm in case they are found dead or unconscious—fear doesn't stop them. The solidarity is such that amid the tear gas people have formed long lines to donate blood at two mobile stations set up in Tahrir Square.

The factors that brought about that first Tahrir moment—the inability of the ruling classes to rule in the old way and the willingness of a large section of the people to risk death rather than continue living in the old way—remain unresolved and continue to interact.

A World to Win News Service is put out by A World to Win magazine (, a political and theoretical review inspired by the formation of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement, the embryonic center of the world's Marxist-Leninist-Maoist parties and organizations.

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Revolution #251, November 27, 2011

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RW #592, February 10, 1991

Communism: Imagine...In Living Color

by Bob Avakian

Not long ago I received a bunch of video tapes, and one of them included the TV show "In Living Color." Besides finding this show interesting in general, I kept running the tape back to the theme song, a rap by Heavy D and the Boyz. I couldn't help it--some of the lines in this rap were really getting at something. Check it out:

And how would ya feel
knowing prejudice was obsolete
and all mankind
danced to the exact beat
and at night it was safe
to walk down the street?....
Everybody here is equally kind.
What's mine is yours,
and what's yours is mine.

I'm pretty sure Heavy D didn't think of it exactly this way, but the fact is that these lines have much to do with the answer to that big question: What is communism--what will communist society be like? A lot of what it will be like has a lot to do with things talked about in those lines from "In Living Color."

And this got me to thinking back to another song: "Imagine," which was written and recorded by John Lennon, the former Beatle who was assassinated at the beginning of the '80s. I was never really into the Beatles or John Lennon, but when this John Lennon song "Imagine" came out, about 20 years ago, a friend of mine who knew I was a communist told me: you ought to check out this song "Imagine"--it's John Lennon's attempt to give his vision of a communist world. I had my doubts, but when I looked into it I had to admit that there was something to this. And reading over the words of this song today, it still strikes me that way:

Imagine there's no heaven.
It's easy if you try.
No hell below us,
above us only sky.
Imagine all the people,
living for today.

Ah, imagine there's no countries.
It isn't hard to do.
Nothing to kill or die for
and no religion too.
Imagine all the people,
living life in peace.

You, you may say I'm a dreamer.
But I'm not the only one.
I hope some day you'll join us
and the world will be as one.

Imagine no possessions.
I wonder if you can.
No need for greed or hunger
a brotherhood of man.
Imagine all the people, sharing all the world.

You may say I'm a dreamer.
But I'm not the only one.
I hope some day you'll join us.
And the world will live as one.

Now, we should be clear: John Lennon was not a Maoist--he no doubt read some Marx, and (pardon the pun) some Lenin and Mao, but he was not a revolutionary communist. At most he was what we would call a "utopian socialist"--someone who did not really understand, or agree with, the need to bring communism into the world through revolution--someone who could only "imagine" and "dream" of a world where private ownership of wealth ("possessions") and the exploitation of the masses in the world by a greedy handful would no longer exist and people would no longer be divided into different nations warring with each other. Still, even though he was not a revolutionary communist, there is a lot we can share with his "imaginings" and "dreaming" in this song. In fact, we can carry this further and get a sense of a more clear and more full picture of what communist society will really be like by doing some "imagining" of our own:

Imagine people are not divided into different classes--into rich and poor, or those who are educated and those who are denied an education.

Imagine nobody slaves for anybody else but everybody works in cooperation to contribute the most they can to society, and everybody gets back from society what they need to live a decent life. Imagine further that nobody is stuck doing one job all the time but everybody learns to do all different kinds of things. Imagine: everybody spends part of their time doing work (of different kinds), part of their time in recreation, art, entertainment and relaxation, part of their time thinking and discussing and debating about questions of society and the world, part of their time helping to take care of the administration of society.

Imagine if education really taught people about the true history of the world and its people and really helped people learn about how nature and society actually work and how people can interact with nature and with each other in the interests of humanity as a whole, not just for the present but for future generations. Imagine if education and work were both productive and creative and helped people develop in an all-around way, physically as well as mentally.

Imagine if art and culture were not something used to dull and degrade the people but instead something that uplifted them, fired their imaginations, helped them to see to further horizons and to see old things in new ways, and at the same time inspired them to act to change the world in the interests of the people. Imagine if this sphere of art and culture were not restricted to a small number of professionals but the masses of people took part in creating as well as appreciating art and culture.

Imagine if there were no countries--no borders and border guards. Imagine if people did not live just in one area or part of the world their whole lives but were able to live in many different parts of the world during their lifetime.

Imagine if you lived in a world where there were no racist assaults, or racist insults. A world that was not divided into different nations, with some lording it over the others. A world without racism or anything like that--no ridiculous notions of one group of people being superior to another--a world where people, for the first time, really saw themselves and acted as part of the world community of human beings.

Imagine if women no less than men could walk anywhere they wanted, at any time, without any fear of being attacked. Imagine a world where such things as sexual abuse, rape and everything like that were unknown. A world where the words "men" and "women" did not raise any ridiculous notions of one being strong and the other weak, one made to run things and the other made merely to support him. A world without domination, discrimination, inequality, oppression, and degradation for women at the hands of men and a male-supremacist society. A world where these things no longer existed.

Imagine a situation where, when people get sick, those responsible for health care really do treat them with caring and respect. A world where science and technology are developed and applied according to the principle of serving the people--and where the people, collectively and cooperatively, take responsibility for science and technology, along with everything else in society.

Imagine a world without hunger. Without superstition. Without war, without armies and weapons that people use against other people. A world where the fate of humanity was not in the grasp of a handful of reactionary and murderous oppressors but was in the hands of the world's people, striving and struggling with each other to serve the highest interests of humanity.

Yes, imagine! But the most important and most powerful thing is not that we can imagine a world like this. The most powerful, the most liberating thing is that a world like this can actually be brought into being.

Marxism-Leninism-Maoism makes it possible for us to go beyond just imagining, dreaming and hoping for a better world, someday--it shows the road to this future and the means and methods of fighting for it. It shows that the first step in moving toward this future is for the masses to rise up and overthrow the system of imperialism that rules over us--to smash the armed power of the imperialists and replace it with the revolutionary power of the masses, the dictatorship of the proletariat. This is already a great change, and it opens the door to even greater changes.

