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Revolution #277 August 12, 2012
“The days when this system can just keep on doing what it does to people, here and all over the world...when people are not inspired and organized to stand up against these outrages and to build up the strength to put an end to this madness...those days must be GONE. And they CAN be.”
—From “The Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have: A Message, And A Call, From The Revolutionary Communist Party, USA”
For more than a week, Anaheim, California, has been rocked by righteous anger and defiance ignited by the police execution of Manuel Diaz, who was shot in the back of the head on Saturday, July 21, and then the murder of Joel (Joey) Acevedo the next evening near Disneyland.
Saturday afternoon, July 21
Neighbors and friends say it was a quiet afternoon on Anna Drive. Little kids are playing outside. Manuel Diaz is talking with a friend when two cops in an unmarked car pull up.
According to Manuel’s mother, Genevieve Huizar, “Witnesses say he was just at a water spigot washing his hands when the police came around the corner, and they shot him. He was not running. There’s no truth to being in a car, a stolen car, that a lie! There’s no truth to that. All the witnesses in the area say he was just washing his hands when the police came up. He was shot in the back, he was shot first in the back and then when he was down then they shot him another time! Then they shot him in the head! If he was robbing a bank, OK, if he was doing something wrong, but he wasn’t doing anything wrong. He didn’t deserve to die.”
Originally the police said that officers on patrol “in a high crime gang area” shot a gang member who ran from them.
“I didn’t see it, but I heard exactly what happened,” Manuel’s friend told Revolution. “He got shot. By the cops. Supposedly for running, when he did not run. He did not run... Shot in the back, and in the head. That’s bullshit. That’s bullshit to me. Seriously. Yes, he might have a record, but that doesn’t mean anything, that doesn’t mean anything. Ask anybody. If people needed something, he would go to them, and help them.” A young woman told us that Manuel was always helpful and friendly. He never disrespected people; he was never disrespectful to women, she told us.
Saturday night, July 21
On Anna Drive, residents immediately begin to protest, first with placards and signs. The police on the scene are “securing the area for investigators” and trying to intimidate the residents and offering money to anyone who’d caught the murder on a phone or gadget. Then Saturday night police violently attack a crowd of kids, parents, mothers with strollers, and others protesting the murder.
News video shows overturned bikes, strollers, and parents shielding children as police fire rubber bullets into the crowd in the neighborhood. An officer “accidentally” unleashes a snarling police dog that attacks a mother holding her child, and attacks a 19-year-old man who suffers dog bite wounds. Police shoot pepper balls and beanbags at residents, but people stand their ground.
This vicious attack intensifies people’s anger and residents bravely defend themselves. People take to the streets and stop business as usual on La Palma and Anna Streets.
Posted above the candles and flowers at the memorial people made for Manuel Diaz are signs reading “APD—Another Person Dead,” “FUCK the Police” and “They Have Blood on Their Badges.”
Sunday, July 22
On Sunday, the family of Manuel Diaz, a number of families of others killed by Anaheim- and Orange County-based police departments, and activists congregate at the Anaheim police headquarters. As Manuel Diaz’s mother enters to demand the police report on her son’s killing, more than 50 protesters follow her inside. There is a stand-off, as protesters confront police in the lobby of the headquarters, demanding that the killer cops be put in jail.
|Support the Protests in Anaheim!
A banner with BAsics quote 1:13 and "We Say No More!" signed by dozens of people in a predominantly Black neighborhood in L.A. was sent to Anaheim. We call on people in other cities around the country to send banners of support to the people in Anaheim who are righteously standing up against the police. Send the banners care of Revolution Books, 5726 Hollywood Blvd., LA, CA 90028
PHOTO: Special to Revolution
In the last year, Anaheim police have shot down David Raya, Marcel Ceja, Bernie Villegas, Roscoe Cambridge, Gerardo Pineda, and Martin Hernandez. And they were not done killing people this weekend, as you will read below.
At the protest families spoke with Revolution newspaper. Theresa Smith is the mother of Caesar Cruz, who was gunned down by Anaheim police in 2009. Speaking of the Anaheim police shooting of her son, she said, “All I know is they followed him. It happened at Walmart. Several officers followed him under cover. They followed him, they boxed him in, they shot him. It was five police involved, they each shot him, I don’t know how many times, I just know they shot him twice in the head.”
Sonia Hernandez is the sister of Martin Hernandez, who was gunned down four months ago by Anaheim police. Speaking of her brother’s shooting and Saturday’s execution of Manuel Diaz, she said, “That’s racist... they’re viewing all Mexicans as gang members. And even if they are, is it right to kill a gang member? Who knows their life story? They might be trying to change their life around. And I think that was my brother. He never had a chance to actually continue to work or do something with his life. He was just beginning to change and never had a chance. My brother was 21. It was exactly 20 days before his 22nd birthday.”
Sunday evening, July 22
On Sunday evening, Anaheim police kill another young Latino near Disneyland on Guinida Lane. According to a police spokesperson, gang officers recognized “a gang member on probation in a stolen SUV.” The police story is that a man who fled a SUV after it crashed fired at police; police returned fire. Joel Acevedo was killed. A picture online shows Acevedo’s body with a handgun positioned between his legs. Acevedo may have had a gun. Or, that gun may have been dropped by police after they gunned Joel Acevedo down. Either way, Anaheim police act as judge, jury and executioner. This is now the sixth officer-involved shooting, five of them fatal, in Anaheim this year.
Monday, July 23
On Monday afternoon people are hanging out on Anna Street, talking with each other and with supporters who have come into the neighborhood about what to do. The neighborhood is seething angry about these police killings and the police attack on their neighborhood Saturday night. Residents of Anna Drive are now urged by Latino community organizers to come to the City Council meeting on Tuesday to make their voices heard and to bring out the truth. Maybe opening an official channel will quiet down these people, city officials hope. That night, residents of Anna Street march up and down the street demanding justice for Manuel Diaz and Joel Acevedo.
Tuesday, July 24
Hundreds come out to protest at the council meeting. They are confronted by riot police. The overwhelming majority of people are prevented from entering City Council chambers. They chant “Let us in” and “¡Manuel Diaz, Esta Presente!” and “¡Asesinos! ¡Asesinos!”
After an intense confrontation inside and in front of City Hall, with the riot squad stationed in front of the doors, people take off on a march to the Anaheim police department. When the march returns, a few cops run up shooting rubber bullets, beanbags and pepper balls. This small group of cops gets surrounded and retreats. Then the swarms of cops in cars come in and arrest some people down in the middle of the street in front of City Hall. Hundreds of people are swirling around and a stand-off develops for about an hour between people in the street and the cops.
Inside City Hall, the City Council votes unanimously to ask the U.S. Attorney’s office to investigate the police shootings. Outside, a thousand people have gathered by now, squaring off against the riot squads from Anaheim and Brea police. A group of people take off down the street. Reports from the Orange County Register are that a bank and a Starbucks were trashed, as were some other downtown spots; fires were set in the street.
The crowd was young, angry. The mood: “Just ’cause we’re Latino you want to kill us!? We’re not having it, not this time.” By the next morning, 24 people had been arrested, and it was reported by the local press that the police department and City Hall buildings and some patrol cars were damaged.
Wednesday & Thursday, July 25 & 26
People in the community report that police are targeting youth in the wake of Tuesday’s defiance and political resistance to police murder. The cops are rolling through the neighborhoods. Revolution is told that one cop declared, “This is my street.” The defiant response: “It’s not your street, it’s my community.” Anger is still seething and people are telling us, “People have the right to be angry” and “We should do some more marching.”
Friday, July 27
The area near Disneyland where Joey Acevedo was murdered is decorated with front and back covers of Revolution newspaper. People drive by, honk, and yell out, “Good job.” Posters that say “We are all __________. The Whole Damn System Is Guilty” are being distributed all over the neighborhood. People are writing in the blank space, “We are all Joey Acevedo,” “We are all Anaheim,” “We are all Guinida Street,” “Fuck the System.” Stickers saying “Jail the Killer Cops, Not the Protestors” are out all over the neighborhood. By the end of the weekend, it seems as if everyone is wearing this sticker.
Saturday, July 28
A banner from Los Angeles arrives in Anaheim. It is decorated with BAsics quote 1:13, the names of Manuel Diaz and Joel Acevedo, and “We Say No More.” The banner has been signed by several dozen people from a predominantly Black neighborhood in Los Angeles with messages of support—“I say no more,” “No more police violence,” “F*** the police,” and messages of compassion for the families. People in Anaheim sign the banner and put messages on it.
As the banner is taken out to the Anna Drive and Guinida Lane neighborhoods, people find out about support demonstrations being held and planned in cities across the country—New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, and other cities. People begin to grasp the impact of their resistance on people everywhere.
Joey’s mother, Donna, tells Revolution, “I asked them if I would be allowed to have that [banner], maybe, when you guys are done, but when is it going to be done, you know? Like I don’t see this being done any time soon.”
At a car wash to raise funds for the family of Manuel Diaz, supporters bring a banner that reads “No More Stolen Lives,” and posters saying “We Are All Manuel Diaz. The Whole Damn System Is Guilty!” Some young guys washing cars want to hang the banner on a fence. A person connected to City Hall tries to stop them from doing it. Their response is to put “We Are All Manuel Diaz” on their windshields.
Sunday, July 29
The word has gone out—protest at the Anaheim police station at noon. Five hundred angry and defiant people come from Riverside, Fontana, Fullerton, Anaheim, Occupy San Diego, Occupy Los Angeles, ANSWER, people connected with the movement for revolution being led by the RCP, even people from Arizona. A young woman with her hands cuffed behind her back wears a sign, “Don’t Shoot Me, I’m Already Handcuffed.”
The cops mass in a military-style show of force meant to intimidate and to brutalize. They are on horseback. They wear camouflage uniforms and carry grenade launchers. SWAT teams are in front of the station, and snipers are on rooftops.
But this does not deter or intimidate the people who have taken to the streets. Youth start chanting “March! March! March!” The march heads toward Disneyland. Cops on horseback try to stop it but they cannot shove the people onto the sidewalks. People chant all the way: “Honk if you hate police brutality,” “¡Asesinos! ¡Asesinos!” “Is it the Pigs’ World? Hell No! Whose World? Our World!” The cops block the street leading to Disneyland, so the march heads to the neighborhood where Joey Acevedo was murdered. The banner from Los Angeles is out in the midst of this and has a galvanizing effect. People come out of their houses, offer drinks to the demonstrators. Youth in the neighborhood come out chanting “Fuck the police!”
The Orange County Register reported that nine people were arrested during the day.
Anaheim, a city of nearly 350,000, is sharply divided with a poor and working class Latino community that makes up 52 percent of the city’s population on the west side and one of the most affluent Orange County communities, Anaheim Hills, on the east side. The city is home to Disneyland, which calls itself the “Happiest Place on Earth,” as well as two major pro sports teams—the Anaheim Angels baseball team and the Anaheim Ducks hockey team. These entertainment and sports entities bring millions of dollars into the city.
The interests of those who rule Anaheim are the same as the interests of the capitalists-imperialists who rule America. For those who rule Anaheim, everything is aimed at supporting the tourist industries of Disneyland and the pro sports teams, as well as the wealthy Anaheim Hills community. This is diametrically opposed to the interests of the Latinos in Anaheim, who, according to the New York Times (August 3, 2012), “have grappled with unemployment, poverty, crime, and gangs for years...”
If you go into these neighborhoods, you are confronted with double-story apartments and shared housing properties. Inside, homes are bare and decorations are minimal; some even look empty.
To enforce their interests and keep the people under their thumb, the city of Anaheim has unleashed their police force on the Latino community. A massive wave of police brutality and murder has been hidden from those outside Anaheim until now, but the recent rebellion by the people has brought this into the light of day.
As the Los Angeles RCP statement on the Anaheim rebellion says:
"What is the role of the police in our society? What do they serve and protect in gunning down Manuel and Joel and countless others like them across the country? It is NOT to serve and protect the people, but to serve and protect an oppressive system over the people. Their role is to keep people in the miserable conditions that this system has put people in. The law and order the cops enforce is the law and order that maintains all the exploitation, oppression and madness of the capitalist system."
In talking about the police murder of David Raya three blocks from where Joel Acevedo was murdered, Joey’s mother said, “[He] was shot in the back in the courtyard of an apartment complex at 1:40 in the afternoon. David was on parole. At that time the neighbors came out, and the police told them to ‘get back inside, you didn’t see nothing.’... They said there was a weapon in his car, and they felt threatened, but they shot him way out in the street, you know, and it doesn’t make sense. And his family, they were having a hard time getting answers. I don’t know what happened, but it seems like everything ends up being justified and I don’t understand that. Nobody understands that, you know.”
The slogan “Jail Killer Cops, Not Protesters” has helped to clarify who the real criminals are. People say the police routinely come into the neighborhoods to intimidate and harass them; one group recounts the police throwing out rival clique signs to instigate a response. Others talk about their children being labeled “gang” members. The New Jim Crow is palpable: a woman tells of the pain of having her family members in prison—her husband sentenced for 60 years, her son sentenced for 115 years, and her daughter on the run.
There has been confusion due to the fact that gangs exist in the neighborhood and many think it is because of the gangs that the cops are coming down hard on them. The Los Angeles RCP’s statement takes that on:
"Automatic labeling of Blacks and Latinos as gang members has become a codeword to criminalize and demonize millions of youth, to justify locking them up, and outright murdering them in the streets. The people in gangs were not the ones who moved the jobs away and then flooded the ghettos and barrios with poverty, degradation and hopelessness. The gangs were not the ones who created racial discrimination and segregation in the schools, jobs, housing and every aspect of life, and then unleash the cops to beat and brutalize people to accept these conditions. The dynamics of the capitalist system and the conscious policies of the ruling class politicians created this situation."
