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Revolution #268 May 13, 2012
Let’s step back: The situation in the whole world is a horror... this is because of the system of capitalism-imperialism, not because of human nature. It doesn’t have to be this way... a radically different world is possible—where people can come together in common cause, lifting their heads fully and straightening their backs... out from under this system of degradation, exploitation and misery. But bringing that world into being requires a revolution. Such a revolution is possible—and in particular 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. And not only is such a revolution possible, but we ARE BUILDING a movement for this revolution which provides a way to begin working on that now.
But way too few people have even heard about this! This bus tour is one key part of changing this on a grand scale and it can make a very big impact now—bringing it directly to people in all the ways described here, and pulling together a national movement to do so.
The BAsics Bus Tour is getting ready to hit the road in the South. Next week volunteers from Los Angeles to New York will stream into Atlanta. They will be traveling there on the money donated for this tour all across the country. Some will be taking greetings that were created and signed in the communities they’re coming in from. They’ll be representing something much bigger than themselves. As one volunteer put it: “This is a great opportunity to expand and widen the movement for revolution, as well as to let many more people know about BA and the revolution...the fact that this vision was brought to them and that they know that there are people who really WANT TO DEDICATE THEIR LIVES to change the world, that already makes a difference in the political atmosphere of the country.”
This crew will bring word of Bob Avakian and the new synthesis of communism he’s brought forward, the strategy for revolution he’s developed, the leadership that he’s providing to the movement for revolution. The focal point of this tour is BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian—a book of quotations and short essays that concentrates over 30 years of BA’s work on everything that stands between humanity and its emancipation. This work can introduce people to “the basics” of understanding and changing the world and give them the foundation from which to act on the world and learn more. The tour will be getting out hundreds of copies of BAsics itself, and tens of thousands of palm cards and posters drawing from this work, letting people know about it and getting into all kinds of discussions off of it.
The volunteers are going into a situation where things have been very suppressed, but where there have been intense stirrings of resistance, especially through the movement against the murder of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. The volunteers aim to create a big scene, stirring up debate and controversy about something people have never been allowed to consider and, as they do, to draw people forward and link them to a national movement. And all this—which will be reported on in near real-time—will be part of affecting the political terrain around the country, reacting back on and changing what people think is possible.
Think of the situation this tour is heading into... a region where the memory of public lynchings is still quite vivid in many people’s minds and where modern-day lynchings are backed up by local authorities... where Civil War memorials are found all over, memorializing a system of slavery and those who fought to defend it... a region where some of the harshest anti-immigration measures have been put into place, legalizing racial profiling and instilling terror in the lives of immigrants who have come here for survival for themselves and their families, packed into trailer parks and doing backbreaking work in the orchards and factories... a region where there have been hundreds of incidents of attacks on abortion clinics including arson, firebombings and even the murder of providers. And now in Georgia, with the passage of a fascist woman-hating law that makes abortion illegal after 20 weeks of pregnancy, with no exception for rape or incest, the situation is even more dire.
This is a region where the dominant culture is way beyond stultifying. As Bob Avakian says, “The ‘Bible Belt’ in the U.S. is also the Lynching Belt.” The highway billboards are just one way this is brought home: Marine recruitment, anti-abortion ads, pictures of women displayed as objects to be bought and sold with their legs splayed open advertising innumerable strip clubs, all kinds of messages about God and your salvation, declaring “homosexuality is an abomination,” and huge Confederate flags looming large on highways, in truck stops and on bumper stickers.
It is right in the midst of all this that the BAsics Bus Tour is aiming to break things open.
The tour will begin in Atlanta, nerve center of the region. Over the course of a few days, going out to neighborhoods all over the metro area, the volunteers will reach thousands of people. They’ll be bringing materials explaining the revolution, they’ll be talking about the different ways that people can get into standing up against this system, and they’ll be giving people all kinds of ways to contribute to this movement and get organized into it. They’ll be showing BA’s talk on revolution in the open air or in restaurants or anywhere people gather... getting out copies of BAsics, of the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal) and of Revolution newspaper... and distributing thousands of posters and palm cards that people themselves can distribute. Already people in Atlanta have stepped forward to feed and house the volunteers, and this itself will be spreading and strengthening the movement. Every day the volunteers will be in the streets, every evening they’ll be in people’s houses or in community centers, getting into deeper discussions about BA and this movement for revolution. Through this they not only spread revolution, but also develop the teamwork to head out over the region.
The next 10 days will be wild! Think of it... a bus pulls up with gigantic banners: “You can’t change the world if you don’t know the BAsics”—in Spanish and English... a crew of people pile out—all different colors and nationalities, of different ages, from different backgrounds and with different life experiences—but they’ve all got energy, they’re serious and angry, and yet so joyful. They put out displays with pictures of people from all around the world, and with all kinds of BAsics quotations exposing the horrors of the world as it is, talking about a revolution—for real, introducing people to Bob Avakian: the leadership we have for the revolution we need.
Imagine... this bus rolling into a part of town where immigrants live or to the day-labor corners, playing over the loudspeakers, in Spanish and English, Bob Avakian answering: “Why do people come here from all over the world?... Because you have fucked up the rest of the world even worse than what you have done in this country. You have made it impossible for many to live in their own countries as part of gaining your riches and power.” Making people laugh with recognition at the always unsaid reality about why people are forced to come to the U.S. in the first place, and then are criminalized and terrorized. The crew on this tour will leave palm cards with this quote all over town—planting a different pole and stating very clearly who has right on its side. They’ll get together with some of these immigrants for discussions in private, having screenings of the Revolution talk... and they’ll get together with all the different kinds of professionals who have also stood up against these draconian laws and sought to provide different kinds of aid to the people who have been most under the gun.
Or imagine a crew of volunteers coming into the cafeteria of a community college, sitting at a table, and sparking a discussion of the quote that begins, “Look at all these beautiful children who are female in the world...” BAsics 1:10 Or think about the impact of the poster with Avakian’s “Three Strikes” quote going into neighborhoods... from basketball courts to barbershops and beauty parlors to churches and community centers. Imagine the impact of posting up around towns copies of this very powerful three strikes poster (Revolution #266, April 22, 2012) which connects up the history of lynching, Jim Crow terror and now the New Jim Crow... all of which is felt palpably in this region.
These volunteers will march through the center of towns with big banners, selling copies of Revolution and creating an electrifying scene. They’ll park the bus out front of the underground music clubs that you can find dotted throughout the area... pull together a group of punk youth for a debate... going late into the night on the need for leadership and the character and content of Avakian’s leadership in particular. They’ll go out to the early morning soup lines and talk with the homeless, and those who risk arrest to feed them, about this revolution, playing for people Avakian’s answer to why there is no right to eat under this system... the need and potential for a revolution that can make this possible, and how they can be involved today in this movement for revolution.
Volunteers will be invited into people’s homes—to break bread, stay the night, and learn about people’s bitter experiences under this system... and learn from their hopes and aspirations; they’ll speak to the questions that come up from people when they actually begin to let themselves hope that despite what they’ve been told, this is not the best of all possible worlds.
Volunteers will talk with store owners about carrying Revolution newspaper regularly, leaving behind distribution centers... talk with record stores about carrying and playing “All Played Out”—the spoken word piece from Avakian, with music by William Parker, and raise funds as they do.
Think of the impact of public speaking events at community centers that talk about how people have been lied to about communism, and how, on the basis of standing on the advances of that experience, as well as learning from shortcomings, Avakian has forged a new synthesis of communism so that we can take it further and do even better next time. The volunteers will make announcements in churches and raise funds wherever they go—from all different strata.
The volunteers have on-the-spot speak-outs in the ghettos where most public housing is boarded up and many people live in desperate poverty. Imagine these speak-outs opening up with Avakian’s exposure of the history of lynching in this country where he makes the comparison between the Klan of old and the police today. They’ll provide a space for people to break the fear and silence at the day-in-and-day-out crimes of this system perpetrated against a whole generation of youth. And they’ll hook people up with the movement to stop mass incarceration and talk about ways people can fight the power, and transform the people, for revolution.
One special goal that you can be part of is raising funds for THIS week: 20,000 palm cards distributed with the quote from Bob Avakian, BAsics 1:13: “No more generations of our youth, here and all around the world, whose life is over, whose fate has been sealed, who have been condemned to an early death or a life of misery and brutality, whom the system has destined for oppression and oblivion even before they are born. I say no more of that.”
These will be gotten out wherever the tour goes and it will be one key way we’ll be aiming to involve people—leaving behind stacks which people can get out in all different ways. Seeing these starting to pop up all over the place is a way of fighting the power and connecting up the criminalization of a whole generation of Black and Latino youth to the youth all around the world who find themselves in the same situation. And it provides backing to others who feel this way but are told they’re the only ones. It begins to make known the presence of this revolution and the movement to project BA’s voice... into every corner of society. This is a meaningful form of involvement, and we want to make this a big deal on this tour.
Through all this, the volunteers will be selling hundreds of copies of BAsics and copies of Avakian’s talk, Revolution: Why It’s Necessary, Why It’s Possible, What It’s All About... leaving in people’s hands the answers to the most essential questions about revolution and human emancipation... they’ll find ways to involve people on the spot and in longer term ways in the mass fundraising campaign, BA Everywhere... Imagine the Difference It Could Make!... they’ll be aiming to leave behind people organized, in entry level ways, to be part of the movement for revolution... they’ll be selling subscriptions to Revolution newspaper—a lifeline where people can get the deepest analysis about what’s happening in the world and stay plugged-in to what’s happening in the movement for revolution. These volunteers will also be letting people know about what people are doing to stand up against the mass incarceration of millions of Black and Latino people—the “new Jim Crow”—as well as the movement to put an end to pornography and patriarchy... and they will give the people ways to be part of these initiatives as well.
And imagine... all across the country, thousands of people tuned in to all this. Thousands of people who have contributed to make all this possible amplifying the impact this tour is having—from Harlem, Oakland, LA, Chicago, Houston and more... Reading the blog posts about what this tour is doing and learning... sharing the videos that will be regularly posted—testimonials from the volunteers, interviews with people they’re meeting, responses to being introduced to what Avakian is saying. Imagine all across the country, people gathering in living rooms in housing projects and middle class homes to talk about what this tour is learning, what they’re tapping into... and to raise funds for the next leg of the tour so this can go even further—coming together in house parties to be part of kicking this tour off when it leaves Atlanta on May 18, sending video messages and statements of support from all across the country to the people the tour will be meeting, and having those messages responded to while the tour is on the road.
This is a serious tour heading into a serious situation, so people should also be pledging support and be ready to head down to join the tour if people get fucked with... ready to mobilize even more support for the ability of this tour to spread this revolutionary message.
Go all out this week—call everyone you know, talk with them about contributing, talk with them about ways they can help and ask for a statement of support... get word of this out on the Net... talk with all those you know who live in this region who can help in different ways—with financial contributions, food, housing, other forms of support. Talk with someone at Revolution Books about your ideas or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This will not happen without you—without your hopes, your aspirations, your support, your energy and creativity riding on this BAsics Bus Tour, being a part of making it happen.