The next great step is for the masses to continue carrying forward the revolution under this proletarian dictatorship, to use their power to radically change the relations between people in every part of society and to revolutionize people's way of thinking, breaking free of "tradition's chains" and moving fully into the future of humanity.

We who are alive today will not see the final victory of communism worldwide. Yet we can make a big contribution toward that goal, and we will certainly see big changes in the world. Especially the youth may well live to see--in fact they must play a great part in helping to bring about--new great leaps forward, including the overthrow of imperialism and the seizure of power by our people, the proletariat and oppressed people, in different parts of the world. And this could include right in the "belly of the beast"--in what is now that foul monstrosity calling itself the U.S. of A.

It is true that we face many powerful obstacles and real difficulties in reaching our goal. But we also have the all-important weapon in dealing with these obstacles and difficulties--we have the ideology of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism. And because we have Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, we have the crucial lessons from the previous experience of our class --the great achievements as well as mistakes and setbacks--to build on and learn from in carrying out and carrying forward this great world-emancipating revolution.

When this revolution has been carried through, worldwide, humanity will enter the era of communism, and what today we can only imagine will then become reality in living color.

A footnote: There is something rather rare in John Lennon's "Imagine." Something that does show that he was dreaming not just of a different world but of a radically changed world. That something is that Lennon openly "imagines" a world without religious superstition. He even starts the song with this: "Imagine there's no heaven. It's easy if you try. No hell below us, above us only sky." And then later he comes back to this: "Nothing to kill or die for and no religion too."

This is definitely something important --something that should be united with--and something that we, with the outlook of Marxism- Leninism-Maoism, can get into even more deeply. It's something I have written and spoken about before, and something we have to keep coming back to--because without breaking off the shackles of religion, and all superstition, it is not possible to even fully imagine, let alone actually bring about, a really radically changed world, with radically changed people. This will be the subject of my next article in this series.

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Revolution #251, November 27, 2011

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Three Prisoners from Hunger Strike Die—Prison Officials Withhold Information

The Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity (PHSS) website reported on November 17 that in the month after the second phase of the California prisoner hunger strike that ended on September 22, three prisoners who had been on strike committed suicide. Johnny Owens Vick and another prisoner were both confined in the Pelican Bay Security Housing Unit (SHU). Hozel Alanzo Blanchard was confined in the Calipatria Administrative Segregation Unit (ASU). PHSS said:

“According to reports from prisoners who were housed in surrounding cells and who witnessed the deaths, guards did not come to the assistance of one of the prisoners at Pelican Bay or to Blanchard, and in the case of the Pelican Bay prisoner (whose name is being withheld for the moment), apparently guards deliberately ignored his cries for help for several hours before finally going to his cell, at which point he was already dead. ‘It is completely despicable that prison officials would willfully allow someone to take their own life,’ said Dorsey Nunn, Executive Director of Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, ‘These guys were calling for help, their fellow prisoners were calling for help, and guards literally stood by and watched it happen.’”

The courageous prisoner hunger strike, which at one time involved at least 12,000 prisoners in at least 13 state prisons, was organized around five core demands relating to ending the practices of group punishment, long-term solitary confinement, and gang validation and debriefing.

Family members have been having a difficult time getting information about the circumstances of these deaths and say that their loved ones, as well as many other prisoners who participated in the hunger strike, were being severely retaliated against with disciplinary actions and threats.

A letter from Yolanda Moore printed in the San Francisco Bay View newspaper said:

“I recently read a news article regarding ‘Prisoner Hunger Strike Now in 11th Day’ dated 10/9/2011. It is with a heavy heart that I would like to inform you of the passing of Mr. Hozel Blanchard. Hozel is the father of my 23 year old daughter Morgan Blanchard. He was a native of Oakland, Ca. Thursday November 10, 2011 I was notified via a brief telephone call that my daughter's father Mr. Hozel Blanchard had died while incarcerated at Calipatria State Prison. We received a phone call advising us of his passing, but no information letting us know what happened. Hozel had explained to us in his letters that he was a part of the hunger strike, and his reasons for doing such was because of false accusations, resulting in two recent additional charges that were recently filed against him. Hozel has been in prison for the past seventeen years. We have important information about the circumstances and events leading up to his death in letters he wrote. This information needs to be shared. Hozel feared for his life and made sure that he got word to us that he no longer felt safe. He wrote a letter advising us that he had petition[ed] the California Supreme Court; not once, but twice asking for an emergency appeal. He advised us of the case numbers and dates. He basically explained to us that his life was in jeopardy and he feared for his life. The family of Mr. Hozel Blanchard would like your assistance in finding out what happened to him, and to make sure that his story is told, and he did not die in vain. My family is devastated and need to know what happened to him under these inhumane circumstances...”

SF Bay View also printed a letter from prison rights activist Kendra Castaneda about the death of Blanchard, which said:

“I have personally received letters from the men at Calipatria ASU unit that was around this man. The prison is saying he died on 11/9/11 but the men are saying he died on 11/8/11. The men explain how inmate Blanchard who was housed in a single cell #159 in the ASU unit at Calipatria State Prison suicide was a 'cover up' by the prison guards. The cell mates surrounding a few cells down from #159 say they witnessed the correctional officers never calling for help, never alarming the 'help' button they have in the segregation units and leaving inmate Blanchard’s cell as if nothing was happening, they also explain to me that the inmates witnessed the correctional officers telling the SGT. that they called for help but no one came which the men say is a lie. If anyone wants to get the full story, we just gotta listen to the men who watched what happened. Because inmate Blanchard was in a single cell and the men are extremely isolated there, the men say it is easy to cover up a death as if 'nothing happened'. The men also state since the hunger strike and how they have been trying to get their voices heard from their extreme inhumane conditions the officers have been walking around 'taunting them' 'threatening them' as if they will kill them because the officers are blaming the inmates for 'messing everything up' by getting their voices heard that they need help. There has been more than one inmate (besides the previous letters from Blanchard to his family) that explain this and how inmates are fearing for their lives. and how its gotten so worse within that segregation unit to where now the inmates say that death was a 'cover up'.”