As people stand up, they begin to look at things in a new way... different sets have come together to fight the power. And big questions are being raised about why things are they way they are and how they could be different.
Revolution newspaper and BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian, along with BAsics quotes 1:13, 1:24, 3:1, 3:3, and 2:16, as well as the palm card on the 12 ways to be involved in the movement for revolution have all been in the mix.
People are struggling to understand the root of the problem—the capitalist-imperialist system. They are asking us why we are there and how long have we been around? One very young person tells Revolution he never knew that the “world is a horror” and he sums things up by saying, “So you’re saying the world is bad and we can change it.” He goes off with his copy of Revolution newspaper and with the BA image cards. A youth comes by and sees another youth reading BAsics. He calls out, “That’s a good book.”
The BAsics Bus Tour videos from Sanford, Florida, on YouTube have been key for people to grasp what this is all about. A woman who watched the video bought BAsics instead of using her money to pay her phone bill. She mentioned that she would want to go on this bus tour.
People readily took up small stacks of BAsics palm cards, others bought Revolution newspaper, and many grew interested in knowing more about Bob Avakian, as concentrated in BAsics. People are beginning to get a sense that this is a very serious movement for revolution aiming to make “NO MORE” a reality. As “On the Strategy for Revolution” from the RCP says, “Such ‘jolts’ in the ‘normal functioning’ of things ... do create situations in which many more people are searching for answers and open to considering radical change.”
As of August 3, many people remained in jail, including minors. A major meeting is planned for Wednesday, August 8, in the auditorium of Anaheim High School. Revolution will report on future developments.
Justice for Manuel Diaz and Joel Acevedo!
The whole damn system is guilty!
Jail the killer cops! Drop the charges on all protesters!
Revolution #277 August 12, 2012
On July 24, about 80 people crowded into a New York restaurant at a fundraising dinner for the BA Everywhere campaign and the BAsics Bus Tour. During the dinner four of the bus tour volunteers recounted what they learned from being on the tour and how people in the neighborhoods responded to them and the tour. Afterward, another comrade gave an important talk. What follows is an edited version of that talk.
On the video of the volunteers in Sanford, Florida, the comrade says when you're right in the middle of making history you don't know that's what you're doing, you're just doing it. We are right at the cusp, we are right at the beginning of making history. Understand that. I spent a day with each of the volunteer groups for the BAsics Bus Tour, talking with them, an afternoon with one and a night with the other. And you just heard the tip of the iceberg in these stories tonight of what they're doing, and what they're learning.
And it's not just the people on the bus. It's the people who've come forward and opened up their houses, who have fed the volunteers, who have brought them around the neighborhoods and shown them where to go—and the people all over the country who have worked to raise money for this bus tour. This is the kind of support that makes a revolution. This is the kind of support that enables an underdog to be victorious in a fight that nobody ever thought they could win. This is what has been done in history. This is what could be done in the future, in different circumstances. So understand that, too.
What does this last week and a half teach us? It teaches us that if you take what this leader, Bob Avakian, has brought forward in the form of BAsics,1 in the form of the Revolution talk—and if you take it out there in the way that is consistent with the revolutionary content of what he has brought forward and what he is all about, there is a very powerful connection that gets made. You can hear this on the Tumblr site [basicsbustour.tumblr.com] in the interviews that Michael Slate does. You can see it in that little ten-minute video—the fundraising video—that showed people in Sanford, Florida, and the way people were responding—there is a very important connection here that is being made. There is something very, very powerful being connected.
I was going to say, everybody here should be taking the next four or five days to maximize this tour and to do everything. But damn, if after hearing these volunteers, you don't want to be part of this, then I'm sorry for you. I mean, the stories that you hear of what happened! The first night they roll into town—and it wasn't even that clear that there were even places to stay for people up to the 11th hour—and parents whose sons and nephews were murdered by the police threw open their doors, cooked dinners for them, and then went back and forth in very deep discussion over why the volunteers were here on the one hand, and what the experience of these mothers had been on the other, and what this system does, and all kinds of questions about revolution.
So we should, everybody should, do whatever they can: send the Tumblr video, the Tumblr site, to all your friends, to everybody you've ever known. People need to know about this. It needs to break out much, much bigger into society. This embryo has to grow to be a driving force and it can—that's the point of these bus tours—to put something out there in a much more powerful way, to show people a whole different thing and on that basis to begin a jump start, to create a movement, to get out of where we are now and to get on to somewhere else, where revolution has initiative in society, where those young men that you meet [referring to stories told earlier by some volunteers about their encounters with young men "on the corner"] know what revolution is all about and are sorting themselves out in relation to that because revolution has come.
|We should not underestimate the potential of [the new synthesis] as a source of hope and of daring on a solid scientific foundation. In the 1960s, when the Black Panther Party emerged on the scene, Eldridge Cleaver made the pungent observation that the old revisionist Communist Party had “ideologized” revolution off the scene, but the Panthers had “ideologized” it back on the scene. In the present period in the U.S., revolution has once more been “ideologized” off the scene. And in the world as a whole, to a very large degree, revolution aiming for communism and the vision of a communist world—this has been “ideologized” off the scene—and with it the only road that actually represents the possibility of a radically different and far better world, in the real world, one that people really would want to live in and would really thrive in. The new synthesis has objectively “ideologized” this back on the scene once more, on a higher level and in a potentially very powerful way.
But what will be done with this? Will it become a powerful political as well as ideological force? It is up to us to take this out everywhere—very, very boldly and with substance, linking it with the widespread, if still largely latent, desire for another way, for another world—and engage ever growing numbers of people with this new synthesis in a good, lively and living way.
Look, what you have, what we've got here, actually, is the embodiment of a quote from BAsics, where BA says that this new synthesis of communism, this is hope on a solid scientific foundation. This is what we've been seeing for the last 10 days, this is what people have been meeting—hope on a scientific, solid foundation. [BAsics 2:32] These volunteers are out here representing a whole different way it could be. Representing the hope in the way they're moving, the way they're coming at people and the way they're stepping. And a lot of people like it and they want some of it, and they want to be part of it, they want to learn about it and they want to have a way into it.
But there are forces in society that don't want that hope out there. There are forces in this society that feed off the despair at the bottom of society. These forces that rule society feed off and promote and push the cynicism that somebody was talking about, that permeates the whole culture including in the middle classes in society. And when the revolution begins to connect, those forces move against it.
Thirty years ago it was a time when the whole history of the '60s and the whole idea of revolution was not yet "lost history." And at that point this Party was going very firmly and boldly out with revolution and out with BA, and the way these forces—the rulers of society—the way they responded at that point was to file charge upon charge upon charge against BA. They also arrested people in the Party overall—there were lots of arrests of people for just selling the newspaper, a lot of jail time. One of their pigs was on the scene when a member of our Party, Damian Garcia, was assassinated. But they focused their attack on BA himself. To plant stories in newspapers, to begin investigations, to drag him into court cases. They diagramed his house the way they diagramed the apartment of Fred Hampton2 in the very same suburb that Fred Hampton grew up in. And we had to fight that and we did fight it.
Now these are new times, when there's new potential, and when the forces of revolution are finding their footing again, but on a much more potentially powerful basis. And these motherfuckers will come back and they are coming back and they may be coming back right now even harder. And so I want to talk about a few things.
In the issue of Revolution newspaper #274 (July 8, 2012), there is an article, it's two pages, it's kind of complex so people are going to have to read it carefully, maybe read it together and break it down. But what has happened in short is that there has been a court ruling on one of these very repressive bills by Obama and right in the middle of the ruling by the federal judge there is a statement that, number one, singles out BA by name and then totally mischaracterizes what he and the Party he leads is all about, in such a way that it could be misconstrued as "terrorist," and be wide open then for all kinds of repression both legal and extra legal. And this is very, very serious and this case is still in motion.
The next issue of the paper after this has a story about filing a brief in the court contesting this. But this has got to be fought in many ways. We cannot let this attack go down. We have to take the news that there could be something very bad brewing here, nobody knows where this is gonna go, we have to take this out to people. We have to take the offensive on this and not let it go where they, the ruling class, want it to go. Build up enough political opposition to tie their hands as best we can on this. And in the course of this, build up a sense that if you come after BA, if you come after this Party, you are going to have to come through the masses of people. Everybody out there says to us, right volunteers? They say those people on top are going to go after your leader. We can't let that go down. And the stopping of that begins now. It begins in taking on these kinds of attacks, taking them seriously and taking them on.
And it's not just that either. They go after the people who come forward as revolutionary fighters. And they go after the youth. And right now they are going after Noche Diaz in New York. Noche is somebody who walks on the people's neighborhood patrols, known in the community, to non-violently prevent illegal police abuse under color of authority, police abusive violence. He's been a leader in the whole thing that started here in New York that has actually raised up stop-and-frisk as a major issue in New York, a whole movement against stop-and-frisk. He's been a volunteer on the BAsics Bus Tour both in the South and up here in the deep North. He's been a volunteer in both places. He's a very partisan revolutionary fighter. They are going after him. They have five cases on him. This is one way they work, they pile on the so-called minor cases and then suddenly you're facing years. And what are they for? The one that he's going to be facing on Friday is that he watched these pigs as they stopped a motorist, cut off his seatbelt, pulled him out of the car and beat his ass. And they arrested the driver and they arrested people who were filming. And they arrested Noche for watching and saying that he had a legal right to observe it.
We can't let them go after young revolutionary fighters like that. We cannot let that happen. We cannot let this case—or any of the other cases he's facing—be a defeat because that's how they try to do it to you. They are doing this both to get rid of him, to get him off the streets. But they're also doing it to send a message and to intimidate masses of people. So we can't let that happen. There is an awful lot bound up in this. His trial date is Friday, right? It's 9 am at 161st and Concourse in the Bronx. Everybody should be there, write your friends about it. Let's pack that fucking courtroom and let's take it to the masses, tomorrow and Thursday and then on Friday. I know there are plans to do that, so let's carry that out. [Noche's case was continued until October.]
And let's understand what it means to live in times where history could be made. The more this line, the more this leadership, the more these ideas, these aspirations, these hopes, this strategy and this movement for revolution, the more that all this connects with people, the more that this movement is able to find the ways with all kinds of people to participate, the more that it is able to open its doors and let people in, the more this movement is able to do all that, the more they are going to come after this movement.
And that is how revolution gets made. It's in that back and forth. It's in that battle when they come at you and you come right back at them, politically right now, that the lines are drawn for people, that the issues are clarified, that the sides are lined up and that things are built to the point where one day when they face a crisis, and that creates a jolt in society, something big can happen. When not just thousands of people but millions of people begin raising their heads and wondering why is this happening, what's going to happen to us, what do we need to do about it. It's at that point when you can take things to another level. And if you have been fighting these battles, that we are into right now, in the way that I have been describing, then there is a chance... then there is a chance.
You know, this new issue of Revolution, #276 (July 29, 2012), has excerpts from a very important interview with Bob Avakian. It has a lot of important things in it and people have been quoting from it a lot. I saw the article Sunsara Taylor just wrote about "rape jokes" which quotes something from that interview. Well there is a whole spirit in the interview, where he says, we want to be right. But that's not enough; we have to win. So what we're about now, the battles we are waging now, everything that this is about, to come back when they repress people for just doing that—all that is the crucible where that ability is going to get forged.
So we're going to defend this Party. We're going to defend this extraordinary leader that we have and that we are lucky to be alive while he's around, that we are lucky to be a part of the whole project that he is leading and heading up. We are going to defend him. We are going to defend the fighters who come forward in this movement for revolution. And we are going to do this as we carry out the strategy for revolution, the strategy you can read about in BAsics in the Party's statement on strategy. Spreading this message all through society, rallying people to fight the power in different ways, organizing thousands of people to influence millions toward revolution today, and preparing the ground for the time when there is a revolutionary situation that does emerge—when the rulers are split amongst each other, when there is no clear path forward for them out of the crisis they face, when people in their tens of millions are lifting their heads and asking why, when there is a party that has established itself amongst masses of people and laid out a program that people are familiar with and can see as the way forward. At that point, to quote the statement on strategy, "those thousands can be a backbone and pivotal force in winning millions to revolution and organizing them in the struggle to carry the revolution through."
Fight the Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution!
1. BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian, RCP Publications, 2011. [back]
2. Fred Hampton was a leader of the Black Panther Party in Chicago. On December 4, 1969, police invaded the apartment where he and other members of the BPP were staying, and murdered Hampton as he slept. [back]
Revolution #277 August 12, 2012
Take Out BAsics 3:22
“You cannot break all the chains, except one. You cannot say you want to be free of exploitation and oppression, except you want to keep the oppression of women by men. You can’t say you want to liberate humanity yet keep one half of the people enslaved to the other half. The oppression of women is completely bound up with the division of society into masters and slaves, exploiters and exploited, and the ending of all such conditions is impossible without the complete liberation of women. All this is why women have a tremendous role to play not only in making revolution but in making sure there is all-the-way revolution. The fury of women can and must be fully unleashed as a mighty force for proletarian revolution.”
It’s August and all across the country, it’s the month to get BAsics 3:22 far and wide. It’s time to reach many, many more people with BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian, and get this book into their hands. And, related to this, it’s time to set big fundraising goals and meet them!
Right now, take the time to think about and discuss every line in BAsics 3:22... reflect on how decisive this outlook and understanding is for making revolution, transforming the whole world and emancipating all of humanity.