Look at all these beautiful children who are female in the world. And in addition to all the other outrages which I have referred to, in terms of children throughout the slums and shantytowns of the Third World, in addition to all the horrors that will be heaped on them—the actual living in garbage and human waste in the hundreds of millions as their fate, laid out before them, yes, even before they are born—there is, on top of this, for those children who are born female, the horror of everything that this will bring simply because they are female in a world of male domination. And this is true not only in the Third World. In “modern” countries like the U.S. as well, the statistics barely capture it: the millions who will be raped; the millions more who will be routinely demeaned, deceived, degraded, and all too often brutalized by those who are supposed to be their most intimate lovers; the way in which so many women will be shamed, hounded and harassed if they seek to exercise reproductive rights through abortion, or even birth control; the many who will be forced into prostitution and pornography; and all those who—if they do not have that particular fate, and even if they achieve some success in this “new world” where supposedly there are no barriers for women—will be surrounded on every side, and insulted at every moment, by a society and a culture which degrades women, on the streets, in the schools and workplaces, in the home, on a daily basis and in countless ways.
Revolution #268 May 13, 2012
BAsics Bus Tour
Friday, May 18: Plan a celebration in unity with the major kickoff event in Atlanta. Have a fundraising open house at Revolution Books or a house party.
Tuesday, May 22: A video statement from the tour will be released online. Pull together friends and tune in for a very special opportunity to hear first-hand about the progress of the tour thus far, what the volunteers on the tour are learning and what the response has been up to that point. Invite people to your homes for this, have a special gathering in a community center, church, neighborhood barber shop or restaurant. Coming together in this way, people will also be given another opportunity to contribute... this time to the next leg of the tour, which those on the tour will also be fundraising for. Stay tuned to basicsbustour.tumblr.com for details.
Memorial Day weekend: Have a picnic or join with others at their picnics... help the bus tour meet its final goals of selling BAsics, raising funds for the next leg of the tour and hearing from the tour participants' final experiences as this leg of the tour comes to a close. For those already planning family picnics, ask if the revolutionaries can come through and do a fund pitch or sell raffle tickets. Head out to the parks with Revolution newspaper, BAsics, clips from Avakian's Revolution talk and video clips from the bus tour's travels.
Revolution #268 May 13, 2012
BAsics Bus Tour
"I was once ignorant of the society that has surrounded me. Not long after getting out of the service, I became an Occupier. I had the experience of having many of the world's problems laid out in front of me, and for the first time having a voice to speak out against them. This was very exciting and uplifting. I was also out looking for so many answers to why the world is the way it is. Then I met the revolution. Listening to Bob Avakian for the first time in the midst of sleeping in a park, and spending my days searching for answers, asking why we live with rising poverty, people in other countries working their fingers to the bone, or why are people, Black and brown, still being oppressed, was in itself inspiring.
Very soon after I found out that BA was not just a good speaker but over a period of 30 years had been working on answering the questions that I was now asking and many more, and had developed a strategy and a party that can get us out of this mess that we are currently wallowing in.
When I first heard about the BAsics Bus Tour, I immediately wanted to be on it, spreading the message of revolution and the new synthesis of communism. Now in light of everything that has taken place in the last few weeks with the death of Trayvon Martin by some wannabe cop, it has further increased my desire to be on this bus tour, so that in the future, we don't have a world filled with Trayvon Martins, cops, or wannabe cops that can only see the color of someone's skin, but instead we can have a world filled with emancipators of all humanity."
"Greetings from New York City. When I first heard about the BAsics Bus Tour I was immediately reminded of the Freedom Riders who traveled boldly and courageously into the belly of the beast, the Deep South, some forty years ago. Their mission was to desegregate interstate bus travel. Today, 40+ years later, the bus tour's goals are more far-reaching – to question and to confront the existing system of capitalism and imperialism. The good news is that the tour is providing the answers and solutions to all of this through the works of Bob Avakian."
Professor at an inner-city school, NYC
"[I am giving to the BAsics Bus Tour] because you have to start with the youth and because numbers count. It matters that many youth from many backgrounds, especially Black youth, learn about and participate in the bus tour. In 1970, when I was in the fourth grade, my brother was sent off to Vietnam; a kid, barely 10 years old, in my class was using heroin; and I just refused to say the pledge of allegiance. The whole class refused... The school said, 'Ok, this kid is going against the grain' and they took me out of class. This revolution can inspire youth to go against the grain, to go against the conventional wisdom, and not just accept everything and never speak out – thinking this is just the way life is. I want the bus tour to be a success. Even Malcolm X needed this kind of inspiration. I look forward to hearing reports about the bus tour and strongly encourage others to donate as I am."
A barber in Harlem
"A bus tour through the South bringing revolution and communism? Do you realize how historic this is? I hope to fuck you are filming this, and if you're not, you are depriving generations of chronicling an historic event... Taking it to the people. This is such a great idea. The imagery of a BAsics bus in the parking lot of a shopping mall or a school or neighborhood or any area of congregation or just motoring along a highway to spread the word is visionary."
A media studies professor
"Capitalism has proven itself not only to fail people in the U.S., but to fail people EVERYWHERE! The system has failed us, from poor families struggling to survive in the ghettos, to LGBT adolescents struggling with basic acceptance and equality, to workers trying to keep their right to a fair wage and collective bargaining, to ordinary citizens struggling for human rights. If a system fails and doesn't govern or work for the good of the people, then it needs to be replaced. It has lost its legitimacy by not working for the common good. There is a better way, and it is coming."
A young man who came into a Revolution Books
to contribute $50 after receiving a phone call
about the BAsics Bus Tour
"The world today aches for change, real change, and there are literally billions of people who want to see a different world than this, but who do not know how or even that such a change is even possible. Because of authorities' tyranny over us collectively, both over our minds and our very physical beings, even imagining a different world is hard for most people. Avakian's thorough reading of the experience of people trying to understand and change the world throughout history and specifically his close study of past revolutionary movements are an extraordinary tool in the fight to change the world. I urge you to dig deeply into his works. When you do you will see what I mean."
Dr. Dennis Loo
"The BAsics Bus Tour adds an important dimension to the national and international mobilization that the Occupy Movement has inspired. In these times of increasing and outrageous disparities of wealth and power, it is vital that all progressive voices are heard. This tour represents a crucial part of the continuing dialogue about the need for truly structural change in America and throughout the world."
Paul Von Blum, Senior Lecturer, African American Studies, UCLA
"I wanna put in my strong endorsement of this freedom bus... Courageous brothers and sisters going down to the gut-bucket South. The old Jim Crow senior, still the Jim Crow junior, of course. Whole lot of lynching used be going on in the past, still police brutality taking place, unemployment and underemployment taking place. Dilapidated housing in place, disgraceful school system's in place... Revolutionary Communist Party bearing witness in a serious kind of way. And I just want to let folk know... I'm behind what they're doing... keeping track of the injustice here in the state. Keep track of the freedom bus—the Avakian bus!"
"First thing, I am only not part of this BAsics Bus Tour because my health issues will not allow it. Otherwise, I would have my seat reserved on the bus. I hate that I am going to miss this, because when I think about it, it reminds me about the beginning of the Black Panther Party: the enthusiasm and determination of being a significant part of a great movement to change things in this country. Participating in and being a significant part of change is addictive—once you have experienced it, you'll do anything to get that feeling again—because it is not an irrelevant act. It is being part of a conscious movement to make change—and when you do that it develops you as a human being and a true fighter for the rights of all people. I won't be there physically but my revolutionary spirit travels with the tour.
"All Power to the People!
"And, Fuck the Police!"
Former Black Panther
"I have pledged $100 to the BA Everywhere Bus Tour because....well, because we need BA's voice everywhere. In a society so deprived of critical voices, Bob Avakian has the ability to break down the biggest questions facing humanity in a way that is scientific, deep, understandable, and damn funny. How many political thinkers are offering an actual solution to the horrors facing millions and can lay it out by drawing on Mao, basketball, and a Richard Pryor routine? Millions are literally dying for a way out this mess, so millions need to know about Bob Avakian. This bus tour should be the begining of a movement for a way out."
From a public school teacher in Atlanta
"The citizens of the United States need to be disturbed. Bob Avakian will certainly do that. He has the ability to provide the criticisms and alternatives that Americans need to hear about and decide for themselves whether they will accept or reject the solutions being offered. Mainstream media will not provide Bob Avakian with the vehicle to do this; therefore, the bus tour needs to come to the country."
From a radio show host in Atlanta
"Face-to-face conversation with people in their own communities offers a pathway to radicalization like no other. I salute the RCP efforts to organize the South, where the labor movement and others failed."
Andrew Ross, NYU professor
"I feel invested in making this BAsics Bus Tour a reality by selling raffles to raise money for it. It's second best to being able to go myself, and the reason I can't go is because of health issues and various family crises as one of the most marginalized groups of people in the United States of America—a Black woman. My people—who have been stolen from Africa and who mainly settled in the South—the fact that this tour is bringing revolution to this area of the country is great. The analogy I like to use is the Dutch boy with his finger in the dike, and he ran out of digits with the capitalist dam busting and this BAsics Bus Tour giving people a chance to have a face-to-face dialogue with revolution and an alternative to this system where they otherwise would not."
Black woman from Harlem
"I am cautiously optimistic [about revolution and communism]. More than good news is needed. There is resistance to communism. Getting people to listen with an open mind is hard. The propaganda has been around too long. It stigmatizes socialism and communism. But this one [bus tour] is worth fighting for. Again, I am cautiously optimistic. I appreciate the energy [the bus tour conveys]."
Man who spent time at Occupy Wall Street making buttons
and a supporter of World Can't Wait
"As prospects for working people shrink, it is becoming increasingly obvious that the capitalist-imperialist system cannot deliver decent jobs with dignity and security to those left unemployed, underemployed, and, most critically, the misemployed, who are paid to destroy wealth and the environment. The more poorly and cruelly the system functions, the more support grows for alternatives, especially humane, rational systems.
"The ruling class has long had a campaign to convince us that although human society has gone through many stages, capitalism is the final stage—this is the end of the line. There is no alternative ('TINA')... Considering contemporary horrors of malnutrition, war, and environmental despoilment, it is obvious that a far better world is possible. I can't tell you what the best of all possible worlds is, but I see potential for enormous improvement.
"Occupy gained attention. This tour is part of the next step—provoking discussion about that better world—and how to get there. There is much on the table. Let the discussion begin!"
Roger Dittmann, Ph.D., Scientists without Borders
"I am a retired sociologist. Having grown up and spent most of my life in the South, I've seen starkly the need for a radically different kind of society. And Bob Avakian has and continues to speak not only to that great need, but with passion and scientific thoroughness, to what it will take to bring about the kind of revolutionary society that people would truly want to live in. His voice and his vision needs to be heard, ever more broadly. As a southerner, I applaud the kickoff of the new BAsics tour from Atlanta."
Hayne Dyches, St. Simons, Georgia
"The BAsics Bus Tour is the right thing for the times we are in. I give my support to the BAsics Bus Tour that has stepped right into the fight for Justice, equality, and freedom for all. What the Bus Tour is doing is vital to the struggle that seeks to bring to light the disparities of the criminal justice system and its criminalization of young men of color. Those who are on this tour are courageous men and women who will not settle for anything less than a Free and Just government system. All power to the BAsics Bus Tour, We Say No More!!!"
from Oscar Grant's uncle, Cephus Uncle Bobby Johnson.
Oscar Grant was a 22-year-old Black man
who was killed by transit police in Oakland. Calif., on January 1, 2009.
He was handcuffed and face down when the pigs shot him in the back in cold blood.