Prisoners in California’s SHUs and other forms of solitary confinement have a much higher rate of suicide than those in general population. As Laura Magnani, Regional Director of the American Friends Service Committee, said, “It is a testament to the dire conditions under which prisoners live in solitary confinement that three people would commit suicide in the last month.”

These deaths need to be understood in the context of the very serious retaliation prison officials are taking against those who participated in the strike—as well as the overall brutally inhumane and torturous conditions these prisoners are subjected to every day.


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Revolution #251, November 27, 2011

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From A World to Win News Service

Report from Egypt:
A Complex and Difficult Situation—for Both the People and Their Enemies

Note from Revolution: We received this article from A World to Win News Service before the weekend of November 19-20, when mass protests in Cairo's Tahrir Square against Egypt's military regime were violently attacked by troops and police. We thought our readers would be interested in the analysis in the article on the overall situation in Egypt. We also encourage readers to read a statement by Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, issued on February 11: "EGYPT 2011: MILLIONS HAVE HEROICALLY STOOD UP... THE FUTURE REMAINS TO BE WRITTEN."

November 14, 2011. A World to Win News Service, by Samuel Albert, Cairo. The euphoria has evaporated. While today's raucous political climate is very different than the years before Hosni Mubarak's ouster when an enforced silence and stillness prevailed, it has also changed markedly since the period immediately preceding and following his February 11 forced resignation. Now, among the millions who participated in or supported that revolt, and more broadly, there is a feeling that the situation is becoming increasingly complex, unsettled and dangerous. Marches, strikes, sit-ins and other protests happen every day, but many ordinary people are becoming more passive. There is a chill in the air that comes from more than the approaching winter.

This discouragement is largely the product of the unfolding of events since then, both what has happened and what has not. While many activists express the hope that the political awakening of the Egyptian people may lead to basic social change some time in the future, right now their foremost concern is that the situation may become more difficult and even disastrous, both in terms of political repression and a closing of minds among a large part of the people.

No one chants "The people and the army are one hand" any more, as they did when the army's refusal to fire on protesters helped make Mubarak's dismissal possible. The illusion that the army would be at least neutral toward basic change began to fade after only a few months, even if people still try to cling to it. Driven by distinct class interests and ideologies, the highly heterogeneous social forces whose convergence brought down Mubarak are now pulling the country in different directions. Everyone knows that the army is going to play a key role, even if the generals, their American paymasters and the unpredictable unfolding of events have not decided exactly what that role will be.

The armed forces in Egypt have a monopoly on organized violence, as they do in every state, and economic holdings unparalleled in most other countries, along with the support of the U.S. and other imperialist powers. Here they also benefit from whatever legitimacy the state organs still hold in the eyes of the people. Not a few people would like to see a difference between the Mubarak-era generals in the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) and the army as an institution they consider patriotic. This is because of its leadership of the 1952 revolution that finally expelled the British occupiers and its role in defending the country against subsequent invasions by Britain, France and Israel.

Many hoped that Mubarak's downfall would be followed by the adoption of a new constitution that would set the framework for bringing about some sort of social change. But the idea that the "rule of law" could reflect anything but which classes and organizations dominate society received a hard blow in March, when the army, working with the Muslim Brotherhood, old regime forces and state-owned and other reactionary media, successfully pushed through a referendum approving the continuation of the old constitution with a few changes for the worse. Unexpectedly, the voter turnout was extremely high, and more than 70 percent of the ballots approved the proposal. This emboldened the armed forces to publicly discuss scenarios such as the promulgation of articles for a new constitution by its own decree, or its own selection of the bulk of the members of the committee to write a new constitution that would give the military the last say on all major questions and continue to shield it from civilian oversight.

The process of parliamentary elections is scheduled to begin in late November and last through January. At first the military promised it would govern for only six months. Now it says it will turn over power to a civilian president in 2013. Most people once saw the election of a parliament and its selection of a committee to write a new constitution as a possible peaceful pathway to change. Now a few have concluded that the real purpose of this process is to re-legitimize the state and disperse the flames that still flare up in the street, both aspects meant to make revolutionary change more difficult, without changing anything basic in society. But even those who still hold out hope for parliamentary democracy in a general way have decided that at this point, the only open question is whether the new parliament will be a circus of disparate forces unwilling and unable to change anything, or one dominated by Islamists seeking to move society backward.

Already, even those forces that identify with the revolt who are most focused on electoral activity are pessimistic about the outcome. The only ones who seem to be looking forward to the polling are the Islamists, above all the Muslim Brotherhood, which opposed the revolt in the beginning, and the Salafists, fundamentalists who hold that Egyptians should live more like Muslims in Mohammed's day, a society of women in burkas and men in beards and robes, though everyone would still have a mobile (cell phone).

An Increasingly Aggressive Army

For many people, hopes for something positive from the army's "hand" vanished by April, when, instead of leaving it to the police, the armed forces themselves assaulted demonstrators challenging their rule, killing two protesters. But far worse occurred on October 9, when Christians and secularists protesting the armed forces' failure to react to a wave of arson attacks on Coptic churches were themselves attacked, leaving 28 dead and hundreds of wounded and injured.

The demonstrators had marched across central Cairo to Maspero, the headquarters of the state-owned television services. Videos posted online show army armored vehicles barreling through the crowd, running over or crushing to death a dozen people. But the fighting was complicated, involving demonstrators, soldiers and a horde of unidentified civilians who charged the crowd and may have fought against soldiers too.

The difficulty in determining exactly what happened reflects the variety of forces at work. It also feeds the widespread feeling that mysterious dark forces are manipulating the situation and seizing the political initiative, a sentiment that leaves many former participants in the revolt paralyzed and fearful.

Who were the men in civilian clothing who rampaged against the demonstrators under cover of night? Some believe that they were people from nearby slums organized by Muslim fundamentalists. Ridding Egypt of its Christian minority is a pillar of their program, along with the institutionalization of the subjugation of women to men and the harsh punishments prescribed by sharia (Islamic law), such as cutting off the right hand of thieves.

Others believe that these men were members of the former state security service and the militia run by Mubarak's National Democratic Party, aiming to derail the people's movement by fomenting divisions between Muslims and Christians. It is sometimes pointed out that the leadership of the Coptic Church supported the old regime and continues to play a conservative political and social role. Some people argue that Israeli agents were also at work amid all this. While Israeli agents cannot possibly be a main factor in such events, as a few people would like to think, they are certainly present and active. (One was recently caught and expelled.)