Then, find the ways to tap into the deep and visceral hatred both women and men from all different backgrounds have for the horror of what happens to women here and around the world every day. The oppression of women is a pillar of, a product of, and completely bound up with the illegitimate system that rules over us. And the struggle against this oppression is critical to preparing the ground for revolution when the time is ripe.
We also know as we go out with BAsics 3:22, there will be polarization among the people! People throughout society—and especially men—actively buy into and participate in the degradation and subjugation of women in thousands of ways and this must be challenged. Winning people to radically break with this must be changed through struggle; this is essential to building the movement for revolution.
Challenging the “way things are” is much needed... and the debate should jump off in unexpected and intense ways. Let’s welcome the back-and-forth swirl around taking out quotes from BAsics and the campaign to get BA Everywhere. And let’s advance through this controversy. Because all of humanity will not be emancipated as long as half of humanity is degraded and demeaned, brutalized and oppressed in unspeakable ways. The fury of women must be unleashed as a mighty force for revolution—and people everywhere should join with us in this revolutionary struggle.
In recent months, the quotes from BAsics have gone out broadly. They have touched and connected with people in many ways. Take a look at the responses to BAsics 1:13... and to the BAsics quotes 5:7 and 5:8 that were gotten out broadly in July. To see how deep this went, look at the pages of this paper at revcom.us. Look at all the pictures and writings on basicsbustour.tumblr.com. As the talk, “The BAsics Bus Tour, Scientifically Founded Hope, Defending Leaders and Fighters... and Making Revolution,” we are printing in this issue of Revolution says (see above), taking up the distribution of these quotes has been a way into this campaign and the movement for revolution for hundreds of people.
Now, envision this: multiplying the impact of BA Everywhere in August. Getting out hundreds of BAsics 3:22—and the BAsics book—in the neighborhoods of Black, Latino, and other people on the bottom where this campaign has touched, and new neighborhoods as well. Envision palm cards and books getting passed hand to hand. Think about people who have connected with this campaign taking stacks of the palm card with this quote, getting them out all over, leaving them in coffee shops, laundromats, and on bus and subway seats. And as these go out all over, money is being raised to get BA Everywhere.
Envision this quote finding its way into circles of artists and cultural scenes during these first weeks of August. Think about the importance of this quote circulating among young people of all strata. Imagine knots of women and men in the ’hoods and all over the cities vigorously discussing and debating it. Think about the impact this will have as people debate the big questions of how to look at and understand what happens in this society and the world—and what to do about the horrors people contend with every day.
Together with BAsics 3:22, we are publishing complementary quotes. And, as all these quotes go out far and wide, this movement can be gathering people together and making plans to go onto the college campuses in a big way when the fall semester commences...
Then, when the colleges open at the end of August and into September, crews of people with experience in circulating the palm cards in the neighborhoods and to the youth broadly, people who have been joining in the movement for revolution and discussing the quotes far and wide, can organize to go onto the campuses in a big way. Getting out BAsics 3:22—and selling BAsics. Once again, people can make big posters (look for PDF’s at revcom.us) and generally find the ways to stir up debate and work with a wide range of people to take the palm cards and BAsics into classrooms and dorms, student unions, and hangouts. No one should underestimate the impact it has on people from different parts of the city and different experiences to mix it up. For people from the ’hoods to go to the campuses—and for students to go into the neighborhoods.
Now let’s talk about fundraising, which should run through all these efforts. The aim of this campaign is to raise big money to get BA’s vision and works into all corners of society. A national movement is being born. And as it grows and turns up new ground, both the need and the potential to raise money pose themselves in new ways. August should mark a real leap in fundraising. We can all learn from the inspiring efforts in Harlem (in the penny drive described on basicsbustour.tumblr.com) and the open air meetings in other cities... and find very creative ways to raise money from a wide range of people. Let’s range from those with little resources and means to those with more ability to contribute. Let’s get out there in a big way and talk to people we know—and people we have never met before. Let’s talk to people about the difference getting BA Everywhere can make in the whole social and political culture of this society. If we collectively raise enough money to make it concretely possible to project the works and vision of BA into all corners of society... if this work becomes increasingly debated and wrangled over by thousands and by millions of people from all walks of life... society can resonate with big dreams for fundamental change.
Revolution #277 August 12, 2012
The neighborhood was lively on this late Sunday afternoon as we went from housing project to housing project talking to people in New York City. It was the last day of this leg of the BAsics Bus Tour, and a few of the volunteers were doing a final push with BAsics and making sure we had ways to get back to people the tour had met. It became clear, just being there a short while, the tour had left a mark.
The sky threatened rain but groups of kids ran through the project courtyards climbing on the single jungle gym. One boy, about 10 or 11, ran up to a volunteer—“I’m with the BAsics!” he said proudly. Earlier in the week, he had been given a stack of palm cards with quotes from BAsics which he, like others in the neighborhood, had passed around. These cards were a familiar sight to many. This young boy also asked the volunteer if he had any more whistles. This is now another familiar sight in the neighborhood.
A few days earlier, the BAsics Bus Tour held a speak-out and march through the neighborhood where they passed out whistles. These are part of a call from the Stop Mass Incarceration Network for September 13 to be a day to “blow the whistle on stop-and-frisk.” They are calling for that to be a day where no stop-and-frisk happens in silence. (See the article, “March & Speak-out in the Neighborhood: Angry...Inspired...Uplifted.”)
I talked to a young man walking into one of these housing projects. He took a palm card and I asked him to stop and read it. This card had BAsics 1:13 printed on it: “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.” I told him we were with the BAsics Bus Tour and told him about who Bob Avakian is. Then I asked his thoughts on the quote and he said he wasn’t sure how to put it into words, but he agreed, adding that it’s terrible out here for the youth.
He said that he’d been seeing us out here and wondered what we were doing. And that today, he was just coming from church. He said that he’s not really the church type but that’s where he was coming from. I asked why he went, and he answered with a sad shrug of his shoulders, “You gotta believe in something, right?” I put a copy of BAsics in his hand and opened it to 4:18: “Let’s call this what it is—it is a slave mentality, with which people are being indoctrinated. All this ‘Thank you Jesus!’ is slave mentality.”
He smirked, holding back a laugh and looked me in the eye, “You can’t argue with that.”
I partly expected an argument, but like many we met during this tour, this was someone who seemed to be seeking. I encouraged him to leaf through the book, that he wasn’t just holding any book but the basic handbook for revolution and human emancipation. He opened to the first page and read the quote that opens the book, “There would be no United States as we now know it today without slavery. That is a simple and basic truth.”
He looked up at me, surprised he was holding a book that stated this plain and yet always unstated truth so clearly. He looked again at the cover and back cover, and I emphasized the point on the back cover, that you can’t change the world if you don’t know the BAsics. He said that was true, and I asked him to expand on why he agreed. He said the way he saw it, you had to start with the simple, the basic truths and build up from there. I told him more about connecting up the leadership of BA with people and he wanted to know more about who BA is. He knew something about the Black Panther Party so he nodded when I said that BA worked with them in the 1960s, but also that he’d gone deeper when those movements ebbed, that he’s brought forward a strategic approach to revolution in this country and he’s studied the experience of previous revolutionary societies, and brought forward a new synthesis of communism.
I asked what he thought of what I was saying. He said that it was funny because he’s really been thinking for the last couple months that we need some kind of movement, that people are fed up. He went on that it’s just getting to be too much with the police harassing people all the time and it feels like people don’t want to take it anymore. I asked him what he feels has changed and he said he’s not sure, but he’s really been sensing some kind of boiling. He also said he’s worried about where it’s headed. That without some kind of direction, he’s not sure what will happen. I told him I appreciated what he was saying and this was something we’d been taking note of too. We talked about the whistles, which he said he’d been seeing everywhere, and the slogan, “fight the power, and transform the people, for revolution.” And I pointed him to the statement in BAsics, from the Revolutionary Communist Party, “On the Strategy for Revolution.” He raised a couple of questions about whether revolution was possible, and I had him read the beginning of the statement and another quote from BAsics which explains what a revolution is.
He—like many we spoke to in these two weeks—took what I was saying very seriously, and he was weighing it. While BA is someone he’d just found out about, he was struck by the few quotes he’d read thus far and by looking at the table of contents, examining the breadth of this book. He said thoughtfully, “Maybe we just need the right kind of leader, and maybe this is it.” I put to him a rough paraphrase of this new quote from BA, that the RCP has a very developed and inspiring vision for a radically different way the world could be, a very developed strategy for making revolution, the highest level of leadership we could have in BA, the core of leadership concentrated in the RCP, but what is missing is YOU. “I hear you, I want a change, now I’m going to get into this,” he said.
He got the book with a pledge to pay for it within a week, and gave me a way to reach him. He also took a small stack of palm cards which he said he’d give to people he knows and we talked about the Revolution Clubs which he wanted to know more about.
This was just one exchange, one copy of BAsics in someone’s hands. Multiply this by many, many dozens and you get a taste of the powerful beginnings forged through the BAsics Bus Tour.
Throughout these two weeks... the hot days and sleepless nights... the hoarse throats and tired feet... the volunteers forged a powerful connection with the work and voice of Bob Avakian and people this system keeps locked on the bottom... people with painful stories that could fill a lifetime of telling. People who are told day in and day out that this is just the way the world has to be, that they’re crazy for thinking otherwise, for hating what they’re up against, but who feel—palpably and painfully—that there is no way out. But when the volunteers piled out of the boldly decorated RVs, when they stepped with boldness and revolutionary energy, with their voices loud and defiant and put BA’s work directly into people’s hands, took it to people in a way that is consistent with its revolutionary content... something very powerful began to take hold.
This was taken very seriously. People stopped, talked, listened and argued. There are several stories of people beginning out angry, even belligerent, who ended up buying the book because they were challenged in a way they didn’t think possible. And through these two weeks, as people got more into BAsics, as they read the book, some passing it hand to hand, or watched parts of Avakian’s talk, Revolution: Why It’s Necessary, Why It’s Possible, What It’s All About... something in them began to change—being told there is a way out, the vision and concrete framework for a different society, the strategy for revolution to get there... and the leadership we have for this in BA. And being told there are ways to begin working on that now... being told there is a place and a role for them in this movement for revolution, and given a concrete means to be part of this today—taking a stack of palm cards, watching the Revolution talk with friends, being a part of a Revolution Club... this is a beginning, it won’t advance in a straight line... but it is powerful and precious, what BA himself has called “a source of hope and of daring on a solid scientific foundation”... the significance of this can’t be overestimated.
But it’s also not just what came forward in these neighborhoods of the most oppressed or the multinational sections of immigrants the tour reached out among. This can also be seen in the whole network of support that was forged to make this tour happen, including among different strata. The predominantly Spanish-language food pantry which provided food to the volunteers, the social service organizations who opened up their space for meeting places and coordinating centers, the women whose sons and nephews were killed by the police who cooked dinners for the volunteers, people who made sandwiches and the range of people who opened up their homes. And who through this whole process, have themselves been introduced to Avakian and are digging into BAsics. A talk given at a Revolution Books fundraiser halfway through the tour made this important point in relation to this: “This is the kind of support that makes a revolution. This is the kind of support that enables an underdog to be victorious in a fight that nobody ever thought they could win. This is what has been done in history. This is what could be done in the future, in different circumstances.”
This was all made possible, and will be further amplified, as part of a national movement of revolution. Fundraisers took place in cities across the country—in parks and jazz clubs, through phone banking and one-on-one meetings. People contributed their art, their voices, their pennies, and those with more means contributed larger amounts. And through this powerful effort, again, people deepened their engagement with BA’s work. In this instance, a lot of this unfolded around the BAsics quotes being promoted in July: “American Lives Are Not More Important Than Other People’s Lives” (BAsics 5:7) and “Internationalism — The Whole World Comes First” (BAsics 5:8). I encourage people to check out basicsbustour.tumblr.com for the range of responses to these quotes—from high school students writing poems inspired by these quotes, artists at Burning Man, kids met on the BAsics Bus Tour, immigrants, Black youth and many others.
There will be much more to say in upcoming issues of Revolution newspaper about this last leg of the BAsics Bus Tour... but also much more to take further with the whole effort this is a part of to raise big money to project Bob Avakian’s vision and works into every corner of society. With the glimmers in people’s eyes, the outrage finally spoken at the horrors of what is, the smiles from considering what could be, the joy in hearing the truth told... you see once again the significance of what we’re in middle of: BA Everywhere... Imagine the Difference It Could Make!
Revolution #277 August 12, 2012
The following are some of the statements of support for the BAsics Bus Tour in NYC:
“The BAsics Bus Tour is important because y’all are carrying a voice. Bob Avakian needs to be heard and everybody needs to listen. I’m listening.”
-A person who collected for the “Penny Drive” and donated to the stoop sale
“Bus Tour Volunteers, I enjoyed making sandwiches for you all. I enjoyed helping people. I like being part of a team doing something and this is important. I appreciate you coming here and what you’re doing because we need to change the world.”
-Making sandwiches for the revolution—Harlem
“This bus tour and what Bob Avakian is doing is important. It’s a blessing to the world because it’s time for a change in the world... I wish and pray that these travelers who have gone on their mission have succeeded in the goals of the revolution.
“We really need a change for the youth. As a 29 year old, I got to this point, but I’m noticing that for the next generation it’s just getting worse and worse. The people involved in the revolution are doing something good. I thank you and wish you all return home safely.
“Where is the tour going next?”