"The BAsics Bus Tour is a part of the revolution in a big way—spreading the word of revolution. You can't change society if you can't change people's minds, and BAsics gives people a deep understanding about the different aspects of revolution. With what's going on in the world, religious fundamentalists and imperialists both trying to convince people they are the only alternative—Bob Avakian puts out a radically different way to change the world, internationally, not just for the US. He has been leading a vanguard party since almost 40 years ago. From back then to now, the leadership of Bob Avakian has been crucial. He was the only one after 1976 going deeply into grasping the positive and negative of the communist experience, analyzing what went wrong in China when everyone was confused. Bob Avakian is not only a leader for the U.S., his leadership goes beyond that, internationally. No communist in the world can truly call himself a communist if he hasn't been touched by Bob Avakian's writings. Look at what's happening in Greece right now—the revolutionary situation is there, people are ready. But there is no party to lead the revolution. Here it is the opposite—the situation is not ready, but there is a vanguard party equipped with the most advanced communist theory. When a revolutionary situation comes, there is a possibility for big changes. But as Bob Avakian says, if you don't fight the power, and transform the people, for revolution, you'll never get to that possibility."
An Iranian living in the U.S.
"To the new freedom fighters;
"Greetings. I would like to let you all know that I think that what you are aiming to do and the messages that you are conveying is very important and very much needed and you are all on a great journey in the troubled areas in the South, or the lynching belt dubbed as the bible belt. I only wish that I could've been there with all of you, but I am here helping to raise monies and awareness to the cause, and hopefully the message will be heard and there will be more freedom caravans in the future in all areas of the South and all other places where the 'Stand your ground' law exists, which is a law that is made from biased politicians and is the reason that the murder of Trayvon is allowing his murderer to be free on bond, and is possible he won't see the inside of a courtroom.
"Anyway, as I said, what you all are doing is very important, much needed, and hopefully more people will open up and be in the mindset to think critically to what is happening in our society and not no longer turn a blind eye to the way this nation is at the present time, with injustice, oppression, racism, and a government that is set on instilling fear and telling lies to the people. I sincerely hope that you will find more people to join the cause for revolution and instill the hopes that we can all change things in this society and rid us from all the digressions of this government that is motivated by greed and instills fear and control upon the people with their so-called law enforcement that incarcerates and kills millions without provocation for Uncle Thomas Sam for many decades. The time has come to stand up and count ourselves...a revolution is needed and the machine and regime must be broken.
"Here's wishing you all on the tour a safe journey, and I am with you all in spirit. Blessing to you all!
"Power to the people,"
A jazz musician in Cleveland
From members of Black on Black Crime Inc., a Black community organization in Cleveland, OH.
"BAsics. The future of revolution has evolved through Bob Avakian and the BAsics Tour. Come our way and onto Sanford for Justice."
"BAsics—This is not only a local movement but an international movement and this bus tour is going to all the hot spots as injustice is burning out of control and we are smoldering for real change. Thank you Bob Avakian for real courage and the courage of the Bus Tour for going to Sanford. Thank you again 4 this Bus Tour."
—Alfred Porter Jr., Vice President of Black on Black Crime Inc.
"This is the front line corruption, wickedness in high places. The lighter you are the righter you are as long as it stay on the agenda of wiping out the Black race one way or the other be it locking the Black men up in jail or filling our inner city streets with drugs. It's good revolution is going to Sanford, letting them know the world is watching and standing with the Martins. They are not alone. There will be no sweeping this under the rug. You are being WATCHED!"
"Greetings from Art McCoy. No Truth, No Justice, No Peace! Congratulations RCP on your notable, very important Bus Tour. It is important that you get your message out to the people in many cities, cities such as Atlanta, Albany, GA, and on this route what better city to stop in than Sanford. What better city to get the word out and touch the people than that city where Trayvon Martin was murdered. The upcoming month will be trying times in the cities in America, particularly Sanford. Spread the word, RCP on your BA Everywhere Bus Tour."
—Art McCoy, founding member and leader of Black on Black Crime Inc.
Trayvon Martin was a young Black youth . Just because he was suspended from school or supposedly had traces of weed in his locker doesn't mean that his murder is justified in any way. Why not kill innocent children playing at the park. Our youth are judged by their color and their level of education, their neighborhood, and income. Just because of a lack of resources does not mean murder is ok. I think this tour is just what we need. We as a people should stand together and fight for the defenseless. A people united can never be defeated. The Tour to Sanford is a great idea to be the voice for the voiceless. Trayvon is our sons and our daughters. I feel strongly that action need to be took on his death and to prevent future racial genocide.
—An 18-year-old Black girl at the Black on Black meeting
"As one who marched with Martin Luther King, Jr., both in support of civil rights and in opposition to the war in Vietnam, I want to go on record in support of the BA Bus Tour into the southern USA and in my strong admiration for the courage of those who are making this witness to the deepest values of this great country and all its people."
Dr. S. Scott Bartchy,
Professor of Christian Origins and the History of Religion, UCLA;
former Director of the Center for the Study of Religion
Be Part of Taking It Higher
Revolution #268 May 13, 2012
This accompanies the BusTour-ScriptFlowChart.doc
The phone script shouldn't be read word for word but is the orientation for the phone banking. People should familiarize themselves with this so they can give a good sense of this without reading the script word for word. It may also be good to reread, and keep handy, the first editorial in Revolution newspaper on BA Everywhere mass fundraising campaign (found at the top of revcom.us/BAfundcampaign and in Revolution #249).
Five tips for phone banking:
|RV and travel expenses:||
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THE TOUR WILL BE POSTING REGULAR UPDATES AT basicsbustour.tumblr.com
"A successful pilot launch of this tour was done in California in February. It spent two weeks going from southern to northern California, reaching tens of thousands of people from diverse areas, and introducing them to BAsics. They spent time on college campuses, homeless encampments, high schools, a swap meet and more. They had discussions at local bookstores and were invited into people's homes to have deep and wide ranging discussions about Avakian's work and what's concentrated in BAsics – the essential questions of revolution and human emancipation. This time around, they'll also be joining with those fighting the power and engaging in debate and discussion with people who agree, disagree, or who just want to find out more. The crew on this tour will be learning from people and giving them an opportunity to be part of the campaign to get out BA Everywhere. And all this together can reverberate back into the world at large, taking all this even higher."
Contribute generously towards the $20,000 needed, and as part of this, contribute airfare miles or credits. Online donations with a credit card can be made at thebobavakianinstitute.org. Checks or money orders can be made payable to The Bob Avakian Institute or The BA Institute and mailed to 1016 W. Jackson Blvd., Chicago, IL 60607. Right now, contributions can only be solicited and accepted from residents of the following states: California, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Nevada, New York, Texas, Vermont, Washington, Wyoming. If you are interested but in a different state or want to contribute online, contributions can be made payable to RCP Publications at revcom.us or sent to PO Box 3486, Merchandise Mart, Chicago, IL 60654. Please be aware that The Bob Avakian Institute is not tax exempt and donations made to it are not tax deductible.
OR you can arrange to have someone pick up their cash donation, or they can drop it off at Revolution Books.
The whole tour will cost at least $20,000, which breaks down to $1,400 to sponsor a volunteer.
If someone declines, we should find out why. You might be able to explore other things they might be able to do, like CONTRIBUTING AIRLINE MILES, following the tour and helping to build support in other ways.
If they say they do not have money right now, let them know they can give as little as $10 and that will make a big difference. They can also make in-kind contributions of air miles or credits.
If someone says yes, thank them. Also, ask if they have friends who might also be interested. Or if there are other ways they can help.
If they want to think about it, ask them when you can call them back.
In all this, the more concrete you both are in this conversation, the more real your plan and their commitment becomes. Also make sure you share the plan to raise the money: nights that we are phone banking, the Kick-Off event for the bus tour at Revolution Books on Friday, May 18, where they can follow the bus tour (at basicsbustour.tumblr.com), and other events to keep in touch with the bus during its trip. Do they have any ideas of how they can contribute or participate? You'll need a schedule of the local plans, with a list of ways they can contribute and where to connect. You may also want to email them this as a follow up off the call.
[Depending on how much time they have in the call, you may also want to learn what they're thinking about the big events in the world overall...]
A good goal for the phone calls is to end the conversation with a plan, and make sure we follow up with people around the results.
If people want to know the exact route of the tour, let them know it's still being determined but that it's heading out from Atlanta and "going right into the thick of the struggle in a particularly hot area in this country." They should make sure to sign up for Revolution newspaper for updates and check in regularly at basicsbustour.tumblr.com.
If someone wants to learn more, we recommend making use of the short film Next Stop... Revolution. They can find this on youtube by searching the title. This conveys powerfully what it can open up to project Avakian's revolutionary vision and works into society. Also, they can check out the reports and photos from the pilot launch of the bus tour at basicsbustour.tumblr.com. If they're not familiar with Avakian, we recommend sending them links to clips from Avakian's Revolution talk – perhaps the "Emmett Till, Jim Crow... Black People Lived Under a Death Sentence" and one of the "Imagine a New Society" clips. These can be found at youtube.com/revolutiontalk.
"[The BAsics bus tour] cut through people's daily existence of whatever sort of thing they were thinking about. It's not like people didn't have opinions on things. But...this was something they'd never seen before, an RV fully decorated with BAsics, the front and back covers in English and Spanish. You had music, you had these multicultural people stepping off these buses and very alive with revolution, alive with a vision of a new world... It was something unexpected, it was something very new, but it was also something very welcome."
– a young tour participant
"Questions get raised every day about stuff like this but people don't talk about it."
– a city college student in Fresno
"A man from Mexico City who had bought Lo BAsico...commented on the sections that impressed him: about religion, seizing power, and learning about the experience of socialism. 'These are big solutions to big problems.' He said we needed to reach out more to youth, to the schools, that this book 'has to be brought to people around the world.'"
– from a report from the tour volunteers
"When the bus rolls down the street, heads turn. One woman said, it 'stopped me in my tracks!'"
– report from tour volunteers in Riverside, CA
- Volunteer to join the tour. If they are interested in this, make sure you note this, and if they're in the city you're calling from, maybe set up a time to talk with them more or let someone you're working with know they were interested.
- Volunteer! All kinds of assistance is needed from wherever people are at and with whatever time they can contribute: help with press work and internet promotions (both urgently needed now), video editing (for short videos from the tour while it's on the road), and more. If they are interested, again take note of this and let them know someone will get back to them, or they can write directly to email@example.com.
Revolution #268 May 13, 2012
|RV and travel expenses:||
|[RV, gas, food, and lodging]|
|[projector, sound, and printed materials]|
Revolution #268 May 13, 2012
NOTE: Wherever this fundraising letter is issued from or to, follow these guidelines for where the contribution can be solicited and contributed from: Online donations with a credit card can be made at thebobavakianinstitute.org. Checks or money orders can be made payable to The Bob Avakian Institute or The BA Institute and mailed to 1016 W. Jackson Blvd., Chicago, IL 60607. Right now, contributions can only be solicited and accepted from residents of the following states: California, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Nevada, New York, Texas, Vermont, Washington, Wyoming. Please be aware that The Bob Avakian Institute is not tax exempt and donations made to it are not tax deductible. If you are interested but in a different state or want to contribute online, contributions can be made payable to RCP Publications at revcom.us or sent to PO Box 3486, Merchandise Mart, Chicago, IL 60654.
Revolution #268 May 13, 2012
The attached card is intended as a memento for people who contribute to the BAsics Bus Tour – to remind them of how meaningful their contribution is and to give the sense that they are one of many who helped make this important tour happen. This is something they should be proud of, and this card is a way to give expression to that.