A similar fog of confusion hovers around the September protests at the Israeli embassy after the SCAF failed to respond to a cross-border Israeli attack. Israeli soldiers, allegedly pursuing Palestinian fighters, killed six Egyptian policemen. Most people say that the protest was legitimate but the actual penetration into the embassy was a provocation meant to discredit the movement. Others believe that action, which forced the Israeli ambassador to flee the country, saved Egypt's honor. The feeling that there is no reliable information—even some people who were at these events say they aren't sure exactly who did what—is related, although not identical to, the question as to whether or not the movement should target the SCAF, instead of giving the military the benefit of a doubt.

But the armed forces government has made its attitude clear in regard to the Maspero incident in a way that sheds light much more broadly. During that protest, state television broadcasters called on "honest Egyptians" to come to Maspero to fight in defense of soldiers they said were being massacred by Christians. Actually, most of the dead were Copts; no soldiers were killed. In the following weeks the armed forces investigated the charges that it had murdered protesters and found itself innocent. There was not the slightest effort to identify the civilian assailants. While the armed forces' relations with the Coptic Church remain strained, the only named targets of the investigation so far have been secular youth who had spearheaded the demonstrations in Tahrir Square and had come to demonstrate against the repression of the Copts.

Plainly, whoever organized the assaults, the army is at the very least protecting them. Further, especially given these facts, there is no reason to simply accept the army's claim that its soldiers had not been issued live rounds and could not have done the shooting.

Two well-known young secular activists were brought in for formal interrogation. Both refused to cooperate. One was released. The other, Alaa Abd El-Fattah, a well-known blogger and leading activist previously jailed in 2009, declared that he would refuse to answer questions because the army could not impartially investigate itself, and because the military had no right to try civilians. He was accused of stealing army weapons and destroying state property. Most people who don't support the army consider the idea that he attacked and trashed an armored vehicle nothing but an action-film fantasy. Even more ominously, he was charged with the content of his blog itself, criticism of the armed forces which, the SCAF said, had fomented the violence.

The young man was remanded to prison for two weeks, pending a decision about what to do with him. Late on the night of October 31, several thousand people—mostly bloggers and their readers and others mobilized at the last minute on the Net, and thus by definition mainly youth and others from the upper middle classes—marched across Cairo to a prison to support Fattah and another blogger, Maikel Nabil, who has been on hunger strike to protest his two-year sentence for having written, "The army and the people were never one hand." The military sent Nabil to a mental hospital, but the doctors, decrying this repressive maneuver, refused to admit him. Fattah, from the cell he shared with many common prisoners, wrote a searing and widely reprinted blog about once again finding himself in Mubarak's dungeons even after the fall of Mubarak. On November 13 the military renewed his imprisonment for at least another two weeks. There was a second, smaller march led by No to Military Trials, a human rights group that is one of the organizations most active in the streets now. (

In another late October demonstration, a similar crowd, along with a small Islamist party, had marched from Tahrir Square to Maspero and back to protest the prison death of a young man serving a short sentence on minor criminal charges. The authorities claimed he poisoned himself by swallowing drugs to keep them from being discovered. The protesters, remembering similar justifications for deaths in custody under Mubarak, were inclined to believe the victim's family and a doctor at the hospital where his corpse was taken, who said that the police had forced soapy water down his throat and up his anus until it killed him. While unlike the bloggers, Essam Attah was not a political prisoner but seems to have been a victim of police repression of lower-class youth in general, these events underlined the fact that the police and armed forces are continuing and even stepping up the kind of atrocities that led people to revolt against and drive out Mubarak—and that the police and armed forces are one hand.

Military tribunals have tried about 12,000 people for political and criminal offenses since the armed forces took over. After its televised opening session, Mubarak's trial for murder and other crimes has been indefinitely postponed. The civilian courts have been discredited as utterly corrupt and part of the Mubarak "system" and are often not able to function. During a rowdy October confrontation between lawyers and judges about proposed court procedures, the magistrates pulled their pistols and began shooting into the air to clear the room. The Mubarak-appointed judges are reviled as pirates licensed to rob the poor, middle class and even the unconnected rich.

This illustrates the broader circumstances in a society where for a half-century the regime openly or effectively appointed officials in all institutions. The authorities from top to bottom are despised as repressive, arbitrary and usually corrupt. For instance, even at the University of Cairo, surprisingly not a political hotbed, there have been important struggles to bring in independent department and faculty heads. The same almost total control that made the Mubarak regime seem invincible has produced a vacuum of legitimacy and moral authority that the generals have had great difficulty filling once people lost their fear and inertia.

A Relative Ebb

Yet the recent protests have been relatively small and narrowly based compared to January and February. Back then factory workers and other poor people were the first Egyptians to confront the regime's security forces, in the city of Suez. Hundreds of thousands of people of all social classes—Muslims, Copts and non-believers alike—picked up stones and sticks to fight the police and Mubarak thugs and occupy Tahrir Square in Cairo and another public space in Alexandria, Egypt's second biggest city.

Now Cairo and Alexandria witness walkouts, occupations, street blockades and other protests by scores or hundreds of people every day, but they haven't sparked the larger-scale outpouring hoped for. The biggest actions lately have been in small cities.

In Damietta, a Nile river port city north of Cairo, tens of thousands of residents blocked traffic during the first two weeks of November, demanding the relocation of a Canadian-Egyptian fertilizer plant that is poisoning the water and killing people. The army tried and failed to end the port blockade. Police opened fire November 13, killing two demonstrators. In a concession that is not infrequent in this kind of situation, especially when faced with what are formulated as non-political issues, the government then agreed to shut the plant down, but people would not believe the authorities' promises and some stayed in the streets.

In Aswan, far to the south of Cairo on the Nile, hundreds of Nubians (a marginalized minority) marched that same day to protest the police shooting of a boatman, the third such killing in recent months. Here, too, the unrest is continuing.