-Hip Hop artist from the hood and supporter of the revolution
“The whole world is in our hands. What you are doing is necessary. It is hard to go against a system that has so much on its side. But, I’m encouraged for the first time in a long time. 'Continue to struggle.'"
-A Revolutionary Brother and REVOLUTION reader
“To the people who were on the bus,
“Your movement is very ambitious. I do not know that it is possible to change the whole world. That would be very difficult. It would take serious people. I am reading BAsics and I have seen videos about the BAsics Bus Tour. You are serious people.”
Forward Ever, An African exile in Harlem
* * * * *
“If you’ve not taken the opportunity to participate in the BAsics Bus Tour, now is the time. This bright collection of humanity has taken it upon themselves to inform the public about the injustices of our current system, and more importantly, about the alternatives. These folks are a beautiful example of people coming together using grassroots activism to better the world around them. Both behind the scenes and on the front lines, many have given what they can, asking in return only that people open their hearts and minds.”
Revolution #277 August 12, 2012
It was a Friday morning when I got dropped off in the city. I was wondering what this bus tour was going to be like and how the people were going to be. I got to the RV late that night and the next morning we drove to a city a couple of hours from New York.
I was wondering how the first day was going to be. This was my first time ever doing something like this. We went around into the projects and the poor neighborhoods. There were two guys about 18 years old and one about 13. We walked over to them and they looked nervous. They didn't know who we were. We said we were the BAsics Bus Tour. One guy in our group had a pin that said stop "stop and frisk" on it and one of the kids said "Can I get one of those buttons?" So we gave him one. Then the kid that got the button was telling us a story about how he gets stop and frisked so much. He said that just because he had his hand in his pockets that [the cops treat him as if] he has a gun and that the cop said that whenever he sees him, he is going to check under cars and stop and frisk him even though he never has anything on him.
Once he was done telling us that story an older guy walked by who was his friend. The kid said, "Yo, come over here." The older guy said "No," and walked away. Then a few minutes later, he came back and said, "Does this have anything to do with religion?" The kid said "No, it's about stop and frisk." So he came back over and he read a quote out of the BAsics book and then, he said, "This is way deeper then stop and frisk." So the older guy bought the BAsics book.
The next day we met a girl about 18 that knew about stop and frisk. We asked her how it was to live in this neighborhood. She said, "Well it's not that bad anymore, because you just get used to it." That made me kind of upset because she doesn't think that she deserves better than that. Then a few days later, we met a guy. He didn't look interested at first, but then he was like "What's this about?" We said, "The revolutionaries are here." He said, "Oh really," and we said, "Yes. Are you fed up with the way this society is? Would you like to change it completely?" And he said, "Of course." We said, "But you can't change the world one person at a time. It's a group effort and you can't back down if someone doesn't agree with you. Just try to transform the people to believe that there can be a better world than this."
On Friday the 27 of July, we woke up early and went to Noche Diaz's court case. Noche was so happy to have everyone come to support him even though he shouldn't have even needed to go because he did nothing wrong. He is a hero trying to stop the cops from torturing innocent people for nothing and because they have nothing better to do. He is a freedom fighter. Stop and frisk is the crime, Noche should do no time! Before the court case we were standing outside the court house on the opposite side of the street. Carl Dix [founding member of the Revolutionary Communist Party and national leader in the movement to stop mass incarceration and to stop "stop and frisk"] made a speech about how everyone needs to stand up for what they believe in and how we should all stand up for Noche.
On the other side of the street there were a bunch of cops watching. I went into the criminal court with Sunsara Taylor [writer for Revolution newspaper and initiator of the call to End Pornography and Patriarchy: The Enslavement and Degradation of Women!] and the cop told me to turn my shirt inside out because it said "I am a part of the thousands working for a revolution." I did it and then we walked up stairs and waited for Noche to get called. I've never been to court before so I was kind of nervous, but at the same time kind of inspired that Noche risked his life to stop a "stop and frisk" and to be a hero so I would stand up for him no matter what. After waiting for about an hour they called Noche up. Everyone was nervous. We didn't know what was happening. A few minutes later the judge said the next hearing would be in a month from today, goodbye. So everyone got up and walked out. Nobody understood what that meant. So we were in the hallway and the cop was like "Stand on either side of the hall; people have to get through." Then one of the guys that was with us had a stop "stop and frisk" button on so the cop said "Take off that button. You can have it on when you exit the building but not while you're inside the building." Then the guy said, "Now, which amendment does it say that you shall not wear a button?" and everyone laughed except for the cop. The cop said "Take off the button," so the guy did and then we walked outside the court house so Noche could explain what happened.
A few minutes later a woman that was with us said to the cops: "We are all children of the sun" and then walked down the street to hand out newspapers and the Noche flyer. One of the cops decided to follow her down the block, so two of the people that were with us followed him just to make sure nothing happened.
Later that day we went to a park in another neighborhood to get out the BAsics book and palm cards. We used the sound system and on the tv played the Revolution talk by Bob Avakian. We handed out whistles. A lot of little kids ran over and asked if they could have a whistle. We said, "What are these whistles for?" And they said "They are for when you see a cop messing with someone, you blow the whistle so they know someone's watching them."
A few minutes later we started chanting: "Brothers being stopped and frisked, We say no more. Sisters being raped and dissed, We say no more" and "Wake up, Rise up, Join the Revolution Club." It caught a lot of people's attention. Then a group of teenagers came over to ask for stop "stop & frisk" buttons.
When we were walking through these neighborhoods, you wouldn't see kids playing with electronics. They would be playing in dirt and garbage. That almost made me cry. There are kids that have iPhones and laptops and everything you could ever want, but then there are kids that starve or that play in dirt with a fork. This tour literally changed my life seeing how other people are living and how they can barely make it. It makes me so mad because there are some people that can't even eat and then there are some people that have four houses, a boat and things you don't need to survive. It just makes me sick. If this world was different, everything would be so much better. If everyone had a nice cooked meal and a nice house and a job to support their family—not some people living in the streets or homeless people. We are all human beings, we should all be treated equally. No matter what nationality people are or color or gay or bisexual—we are all humans and we should all be treated the same. This trip made me see that it is possible to change this world, but it is going to take a lot of hard work and you can never give up to make this revolution possible!
Revolution #277 August 12, 2012
From the BAsics Bus Tour
On Wednesday evening, the BAsics Bus Tour had a speak-out, poetry reading and march around the BAsics quote 1:13.
People in the neighborhood who had been watching and listening to the revolutionaries both on the spot and in the days leading up to the event became compelled to take part in this movement we are building, tapping into the seething outrage many feel about the ways they are treated in this society, particularly what it means to have no future for the youth, especially the Black youth. In the days leading up, we did much work to tap into this seething outrage by bringing people the word of Bob Avakian through BAsics and involving them in the movement for revolution we are building.
The first day we rolled up, I met Donald, a young kid probably no older than 14, in the park. I show him the quotes and he tells us how he doesn't think it's fair how people are separated from each other and that if Avakian were up for elections he would vote for him. He is eager, full of life and honesty. Later in the week, we go back to the area with BAsics and plans for our event. I hear someone call my name. It's Donald, he runs up to me and we talk about our plans. He gives me a hug. I asked him if he wants to hand out fliers. He's wearing a rainbow necklace and has pearly white teeth. He smiles excitedly and says yeah! I ask him if he knows about Stop-and-Frisk and he says he doesn't know. I think back to the woman we met on the train the day before who tells us that while her kids have not yet been stopped and frisked, she knows it's coming. I wonder when Donald's parents will have "the talk" with him. We continue through the neighborhood with the book, people are asking us for fliers for the event the next day. We run into people who used to run with Panthers, others who are very concerned that there is nothing out there for the youth to do.
The day of the event, we go through the neighborhood marching and chanting, holding up an enlarged issue of Revolution called "The Modern Day Lynching of Trayvon Martin." We chant: "brothers getting stopped and frisked, we say no more, sisters being raped and dissed, we say no more, stop the pigs from killing youth, we say no more, exploitation round the world, we say no more!" We meet people who stop us and want to know what this is all about. One guy starts yelling at us. He says "look, I agree with what you guys are saying but you gotta understand the police are the problem around here." We yell "yes, we agree!" It sounds like maybe he is misunderstanding what it's about. We pull out the book and show him BAsics 1:24, "The role of the police is not to serve and protect the people. It is to serve and protect the system that rules over the people. To enforce the relations of exploitation and oppression, the conditions of poverty, misery and degradation into which the system has cast people and is determined to keep people in. The law and order the police are about, with all of their brutality and murder, is the law and the order that enforces all this oppression and madness." He looks at it and is quiet for a moment and then asks, "How much is that book?" He goes inside and gets $10.
People are talking to each other on their porches about this book and how what happened to Trayvon Martin was so unfair and how the police do this to people over and over again and get away with it. A woman hearing the conversation comes up and says "I want that book." She gives us all she has on her.
Another guy and his friend get the book in their hands. We tell them to flip to any page and read a quote. They read it together and are laughing and talking loudly saying hell yes, that is right on. We ask them to read it, they become suddenly shy. They show me the section they are reading: "As I have said a number of times: These reactionaries should not even be allowed to use 'conservative' to describe themselves. We should say, 'Conservative my ass, these people are Nazis.'" (1:26) They comment on how they know somebody like that and they can't wait to show it to them. When the woman buys the book at the table later, she asks to look at my book because I had that page marked and she wanted to mark it in her book. They got two T-shirts that said, "I am part of the thousands working on the revolution." People loved those shirts, we were getting stopped all throughout the day with people wanting that shirt and our Stop Stop and Frisk buttons.
We handed out whistles and told people that they had to come out to the park to find out what the whistles were for. One young man Quin made a point of saying to the video crew filming, "I'm down with this revolution, I am with this." He then starts talking to his other friends hanging on the corner and tells them they have to get down with this. One of them wants one of the Stop Stop and Frisk buttons. He tells us he has been stopped 26 times, and the corner they are hanging out on is near these checkpoints that get set up where the pigs stop and frisk people regularly. He then points us to his friend and says, "This guy has been stopped more than anybody." The young man who has been stopped and frisked 26 times is excited to speak out about his experience around stop and frisk, and he leaves his group of friends and starts marching and chanting with enthusiasm. When we get to the chant that talks about women being raped and dissed he looks shocked. Are they really saying that. He looks uncomfortable but continues to march. It is one thing to talk about people being harassed and murdered by the police but rape is something that people only talk about behind closed doors. We end up at the park and finish setting up the sound system. People are now scattered around the park, doing interviews with our crew or hanging with their friends.
Our speak-out started and it looked like there were few people participating. A young woman later told me that she doesn't like to go outside of her house because of what happens in the neighborhood. So we begin our speak-out, read quotes from BAsics, talked about the BAsics Bus Tour and we read real life stories of those who have been stopped and frisked, and it is hard to tell whether people hanging out in the park are paying attention. Carl Dix then spoke about what the situation is for people here and all over the world, why we need a revolution, the leadership we have for such a revolution and how we are organizing people into the movement for revolution today. He told people about an action being planned against stop and frisk and how the whistles will be used to blow the whistle around stop and frisk, so if you see anybody getting stop and frisked by the police to blow that whistle to call other people out to stand up and say no. He also challenged people about why they had to get down with this movement for revolution, in all ways big and small and talked about the Revolution Clubs. After he spoke, the table was overwhelmed with people.
I went around to talk to people and I met a group of three young women with kids. I talked to a woman named Ella. She says that Carl was really on point. She talked about how the police stalk the park where children play. She says sarcastically, "Why are they here, my baby's not carrying any heat." Her story reminds me of what one high school age volunteer said when we were rolling in an outlying area, "What are all these police doing here?!"
Ella opens up more about what things are like, "They [the pigs] check our cups to see that there's not alcohol in it. They treat us like criminals, like animals. I remember in high school, two girls broke into a fight on the street. It wasn't a big deal. They were shouting. The police came in and maced everyone and started hitting people with batons. I remember us young girls sitting on the sidewalk with blood running down our face where they had hit us. We were young girls and they did this!"
I asked her if she wanted to march with us, and she said she would really like to but she was with her daughter. She gives us a way to stay in touch and says "it is really good what you guys are doing." There were so many exchanges like this that I don't even have time to write about them all. We start to march. It is mainly the revolutionaries and about eight kids with whistles. We stop at the corner and people start chanting with us, asking for the whistles. People join in. The revolution was on the scene and all these beautiful children chanting "no more," others being moved by these children speaking out for the future of humanity. Their parents encourage them to listen to what we are saying too.
We get back to the park, the table is once again swamped. We try to figure out how we are going to talk to everyone who is interested in what this about, want to get BAsics, the stop and frisk buttons and BA pins. People are waiting in line to sign up on our contact sheet. We play some of the DVD and in the middle of it one of the volunteers had to adjust the sound so they had to turn it off. One man was pissed when we did that, "What, is that it?" You could tell he was hooked. We had two separate groupings of people getting into what the Revolution Clubs are about, and put forward before people the needs of the revolution. One woman I talked to told me how she worked hard, went to college, got a degree and now she lives in a shelter because she can't find work. She is angry that she was lied to and resented the broken promises made to her by this system. She said, "I always tell people it's a lie." We put before them the needs of the revolution and read through the principles and purpose of the Revolution Clubs on the spot.
People are angry but they are inspired and uplifted. Children running around blowing their whistles. The guys across the way who were watching and listening get Stop Stop and Frisk buttons and send their friends over to get whistles. It's getting dark and you see the police rolling in on foot, like the gestapo regulating and intimidating people. We get in the van and as we roll out with lots of thoughts in our minds and hope in our hearts, we see the group of guys raise their fists at us and blow their whistles as the police ride by.