We encourage people to print this out, in color and either on card stock or, if possible, laminated.
Right-click this link to download PDF.
Revolution #268 May 13, 2012
May Day 2012
As dusk settled on New York City, a huge triumphant cry rose up at the intersection of Broadway and Wall Street—a block south of Zuccotti Park, the site of Occupy Wall Street in the Fall—the May Day march of tens of thousands had arrived after a day of diverse protest and creative actions.
The Occupy Movement had called for International Workers Day, May 1st, to be a day of "No Work, No School, No Housework, No Shopping!"—a day when Occupy would retake the stage. In LA, San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, Chicago, Washington DC, Houston, as well as many other cities people responded revealing a breadth of support; there is a whole section of people who do not want it to go away.
While this May 1st was not the "General Strike" that some in the Occupy movement had worked and hoped for, there were significant mixes of different sections of people protesting, debating, and taking to the streets, all up against massive police mobilization and continued demonization. On the morning before May Day, the NYPD raided a few activists' homes with warrants for trivial outstanding matters and then attempted to interrogate activists about what was going to happen on May Day.
New York was alive with protest. In the morning rain, picket lines went up at several symbols of corporate power. By midday close to 1,000 gathered in Midtown at Bryant Park in a scene reminiscent of Zuccotti Park, with the People's Library, silk screening, art making, and revelry. Tom Morello conducted a "Guitarmy" of musicians in protest songs who then joined in a march at 2 pm which took 5th Avenue, jubilantly filling the street down to Union Square. At the same time, two to three hundred marched from Occupy Brooklyn across a bridge to Manhattan. Hundreds more defiant protesters careened through the East Village in a "Wildcat" march. Simultaneously, several hundred students and professors held a "Free University" in a Manhattan park with scores of classes and talks.
There was an overflow crowd at Union Square by 5 pm for the May Day Coalition rally. One theme of the rally was demanding rights for immigrants; people represented from around the world with a predominance of Latino organizations. The rally started off with a performance by Tom Morello, followed by speeches interspersed with appearances by the musicians Das Racist and Dan Deacon. Then the march stepped off to a performance by Immortal Technique. Union members, cab drivers, families, a large young multinational LGBTQ contingent, students from around the city—there was a spirit throughout that the struggle against all the injustices is just beginning: we won't go away. The spirit and determination of the core of Occupy infused the march.
At the start of the march, people had to walk through a gauntlet of a double line of riot-clad police on each side of the street with an armada of police scooters and vans filling the side street. The capitalist state showed its "local army"—at least half of the two- to three-mile march was lined with cops every two feet. At key junctures foot pigs were backed up by mounted pigs. At different points the cops grabbed and arrested people. When some of the marchers sat down at the intersection of Broadway and Wall Street, police quickly charged in to make arrests. At the end of the day after a general assembly, police filled two more paddy wagons. All told about 50 to 80 people were arrested in New York City. In Oakland, California, the pigs deployed armored vehicles, stun grenades, and tear gas.
This massive show of pig force by the ruling class belies their swagger. This is a class and system that fear the crimes they commit against humanity here and around the world have the potential to spark a storm of resistance.
As the rally began, a spirited internationalist contingent marched in with large flags that said: "Internationalism: The Whole World Comes First." At the front of the contingent was a beautiful 5x12 foot banner inspired by the image from Revolution newspaper of the Earth breaking through chains. The banner read "Humanity Needs Revolution" in English and Spanish.
The internationalist contingent brought a compelling revolutionary substance into the rally and march. With revolutionaries at the core, the front line of the spirited contingent was young women—some from Occupy, a professional, a student—followed by a multinational, multigenerational crew, some of whom came straight from being on trial for the first STOP "Stop & Frisk" protest last October, others from the battle around Trayvon Martin, as well as antiwar activists from World Can't Wait.
The striking hand-painted lead banner: "Humanity Needs Revolution" in English and Spanish, was made by people attracted by the internationalist stand. Fabric was donated, funds were pledged, and on the eve of May Day it was created in a lively scene in a downtown park where a revolutionary communist and two artists—one an African-American aspiring artist who left home in the Midwest to join the Occupy movement, the other a student we met that day who has been watching the revolutionaries from afar and wanting to get involved. Other folks joined in to help paint and to talk about what May First is all about and the message of "humanity needs revolution."
Everyone in the contingent wanted to bring the stand that was concentrated in two quotes from BA: "Internationalism: the Whole World Comes First" and "American Lives Are NOT More Important Than Other People's Lives" into May Day. This resonated with many throughout the day who wanted the world to see that there are people here in the belly of the beast and who recognize that their responsibility is to the people of the world. Anchoring this mix and engaging people all along the route, revolutionaries sold the May Day issue of Revolution featuring quotes from BA that go straight to the heart that the problem in the world is imperialism and that revolution leading to communism—where all forms of oppression and exploitation are eliminated throughout the world.
Revolution Books New York stopped business as usual at the store for the day and went on the road with large colorful book tables at the Free University and in Union Square. A professor brought her class to the table at Union Square, where there was a bilingual discussion of Lo BAsico, the Spanish version of BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian. The day was filled with Revolution newspaper quickly changing hands, interspersed with scores of conversations about what the problem and what the solution is to the misery faced around the globe. Out to be part of May Day to shake things up, people were open to finding out about Bob Avakian's new synthesis of communism, and were inspired, impressed and excited by the BAsics Bus Tour. More than one said, "that's brave." Hearing about the tour opened people up to wanting to know more about BA and why the revolutionaries were making this the cutting edge of the movement for revolution.
May Day 2012. Masses of people made a statement that they will not be easily shut down. Occupy made an important step retaking the stage. Big questions over what is the problem in the world and what is the solution are being joined by growing numbers of people. The road forward for resistance movements is being forged in the streets and in continuing conversations and debates. Through all this there are new openings to bring many people into discovering and being a part of the movement for revolution.
We also received the following reports.
Thousands went into the streets on May Day in the Bay Area with a spirit of defiance and refusal to go along with the oppressive routine. This day marked a re-emergence of the Occupy movement. Morning actions, including an anti-capitalist march in Oakland; a building takeover in San Francisco; one-day strikes called by nurses at ten hospitals in the Bay Area and by ferry workers (which shut down the ferries that take morning commuters to jobs in San Francisco); and a large immigrants’ rights “March for Dignity and Resistance” called in coordination with Occupy Oakland. May Day protests took place in many Bay Area cities and also in Fresno.
In Oakland, crowds gathered at Oscar Grant Plaza, in front of City Hall, the site of evictions of Occupy Oakland by the police last fall. Occupiers took over the main intersection there—and were met by sharp attack from the police. They chanted, “The whole world is watching and we are not afraid.”
Many came to the plaza looking for something different and something better. A young woman said, “I love May Day, and I love it when everyone comes together. I love how there are people from all walks of life here. Our society doesn’t work for any of us, constantly conditions us to look out for ourselves—but it is a global thing, we are all part of the 99 per cent.” A reporter for the SF Bay Guardian said: “I stand in solidarity with the workers of the world—not our government. I don’t believe in borders.”
When the internationalist contingent that had been organized entered into the protests, people were drawn to its revolutionary spirit. At its peak, close to 50 people were marching, chanting: “We are not Americans. We are internationalists.” “Que tenemos? Nada!” Que queremos? Todo el mundo.” A contingent of postal workers joined the contingent’s soccer inspired song: “O -le ole ole ole Re-vo...lu-cion!”
Over 300 copies of Revolution/Revolucion were distributed. BAsics was sold, and many were introduced to BA for the first time and some contributed funds. Hundreds of postcards saying “Join us! Twelve ways that you can be part of building the movement for revolution—right now” got into people’s hands.
As night fell and the crowd diminished, police moved in to clear the plaza by force. Tear gas, motorcycles, clubs and other munitions were used against protesters and there were media reports of broken chain store windows and a burnt police car.
This May 1st, Occupy LA took to the streets. Ten different actions took place beginning with striking airport workers and supporters at LAX, one of the largest airports in the country. Later, people converged on downtown LA from four directions, rallying at a spot close to LA’s Skid Row. It was a wild mix of people, youth of all nationalities together with others. Everybody felt they had to be there on May 1st to make their voices heard against the many ways capitalism is working against the people. All throughout the day, downtown LA was nearly brought to a halt by crisscrossing marches and rallies in the streets and parks, protests in the financial district as well as in the immigrant neighborhoods and in locations like Florence and Normandie, where the 1992 LA Rebellion first broke out.
In the afternoon, while over a thousand Occupiers filled a corner next to Skid Row, blocks away a march of thousands demanding justice for immigrants and an end to attacks on immigrant rights went to City Hall. A contingent of over a hundred, dressed in red T-shirts, represented the LGBTQ community. And there was a sizable—and magnetic—internationalist contingent with its multicolored banners in English and Spanish, declaring “Internationalism: the Whole World Comes First!” People joined in this contingent, helping to carry the banners, picking up signs, and dancing to the internationalist slogans. Scores of copies of Revolution newspaper were sold in the march and to the thousands who lined the sidewalks, and a new flier giving everyone “12 Ways To Join the Movement for Revolution” went out all along the way.
As the night began to close in, several thousand May Day demonstrators converged in the downtown area to celebrate what they had accomplished during the day and to dance to the music of the bands that were playing. In the afternoon the band Outernational played, fresh from completing a 2,000-mile tour playing gigs all along the border between the U.S. and Mexico.
Revolution #268 May 13, 2012
20 Freedom Fighters Expose Crimes of Stop-and-Frisk
24-7-365: Police Precincts, USA—Black and Latino people, especially young males, shackled, pulled out of paddy wagons and from the back seats of police cars, marched into waiting cells and interrogation rooms, sometimes bloodied; they’re the “unlucky ones” who didn’t get let go after being stopped and frisked by the police. There’s a good chance they’ll end up as one of the 2.4 million people incarcerated in this country that brags about being the “land of the free.”
* * * * *
On May 4—the fifth day of a (non-jury) trial of 20 people charged with two counts of disorderly conduct, stemming from an October 21, 2011 protest at the 28th Precinct in Harlem against the NYPD policy of stop-and-frisk—Judge Robert Mandelbaum found all defendants guilty. Three were found guilty of only one count; all were sentenced to time served and $120 fine; one defendant was also given community service.
Stop-and-frisk is a major pipeline for mass incarceration. And the reality of mass incarceration—where the U.S. has 5% of the world’s population, but 25% of its prisoners—is a searing indictment of the United States. This trial was an important juncture in building resistance to stop-and-frisk and to mass incarceration. It drew national attention, with coverage in major national media, and was described in some news articles as being one of the biggest and most important political trials the city has seen in recent years. This is a critical moment to seize to raise the resistance to a higher level, to draw in broader sections of people and wage an even more determined fight against mass incarceration.