Why the political movement has dwindled and even retreated overall, at least for now, despite countercurrents, is a question as complex and difficult to answer as it is important. Two reasons are obvious. One is that nine months ago there was a convergence of young bloggers and similar activists (the Facebook page of one of the main organizations had hundreds of thousands of "friends"), the urban lower middle class, workers and other urban poor, veteran leftists, a whole section of capitalists not admitted to Mubarak's inner circle, and at a certain point the U.S. and its Egyptian generals, all convinced that Mubarak must go and that his son Gamal must not be allowed to perpetuate the regime. There is no similar consensus today about the rule of the army and especially about what kind of regime should be established instead.

Another, related, reason is that developments since Mubarak's downfall have served to drive many ordinary people, especially the most downtrodden, into passivity. Whereas for a short time they believed, correctly, that their actions could change history, now they find themselves spectators to almost all the traditional left and liberal parties' obsession with the electoral process. Deliberately or not, these forces have turned their back on the conscious actions of the broadest masses.

The self-defense committees formed in poorer neighborhoods during the revolt to protect people and their homes from criminals freed and encouraged by the police seem to have become inactive. At the same time, the police have responded to the almost universal (and now freely expressed) hatred of them by refusing to deal with crime and even to organize traffic. Policemen can be seen idly chatting at the almost permanently gridlocked intersections and roundabouts that make driving a car in this city of 20 million both a privilege and a bit like owning a portable tomb. In the face of a daily life that feels increasingly chaotic and often scary, there is a widespread longing for some sort of order, security and stability. If daily life cannot fundamentally change, at least it could become less exhausting.

In this situation, the Islamists are considered likely to win far more votes than any other party, including leftists who try to attract the lower masses with platforms calling for a minimum wage and so on. With their combination of religious proselytizing and supplying basic social services the government fails to provide, such as health clinics and subsidized food on religious holidays, the Islamists are usually the only organized forces visible in poor neighborhoods. They are asserting dominance among the educated classes as well.

It must be left to other occasions to more deeply examine the variety of Islamist forces and the question of Islam, the ineffectual traditional left and the fundamental questions about society that, to the dismay of the left and liberals, the Islamists have insisted on loudly raising, such as whether the patriarchal rule of men over women that characterizes every dimension of Egyptian daily life should be given the dignity of law. For now, it is enough to say that the non-revolutionary parties that call themselves socialist or communist, and the openly pro-capitalist forces like Mohammed ElBaradei (the former International Atomic Energy Agency head seen by nearly every non-Islamic party and most secularists as the only presidential candidate who could challenge the Muslim Brotherhood and former Mubarak collaborators), all basically agree on the impossibility, at least for now, of a radical change in Egyptian society. They also agree, explicitly in the case of the Muslim Brotherhood, that there is no alternative to the kind of IMF-approved and globalization-dependent economic policies Mubarak pledged to carry out. Tellingly, although the Brotherhood is very active in Damietta, it has ignored the mass movement against the fertilizer plant.

It is ironic that many, although far from all, of the young activists who provided the spark for the January 25 revolt and are still persisting in the streets call themselves "liberals." What's meant is not exactly the European definition, believers in unfettered markets, nor an analogy to the American Democratic Party, but that the achievement of "human rights"—the political liberties so cruelly denied by the Mubarak regime—would constitute a revolution sufficient to transform Egypt. This illusion is made all the stronger by the military regime's efforts to block the establishment of the kind of parliamentary political system and formal rights that characterize most of the imperialist countries. However, even if this goal could be achieved—which is still an unanswered question—it could not offer the possibility of radical economic, political, social and ideological transformation without which daily life and Egypt's fate would remain pretty much the same, whether wrapped in "democratic" or Islamic trappings or some combination.

Contradictory Factors

This is a difficult situation for the Egyptian people, but also a very difficult one for their enemies, the Western powers that have subordinated the country's economy and politics to their interests and the native exploiters and would-be exploiters governing in junior partnership with the imperialists.

First of all, there has been the kind of political awakening among the people that comes only at special moments in history. Certainly nothing like the majority of Egypt's 80 million people, but certainly millions, have, literally, taken history into their own hands. This includes many of the dispossessed who are ordinarily forbidden, by force of custom, culture and sometimes arms, to have anything to say about who rules, how and for what. During the Mubarak years, no one dared discuss politics in public. Even friends held their conversations as far from other ears as possible. These days the clash of opinions takes place in many neighborhoods and is often deafening.

At the same time, the often repeated phrase that "The Egyptian people have lost their fear," and therefore can be counted on to continue standing up no matter what, must be analyzed scientifically to understand the contradictoriness of this phenomenon. If for 18 days so many people from diverse social strata were willing to risk death rather than go on living as before, that is related to the fact that they believed, and correctly so, that their actions could make a crucial difference. If today so many of these same people have adopted a "wait and see attitude," that is because this now seems like the most reasonable alternative to them—within the framework of the situation as it is presented to them. While there are disparate factors at work in making a revolutionary moment, surely the masses of people cannot be inspired to risk everything unless at least a core of people among them have been brought to a basic understanding of why their lives and the world are the way they are and how the people themselves can transform them.

Hardly anyone expected Mubarak to be brought down the way he was. The first people who came to Tahrir Square on January 25 expected to go home a few hours later after just another, if much bigger, demonstration. Now that the people have shown what they are capable of, it would be criminal if those who consider themselves revolutionaries remain content with reducing the masses' activity to choosing the "least bad" in a list of uninspiring candidates for office, or anything else that does not build on and seek to take the revolt further, and to a decisive conclusion.

As for the least bad alternative, the imperialists and their Egyptian flunkies do not have what they consider good choices themselves.

A military government, or a civilian government whose decisions are openly subject to military approval, may not be acceptable even to many people who are not remotely revolutionary, including big capitalists and other inherently non-anti-imperialist forces, but the U.S. and its local generals may decide that the domination of the Egyptian people requires that. The Muslim Brotherhood has repeatedly expressed its willingness to maintain Egypt's economic, political and military subordination to the U.S., but Washington may not have decided yet whether such a relationship is feasible and desirable.