It feels like people are beginning to see themselves as the movement for revolution.
Revolution #277 August 12, 2012
From the Road: Voices from the BAsics Bus Tour...
Revolution: Maybe you could just tell me to start with, about what brought you to this point and what made you come on this BAsics Bus Tour?
Ju: I've been doing work around the revolution since 2001. In 2001, I had a rude awakening to the system. My son was killed by the police. And so I've been involved ever since. And I wanted to come to the tour because I feel like I'm a part of making history. I know there's a lot of messed up stuff in this world and I'd like to be a part of trying to change it.
Revolution: Do you want to talk more about the circumstances with your son, or—?
Ju: If you would.
Revolution: OK, yeah. Anything that you'd like to share.
Ju: Well, first of all, my son was like so many others who was killed for no reason. And there was no justice to be gotten. We went through a lawsuit, but I never had any faith in the lawsuit because I already was understanding how the system is... I joined the October 22nd Coalition—and if you know about the Stolen Lives pledge, I vowed to fight to keep my son's memory alive as well as the memories of all the other people, all of the stolen lives. So that's what really got me into the fight, but once I got into the struggle—I was already aware of a lot of things that were wrong, but I became more and more aware of all the problems with this system that we live under. And I started to agree that it can't be fixed. There's no way to fix it. People have tried to fix it all the time that we've been here and nothing's changed. It's still the same. So I agree that it needs to be swept away, and a new system brought into being. And I want to be part of making that happen.
Revolution: Your son was killed in 2001 by the police?
Ju: Yes. Yes, he was killed in 2001. And there were cover-ups involved, there were all kinds of—it was typical of what they do, of what the system does: the lying, the no remorse that they always accuse people of having, but they're the ones with no remorse. None at all. And I've seen so many other lives stolen. In my area, when somebody's killed, which is all the time, I always make it a point to try to go visit the families. And you know, I could probably tell the stories, all I need is the name to put in, because it's always the same, they always do the same, they never change it up. It's always the same. And I'm sick and tired of it, and I'm hoping that everybody would be sick and tired of it.
Revolution: The murder of your son is another in a long line of crimes and outrages of this system—
Revolution:—and I'm very sorry to learn that your son was another victim of this system.
Ju: Thank you.
Revolution: Could you talk a little bit about how you were seeing, before this happened, what kind of society and system you were living in, and then as you got active around the struggle against what the police do to people?
Ju: I used to go to the polls. I used to vote. I felt like, as a Black person, I was happy to go vote because that was a right that had been denied us. And at the time, I thought that that could make a difference. I worked as a nurse. I went to school because I got tired of working in factories. We had a lot of textiles where I was from. And worked in a factory, felt kind of slavish to me. You go take a break, and you get 15 minutes for your break, and before you could use the bathroom again, [or get] something cold to drink, a man would blow a whistle, then you'd go back to work. And I didn't think I could tolerate that, so I went to school to try to better myself. And I enjoyed working as a nurse and everything, but even in working, it's still so much wrong. I was trying to just, you know, just survive really. But then when the system slapped me the way they did, when they just blatantly showed no respect for me or my family, that was my point of saying enough. You know, enough. I can't do this anymore [laughs].
Revolution: I'm assuming this is yet another case where there were not charges filed and they tried to say it was a quote-unquote "justifiable homicide."
Ju: Yes, that's exactly what happened. And we even sued, because we were going out on the streets—we had met with some revolutionaries and we thought we should take it to the streets. And they tried to punish us for that. They filed a $10,000 lawsuit against us, wanting us to stop saying the word "murderer." We were calling the pig a murderer. And they said we couldn't do that. So I ended up in the state court of appeals, all because the whole situation. They gonna kill him and then tell us that we can't call it what it is. And on the autopsy, when the autopsy came back—well I know now that this is on everybody's—it said "homicide." And I always thought homicide was a crime—"Yay, we got him." But no, it's different, it's a different homicide when the pigs do it [laughs]. So, you know, I found out a lot of things like that... and found out that there is no free speech. Because we were calling it what it was, and then we're gonna get sued and told not to say that no more. So the whole system's a set-up of lies and brutality.
Revolution: Maybe you could talk a little bit about over the years, as you got introduced to this revolution and its leadership, and you started to see the connections between the crime that happened to your son and the many different crimes of this system here and all around the world.
Ju: Well, during that time the war in Iraq was going on. I had a son that was involved in the first Iraq conflict. And I was already upset over that. And not just for my son, for everybody's son. So I guess I was already an anti-war activist. And I just started to clearly see more things wrong with the system, and then started getting revolutionary literature, and it tells you what you already know but what you kind of didn't see or what you tried to, I don't know—I guess I was settling for a few crumbs. And that's just not enough. It's just not enough. And the crimes of this system do need to be stopped, they need to be done away with. And that's when I shed a lot of my illusions about religion also [laughs]. I just started to see things a lot more clearly than I ever had. And even with my knowledge of a lot of the crimes and a little bit that I learned through going to school and stuff. I realized that wasn't even a drop in the bucket when I started realizing the real horror of what's going on out here.
Revolution: Maybe you could talk a little bit more about this question of religion and shedding your illusions around that. Because I know a lot of people in society take the view of, "Oh, we can't struggle with people about religion."
Ju: It was a long time before I would say the word "communist" in reference to myself. It was a long time before I could struggle with people about religion. I felt like I was disrespecting them. 'Cause it was deeply ingrained in me, religion was. And—
Revolution: You grew up in a very religious family?
Ju: Yes, yes I did. And I'm glad that's one chain that I lost. And for a little while I dropped out of the movement—for about a year. And my comrade stayed in touch, but I kind of dodged him a little bit. So after about six months, I decided to talk to one of them, and I realized that I needed to be back in the movement. And he said, "What have you been doing?" And I said, "You need to sit down for this, what I got to tell you." And he said, "What is it?" I said, "I joined the church." He said, "That's OK, we forgive you." [laughs]. But yeah, I tried going back to church after 2001. I mean, before my son was killed, I wasn't an avid churchgoer. But I had that religious root where I grew up going to church almost every Sunday and being active in church. But then, when I went back—after I had started to open my eyes and I went back—I just could see all the hypocrisy. I could just see all the hypocrisy. They said, "Come as you are, you don't have to have anything," but when I'd go, all they'd talk about is money. How much money they need and how much they're gonna get. And then the churches didn't support me in my struggle either. They tended to think that maybe the police knew something that they didn't, that maybe my son deserved it. And that's kind of the way they'd look at it... And then a city councilman that was a personal friend of my sister's, she said, "Oh, he can help you. He can help you." So I went and he said, "Bring me everything you got," so I took everything I had up to that point as far as paperwork. And then he said, "Well, let's wait and see what the investigation shows." So I realized the system—I don't care who's in the council seat or who's in the White House or presidency—it's all the same. It doesn't matter, the name or the color. It doesn't matter. The system is just working, and as long as that person is working for the system, they're gonna uphold that system. So, you know, I shed a whole lot of illusions. I shed a whole lot of them [laughs].
Revolution: And how did you come to see the role of religion in particular within that?
Ju: A lot of people would tell me things that I thought were cruel, like: "Just give it to the lord"; "You should get on with your life." As if my son was something that I could just get over. And something that the lord was gonna help me solve when the lord didn't preserve his life. I just, you know—where was god when my son was being brutalized, because he was not only killed, he was beaten before he was killed. So I mean, it just started helping me see that this stuff is not real. And when I first started thinking, saying there's no god, I was even afraid to think that way. That's how backwards I was. I was thinking: if I think like that, something's gonna happen. I know now there's no truth, but—
Revolution: You mean that god would punish you, you mean.
Ju: Yeah, yeah. But, you know, I got rid of all that [laughs].
Revolution: I want to move specifically to the bus tour in a second, but part of why I'm persisting on this question of religion a little bit is because it's such a big question that so many people just have this wrong attitude in society about, like: "You can't struggle with people over this." Or "People will never change on religion." So I wonder what you would say to people who say, "You can't take religion away from people," or "people who are oppressed need religion," or some shit like that.
Ju: I would say that maybe some people are better at it, but that is a hard contradiction. Just here during the tour, in the Brooklyn area, I met three different people that wouldn't talk to us because they found out that we were atheists. One lady said, "No, I don't want that stuff. Y'all are atheists. I want nothing to do with it because Jesus is real." And then one man was taking a card from another comrade, and he said, "What color do you think Jesus is?" And the comrade said, "I don't believe in Jesus." And the man just—he became belligerent and gave him his card back and said, "We have nothing else to talk about." So that's a hard contradiction, but I think it can be done, because it was done with me. But it was done with patience. It was done with patience. And sometimes, some people, like if they say, "I don't have anything else to talk to you about," then I would hesitate to continue to struggle with that person. Because some people just feel that way about it, and I remember a time that I felt that way—if somebody was an atheist, I didn't want to talk to them at all. I thought that they were the devil.
Revolution: But how do you see the importance of people transforming on this question? Like, here's maybe a way to go at it—what do you think it meant—
Ju: I think it may be a way if we let people know that religion is just a tactic to hold us back and to keep us down. If people be honest, I think it wouldn't be hard for them to come to that realization. And you go back to Nina Simone's song, "just go slow"—just stay on your knees and keep begging [laughs].
Revolution: You're talking about the lyric from "Mississippi Goddam," right?
Ju: Yeah, yeah. I can see religion now as a noose, as a tactic to keep people in line. But you know, I'm used to that, I'm used to hearing people talk that way, like: "Just give it to the lord," or "The lord will solve it for you." And sometimes I think we can just be open and say that that's not gonna work [laughs]. That's not working.
Revolution: To bring it up a little bit back to the bus tour itself. I know you were saying earlier that you feel like you really wanted to be part of history with this. Maybe you could talk a little bit more about specifically what made you feel like you had to be on this bus tour?
Ju: Because I think BA does need to be everywhere. I don't hear anybody else talking about revolution. Nobody. And with all the things that's going on, I just see things as basically—like I'm a product of the '50s, and I just see things as basically just like they were. We might go to the same schools or we might drink out of the same water fountain, or we can vote [laughs]. But vote for what? I just saw it as an important thing until analyzing the system and knowing that it doesn't work, it doesn't work for us, it doesn't work for anybody, except the 1 percent maybe.
Revolution: What has your own experience over the years been like getting into BA? Like, were there particular works of his that you first got into that were kind of your introduction to his work, or—
Ju: Well, no, a lot of it was the paper [Revolution newspaper], and my comrade—we just discussed, discussed, discussed and I read and read and read. And I like all his works. At first, it was hard for me getting into revolutionary reading, even the newspaper, because I thought you could read it like you would a regular newspaper, just read it and put it down. But it's reading that you have to read, get your dictionary out and read a little bit and then go back and read some more, 'cause it's not easy reading. It's not easy reading. But it's very—you learn a lot if you take time and read it. You learn a lot. And I appreciate the fact that Bob has studied and analyzed and dug in so deep and done stuff that nobody else has done. I was aware of the Panthers when they were around. I had no idea BA was part of that. I hadn't heard of revolutionaries until 2001, since back in the '70s.
Revolution: So what was that experience like, to find out that there's a movement for revolution in this country?
Ju: It felt great. It felt great. And I just like spreading the word. And I just wish that there were more of us, because there's so many people that need to be talked to and transformed. And there's just so few of us. But I think this campaign—spreading BA far and wide—and losing some of my inhibitions about going out on the street—and I'm sure other people have some too—but I think all that is going to help. And maybe one day we'll walk down the street and—we had a little chant in our group—and one day we gonna walk down the street and somebody's gonna be standing behind us, I mean besides us, doing that little chant. And then we'll know we're getting the word around [laughs].
Revolution: Maybe you could talk a little more about how you're seeing the critical importance of getting BA Everywhere and the difference that can make on the whole atmosphere.
Ju: Well, the neighborhoods we go in are oppressed neighborhoods. A lot of people I think don't know that there's a way out. A lot of people believe in that permanent necessity—I mean, I don't know if they believe in it, but a lot of people think that this is the best we can do. And I feel good helping people realize that there is something else and that we don't have to live this way. And then hearing speakers like Carl Dix, hearing all the revolutionary speakers... and getting the DVD [Revoltuion: Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About] around and all that. I think there are some people that are open-minded and some people who will listen and struggle with you. And I guess we'll win them over. We'll win 'em over.
Revolution: I know the tour is a few days in now. Maybe you could talk a little bit about what some of your experiences have been like taking this out to people, including people in neighborhoods that have been completely abandoned and left to rot by this system.
Ju: I think for the most part people have been positive. This is different to me in that we talked to a lot more children, a lot more youth. We got a chance to go to a school and have children do posters and stuff—like a daycare-type school, all ages. And that was exciting to me. That was very exciting. And most of 'em were paying attention, so I'm sure they got something out of it. And with children, they will spread it.
Revolution: What kind of posters were they making?
Ju: Like: "Do you think American lives are more important than others?" That was the main question we put to them. But also: "No more generations..." [BAsics 1:13]. And kids were getting it. They were getting it. They really were. And you can tell by a lot of the responses that they were getting it. So we can do the same things with some adults and have them get it [laughs].
Revolution: What were some of the reactions kids were having?
Ju: They were saying, "No, American lives are not more important, and if you are mean to somebody because they are from another country, or because they don't look like you, that's racism." And a lot of them said they hear gunshots at night, and some of them in the daytime. One of the girls was concerned because people are dying from being alcoholics. So a lot of children are more worried than we probably would give them credit for being.