The prosecution set out to prove that this was just about “disorderly conduct”—that this was just about whether or not people blocked the sidewalk and precinct doorway. They objected almost every time a defendant on the witness stand tried to talk about stop-and-frisk. They tried to rip this trial completely out of the larger context of WHY more than 20 people on that day made a conscious choice to risk getting arrested to STOP “Stop and Frisk.” But as Carl Dix, from the Revolutionary Communist Party, explained during one of the courtroom breaks: “We held a meeting last summer about the question of racially targeted mass incarceration. We decided that this is an emergency situation, that we needed a much higher level of resistance and that in the New York area we would begin this by targeting the stop-and-frisk policy of the NYPD, it’s racist, it’s illegal, it’s unconstitutional, it’s immoral and it needs to be stopped and we thought that somebody needs to step up and stop it. So Dr. Cornel West and I issued a call for a campaign of non-violent civil disobedience aimed at stopping stop-and-frisk. We decided to do the 28th Precinct in Harlem because Harlem is one of the areas where the stop-and-frisk policy is focused. It targets Black and Latino youth, it literally treats them as a criminalized generation, guilty until proven innocent, if they can survive to prove their innocence...We called for people to gather in Harlem in front of the State Office Building to march to the precinct to deliver the message that this policy is no good, it must be stopped and we are acting to stop it. That’s what we did. We did it dramatically. The police responded and we got arrested for it.”
The prosecution presented its case over two days with a parade of police witnesses. Here we had the very cops who carry out stop-and-frisk every day talking of how they arrested people for protesting the crime of stop-and-frisk.
On the third day of the trial, the defense began its case and the defendants got an opportunity to try to testify about what this case was actually all about—and tell their own stories about what compelled them to take a stand that day. The defendants were represented by lawyers Paul Mills, Marty Stolar, Megan Maurus, and Ari Brochin.
The defendants were a diverse cross section of people, different nationalities and from many different walks of life. They included those who have been victims of stop-and-frisk; those whose children have been repeatedly stopped and searched without being charged with a crime; students, teachers, clergy, professionals, workers, retired or unemployed; Wall Street Occupiers; and some with family members in the NYPD.
The defense went toe-to-toe with the prosecution, presenting evidence and arguing that in fact the defendants were not guilty of the two charges of disorderly conduct. From many different angles, through video, testimony by the defendants, cross-examination of the police, the defense showed how in fact, this was an act of non-violent civil disobedience and that, as defense attorney Paul Mills said in his summation, “Evidence from defendants [showed] that this was merely symbolic blockage, physically too weak. If you try to rob a bank with your finger (a symbolic gun), you cannot be convicted of armed robbery.” The defense also showed how the police order given to the defendants, that they were arrested for refusing to obey, was unlawful to begin with. And the defense argued that these arrests were a complete violation of the First Amendment guarantee of freedom of speech and assembly.
In addition to presenting a case that relied on contradictory police testimony, the prosecution tried to limit the defendants´ testimony to things like “where were you standing?” and then tried to establish that the defendants wanted to get arrested that day. But the defendants eloquently told their stories—passionately and with a lot of heart and humor.
When asked about the police captain who arrested people, one defendant responded, “That captain is running a modern day slave patrol.”
When asked about his willingness to get arrested that day, one of the Black defendants said, “Every day when I step out of the door, willing or unwilling, I face a high risk of getting arrested.”
When asked whether she intended to “inconvenience people,” another defendant who has stated she was against mass incarceration at home and abroad responded, “We went in an effort to remove a major inconvenience in Harlem where 830,000 people are stopped every year.”
Rev. Earl Kooperkamp, from St. Mary’s Church in Harlem, told the court he was there that day because he believes stop-and-frisk is “racist, immoral and illegal” and had come to that conclusion based on hearing about the experience of his parishioners. Nellie Hester Bailey from the Harlem Tenants Rights Council and Occupy Harlem told the court how her two adult children have both been stopped by the police.
Carl Dix introduced himself as a 63-year-old Black man whose lifetime spans the lynching of Emmett Till and the murder of Trayvon Martin. He told the story of how, when he was 13, he got beat down and taken into custody by cops in Baltimore because he “fit the description of a suspect.” Dix said he was put into a police car with another “suspect”—about 40 years old, six inches taller than him, with a full beard. The only thing they had in common was that they were both wearing trench coats and were Black men.
A young Black defendant talked about how he has been stopped and frisked since he was 15 and told the story of how he and a friend were stopped, pulled out of their car, handcuffed hard, then told that the only way the police would take the cuffs off is if they would do the “chicken noodle dance.” He said, “That’s what made me feel so strongly that day.”
Randy Credico, political comedian, activist and former director of the William Moses Kunstler Fund for Racial Justice, had the courtroom busting out in laughter (which was quickly reprimanded) when he said he had worked in Las Vegas and then went into a bit, imitating Ronald Reagan. Credico said in the past he had done drugs and that “if I was Black, I would have spent years in prison.” Regarding stop-and-frisk, Credico said, “This law is a fugitive slave law” and “I’m willing to get arrested for it right now.... I definitely wanted to participate in this, up to that point it had been academic and I was looking for a way to move it up a notch and this was a way to do that.”
A seventh grade teacher in a South Bronx school said, “[Before this] I had been inactive in the community to the detriment of the people in the community.... I’m still learning. When I met Carl Dix I thought Jim Crow was a man. I’d been waiting for a moment like this my entire adult life and now it was happening. I know I was not committing a crime, I know there is criminal behavior and criminalized behavior.”
Jim Vrettos, a professor at John Jay College, told the court that his students have educated him about stop-and-frisk, that “half the students have been stopped and frisked” and that “I wanted to get out of the classroom and make a statement, this was a way to express some of my ideas, opportunity to show solidarity with the community.”
Cornel West was the last defendant to testify, telling the court that they had set out that day to “bear witness” to “this extension of Jim Crow,” that this was a “matter of morality, of spirituality, a matter of ones humanity,” that “this is very serious, stop-and-frisk, it is about demeaning, breaking people’s spirit and getting away with it.” He then went on to say, “We want the young people to know we care about them, are concerned, love them and are willing to sacrifice for them,” and that there is “joy from being in solidarity with people who are suffering” and that he “would recommend it for most fellow citizens.”
On May 4, the prosecution and defense gave closing arguments before the Judge delivered his verdict. For the defense, Paul Mills ended his summation with a quote that captured something about the spirit that day in front of the 28th Precinct. He said: “Why those people felt they had to be so loud, up front, on the edge—I refer here not to Henry David Thoreau, Gandhi, or Martin Luther King, but to Mose Allison who said: ‘If you’re going to the city, you better learn to shout, ’cause if you don’t shout and scream, you’re gonna get left out.’”
Expressing similar sentiments in his closing argument, defense lawyer Marty Stolar said of the defendants, “They deserve not only acquittal but commendation for taking up this issue, bringing it out, making sure it doesn’t die and that hundreds of thousands don’t have to fear being arrested every time they leave their house.”
After the judge delivered his guilty verdict, it was clear this was not going to deter any defendant from continuing this fight. And many explicitly stated this when the judge gave each defendant an opportunity to give a brief statement. One defendant simply responded, “We live in a country where after the Holocaust they said never again, after 911, they said never forget, and after slavery they said, get over it.”
Coming out of the courtroom after the verdict, very common responses from the defendants were: “Yes, I’m guilty of fighting for justice.” “What happened here will only make us stronger.” “This is only the beginning.” “We’re not going to stop until we STOP ‘Stop and Frisk.’”
This trial put a national spotlight on the fight against stop-and-frisk and mass incarceration as a whole. But this is indeed “only the beginning.” There is an opportunity, and urgent need, to build this crucial struggle against the horror of mass incarceration even more deeply, broadly, and in a determined way throughout society.
At the press conference after the trial ended, Carl Dix summed up: “This was a very high-stakes battle. We targeted a policy that is foundational to the way they keep control, criminalizing Black and Latino youth, treating them like they’re guilty until proven innocent, if they can survive to prove their innocence. We targeted that on purpose ’cause we know how foul that is. When you look at that racial profiling that stop-and-frisk is, together with the 2.4 million people warehoused in prison, the torture-like conditions in prison, together with the way they treat people even after they serve their sentences, you got a condition of a slow genocide that could easily become a fast one. Mass incarceration + Silence = Genocide. We had to break that silence. We did that on October 21, and we carried it into the courtroom.”
Look for more coverage at revcom.us, including interviews with defendants, defense lawyers and press conference statements.
More trials of people arrested protesting stop-and-frisk are quickly approaching in May and June 2012.
November 1, 2011 saw action in Brownsville, Brooklyn, site of the highest ratio of stop-and-frisk encounters in the entire city. A third significant action occurred November 19, 2011 at the 103rd Precinct in Jamaica, Queens. This is the same district where Sean Bell was killed by plain-clothes cops on the eve of his wedding. Both events saw over 20 arrests. For more information and updates on court dates contact:
Revolution #268 May 13, 2012
BA Everywhere is a campaign aimed at raising big money to project Bob Avakian’s voice and works throughout society—to make BA a household word. The campaign is reaching out to those who are deeply discontented with what is going on in the world, and stirring up discussion and debate about the problem and solution. It is challenging the conventional wisdom that this capitalist system is the best humanity can do—and bringing to life the reality that with the new synthesis of communism brought forward by BA, there is a viable vision and strategy for a radically new, and much better, society and world, and there is the leadership that is needed for the struggle toward that goal.
Success in this campaign can bring about a radical and fundamental change in the social and political atmosphere by bringing 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.
BA Everywhere is a multi-faceted campaign, involving different key initiatives and punctuation points, at the same time sinking roots among all sections of the people and reaching out broadly in myriad creative ways. Revolution newspaper is where everyone can find out what’s going on with all this: reports on what people are doing, upcoming plans, important editorials, etc. We call on readers to send us timely correspondence on what you are doing to raise money for BA Everywhere, why people are contributing, and what they are saying.
“Scenes from BA Everywhere” is a weekly feature that gives our readers an ongoing picture of this multifaceted campaign, and the variety of ways that funds are being raised and the whole BA vision and framework is being brought into all corners of society. Revolution newspaper is at the hub of the BA Everywhere effort—publishing reports from those taking up the campaign. Revolution plays a pivotal role in building an organized network of people across the country coming together to make BA a household word. We urge all our readers to send us timely correspondence on what you are doing as part of this campaign. This week, we’ve excerpted from correspondence we’ve received about the four defiant days, April 28-May 1, when people around the country made concentrated efforts in the BA Everywhere campaign and in fighting for, promoting, and celebrating revolution, a whole new and far better world... and the vision, strategy, and revolutionary communist leadership we have to get there. (See "May Day 2012: Occupy Steps Out Across the Country" for reports on May 1.)
In Harlem on Saturday, April 28, the march with the image of BA at the front could be seen and heard from half a block away. Women in a beauty shop got up and went to the door to watch. One sister there, who was going to sing in the program at the revolutionary May Day celebration the next day, explained to the women around her that this was the revolution crew coming through.
At the street corners the revolutionaries fanned out, selling papers, raising money for the BAsics Bus Tour, getting fliers out to everyone about the May Day celebration and the internationalist contingent on May 1. The May Day truck paralleled the march, decorated with BAsics banners and huge enlargements of the front page of the May Day issue of Revolution newspaper. Readings, agitation, and audio clips from Bob Avakian’s Revolution talk played on the corners where the revolutionaries held mini-rallies.
As the procession approached, a homeless man announced in an excited voice to the people around him, “It’s the Revolutionary Communist Party,” and stretched out his arm in a welcoming gesture. One man just out of prison bought a BA button after hearing about Bob Avakian for the first time. Others knew something about BA: “That’s the revolution man.”
The day started off in Washington Heights, where a lot of people are from the Dominican Republic. One man who bought Lo BAsico told of participating in the street fighting in Santo Domingo as a child against the U.S. troops who invaded the island in 1965. He said, “After that the leaders were killed and the movement dispersed ... most of them came over here and I’m one of them. That’s why I know there can be a revolution in this country, because there’s people like me walking around everywhere.” He learned on Saturday about the leadership for this revolution in BA.