The question of Israel make this all the more complex. A fierce hatred of Israel for its treatment of the Palestinians and aggression, threats and interference in Egypt is a central factor in the country's political life and people's thinking, including among the lower classes. Often (although not always), it is coupled with hatred for the U.S. for sustaining Israel, the two wars against Iraq, Afghanistan, etc., not to mention unstinting American support for Mubarak. While scratching off Mubarak's name from squares, train stations and maps, the Egyptian military is now using the TV stations and other media at its disposal to promote Mubarak's predecessor in more than a half century of military rule, Anwar Sadat, as the only Egyptian leader able to inflict a severe military blow on Israel (in the 1973 war). At the same time the military must be painfully aware that Sadat was assassinated in 1981 by Islamists within the army itself after he capitulated to Israel.

While the SCAF may consider the Muslim Brotherhood a crucial ally, and while Islam is deeply and historically rooted in the Egyptian military (unlike Turkey, whose military was long associated with the secular Kemalist tradition), the Islamist forces may not be able to produce the kind of reliable and stable Israel-tolerant regime the U.S. needs in Egypt. Israel itself may or may not be willing or able to carry out minor compromises (such as halting the expansion of settlements and the establishment of a flimsy Palestinian "mini-state") to make such a grand compromise possible.

This international situation sets the framework and interacts with the domestic situation, including the changing moods among the people themselves. The dynamic nature of this interaction can be seen in the way that the revolt in Egypt has already posed problems for the present world order in the region and beyond, and the way international developments have reverberated in Egypt. For instance, the toppling of the Ben Ali regime in Tunisia, in a positive way, and, negatively, the almost universal assumption (even in the Egyptian Communist Party and among other self-identified Marxists) that the experience of the Soviet Union and the disappearance of a revolutionary pole in the world with the capitalist coup following the death of Mao in China have "proven" that socialism has failed. Everyone refers to the January 25 "revolution," but people's concept of revolution is extremely limited in scope.

In short, there are real obstacles to the establishment of a durable reactionary regime in Egypt. The future can't be predicted, but there are substantial factors that might prolong the present political instability. That is all the more reason why those who really want to free the Egyptian people from all their chains should not throw away the possibility that the movement that brought down one of the world's most powerful and hated tyrants could go on to achieve the revolutionary political power that Egypt and the world needs to see emerge from this difficult, complicated but still unsettled and potentially favorable situation.

A World to Win News Service is put out by A World to Win magazine (, a political and theoretical review inspired by the formation of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement, the embryonic center of the world's Marxist-Leninist-Maoist parties and organizations.

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Revolution #251, November 27, 2011

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Correspondence from Hawai`i

Marching Against the APEC Summit

From November 7 to 13, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) held their Leaders' Summit in Honolulu, Hawai`i. APEC, with 21 member countries, has been historically dominated by the U.S. imperialists. Its role has been to pry open the economies of oppressed countries in the Asia-Pacific region to foreign investment and control, and give imperialist powers and transnational corporations the "right" to take whatever they want. There were various kinds of protest and resistance against the APEC summit. The following is correspondence from a Revolution Books Honolulu staff person.

Saturday, November 12, 4 pm: More than 300 people crowded around a big tent set up by World Can't Wait in Honolulu's Old Stadium Park, where the march to the APEC Leaders' Summit was to begin. Some grabbed paint brushes and hastily painted messages on cardboard. Others held signs along the street, energized by the constant honking of motorists passing by. Many were nervously talking about what might happen when they marched into the heart of Waikiki—or whether a non-permitted march would even be allowed to begin. A group appropriated a shopping cart, strapped their drums to it, and began drumming. A group of Vietnamese immigrants staged their own pre-march rally next to the tent. Dozens of local, national and international journalists milled through the crowd, interviewing protesters.

The crowd was the most diverse I'd ever seen assembled in Hawai`i, and signs reflected that diversity. A group of Okinawans carried a banner condemning the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (a trade agreement modeled after NAFTA). A Vietnamese contingent condemned China's incursion over Vietnam's boundaries in the South China Sea. Representatives from Rapanui and Auteroa joined Hawaiian independence activists opposed to APEC's capitalistic vision, and called for cooperation between Pacific nations and respect for their cultures. Every sign was different: "APEC = Poverty," "People Before Profits," "APEC is the 1%," "Capitalism Sucks—We Need a Revolution," "Justice for Kollin Elderts!" (Elderts was killed by a federal agent the day the summit opened), and hundreds more.

The entire area was surrounded by police. "Civil Affairs" officers, dressed in aloha shirts bulked up by bullet-proof vests and concealed weapons, attempted to chat it up with protesters. A line of uniformed bike cops lined the perimeter. Uniformed patrolmen stationed across the street stood with tripod-mounted cameras photographing the crowd.

As ABC television went live at 4 pm, a World Can't Wait organizer jumped onto the park wall and yelled "mic check." After a rousing call to show the world that Hawai`i stands with people of the world against APEC's destructive policies, the march was off to an energetic start.

As the march approached the bridge leading into Waikiki, the police suddenly blocked the intersection and said the route we were using was "unsafe." While they attempted to re-route the march, protesters at the front surged past them and continued to the bridge. The crowd followed. Chants bounced off the 30-story condos lining the boulevard entering Waikiki. Looking up on either side, you could see people on their outdoor lanais and waving. More joined the march and the numbers began to swell.

As the march got near Fort DeRussy (a military base/park/hotel complex near the entrance of Waikiki), the tropical scenery abruptly changed. The six-lane boulevard fronting Fort DeRussy was eerily silent and void of traffic. A three-mile-long, 10-foot-high cyclone fence covered with black tarping hid the entire base from view. Police in riot gear, soldiers shouldering automatic weapons, Humvees, and concrete barriers formed a line in front of the fence. Behind the tarp barrier, lines of riot police and military personnel remained hidden from view. In spite of all of the talk of turning Hawai`i into a police state, most people on the march were shocked by the enormity of the measures taken to "welcome APEC to Hawai`i." As one Waikiki resident described it, "They 'beautified' the highway from the airport, but they turned Waikiki into Beirut."

The march proceeded to the point closest to the Hale Koa, the military hotel where President Obama was hosting the final APEC Summit Leaders' Dinner one-third of a mile away. Chants and drumming echoed from the walls of high-rises lining the street, and tourists later reported hearing them fully a mile away. At one point someone yelled "mic check" and a rally was held on the spot. Not wanting the evening to end, the group marched deeper into Waikiki as small shopkeepers came out to applaud them along the way, and tourists gave a thumbs up. The march surged across the main street through Waikiki and occupied a park, where another impromptu rally was held.