Revolution: Just to go back to something you said a second ago: I know you were saying at one point you were very nervous about using the word communist, or you never would have used it. How did you—
Ju: Well, when I was growing up, a communist was a bad thing. And I associated communist with Nazis. And I think I was meant to. I think that was the way we were meant to think about it. I mean we were taught to think about it, even in school. And that's what I thought. And it was through education that I learned that communists fought the Nazis, you know. And that there's a whole difference. And a lot of times when I talk to people in oppressed neighborhoods, that's one of the things that we get out of the way right away. Because I don't want that to be something in the way of us connecting with them. And so I find out what they think a communist is and then we get past that. And a lot of them do think "Nazi." So, at first, I wouldn't say it. But after awhile, and after going to different events and stuff, you start to feel more and more comfortable. And then you start feeling proud [laughs]. So I have no problem now saying it, because I think I can explain to people more what it is, or I definitely can explain to them what it's not.
Revolution: What are some of the ways that you go at that now or take that on?
Ju: Just ask them, I just tell them—one girl said, "I'm gonna march with y'all, y'all the NAACP." I said, "No ma'am, we're not" [laughs]. I asked her, "Do you know what a communist is?" And she said, "A Nazi." And I said, "No," so we talked about it. And I got her to understand that there's a big difference—I mean not difference, there's nothing similar at all in what a communist is. And once we get that out of the way, then we can move past it, because I don't want people to freeze up when I say we're communists and thinking we're bad like "Jehovah's Witness, I don't want to talk to you," you know, like that. So I like to go ahead and get it out of the way now. At first, I used to go all around it, talk to 'em about everything and avoid that word, but now I bring the word right on out so that there's no deception, but I make sure that they understand that a communist is somebody good and not a Nazi.
Revolution: And how did your own understanding of communism—what was that process like through which your own understanding developed and changed over the years?
Ju: Just some education, just reading, and being around communists. My buddy at home, he's not shy about telling people's that he's a communist, telling people he's an atheist. And this one guy said to him, "You can't be an atheist, you're too good." So I think it kind of speaks for itself. And that's one way me being—when the communists are the ones who came to my aid in my hour of despair, when they [the police] killed my son, the communists were the first ones who came to my aid. The only ones that came to my aid. So that told me then something about what kind of people they were. And then I told 'em what I thought, I said, "I thought communists were Nazis," and it was just a matter of him explaining and me reading, you know.
Revolution: When you say "him explaining," you're talking about—
Ju: Oh, my comrade. We read the thing in the paper about what communism is. It's always on page 3, maybe page 2. And just studying and doing history and stuff. And just getting into the movement, you know. And listening to BA speak, and reading. And a lot of it is just being around communists, just seeing their high character, the kind of people they are. They're better than Christians [laughs].
Revolution: There's also the fact that—the whole way that BA has re-envisioned revolution and communism, based on both principally upholding the actual past experience of the communist revolution as opposed to the lies you're talking about that people are told, but then also the ways in which he's carved out the basis for us to do even better next time—it kind of really flies in the face of what people's stereotypes or misconceptions are.
Ju: We tell people—because a lot of people say to us, "Communism, it's been tried and it failed," and we tell them about the new communism and the new synthesis.
Revolution: Maybe you could say a little bit more about what it's been like for you to be on this tour, taking BA out to the masses and to be organizing people into this movement for revolution.
Ju: The tour has been great. I've met a lot of people and I'm learning other ways to do the work. We do all we can at home. I've learned some other things that I can take back home. Like the idea of the pennies. 'Cause fundraising is always kind of difficult, especially when you're going in oppressed neighborhoods, a lot of times people just don't have it. And I like the 12 ways cards drawing everybody in, letting everybody know that they have a role, even if it's not money, or if it's not going on the street, there's still things that they can do. And I think that's a way of uniting the people too. But it's meant a lot. And I see a lot of differences in some things, and then I see a lot of similarities. Like, the people in housing, I see a lot of the same problems in these housing projects that I see in the ones back home, with the authority and everything. I met a lady that said they are not allowed to stand in the hallway. And we have a project at home where people are not allowed to sit on the front porch. So I see a lot of similarities in the brutality of it and the oppression and everything. And it's not a whole lot that's always different except here it's on a much, much larger scale. And I think a lot of people's attitudes are similar to these attitudes I see back home.
Revolution: Could you say a little more about that?
Ju: It makes me feel kinda like people are the same no matter where you go [laughs]. And the interest I think was probably about the same as what we experienced. Over here, you got more people—you got a whole lot more people. And you got more things going on here. You got a lot of things going on, like the day CD [Carl Dix] was over at the projects, there was an old-timers' festival going on on the next corner. So you know, the more you can find places where people get together, that helps in trying to get the work done. So it's a lot more going on here, a lot more opportunities. But we have to do it here, we also have to do it in small places too. We have to transform the people and we have to go where the people are.
Revolution: In terms of this bus tour really effecting a big leap in this movement for revolution: as has been pointed out in coverage in Revolution newspaper, there's objectively, like you were saying earlier, the leadership of BA represents a way out and represents a way that humanity can actually make revolution when the time is right, and get rid of all the horrors of this system and get to a whole different world. And objectively, that's what BA and this new synthesis of communism represents, but then the number of people right now who know about that and who are organized into this movement for revolution to make a revolution, to get to that world, the number of people is still way too small. So [what do you think about] this bus tour, in terms of changing that and actually making a big leap?
Ju: I think the bus has made a big difference. And with groups of people coming together from different places and we're all converging out on the streets, I think it made a huge difference. And I think it made a difference when the people see us as one, and then the shirts and everything. The shirt... connected all of us together and I think it made the movement look even bigger with all of us going out like that, you know. It looks better with a bunch of us getting off the bus than with two or three people getting up going down the street in the neighborhood. And I think it piqued people's interest more, I really do.
Revolution: Maybe you could share some experiences or stories that kind of bring out people who are living in these projects—you're saying you're seeing the connection between people's conditions in these projects here and what you're familiar with back home—for people in these areas who are completely beaten down by this system and don't know there's a way out to then learn about this revolution and its leadership, what has that been like?
Ju: It's been good 'cause I've talked to several people... they even said, "There's nothing you can do," and in talking to them, they're not thinking that way anymore. This one lady in particular... she was saying "If you raise your children right and if they do what you tell them, then nothing will happen to them." And after we talked and talked, she admitted that that's not the problem—raising children right is not the problem—and she realized the problem's the system and that her children can be affected as well as anybody else's even if she's doing the right thing. So I think it made a difference, and with there being a lot of us, it gave us a few more minutes to struggle with people. 'Cause sometimes I think it's just not enough time for just a little number of people going around. I liked that aspect of it—there being more of us. While I'm busy talking to this lady for 15 or 20 minutes, then somebody's talking to other people. So I think that part of it was exciting, versus there being two people going out and two people tied up for 20 minutes or so talking to somebody. Because some of these people are adamant about what they believe and you do have to struggle with them some and get them to look at another way and get them to be honest about—I don't think they're being dishonest, I think maybe that they just, they haven't heard about revolution, that's probably what it is.
Revolution: Are there any things that you feel like, as a result of being on this tour, you look at differently or your eyes have been opened to in a different way, or that you think about even more deeply?
Ju: Yeah, I've learned a lot of lessons, and I've learned a lot of stuff that I feel like I can benefit from at home. And one thing of that is in helping get BA's name out, I think the chant that we made up, I'm definitely taking that home. I think chants always get people's attention. I think the idea about collecting the pennies is good, the fundraising part of it and helping to get the books and stuff out. I think I've learned some stuff, some ideas that will help our area too, do even better.
Revolution: I guess the last question I would ask you for now, and then obviously feel free to add anything that you want to add, is: There's this metaphor that's been used—there's the people on the bus tour, right, but then there's the people all over the country who are pushing the bus to support it. I'm wondering, for those people who are pushing the bus supporting it, or those people who are not yet doing that but need to be, what would you say to them?
Ju: I'd say, "Thank you" to the ones that are pushing it already. The donations have been great—the food donations, I was amazed that so much stuff came in. And I think it's what's needed. And that's why I was liking the 12 ways cards, because everybody can be a part of this. Everybody can. And I think that card points it out that you might be able to make a big contribution or a little contribution, but all contributions are needed and appreciated. I'd say: Keep pushing the bus [laughs].
Revolution: How about people who are just finding out about this, who are new to finding out about this tour or to the people who have not yet been met by this bus tour but will be and are trying to figure out how they can plug in and relate to this?
Ju: I say we keep the tour for a year [laughter]. And just keep going from city to city and spreading BA far and wide. And picking up volunteers. I think this is an important way to get the word about revolution out, and to get BA out there, for people to find out the things that we already know about BA and about revolution. Things that we're still learning, actually.
Revolution: Did you have anything that you wanted to add? Anything I didn't ask you about that you wanted to speak about?
Ju: No, again I'm just glad to be a part of this tour and part of making history. And I would like to see the bus tour continue. I don't think two weeks or two months is enough. I think it needs to just keep going [laughs]
Revolution: Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About, a film of a talk by Bob Avakian, available online or as a DVD set
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."—BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian, RCP Publications. 2011
This new synthesis... See also BAsics 2:31.Twelve Ways That YOU Can Be Part of Building the Movement for Revolution—Right Now
Revolution #277 August 12, 2012
From the Road: Voices from the BAsics Bus Tour...
Revolution: Maybe you could start by just talking about how you first met this movement for revolution and got introduced to the leadership of Bob Avakian, and then how you came to be part of this bus tour.
Te: Ok, well when I first met this communist leadership, I met it down in Georgia. And I met it during the [time of the] Troy Davis execution, legal lynching. And that's what got me into this movement. And so ever since then, they told me the way and then they showed me the way out of this stuff, because I never knew why we were in the situation we were in. And they introduced me to [the leadership, vision and work of] Bob Avakian, and ever since I met him and I read BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian, I knew that there is a need to put this to other people besides just me—everybody needs to know about Bob Avakian and his pathbreaking leadership. And I want everybody to know this stuff, you know, so, that's how I really came to learn about communism. And so now I just try to get deeper and deeper and learn more and more and change the world in the process, because it's so messed up on all levels for so many people, especially myself. And the book [BAsics] changed me when I just read the first page. I read the whole thing and it just changed me, and so I just wanted to go everywhere and spread this message of revolution anywhere I can, no matter if I gotta lay my life down, whatever, I just gotta spread this knowledge of revolution and changing the world. So that's why I'm here up in New York, spreading revolution.
Revolution: Maybe you could talk a little bit about what your understanding of the world was like at the time that you first met this movement for revolution, and then how that was impacted by getting into BAsics, and you mentioned even the first chapter in particular.
Te: When I first started, I was all thinking that if we elect somebody else, get a new Congress, or maybe just change the people, just one by one, or just—I don't know, I was lost, I was thinking that we could do it through this Democratic or Republican process, but it's totally wrong, you know, this whole system is oppressive to all Blacks and Latinos and people around the world. It's no good, and there's no way out through this electoral process. So I was thinking that way, I was reading the newspaper, watching CNN and watching Rachel Maddow, and all this and I was thinking that's the way. But I always felt like they weren't really talking to what I was really feeling. And that's why, when I met Bob Avakian, he was talking to my feelings, and talking to how I really felt, and what I was really thinking and feeling at the same time. So that's what made me really dig deeper and try to understand what this is really about. And once I understand that it's the science of communism, the science of revolution, this is the way out and nothing else—all the other stuff is not reality... and I needed something real and something I could really hold onto and something that wasn't too complex... I could understand it, anyone could understand this stuff, it's not like you got to be a scientist to understand wrong and right, it's just—this is wrong, this is right, and that system that we live in now, capitalism-imperialism, that exploits and oppresses and drags people down in the mud is no fucking good. And I want a whole new world that's good for the people, that lifts people up. That gives you power to talk—before, I couldn't get up and talk in front of people like this and talk to people like this, until I met Bob Avakian and his leadership, and it makes me want to talk to everybody about this and scream it out, no matter where you at, because you know it's right and you just feel it's the truth.
Revolution: Before meeting the works and the leadership of Avakian and this movement for revolution, you couldn't speak in public like this.
Te: I couldn't, because I really wasn't grounded in any science or any real facts, I was just grounded in what I thought was supposed to be the way. Now that I'm getting to what's really going on, and why the world is like it really is, how it's all connected, I didn't know this before, 'cause they never really told me this in school or the news on TV or the media, no one ever told me this until I learned about the science of communism. And this lets you see why we have a ruling class that rules over us and why it's like this—why we're exploited like this, why it's like this. You won't learn this from school or the best colleges or people in society, you only learn this through the science of communism—that's the only way and nothing else.
Revolution: You were saying a second ago that when you first got introduced to this leader, that you felt like it really tapped into something that you felt. Maybe you could say a little bit more about how that first struck you. Like, the first thing that you saw from Avakian was BAsics?
Te: Yeah, that's the first thing I saw was BAsics. And I read the first quote: "There would be no United States as we now know it today without slavery, that is a simple and basic truth." And that makes you want to go deeper: OK, so all this richness, all these cars, all this money, all this wealth... if it was founded on slavery and exploitation, then what does that really mean and what kind of society do we really live in? And I just couldn't understand it, you know? And now I do. And that's why I want to change it, and that's why I'm fighting to change it, and I want to bring more people into this revolution. 'Cause I had a wrong understanding my whole life, and now I can see, and it's a whole burden lifted off my shoulders. I feel liberated, I feel free, and I feel ready for revolution.
Revolution: Maybe you could briefly talk a little bit about what some of your life experiences have been like before meeting this movement for revolution and before coming on the tour.