Throughout the day people were challenged to become part of the movement for revolution and began to do that. More than 250 got copies of Revolution newspaper, several people got BAsics, and many contributed to the bus tour, from change up to $20. One woman in a nearby project opened her kitchen and helped prepare the lunch for the May Day crew and was deeply pleased to be “part of a team” that was working together.
On Sunday, the May Day celebration was held in a popular Harlem park. A battle to get the permit for the celebration in this park had involved local ministers, people from the projects and others who called the Parks Department to insist that this celebration needed to go forward (the permit was won). At the celebration were people from the neighborhood, around the city, and around the world. An internationalist feast was contributed by a number of restaurants and supporters of the movement for revolution.
The bilingual English-Spanish celebration conveyed the open arms of BA’s “An Invitation” to go on a journey together to change the world (online at revcom.us), and the young MC’s brought the audience with them on the beginning of that journey. One young man was inspired to write a poem on the spot about rejecting the nationalism he used to “carry in his back pocket” and how he now was “wrapped in the warm flag of humanity.” Periodically throughout the program young children “driving” a replica BAsics bus crossed the stage yelling “Get on the bus!” Among the cultural performances was a professional actor’s dramatic and heartfelt reading of letters from prisoners about the impact that BAsics has had on their lives.
At a halfway point in the program, an “organizing intermission” encouraged people to get connected and participate, and to get tickets for a raffle to raise money for the bus tour, with amazing prizes donated by many people and organizations. The next-to-last musical piece brought a Harlem artist onstage to sing Nina Simone’s “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free” with volunteers on the stage carrying placards of young people amid the world’s horrors, put together by a high school student. A dramatic reading of BAsics 1:13 (“No more generations of our youth, here and all around the world, whose life is over...”) brought home the hope for revolution. Finally, the program participants together with members of the audience joined on stage to dance to the Outernational song, “Que tenemos? Nada!” Que queremos? Todo el mundo.”
On April 28, a crew of 20+ revolutionaries and supporters spent the day spreading revolution and the BA Everywhere campaign among the basic people in Oakland and East Oakland. We began the day with a lively car caravan through downtown Oakland that wound its way south to the predominantly Latino Fruitvale District. It was led by a 20-foot-long flatbed truck with 3- by 4-foot enlargements of the covers of BAsics and Lo BAsico on either side, as well as BA’s quotes (“Internationalism—the whole world comes first” and “American lives are not more important than other peoples lives”) and a call for people to join the May Day contingent. Following the truck were a half-dozen cars with red flags and copies of Revolution newspaper waving out the window. The caravan definitely turned heads—and provoked smiles, peace signs, fists and honking horns.
In the Fruitvale neighborhood, teams with Revolution, BAsics/Lo BAsico, leaflets, and cans for donations went down either side of International Boulevard as the sound truck drove up and down the street. After that, we spent the rest of the afternoon outside Walmart (with one crew going to 71st and International, where we had held anti-mass incarceration and police brutality rallies). We used BAsics 1:14 and 1:31 a lot. After reading quote 1:14, a Mexican man said, “I’d never thought of it that way—but that’s what they did to us in Mexico.” He got a copy of Revolution and gave $10 to the tour. A Black woman who had known the Panthers “back in the day” spent over 20 minutes reading through BAsics and said, “He really breaks things down.” At the end of the day we summed up that very few people, even here in the Bay Area, knew about BA and that it would make a tremendous difference if they did. This is something we can—and must—change.
While we were at Walmart, the Occubus with 10 or so Occupy activists pulled up to leaflet for the May Day protest in Oakland. It was quite a scene—the communists, Occupy activists, as well as people hawking comedy CD’s and party tours all in front of Walmart. One of the Occupy folks had been tweeting pictures and comments on our sound truck. She tweeted us: “I fucking love your #M1GS [May First General Strike] truck! The sound was awesome!! We ran into your truck earlier today at Walmart! check my tweets:)”
The next day, there was a lively party in downtown Oakland to raise money for the BAsics Bus Tour, with a DJ, a jazz band, and food provided by various individuals and restaurants. The program featured a short video from the pilot BAsics Bus Tour in California in February, narrated by one of the volunteers on the tour. More than $1,000 was raised, with pledges for $1,000 more.
The four-day BA Everywhere May Day weekend was kicked off with a sound truck rolling through a Black and Latino neighborhood where there has been outrage and protest in response to the murder of Trayvon Martin, and where the revolutionaries have been in the mix. “All Played Out” from Bob Avakian poured out of the sound system and banners on the side of the truck included “It’s Right to Rebel Against Injustice!” announcing the night of culture to raise money for BA Everywhere taking place the next evening, on the 20th anniversary of the Los Angeles Rebellion. People on the street stopped to talk, some came out of their apartments to see what this was about, and at some buildings we knocked on doors. Our main focus was raising money and selling tickets to the fundraiser for the next evening. Many people who donated were inspired by the vision of the BAsics bus filled with revolutionaries launching from Atlanta, heading into that area of the country bringing revolutionary leadership and the vision of a new world. And even though people mainly had not heard of Bob Avakian before, they were also moved to donate because of the quotes from him in the special issue of Revolution newspaper, and in particular lifting their sights to “the whole world comes first.” One young guy who donated started off giving $2 he had in his pocket. After he went through the pages of the newspaper and read about fighting for a whole new world, we challenged him, and he did decide to donate some more.
On the evening of April 29, Revolution Books hosted a dinner and evening of culture at a local club to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the LA Rebellion, as a fundraiser for the BA Everywhere campaign and the BAsics Bus Tour. (Earlier that day, Revolution Books hosted a panel discussion on the LA Rebellion, with Michael Slate, contributor to Revolution and host of The Michael Slate Show on KPFK in Los Angeles; Erin Aubry Kaplan, LA-based journalist and author; and Frank Stoltze, former news director at KPFK and current news reporter at KPCC radio.) The band Outernational delivered an inspiring unplugged set to open things up. Leon Mobley and Da Lion, an African percussion ensemble, set the night on fire with a ferociously energetic set that grabbed people by their rhythm bone and didn’t let go for 45 minutes. Leon Mobley also announced that he was contributing one of his signature Remo Djembe drums to raise money for the BA Everywhere campaign. When his set was finished, Leon was soaked in sweat and deeply inspired by what he described as the revolutionary vibe of the night. As people talked with the musicians after the performances, there was a lively exchange of stories about how they found the revolution. Youth who went on the California BAsics Bus Tour pilot project spoke about their experience and gave a fund pitch for the bus tour that will be taking off from Atlanta in a few weeks.
We started Saturday by heading to the heart of the Westside to a busy shopping area, in a neighborhood where the police have been shooting and murdering Black people in record numbers. Our car caravan had a lead truck with three gorgeous color banners with the BAsics and the Revolution newspaper logo. Playing from a loudspeaker was “All Played Out,” BA’s spoken word piece with music by jazz musician William Parker. At different points during the day, from barbershops and street corners, you would see people catch the beat and come up to the caravan, looking to learn what this was all about. We then went to Hyde Park and the University of Chicago area, and to the Woodlawn Mental Health Center, one of six mental health clinics that the city has closed down. Dozens of mental health advocates and clinic users occupied the clinic, and then put up a tent city in the vacant lot across the street after being forced out of the clinic. The next day, Sunday, a multinational group of some 60 people came together for the dinner to celebrate May Day and raised $1,400 for the BAsics Bus Tour. People relaxed, shared experiences, watched clips from BA’s Revolution talk, and discussed big questions of the day, while enjoying a feast of donated dishes.
Longtime supporters and some people new to the movement for revolution contributed greatly to the success of our fundraising potluck on Sunday, April 29—from providing the space, to compiling the evening’s music, to the cooking of many delicious dishes and selling tickets. People we have recently met in the battle to demand justice for Trayvon Martin and the struggle against mass incarceration, joined this effort. Several people bought tickets to support the BA Everywhere campaign and several others attended the dinner. A young woman who participated in the April 10 Day of Outrage and has taken several bundles of Revolution newspaper to distribute to friends and family made a colorful poster for the event, featuring the Earth and the slogan “Internationalism—the Whole World Comes First.” She was especially impacted by the video “Next Stop—Revolution” shown at the gathering, and the many young people in that documentary who spoke from their own experience of the need for a whole different world. She said that she wants to show it to her friends in the neighborhood, to bring them into this movement. A student who is confronting all that the system imposes on young Black men was challenged that this is NOT the only world possible, and BA’s leadership has a lot to do with bringing a new set of possibilities into play for humanity. He left with a copy of the RCP’s “On the Strategy for Revolution” to read and share with his friends.
Revolution #268 May 13, 2012
From a Reader
I thought Revolution newspaper readers should pay special attention to this first-hand correspondence on raising funds for the BAsics Bus Tour. This person raised over $1,200 and, as you can see, got some very enthusiastic responses—building important political support for the tour and involving people in the whole BA Everywhere campaign. I got very excited reading this, but it also struck me how there should be many reports of this kind. They took a pretty simple approach, deciding to prioritize this fundraising and going out very broadly. So I wanted to put a challenge to the readers of Revolution newspaper to learn from this and really go all out in the next week to raise funds and excitement for this BAsics Bus Tour.
"A bus tour through the South bringing revolution and communism? Do you realize how historic this is? I hope to fuck you are filming this, and if you're not, you are depriving generations of chronicling an historic event....
"Taking it to the people. This is such a great idea. The imagery of a BAsics bus in the parking lot of a shopping mall or a school or neighborhood or any area of congregation or just motoring along a highway to spread the word is visionary."
—A university professor of media studies
"It is crucially important, at this terrible time in our history, to reach out to citizens whose access to discussion of alternatives to the political and economic chaos in which we live is very limited. The BAsics Bus Tour is a brave attempt to help remedy this situation. The participants have my respect, admiration, and wishes for success."
—A university professor of philosophy
I've been able to reach quite a number of folks around the BAsics Bus Tour, and in the work for this have built up both anticipation for this very important part of BA Everywhere and at the same time community being built through this. Most of the people I've talked to are professors, but also include actors and family members.
First for myself was the question of prioritizing things I needed to do and things that could wait. The importance of this BAsics Bus Tour, and in particular going through the South, was clear to me that this is going to be potentially historic. By the way, many referenced the Freedom Rides of the early '60s for comparison, and I found myself both uniting with that sentiment, and also struggling with them that while radical and very important for that time, we didn't have a Bob Avakian back then with the analysis of revolution and the vision of a whole new world that we have now and are bringing onto the scene.
Looking from the revolution back, one can see the importance of speaking to a section of people who can be described as—and this came from one of the donors who is an actor, and who grew up in the South—"Most of these people get their primary analysis of history and current events from the Christian Broadcast Network and Fox News." Explicit in the conversations with these professors was the question: "Are we going to cede this section of masses whose interests are with the revolution and communism to these monsters?" I learned through going to many professors—about two dozen—that this could truly make a difference, and what began to happen is that not only did a fair number of them contribute, and some quite a bit, but they also came with suggestions about how to do this tour, and questions like: “Will there be a running blog? How much publicity are you generating in anticipation of this? What about the youth being reached in this?” A Black professor from Louisiana told me she wants to weigh in on how to handle certain situations. One law professor asked me: "How many lawyers are you bringing with you through these areas?"