Unknown to the protesters, while they were protesting outside, Makana (a noted Hawai`i musician) was entertaining the APEC leaders at the dinner. Midway through his gig he pulled back his jacket Superman style, revealing a "Support Occupy" T-shirt and launched into his new protest ballad, "We Are the Many." News of his courageous action, initially concealed by the government's media pool, hit the news a day later in a press release sent out by the YesMen, along with images taken on a concealed phone.

The months leading up to the final day of the APEC Summit had been intense. There had been forums, protests, workshops, conferences and talks. But on November 5, two days before the summit was to begin, the reality of what it meant to live in a city armed to the teeth to insulate the leaders of 21 countries and more than 60 corporate CEOs against anticipated protests hit hard when APEC Security Agent Christopher Deedy shot and killed 23-year-old Kollin Elderts, a Hawai`i resident who was standing in line at McDonald's.

Hawai`i residents reacted with shock and outrage. That was amplified when the U.S. State Department and the Honolulu Police Department refused to release details about the murder, released Deedy on $250,000 bail, and delayed court proceedings until the APEC Summit was over. World Can't Wait-Hawai`i sent out a call to protest, and within 24 hours about 100 people marched to the Convention Center where the APEC Conference was beginning, and then on to the McDonald's where Kollin had been murdered. The struggle for justice for Kollin Eldert is just beginning.

In the Wake of the Summit

The APEC Summit is now over. For many people, APEC merely meant traffic jams, inconveniences, and an atmosphere of fear and intimidation as the island was transformed into an armed camp. For the homeless it meant relentless police sweeps and harassment. For civil libertarians it has meant new regulations limiting access to public spaces. But the real effect of the APEC meeting on the people of the world is only just beginning to be discussed and understood.

The entire APEC Summit was shrouded in secrecy, and high-level meetings were off-limits to most journalists. Nonetheless, Obama has already announced that APEC was successful in establishing the framework for a "Trans-Pacific Partnership," modeled after NAFTA, and is proceeding at breakneck speed to finalize a binding treaty within a year. Hillary Clinton has boasted that the Summit has strengthened intellectual property and patenting rights. And in the wake of APEC, Obama is revealing U.S. plans for a major military build-up in the Pacific.

While city and state government officials are crowing about the meeting's success in establishing Honolulu as the future destination for international meetings such as the WTO, IMF or the G20, new conversations among the people are beginning to take root. The relationship between the government and corporations is being discussed and dissected. The role of the police and other government enforcers is being fiercely debated. Concepts like "free trade" and "deregulation" are becoming demystified. That hundreds of people found the courage to protest, some very creatively, in the face of intense police state intimidation has given many hope. The Occupy movement is creating new breathing space for these conversations to intensify, even as we continue to wrangle over what it's going to take for people to be truly liberated and to save the planet.

Through the course of the past months, Revolution Books has increasingly become a center of discussion and debate. Its forums on APEC have been broadcast on community television, and new people have come in to find out more about imperialist globalization. Hundreds of copies of Revolution's Special Issue #244 on BAsics, the "Don't Talk" pamphlet, and Raymond Lotta's talk "Are Corporations Corrupting the System...or is the Problem the System of Capitalism?" have been distributed. Customers we've never met before are asking about socialism/communism, and are seriously comparing it with the horrors of capitalism. Homeless people are discussing quotes from BAsics. People who thought they knew all about Marxism are digging into Communism: The Beginning of a New Stage: A Manifesto from the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA and the new synthesis of communism being brought forward by Bob Avakian. A recent customer exemplified this new openness when he said: "I'm a capitalist businessman and I thought you were the boogie man so I never came in, but there has to be a better system than this." He purchased The Constitution for a New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal), Communism: The Beginning of a New Stage, Raymond Lotta's series "Shifts and Faultlines in the World Economy" and BAsics... and said he'd be back.


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Revolution #251, November 27, 2011

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Attacks on Occupy—Week of November 12-17

The same week that the New York police forcibly cleared Occupy Wall Street from Zuccotti Park (see "Two-Month Anniversary of Occupy Wall Street: Resistance up Against Nationwide Attacks," police in various other cities moved to shut down Occupy encampments. The following is a list of cities where this happened, with short descriptions taken from news reports.

Nov. 12, Denver, CO
"Denver police in riot gear forced stubborn protesters out of Civic Center park Saturday evening, tearing down illegally pitched tents...Seventeen people were arrested, according to Sonny Jackson, spokesman for the Denver Police Department." (Denver Post,

Nov. 12, St. Louis
"Police arrested about two dozen people at an Occupy St. Louis encampment early Saturday, then began taking down the tents where the protesters have lived over the past several weeks." (Local CBS TV news

Nov. 12, Salt Lake City
"19 people were arrested as Salt Lake City and Unified Police officers took control of Pioneer Park Saturday night, clearing out tents and cleaning up after the Occupy Salt Lake City movement was kicked out at sundown." (Local Fox TV news,0,3226507.story)

Nov 12-13, Albany, NY
"Later that evening [Nov 13], 13 were arrested at the Occupy Albany encampment in New York for failing to vacate from Lafayette Park across from the state's Capitol building. Officials had charged them with trespassing after failing to comply with a city curfew. Those arrests came only a day after state police arrested another two dozen on similar charges." (RT

Nov. 13, Oakland
"At 5:00 a.m. hundreds of police in riot gear—including helmets with full face shields, hand-held plastic shields, tear gas canisters, various kinds of rifles—descended on the Occupy encampment, dismantling tents, trashing people's property, and ripping down banners. Helicopters flew overhead and armored police vehicles blocked intersections. The police erected barricades around the park. Many police had their name badges covered to prevent them from being identified." (Revolution Newspaper

Nov. 13, Portland, OR
"In Portland, Oregon, Mayor Sam Adams ordered the Occupy Portland camp to be shut down Saturday at midnight, citing dangerous health conditions as a reason to vacate a city park. As protesters resisted, however, more than 50 were arrested as police raided the camp, swinging nightsticks and attacking demonstrators early Sunday morning. The Associated Press reports that the crowd in Portland had accumulated to the thousands as police tried to disperse the protests in the early morning hours. At one point the cops retreated, only to return later and swarm in—violently." (RT