Te: Before meeting this, you know, I was just caught up in what this society tells you you should do: You should work, you should do this, you should try to accumulate stuff and try to dog-eat-dog, beat each other out any way you can. That was my mindset: beat everybody out and fuck everybody else—"I'm first, fuck everybody else." Now, I see the world as: we're all together, we're all interconnected in this shit, we're all together in this shit, there's no—it's not scientific, it's not reality by me saying that it's just me first, it's not compatible with the universe, first of all, it doesn't go with reality. I wasn't grounded in reality... That's how I was caught up in the system, thinking what the bourgeoisie has put down to us. And now, I'm not, 'cause I'm free, I'm free of all that, I'm free of that. Now, I'm fighting for a world where we're all free. That's why I'm fighting to break all these chains that have always been on me for all my life. And I'm fighting to unleash the whole world, that's what I'm fighting for. I want a whole new way we relate to each other, that's what I'm fighting for.
Revolution: What has it been like on this bus tour to be together with people who are taking out the leadership, the vision and work of Avakian to people who are most brutally oppressed by this system, and then people who may feel the way you're describing that you felt and that you were living before meeting this movement for revolution?
Te: Oh, yeah, it feels great, because it's a small embryo of what it could be and what we are fighting for. If you get a chance to see these people on this bus tour and meet 'em, and understand what they want in life and the kind of world they're fighting for—free of exploitation and oppression, where social relations have been changed in society—you want that type of world. There's no other world you want. We don't [have] this type of world. This is filth now. You want a whole new way now. And this communism is the way. These people share, these people heal each other without making any money; we're not getting paid shit. We're just out here risking our lives together, could get shot down any minute, but we having fun, we high off the people—just like Fred Hampton said in that book I read, "We high off the people," because the people give us power, they give us energy, they give us strength. And I just want to keep learning more about communism, because like I said, I'm new to this. I'm still learning every day. So it's been an amazing experience, and I've learned so much from these people, and I want to keep learning. And these people are wonderful, these people are amazing, these are my family, these are my comrades, man, and we're ready to lay our lives down together at any minute, and it's a bond you won't get out of anything else but this right here, you know what I mean?
Revolution: What has it meant to take out to people who are feeling every day the brutal weight of this system and the misery and suffering and brutality it unleashes—to take to people who thought that they just had to put up with this that there's the leadership and vision and strategy for a way out?
Te: Oh, yeah, now that's a really fun thing, 'cause that's why I talk so fast and I'm so excited and I trip over my words sometimes; when I'm talking about this, I get excited, because these guys don't have a way... and when I bring it to them, they like, "So you talking about revolution, communism?" I'm like, "Man, this is your way out. This is your only chance to get into this revolution, and run with this—join this shit, we can goddamn do this shit, come on man!" And sometimes they catch my enthusiasm, sometimes they just can't realize it, you know. But you never know how people develop in different ways. But it's a joy taking it to them, because this is their way out and this is their way to jump into it and get free from the chains that they in. It's a way to get free, and it's their only way, you know? And once I give it to them, I can't [help] but scream it in their face: "Look, it's your only way out, man!" and it feels good, man; it's the best feeling in the world to take this to people; it's no other feeling then telling people this, man. I wish I could do this every single day of the year, but I gotta go back and fucking work and shit... so I'm fighting this shit right now, 'cause I gotta go back and fucking work and fucking eat and shit, so I'm fighting this shit right now, but it ain't nothing better than this shit, I wish I could do this shit for a fucking job every fucking day. I gotta live somewhere and fucking eat, but this is what I wanna fucking do and I want to dedicate my life to this shit.
Revolution: What do you feel that you've learned through the course of this—I want to ask you on two levels: More generally what you feel you've learned, but also, specifically, what you've learned about what it means to fight the power, and transform the people, for revolution?
Te: Now that, like we talked about today, the strategy for revolution, fighting the power, and transforming the people, for revolution is a very real thing, and I'm really coming to understand what that really means. Like these whistles that we brought to Brownsville the other day, you know, it gives people a sense of resistance, of rebellion against the system, of going against the system, and in the process it's transforming how they think about other things and other questions about society. So that's a good thing for the people in these 'hoods and oppressed ghettos and barrios that we go to. And we transforming people for revolution—we fight the power, and transform the people, for revolution; that's exactly what we doing out here. And it feels great doing it with other people that want a whole new world. It's the best thing ever, man, that's all I can tell you.
Revolution: I know, like you're saying, you're new to this and you're still learning more as you're going and getting deeper into it, but maybe you could talk a little bit briefly about what you were taught about communism growing up, and then what it's meant to you to start getting into this new synthesis of communism that Avakian's brought forward?
Te: See, all my life, communism I was taught it was fucked up; I was taught that everybody's gonna wear gray suits and it's a bad day for people living in a communist world. And it's fucked up, it's not something that you want; that's what I've been taught all my life. But by me reading about Marx and Lenin and other revolutionary leaders, it opened my eyes to the reality that everything I've been told has been lies and I've been lied to by this system and what it does to everybody. It's just not me, it's everybody it does this to. The system lies in history books, through media, through all the other institutions that they put down. And once you see that, there's nothing you can do but fight against this shit to change this shit. Yeah, I've been tricked by this system that communism's no good. But once I found out what the truth is and the distortions that the system put through history on communism, you get sick and you like, "Damn! I've been lied to about all this shit and I need to fight this on every level 'cause it's wrong and it's just unjust." And your whole body is revolting against this shit, this revolting culture, this capitalism-imperialism.
Revolution: What do you feel you've been learning about how Avakian has re-envisioned revolution and communism, building on this past experience and overwhelmingly upholding it, but then also figuring out a way that we can go even further and do better the next time?
Te: One thing I've learned is that this is a moving science, it's not just some dogmatic dogma that's just stuck in stone. No, this shit is always changing, it's always moving and flowing and moving forward. So that's the one thing I like about it, 'cause Bob Avakian, he says [paraphrasing], "I don't know all the fucking answers, hell naw!" But we can learn together as a whole. We can come together, as long as we have a system based on people moving forward and not exploiting them and oppressing them and degrading them and making them scuffle and scramble just to make a living and survive in this hard system. He shows us how to relate to each other in a different way, and that's the most important thing to me—relating to people in different ways and having a new morality. And that's what it's about—I've learned to have a new morality, not just talk bad to women like I used to, not to drink and smoke drugs and be out there doing shit like I used to. And this isn't no religious shit, this is science that I'm learning. So it's a whole different thing. I'm learning science, so that shows religion is a slave mentality and keeps people down, you don't get any better with that shit and we need to throw that shit out and get science into schools—evolution—we need... I've learned a lot of shit, and I'm still learning, like I said.
Revolution: Did you grow up around people of a lot of different nationalities? Or no?
Te: Yeah. When I grew up, I grew up around a lot of different nationalities—I grew up in California, really. There was a lot of different people in my neighborhood, so we had a lot of fun. But when I stayed in LA man, there was a lot of killings and murders around me at the same time, 'cause I have stayed in the 'hoods before. And I have been brutally oppressed by this system in every way possible—by the police, by the courts, by the prisons, by everything. And it's unjust, illegitimate. And it's not my shame, it's their shame. And we shouldn't be scared to talk about what's happened to us in this system. We shouldn't be ashamed and scared to speak out with liberation and peace and justice for all, so we fighting for a whole new world.
Revolution: Part of why I asked that is I was wondering what it's like to be part of a crew of people of an incredible diversity of nationalities and ages, and men and women—what it's like to be part of an incredibly diverse crew of people taking this out to people.
Te: Yeah, it's been great. Like I said, I've been learning different things from every last one of them, 'cause we got different ages and different cultures and different things that they're always teaching me every day, and I'm sure they learning from me too. And we all inspiring each other to do better and keep moving and keep changing the world. I mean, we in the process of changing the world, we doing big things, and we trying to do big things, so it's the best in the world. It's the best in the world. Nothing could be better.
Revolution: For people who have been supporting the tour or people who—on the Tumblr [basicsbustour.tumblr.com] or in person have been meeting this tour—in other words, people who are newly meeting this tour and supporting it and maybe trying to figure out how they fit into this movement for revolution, do you have anything you would want to say to them?
Te: Yeah, man: Join this revolution, man. Get with BA, man. That's the only way that you gonna change this shit, man. No Democrat, no Republican, no Allah or god from the sky gonna do this shit. We gotta do this shit together, man. Like Bob Avakian said: only way to emancipate yourself is emancipate your damn self. So I encourage people to take this shit up, get into this science and get into it. If you want to change the world. But if you like this world how it is, and you don't act, it's gonna get worse and worse. But you gonna be getting eaten up in this process anyway, so, really you have no choice but to join this. Well, you have a choice, but I hope you choose the right thing and join this communist revolution. That's the only way out for humanity.
This new synthesis... See also BAsics 2:31.
Revolution #277 August 12, 2012
From the Road: Voices from the BAsics Bus Tour...
Revolution: I'm trying to get a sense of the diversity of experiences and people who are part of this tour. If you wanted to just talk a little bit about how you first met this movement for revolution, and what brought you on this BAsics Bus Tour?
E: When I was first introduced to this party [the Revolutionary Communist Party], I was like doing a lot around prison reform and like the juvenile justice system. And it was actually my younger brother who found out about this party before me. And the way I used to view it, I was like, "Damn, my younger brother's getting into a fucking cult and following this white leader, Bob Avakian. I have to go to these meetings!" And I first started coming to the meetings just to argue against him, just to show him, "Well no, you're leading down the wrong thing," but as I started to get deeper into this and coming to the meetings, I started realizing I agreed with a lot of what they were talking about. You know, I had a lot of contradictions around religion at that time, but that's when I first started getting involved.
And in terms of the BAsics Bus Tour, it was like a couple of years of transformation that made me see the need for this revolution. I always think about the Rise Against song that they have, "Reeducation Through Labor"—how they switched the words at one point and they start saying, "I won't crawl on my knees for you, I won't sweat another drop for you." And that's what I always think about. I'm sick of living under a system where people are just constantly working just to get by and everything just keeps on—you know, that whole point, "capitalism keeps on humming in the background." When I saw the significance of what Avakian has, I wanted to be part of this tour. And even in the couple of weeks that I've done this, I feel like I've made ruptures. At first, it was very—very like formulaic, how I did it with people: "Well, first today I'll get you the newspaper, then tomorrow we might get into the DVD, and then the next day I might challenge you on your religious views or your patriarchy and stuff." But being a part of this tour, it's just made me realize: When you give people the full program of what we're about, what it is we have, the strategy for making a revolution, the fact that this is a whole new advanced theory of communism that Avakian has developed at a time when nobody else did it, that's something that has really come to light. And when you see people sort themselves out based on that, it's just amazing. Yeah, there's still a lot of work on us to have to organize people right on the spot, to figure out what it is they can do, either big or small—handing out some palm cards, or taking the even bigger leap of wanting to be in the Revolution Club. And it's just, it's changed. Like I'm just shocked at how people respond to this. And it's kind of had me thinking, "What the fuck have you been doing this whole time?" you know. I mean, "Yeah, you've been thinking about revolution and you've made a lot of ideological ruptures, but in terms of practice? You've fallen off on that point. And I feel like this tour has definitely changed that, you know? And it's had me thinking, "Why have you been spending so much time flipping through your phone trying to figure out how to waste the next hour or two hanging out with a friend who has some consciousness but no real encouragement to change the world?" It's just had me thinking, "Why haven't you been out testing different areas of your neighborhood or different areas of other outlying cities to figure out: how are people responding to this?"
Revolution: This is what you've been feeling and saying to yourself, you're saying?
E: Yeah. It's been a real rupture with myself. And it's a rupture that I think wouldn't have happened if I didn't go on this bus tour. The ideological meetings and struggles are important, I'm never going to undercut that need, it's important. But when you actually take it out into practice, and then you're constantly going back and forth—and in this situation, just imagine a room full of sweaty, mosquito-bitten, itchy scientists [laughter], social scientists trying to change the world, that's what we went through in this BAsics Bus Tour. On the road 24/7 with this movement for revolution and with what Bob Avakian is all about, and it's just been mind-blowing to see the potential that exists out in the world. And it's just really brought this thing to life for me. I've always seen the potential for revolution, especially when I got into the strategy for revolution by Avakian, where he talks about it's gonna take a revolutionary crisis and the fact that this system puts itself in those crises just off its basic functions—things like unemployment, or things like the contradiction around "We're the land of the free" yet warehouse 2.4 million people—like these are unresolved contradictions that can be driving forces for revolution. And I've seen that in an ideological sense, but once I've seen the potential, that whole point that Avakian talks about, why he doesn't tail people—because they have the ability to change the whole goddamn world, you know. He hates the way the masses are treated but he doesn't feel bad for them because he understands that potential. And I feel like that's really come to life for me: They can take this up—people who don't know shit about communism to people who have their criticisms because of the lies they've been told, and when you give them the book [BAsics], when you put it in their hands, when you—I got a little cheat sheet in my back pocket, and somebody else in our group developed like a full cheat sheet. You know, like a whole worked out little thing for each quote, where it's at, a little idea of what it talks about, and you utilize this—not in a dogmatic sense, but in a very lively way—and when people see that, people would buy the book just off seeing three questions that they had answered in this book. They might not agree completely with the answers that were provided, but when they saw the seriousness of it, that just amazed me, that people who would walk up and say, "We need Jesus," and then I'd read them [BAsics] 3:17:
[E recites BAsics 3:17 from memory]: "People say: 'You mean to tell me that these youth running around selling drugs and killing each other, and caught up in all kinds of other stuff, can be a backbone of this revolutionary state power in the future?' Yes—but not as they are now, and not without struggle. They weren't always selling drugs and killing each other, and the rest of it—and they don't have to be into all that in the future. Ask yourself: how does it happen that you go from beautiful children to supposedly 'irredeemable monsters' in a few years? It's because of the system, and what it does to people -not because of 'unchanging and unchangeable human nature.'"