All these professors have gotten BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian, as well as the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal). And there is a need for all of you out there reading this to think through why a good number of people will want to introduce people to Bob Avakian, especially through the book BAsics. Imagine the difference it will make. When I talked with people, I opened up the book to a few quotes or one of the essays—I personally had the most engagement with the essay, "Reform or Revolution: Questions of Orientation, Questions of Morality," which is a conversation starter for sure—and then asking "Imagine people hearing this or reading this or the 'Imagine' clip in the Revolution talk DVD since this will be a multimedia bus tour."
Now, to be honest, there is sometimes a bit of arrogance coming from especially those who have access to certain spheres of inquiry and tend to "know it all," but this really is something they want those who don't have access (as the philosophy prof said) to know. The professors also admit they can't reach or even speak to this section of people like BA does. And you want to let them know that part of what this BA Everywhere has already accomplished is the fact that about 1,100 copies of BAsics are in the hands of prisoners who have requested it, and the only reason those books are out there is because people contributed to make that happen. People need to know the scope of this, including the fact that while, this tour through the South is huge and challenging, it is the second of more to come, and part of projecting Bob Avakian to many millions.
An important thing to bring out is what we are doing among the basic masses to raise money—from a barber donating $100, to bake sales, to raffles. This in a good way challenges these professors, who tend to have some more resources to step up. And we should be very lofty in what we ask for. This BAsics Bus Tour will cost $20,000. You can make a big difference by donating $500.
Through this engagement about the BAsics Bus Tour there was a visible understanding that the RCP is serious about making revolution and speaking to the social base that right now hasn't a clue about this movement for revolution and most of what they hear that is "oppositional" to the government is from the Tea Party and even to the right of that. As I mentioned, while many referenced the Freedom Rides, they also know that this is a much different thing, both because of what's changed in the world as well as the verdict on communism. But despite this, they feel that here is someone—Bob Avakian—who can connect with people, even though it will be a grand challenge, as well as someone who has been listening to them and can articulate their interests.
One last point: this is too important a project to worry about being told "no" for a contribution (in fact several professors said no), and even there we want to find out why not, but still people need to know that this is happening and we even want to get back to them at a later time and keep them in the loop of what is happening with this campaign.
Revolution #268 May 13, 2012
Letter from a reader
I was recently helping clean up at my grandparents’ place, an old 1st floor apartment in a poor neighborhood they’ve lived in longer than I been alive. At one point, “Mama” makes coffee, and while I break to drink it I lean against the window looking out at the world. I remember back to when I was a kid, used to have to stretch on my “tippy-toes” just to reach the window to be able to look out. There’s always been bars on the window. It made it harder to see everything, but it was the only slice of “the world” I could get.
So I was looking out the window to take in the life and flow of “the world.” Kids getting out of school, running around and playing, viejas and viejos catch up on the latest “news” (aka gossip) or play dominos. The police jump out to surround a young Latino guy, and let him go once they’re satisfied they’ve intimidated him. People who have nothing walk up and down the block asking anyone for a little help. Police drag a middle-aged Black man into the street to beat him for having a broken headlight. And the life and flow gets sucked back into the rock, as parents pull kids inside to be "safe," and no one feels like playing dominos anymore.
Growing up, I put together a lot of what I knew about the world between what I got out of that window, tv and going to catholic school and church. I came to look at the church stuff as a lot of crap, but I was way up into it for a while in big part because I wanted my life to be about something, to have a bigger point and purpose. Fast forward to my first years of high school, and I’m losing my religion, failing in school, I’m FUCKING HATING “the world” the more I learn about it, and feeling displaced in history, without purpose or anything for my life to be about, or at least nothing I wanted it to be about. I would hang out with “gangsta” types, who treated me like I was worth something and had a lot of self respect, but that involved a lot of messing over each other to get that respect and lording it over women. I would also hang out with the smart kids, intellectual types, where I could learn a lot but where you were supposed to be more concerned about self-advancement and trying to position for a career, which meant getting a place in this world (which I fucking hated), which ultimately involves on a world scale people messing over each other.
Enter BA. I wasn’t exactly political, but I was trying to figure out this world (which I fucking hated), how to understand things, and what to be about. I looked at some history and different thinkers, but it was by chance I encountered BA and it changed the game. Someone showed me a piece, which is quoted in BAsics 5:24, about how we must look at not just how we win “in the trenches” so to speak, but what it means to win in the largest sense, and not become the enemy in the process. There was immediate two things that hit me. One, I wasn’t just crazy for fucking hating the way the world was and I wasn’t “alone out there” in wanting it to change, bottom to top, all over the planet. Two, I felt challenged that it was not enough to just fucking hate this world (which I did), because that wouldn’t get past this world, and that what communist revolutionaries were about was taking responsibility for how we win in the largest sense, as BA put it.
I began asking my parents and others for money to get food, which I would save up by not eating. Then I’d lie about getting detention or something, so I could sneak off to Rev Books and get writings from BA, as well as others. I remember the very first thing I bought was “Conquer the World?” by Avakian, for no other reason than the title. I remember reading “Observations” from BA and being challenged by a lot of it, especially one point which is quoted in BAsics 6:5 about how “if you don’t have a poetic spirit—or at least a poetic side—it is very dangerous for you to lead a Marxist movement or be the leader of a socialist state.” This forced me to relook at a lot of things I had just dismissed like art, culture, poetry, music, etc.
I can’t get into everything I’ve learned from studying Avakian and also in taking up the life’s work and mission he represents, of “winning in the largest sense.” But I want to stress a couple things. Because I was able to get into and connect up with BA, I’ve been able to remove the bars on the window I use to look out at the world (to try to use that “poetic side” BA talks about). I got connected up with BA at a time when I didn’t know if my life could be about anything that mattered. Then again, after I dropped out of high school, my life became just about getting by trying to survive, and I almost ended up just another slave who once dreamed of freedom. It was going back to this connection with BA that was vitally important in whether there was any real way for my life to be about not just anything, but about emancipating humanity, or “winning in the largest sense.”
It cannot be allowed to continue that this connection only happens by chance and accident. There is a movement for revolution being built, to win both “in the trenches” when it comes to that, and to “win in the largest sense,” and a big part of that work has to be making that connect[ion] with this leader possible for many more people. You; yes you, reading this; need to be part of making it possible for people, including people like me, to take BA to every corner of society, metaphorically ripping bars off windows and making his life work and mission a stronger material force, something else to be about in a world which offers so many no greater purpose than one way or another of messing over each other.
The Bob Avakian Institute is a nonprofit institute organized for educational purposes. Its mission is to preserve, project, and promote the works and vision of Bob Avakian with the aim of reaching the broadest possible audience. In furtherance of its mission, The Bob Avakian Institute financially supports projects aimed at Spreading BA Everywhere.
At this time, donations can only be solicited and accepted from residents of the following states: California, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Texas, Vermont, Washington, Wyoming. All donations from these states are greatly appreciated. Residents of these same states can donate online at thebobavakianinstitute.org.
Checks or money orders may be made out and mailed to:
The Bob Avakian Institute
Please be aware that The Bob Avakian Institute is not tax exempt and donations made to it are not tax deductible.
Disclosure statements can be found at The Bob Avakian Institute website at thebobavakianinstitute.org.
Revolution #268 May 13, 2012
From A World to Win News Service
April 30, 2012. A World to Win News Service. The drug wars in Mexico have killed 50,000 people since 2006, when Mexican president Felipe Calderón first sent troops and federal police to take part in a many-sided battle between drug cartels. Although battle lines and alliances between rival “narcos” and their partners at various levels of government from top to bottom have been shifting, what remains constant are the atrocities against the people by all sides.
Whole families and even neighborhoods have been wiped out. When the situation seems as unbearable as it can get, new horrors appear—again and again.
Dawn reveals bodies hanging from overpasses and headless bodies in the streets by the dozens. Groups of corpses are found everywhere. Often the people are mutilated and burned before they die. The kidnapping of little children and adults is ravaging the country like a plague. Sometimes they are taken for ransom, sometimes for sale, sometimes for revenge, sometimes for their body organs, and often for no known or understandable reason. Rape has become common. Although the massacres started in cities along the U.S. border such as Juárez, they have spread to many parts of the country marked by killing contests whose aim is the control of “plazas,” drug distribution territory and especially supply routes.
In case after case, the victims were killed either by Mexican security forces or with their complicity. Although the government claims that most of the dead are either involved with drug gangs or “collateral damage,” many of the victims have been ordinary people, from peasants, laborers and poor urban residents to poets, journalists and other intellectuals. The police and armed forces have attacked and assassinated individual critics of state-organized crime and raided resistance organizations.
According to a human rights organization, 11,000 immigrants from other countries, mainly Central Americans, disappeared in just six months during 2010. Migrants from all over the world arriving in Mexico on the single train line from Guatemala and headed north in buses and trucks are murdered if the smugglers have not paid off all the right organizations and people—who may be in competition with one another. In a single incident in August 2010, at a town about 150 kilometers south of the U.S. border, gunmen associated with an up-and-coming gang, the Zetas, kidnapped and executed 72 migrants.
This nightmarish murderousness has a purpose: it confers power, commands respect and enforces market share.
The Zetas are said to include Central American special forces commandos and Mexican soldiers organized and led by Mexican anti-narcotics police officers. They are now the main rivals to the established Sinaloa cartel, which, according to many sources, has been backed by the Calderón government and the U.S. The Sinaloa “capo,” Joaquín “El Chapo” (Shorty) Guzmán, has been protected by the highest levels of the Mexican state. (“The Murderers of Mexico,” New York Review of Books, October 28, 2010) As the well-documented article emphasizes, “The whole idea of a Mexican drug smuggling enterprise, or problem, is untenable.” Governments, gangs and irresistible economic forces on both sides of the border are at work.
At least 500 members of U.S. police agencies are known to be actively participating in this “war on drugs.” Pentagon officials, “retired” U.S. military personnel and other “private contractors” and even drones operate out of a base in northern Mexico set up on the model of American intelligence bases in Afghanistan.
There have been many protests of various kinds, from spontaneous, screaming neighborhood protests to large, organized demonstrations and artistic events denouncing the drug gangs and the authorities. Sometimes people demonstrate with their faces covered by necessity. In a memorable Mexico City march, many hundreds of young people wore all kinds of death masks and skeleton make-up to symbolize that many of today’s youth in general can expect to be dead tomorrow. Some are desperate enough that they worship the Santa Muerte [“Saint Death,”] an offshoot Catholic cult, sacrificing other human beings and themselves to a short murderous career rather than accepting the life that their country and its system has offered them.
Following are slightly edited excerpts from a much more extensive piece that appeared in the May 2011 issue of Aurora Roja, the publication of the Revolutionary Communist Organization of Mexico (OCR). We have omitted the footnote documentation. For this introduction we have also drawn on the May 2012 issue, which has articles focusing on the aspect of these drug wars as a “war against the people” and the need for a revolutionary response, including the need for a new emancipatory morality. (aurora-roja.blogspot.com)
* * * * *
There is a crisis of the state, and the war against the narcotics gangs is both a product and cause of this crisis. The divisions and fractures within the power structure are intertwined with the clashes between the drug cartels that different parts of the state are allied with, undermining the state’s ability to defend the system’s overall interests. The government’s reactionary “war on drugs” aims to reinforce the state’s control over drug trafficking in alliance with certain drug cartels, reinforce the weakened reactionary state, and carry out a “preventative counter-insurgency” against the people, repressing the people to try and prevent them from rising up in the future.