Nov. 13, Chapel Hill, NC
"A police tactical team of more than 25 police officers arrested eight demonstrators Sunday afternoon and charged them with breaking and entering for occupying a vacant car dealership on Franklin Street. Officers brandishing guns and semi-automatic rifles rushed the building at about 4:30 p.m. They pointed weapons at those standing outside, and ordered them to put their faces on the ground. They surrounded the building and cleared out those who were inside. About 13 people, including a News & Observer staff writer covering the demonstration, were forced to the ground and hand-cuffed." (News & Observer

Nov. 16, San Diego
"Law enforcement personnel in riot gear cleared out several Occupy San Diego protesters from Civic Center Plaza early today, marking the second such crackdown in nearly three weeks. Some protesters were arrested during the 3 a.m. sweep, according to San Diego police. The alleged offenses, exact number and identities of those arrested were not immediately released. As was the case in the first predawn clearing on Oct. 28—when 40 protesters were arrested—police said the area was cleared so a cleaning crew could sanitize the area." (KESQ

Nov. 16, Columbia, South Carolina
"Under the Confederate battle flag at the Statehouse, 19 Occupy protesters were arrested Wednesday and escorted by troopers to a basement corridor in the Capitol, where they lined the hallway and sang "God Bless America" with their arms handcuffed behind their backs. The arrests were made on the order of Gov. Nikki Haley, a first-term Republican who said no one is a bigger fan of freedom of speech then she is. Haley told the protesters to come back today and bring their signs but to leave their mattresses at home and stop urinating in the bushes." (Post and Courier

Nov. 17, UC Berkeley
"Videos of the police attacking students with bully clubs as the students chanted "peaceful protest," "we're just standing here," and "stop beating students" were posted all over the internet. A 90-second YouTube of the police attack ( went viral with over 600,000 hits. Later in the evening the police attacked again, beating students and ripping down tents. Over 2,000 students—as well as hundreds from Occupy Oakland and Occupy San Francisco—again turned out around midnight to protect Occupy Cal, preventing the campus cops from tearing down the last tent until late the next morning." (Revolution newspaper

Nov. 18, UC Davis
Police at UC Davis attacked an Occupy encampment and unleashed a savage pepper spray attack on protesting students who were sitting calmly on the campus quad, after which angry students chanting "Shame On You" confronted the riot-clad police and forced them from the area. (See video at: According to the Sacramento Bee, "police... arrested 10 protesters. UC Davis officials say eight men and two women were taken into custody Friday afternoon." (Sacramento Bee


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Revolution #251, November 27, 2011

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Update - Chicago Occupy

Chicago, November 18—More than 2,000 people took the streets in Chicago on the November 17 anniversary marking two months of the Occupy Wall Street movement. This was the largest protest since the City came down with massive arrests a month ago.

It began with an afternoon rally and march organized by Stand Up! Chicago, a coalition of community and labor organizations, protesting for jobs and against city budget cuts. The demonstration marched to and occupied a bridge over the Chicago River, blocking traffic in and out of the Loop. The mood was exuberant as people danced and drummed while people staged a sit-in in the middle of the bridge. Forty-six people were arrested. Things were just getting started.

Protesters took the street marching into the heart of the financial district. The protest in the street was a magnet as numbers swelled. This was the most diverse outpouring of people connected with the Occupy movement that has yet taken place in Chicago. There were contingents from inner-city neighborhoods, union contingents including teachers and nurses, public transit workers, youth and students including groups from high schools, as well as many older people. There were significant numbers of Black and Latino people. Hundreds of faces looked out the high-rise office building windows. One popular chant expressing the mood was “We are unstoppable, another world is possible!”

The march went down to LaSalle and Jackson, the site where Occupy Chicago began and has maintained a permanent presence for almost two months. This highly determined protest has faced repeated police harassment including arrests, tickets, confiscation of food and drums and blankets, along with the ever-constant order to “keep moving.” Attempts to move from LaSalle and Jackson to establish an encampment in Grant Park were met with 300 arrests by the city in October. But today the now notorious intersection—surrounded by the Board of Trade, the Federal Reserve and a Bank of America—was shut down by a mass die-in organized “to stand in solidarity with all of the Occupations around the country facing evictions, repression, and police violence.” Enormous banners saying “The 1% is Killing Us” and “We Are the 99%” took over the intersection. A statement was read saying, “We have remained silent and let them condemn and execute the poor, the working, and the middle class, the 99%... We can no longer be bystanders. It's time we raise our voices in testimony against the criminals that condemn them! We MUST resist austerity, rebuild the economy, and RECLAIM OUR DEMOCRACY. It's time we stand with these deceased, with EACH OTHER, TOGETHER.”

After a symbolic surrounding of the Board of Trade, people took over major downtown streets and marched defiantly and joyously for the next hour. There was a sense of coming together as part of a national/global movement, a sense of coming back in the face of the raids on Zuccotti Park and other Occupy sites as well as in the face of winter’s onset, while gaining new determination and drawing in new numbers including more diverse sections of the “99%.” The response on the sidewalks was electric. Many people cheered, cars honked their horns, and some joined in on the spot.

The days immediately leading up to November 17 had seen a number of significant protests, including a City Hall sit-in protesting the planned shutdown of community mental health clinics. One Occupier spoke angrily about sitting in with a person from a neighborhood who told her flatly, “This means I will die.”

The week began with University of Chicago students and Occupy Chicago organizing to “unwelcome” an appearance on campus by former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and former U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson. Students planned to go in and vocally protest Rice and Paulson, defying an email sent to all students by the University Provost and Vice President threatening to punish students who disrupted the event. A statement from the students stated, "War criminals like Rice, and those who pushed our economy to the brink of collapse, like Paulson, should face opposition wherever they go, and be held accountable for their crimes against the people of this country. They should be in jail, not on the lecture circuit." The students sharply exposed the University’s justification that the administration’s threat was defending free inquiry. On the day of the event, the news was released that Rice and Paulson had abruptly cancelled their appearance!

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