The state and the corporatist political system presided over by the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and its predecessors that had succeeded in maintaining a certain suffocating, repressive and deadly “stability” for several decades fell into a crisis rooted in the economic and social transformations in the world and in Mexico [marked by splits in the ruling class, the end of the “PRI-government,” the dismantling of state enterprises and the emergence of rival reactionary parties, and repeated social upheavals, starting with the 1994 indigenous peasant uprising in Chiapas].
In this context, drug trafficking, together with extortion, kidnapping and related criminal activities, have contributed to the fragmentation of the power structure. The expansion of organized crime has been simultaneously a cause and product of this weakening of the state. The crisis of the political system was intensified by more popular rebellions and the acute electoral crisis of 2006 [when there was widespread popular anger that the governing PAN stole the election from the rival PRD], leading to a new level of militarization of the government and society.
The current crisis and decomposition of the state has reached a point where it is very difficult to distinguish between the attempts by the central power structure to reaffirm the authority of the state in alliance with one or another drug cartel, and the simple conflicts between different state institutions and levels allied with different drug gangs, or under their control, in competition for the merchandise and trafficking routes. Under the administration of Vicente Fox [2000-2006], the federal government protected the Sinaloa and Juárez drug cartels and hit at their competition, the Tijuana and Gulf cartels. In general, the U.S. government and its so-called “anti-drug” agency, the DEA, were in agreement with this approach and played a decisive role in the operations, although they were not always happy with the way the plans were carried out.
This is how the governments of Mexico and the United States tried to impose order on the drug markets and bring down the level of violence. In the resulting battle, federal police fought municipal police in what was in reality a competition between the Sinaloa cartel (with the support of federal troops) and the Gulf cartel (which mobilized the local police under its command) for control of the “plaza.” Today there is still no “order.”
The current government of Felipe Calderón has continued supporting the Sinaloa cartel headed by “El Chapo” Guzmán in an attempt to “impose order.” Very few of the 53,000 people arrested during 2003-2010 have belonged to the Sinaloa cartel. But the alliances among the drug gangs have shifted. One of the emerging cartels, La Línea,, is mainly made up of local and federal police and Mexican army members. The authorities claimed that “El Chapo” escaped from prison in 2001, but really the federal government decided to let him go, and to ally with him to unite various drug lords in what was called The Federation, as part of a plan to establish a certain order, cooperation and mutual benefit sharing.
Today organized crime has become an international big business. Although its illegality gives it certain particular characteristics, in essence the drug trafficking organizations function like any other capitalist enterprise. They have to compete with other organizations for control of various markets and if they don’t win in this competition they will disappear. Although drugs and other illegal activities are the foundation of their fortunes, the main drug lords also have major legal investments in shopping centers, hospitals, farms and other enterprises.
The illegal capitalists partner with legal ones and try to legalize part of their capital. And the legal capitalists in turn try to partner with the drug traffickers. “Businessmen approach us because they want to use our money to make more money.” For example, money laundering is a big business for the Mexican banking system, which is controlled by foreign capital for the most part. [One big-shot drug lord] happily deposited millions of dollars in cash through his “personal banker” at Citibank, one of the world’s most powerful financial institutions and now the owner of Banamex [Mexico’s second-largest bank].
In the past, during the 1970s, large-scale drug cartels did not yet exist and [various government agencies and service branches took charge of the different aspects of the drug trade. It was under control.] In the 1980s the CIA opened up the U.S. drug market in exchange for the drug lords financing the “Contras” [organized by the CIA to overthrow the Sandinista government in Nicaragua].
The problem today is not just the consumption of drugs, but the enormous profitability of their production and distribution for “illegal” and “legal” capitalists. At the same time, the structural crisis that makes it impossible for 60 percent of the working people to find a job in the formal economy and leaves many youth with no future and no hope makes it a “rational” choice for a broad section of the people to become petty drug dealers or killers for a drug gang. And although increased consumption is not the main factor driving the drug trade, poverty, the tearing of the “social fabric,” the atomization of society and other factors accelerated by imperialist globalization in recent decades make conditions even more propitious for many people to see drugs as a way to gain an illusory and temporary relief from the madness of the “modern” capitalist world.
The economic and social bases underlying the huge leap in drug trafficking, and the crisis of the capitalist-imperialist system that began in 2008-09 that have yet to end has exacerbated all these factors even more. Other particularly important factors for Mexico are changes in the routes taken by the transport of drugs, which have made Mexico’s location next door to the U.S. especially important. While the actions of the U.S. and Colombian governments have done nothing to reduce the production and exportation of cocaine, they have influenced a shift in the drug circuits and the relative weight of the Colombian and Mexican cartels.
In short, drug trafficking and its current boom are part and product of the dynamics of the capitalist-imperialist economy as well as the policies and measures applied by the governments that represent this system. The ultra-high profit rate of the drug trade has made it both an “entrance ticket” to wealth for new sectors of illegal capitalists and a “competitive advantage” and solution for the problems of profitability being experienced by major sections of legal capitalists. Drug addiction, the prostitution of women and children, people kidnapped and forced to work as slaves on drug plantations, people killed or incapacitated when their organs are taken to be sold—this is the sordid reality of the capitalist globalization lauded as “modernity.”
Drug trafficking is a product of this system, but the ruling classes do not have it under control. The fracturing of Mexican government institutions and the increasing intervention of the U.S. government and its army and police agencies are consequences of the basic contradictions of this system and the measures taken by the U.S. and Mexican government, which instead of solving problems aggravate them or create new ones.
Now, during the fifth year of the “war on organized crime,” we are still seeing the growth of drug networks and an increase in kidnapping, extortion and the power of the criminal gangs. A 2010 study by the Senate Municipal Development Committee reveals that 195 of the country’s more than 2,500 municipalities, about eight percent, are totally controlled by the cartels, and six out of ten municipalities, more than 1,500 in all, are under the influence of organized crime. The weight of the Mexican cartels in the international drug trade is increasing, and all indications are that the blows that the federal forces have dealt against the out-of-favor cartels have only resulted in the emergence of new drug lords, the regeneration and multiplication of various local drug organizations, and new alliances that augment the reach and power of organized crime in general.
It is unlikely that the ruling class will be able to resolve this crisis readily. This situation is also extremely undesirable for the vast majority of people who find themselves trapped in the criminal collusion between the cartels and the government and suffer from the enormous increase in the trafficking and use of drugs.
U.S. imperialism has taken advantage of the so-called “war on drugs” to intervene and increase its control throughout the country, but this situation is also a real source of concern for the instability of Mexico and the possibility of a sudden and rapid collapse of the Mexican government. A 2008 report of the U.S. Joint Forces Command put forward what it called a “worst-case scenario” for the sudden collapse of two major states, Pakistan and Mexico. The latter “would require a U.S. response, if only because of the grave consequences for the internal security of the U.S.”
The only “solutions” this system offers us are the unification of the various criminal gangs in alliance with a strengthened reactionary state, or more U.S. imperialist intervention, or both.
But these repressive “solutions” aren’t the only possible outcome. There is a real possibility that the Mexican state would collapse, as we have seen in Egypt, and not just because of pressure from the drug cartels.
The only way out in the interests of the vast majority is to step up the protests and initiatives that have arisen in opposition to both the drug lords and the reactionary state (and its Godfather to the north) as part of building a revolutionary movement and communist party that can offer a real and emancipating alternative amid the tumultuous storms to come.
This armed conflict in which all the “gangs”—the narcos, government and U.S. agents—are all reactionary, creates a difficult situation for the people and the revolutionary movement. Although revolution might seem like a distant possibility, we have to learn the lesson of Egypt: a reactionary regime can suddenly collapse due to the deep underlying contradictions of the system. The current drug trafficking crisis is sharpening many of those contradictions. The system’s own representatives are talking about the danger of a “failed state.” And major cracks among the ruling classes are beginning to appear.
In many parts of the country, people can no longer live as before. They are suffering under intolerable conditions that force them to respond in one way or another. The reactionary violence of the state forces and the cartels inspires fear, and the rawness of the situation depresses and degrades some people, but this same unjustified violence and the state’s connivance with organized crime provoke other people to outrage and fury. People are struggling against the power structure.
We have to support and strengthen this resistance and forge a revolutionary force that can take advantage of the sharpening of these and other contradictions of the system and the weakening of the reactionary state. Then, when other conditions prevail, it can lead the struggle of millions to victory in a communist revolution that can put an end to this nightmare and bring about a new dawn of hope.
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.
Revolution #268 May 13, 2012
The following statement is being circulated for signatures and to influence broad public opinion:
“We Say NO MORE”
The killing of Trayvon Martin and 2.4 million in prison make clear that there is a whole generation of Black and Latino youth who have been marked and treated as a “generation of suspects” to be murdered and jailed. This is not an issue for Black people alone but for all who care about justice; it is not a random tragedy. We say NO MORE!
Ron Ahnen, President of California Prison Focus
Charles Alexander, director of the Academic Advancement Program at UCLA
Rene Auberjonois, actor
Eleanor J. Bader, freelance journalist
Dan Barker, co-president, Freedom From Religion Foundation
Kathleen Barry, author Unmaking War, Remaking Men
Missy Comley Beattie, peace and justice activist, Counterpunch contributor
Ken Bonetti, educator
Robert Bossie, SJC 8th Day Center for Justice
Herb Boyd, author/activist/journalist/teacher
Eric Cheyfitz, Ernest L. White Professor of American Studies and Humane Letters, Cornell University
Elizabeth Cook, activist in New Orleans
Chris Crutcher, author: Whale Talk, Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes, Deadline
Colin Dayan, author, The Law is a White Dog, How Legal Rituals Make and Unmake Persons
Carl Dix, Revolutionary Communist Party, USA
Niles Eldredge, Curator Emeritus, American Museum of Natural History
Eve Ensler, Tony Award winning playwright, performer, activist, founder of V-DAY
Annie Laurie Gaylor,co-president, Freedom From Religion Foundation
Elaine Hampton, retired bookkeeper, member of the Freedom From Religion Foundation
Chris Hedges, author, War Is a Force that Gives Us Meaning
Lyn Hejinian, Professor, Department of English, University of California, Berkeley: poet
Merle Hoffman, founder, president and CEO of Choices Women's Medical Center
Erik James Hopper
Adam Horovitz of the Beastie Boys
Sikivu Hutchinson, editor, blackfemlens.org, freethoughtblogs.com/blackskeptics.org Moral Combat: BlackAtheists, Gender Politics, and the Values War
Ron Jacobs, author and journalist
C. Clark Kissinger, Revolution Books, NYC
Vinay Lal, university professor and social critic
Sharon Martinas, racial justice educator
Rabbi Michael Lerner, editor of Tikkun and chair of the interfaith Network of Spiritual Progressives
Dennis Loo, author, Globalization and the Demolition of Society
Robert Meeropol, Rosenberg Fund for Children
Leo Mintek, Outernational
Tom Morello, Nightwatchman
Florence M. Rice, consumer advocate
Cindy Sheehan, peace and justice activist
Tavis Smiley, talk show host and co-author of The Rich and the Rest of Us: A Poverty Manifesto
Dr. Donald Smith, past president of the National Alliance of Black School Educators
Sunsara Taylor, Revolution newspaper
Kim M. Turner
David Zeiger, filmmaker, director of Sir! No Sir!
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