You get these folks to take a step back and be like, "Oh, shit." Yeah, they didn't leave Jesus right there, yeah, they didn't break with religion right there, but they saw a level of seriousness that they don't have. And when they were confronted with that, they're just like, "I have to know more."
Or they'll bring up something else: "Well, you know, communism was a horror." And all of this other shit. And then you flip to another quote. You talk about: well, what is actual communism? What has this new synthesis brought forward? And when they read that quote, people want to know more. And that shit has just come to life for me.
Revolution: I've noticed that you've memorized several of the quotes, and it strikes me as a really important way of wielding BAsics and wielding the leadership of Avakian, and maybe you could talk a little bit about the importance of that as you've gone out to the masses with this and actually being able to get into these quotes on the spot with people.
E: Well, a lot of these quotes I memorized because—I mean, being an artist, I'm really good at memorizing shit, and watching that DVD [Revolution: Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About, a film of a talk by Bob Avakian] has just been very amazing, getting into the quotes and the potential that they have—it's important to wield these quotes. Not to religiously or dogmatically just say 'em as if they have no substance, but they do have a substance, and when you say that quote to people and then you get into this movement for revolution and how it's trying to do these things, it's just amazing. And through this whole thing, it's just been highlighting the importance to just wield the book, wield the quotes each and every single day to like combat the bullshit that people are up against. They need to know about these quotes, and it sends a message to them. When they see somebody had memorized the quote, they're like: "Goddamn. He handed me the book and opened the book and then he just literally recited it to me without reading it. There's something here."
And I mean it's important—you gotta know the substance, you gotta know where the quotes are at. If you really want to wield BAsics, you have to know where the quotes are at, you have to be able to direct people: "You have a question about the youth? Well you need to check out 1:13: "No more generations of our youth..." Oh, you don't like the police? You need to know about [BAsics 1:24]... "The role of the police is not to serve and protect the people. It is to serve and protect the system that rules over the people. To enforce the relations of exploitation..."—see, I don't know them all by heart. It's a process—you get 'em, and when you wield it that way, it becomes a live thing to people.
Something that we kept running into—a contradiction that we were trying to deal with: How do we show people that this isn't just an educational campaign? How do we show people that this isn't just another book of literature. We were struggling with this guy who was a basketball coach who, every time I kept going to the book, he would be like: "No, no, I want to know what you think, I want to know what you think, not what this guy's telling you, I want to know what you think."
I'm like: "Look, it's based on what he's saying that I've developed the understanding that I have now, and you need to know about this quote! And I'm going to read it to you! And if you don't want me to read it from the book, I'm a fucking recite it to you and then point to it, and then—'Bam!' Now you're just like, 'Oh! Damn, he still gave me the quote!" [Laughs]. So that was a part of the struggle too of having to memorize these quotes: "Alright, you don't want me to flip through the book, it seems too 'religious' to you or whatever contradiction you might bring up? Well, I'm a recite it for you, so you're gonna hear it." [laughs]
Revolution: I know you're already speaking on this, but maybe you could talk a little bit more about this point—it seems like you're saying you really feel you learned a lot in these two weeks, in a lot deeper way, about what it means when people connect up with this leadership, and the potential of what gets unleashed as a result. I know you said some about that, but I don't know if you wanted to say any more, or bring out some of these experiences? I know you've been sharing a lot of stories.
E: When people see the seriousness of this, when they see that it's not just another person telling you how fucked up the world is, but we have a strategy for making a revolution, and when we link that up with people, we see their potential—people want leadership. Like we were talking with this guy the other day who wanted to be part of the citywide Revolution Club. And he started talking about—he had a lot of contradictions about what people are up against, he started saying, "A lot of these people are ignorant! They're stupid!" And he said, "It's sad to say, but a lot of them are gonna just be stuck in this situation. And that's it. You're not gonna change 'em."
But when I started getting into the quotes, especially that 3:17 one—and he still had a lot of reservations around it, but when he started talking about it, he was like, "Man, I definitely agree with that, but it's gonna be hard work! It's not like it was in the '60s. People have just accepted the way things are." And he was putting a lot of blame on the masses, so then I asked him, I was like—I was going to show him the clip on the DVD, in the question and answers [disc 4], around bringing forward a new generation of revolutionaries, where he talks about things like the '70s and social approbation and stuff...
So then I told him, I was like, "So, what do you think about what happened, what went wrong?" And then he started saying, "Well, it's leadership. We don't have leadership anymore." And that's something that was amazing, and when I introduced him to the strategy for revolution and he listened to BA in the DVD, he changed the conversation to saying: "How can I get involved in this movement for revolution?"
And it made me think about that "crucial journey" point [that Avakian makes in An Invitation]: If you know this stuff, if you know the world is fucked up and you know there's a strategy for making a revolution, then you need to get down with this movement.
Revolution: Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About, a film of a talk by Bob Avakian, available online or as a DVD set
An Invitation, by Bob Avakian
Revolution #277 August 12, 2012
August 4–14, New York City
If you hate the way that women are not only raped but then blamed and shamed for being raped...
If your blood boils at the knowledge of millions of women bought and sold and abused and degraded in the global sex industry...
If you want to puke when you hear Christian fascists moralizing that women should “keep their legs closed” and you want to scream when you hear of another abortion clinic being attacked, another doctor being stalked, another law restricting women’s right to birth control or abortion being passed...
If you are infuriated by how pornography has become more violent, more degrading, more cruel, and more humiliating towards women even as it has become more and more mainstream...
If you are sick of the way women have been trained to hold their tongues, suppress their rage, and remain silent in the face of this all-out war against their lives and their humanity...
For ten days in New York volunteers from around the country and all over the city will work closely together to launch an all-out counteroffensive against patriarchy and to strategize together to figure out how we are going to go forward to win.
From our work thus far with this initiative we have found incredible receptivity. Yes, some people are hostile (which is only to be expected in a society where so many have been indoctrinated for so long in such bone-deep misogyny), but there are also many who have been choking on their rage and hungry for an outlet. And there are many who begin by dismissing or even attacking us who, through sharp arguments and political struggle, open up about how much turmoil they have been in over these very questions and express the desire to get involved in the movement to end patriarchy.
But until now we have not found the ways to fully tap into this, to bring it to the surface, to sustain this and to fan it even further. This is what we will do in these ten days. This will be a forging ground for all who attend, a chance to work together with other like minded people to try new things out and figure out what works, to get into deep discussion about all this and strategize about going forward, to project this movement to thousands of people in one of the most trend-setting cities in the world, and to draw in and actively organize hundreds as we do.
Revolution #277 August 12, 2012
The following was first published at StopPatriarchy.org and is being reprinted with permission of the author:
I am angry, but I am done with the shame. I did nothing wrong. There is nothing I did that made it happen. There is nothing I could have done to prevent it. I am done with the shame. I have spent my entire life blaming myself, and finally I am done.
At just 7 years of age I experienced a series of sexual assaults in which I was forcibly restrained and molested, given a cookie to keep quiet each time. I still turn down cookies to this day.
At 14, I was taken advantage of by an older friend who I trusted, they made me feel dirty. I blamed myself for both of these tragedies; playing back the assaults in my mind mining for mistakes I must have made. I learned to not trust males, especially older men.
On my 15th birthday I told myself I was bigger, nobody could hurt me, and that the past was behind me. At this point I began to say that I no longer blamed myself but every night I still laid awake, wondering what I did wrong, what I could have done differently.
Throughout this whole period, I was confronted daily with the realities of this society. Whether an aggressive demand for my phone number, an unwanted groping, or a lewd comment about my body, it all felt the same, it all felt wrong, and it all gave me shame. But I reassured myself that these daily shame fests were the only alternative to the helplessness of the physical assaults I had endured.
I’m now 16, and earlier this year I (yet again) was violently assaulted. I was invited to a college party, accepted, and attended with excitement for such an experience which was sure to be cooler than the weekend of any of my high school peers. I went with a friend and we were in joking around about all the drunken idiots at the party. He invited me back to his dorm where I could wait for my ride in peace. I declined though, since after all, my ride was on its way, and I am very careful about trusting males. I was still sitting on the counter when the door tore open. “Oh! I was just leaving” I explained with a smile attempting to vacate the premises before getting puked on. Everybody was really drunk, but he wasn’t, he knew what he was doing. He wouldn’t let me past though. He shut the door, put a finger to his mouth, and that’s when I knew...
By this point I knew the routine. I didn’t even bother to scream, nobody had ever heard me anyway, so I just cried. Tears rolled down my face and the phrase blared in my mind, “What if I had just left with my friend? What if I had worn looser pants?” I was blaming myself as I was being raped. Shame filled my mind, my heart, and my soul.
It took me a while to really process what happened to me, and when I finally did I was blaming myself. Why didn’t I scream? Why didn’t I try to stop it? What was I doing at a college party? And what was I doing wearing what I was? If I didn’t fight back was it rape? Why was my 7-year-old self willing to fight, but not nine years later?
There was only one person who I had originally told about this last assault, and they were really important to my healing. When I told them these questions, the look on their face helped me to realize that what happened to me was not OK. What happens to women every day is not OK. Not logically. Not ethically. Not morally. It’s not OK in any way. It’s so horrible and without rationale that along with other victims, I searched for one. It was really difficult for me to accept all the atrocities that happened to me without reason, so for a long time I blamed myself. I am saying it now, and finally I believe it: WHAT HAPPENED TO ME WAS NOT MY FAULT. There is a reason though, a reason that many people ignore, and that reason is simply our culture. We are to blame our rapists and the culture that creates more.
Our capitalist culture of constant commodification creates rapists through the corporate controlled media displaying half-naked women to sell various material goods, the violent porn in which women are systematically dehumanized in an industry that shapes many people’s ideas of what sex should be, the fathers who hi-5 their sons for “getting over” on pretty girls, and the words that dehumanize women for being either too sexual or too modest. Our culture creates rapists every day. A culture that creates rapists has no right to dominate. I’m still angry, and I don’t think I’ll ever be free from anger, but I am done with the shame. Together we can bid farewell to shame completely and build a culture that does away with shame and stigma, instead focusing on building people up. We have an obligation to build that culture before a whole new generation is shaped and shamed by it.
Revolution #277 August 12, 2012
On September 13, Nobody Gets Stop-and-Frisked in Silence!
Revolution received the following call from the Stop Mass Incarceration Network:
To those who are tired of seeing police step to our youth with harassment, brutality and even worse; to those outraged because the NYPD stopped and frisked 684,000 people last year alone; to Black and Latino youth tired of knowing that every time you leave your house you might be descended on by cops; to parents who fear that no matter what you tell your kids about surviving an encounter with cops it won’t be enough to keep them safe; to people who know this will never happen to them but also know it’s wrong — join us on September 13th to “Blow the Whistle on Stop & Frisk!”
Stop & Frisk is racist, and it’s no damned good. People have begun to stand up and fight it. In the face of the massive public outcry, the NYPD is doubling down. They are on pace to stop and frisk even more people this year. Now is the time to unleash resistance that can sweep Stop & Frisk away. The racial profiling Stop & Frisk concentrates is a pipeline to mass incarceration and the warehousing of our youth in prison. We don’t have to suffer all this anymore, and we won’t. There is no good reason for Stop & Frisk to remain in effect. It’s illegal and illegitimate. It must be stopped! We are going to stop it, and you must join us in doing that!
Join us in Blowing the Whistle on Stop and Frisk! On September 13th, thousands of people all across NYC will politically confront the cops who are violating people’s rights. We will be blowing whistles to call out these injustices and using cameras to document the criminal actions of the cops. At 6 PM, we will all blow our whistles at once to signal to all those who have been targeted by Stop & Frisk, to all those who have stood up against it and to the cops and officials who enforce it that there are people all over who will no longer be silent. And in cities across the country, people have to act in solidarity: Blowing the Whistle on the way cops target Black and Latino youth, whether they call it Stop & Frisk or not.
On September 13th we will say in a strong, united voice: WE WILL NO LONGER STAND BY SILENTLY WHILE PEOPLE ARE DENIED THEIR RIGHTS. Our actions on that day will drive a nail into the coffin of Stop & Frisk.
Be a part of making this day happen. Get your whistles and get them out to others in your neighborhood, at your school, in your workplace or in your place of worship. Spread the word and organize people you know to be a part of this day. Take to the streets on September 13th and with us declare that the days when the cops can violate people’s rights however they want, when people aren’t inspired and organized to politically resist this kind of injustice are no more.
This Call Is Issued By:
Carl Dix, Revolutionary Communist Party
Cornel West, professor, author and public intellectual
Debra Sweet, Director of World Can’t Wait
Efia Nwangaza, Malcolm X Center, Greenville, SC
Gbenga Akinnagbe, actor
Herb Boyd, author, activist; Harlem, NY
James Vrettos, professor, John Jay College, City University of New York
Luke “Aidge” Patterson, artist and activist
Randy Credico, political satirist, activist
Elaine Brower, World Can’t Wait, Military Families Speak Out, NY, NY
Nicholas Heyward Sr, father of Nicholas Heyward Jr who was murdered by NYPD
BE A PART OF BLOWING THE WHISTLE ON STOP & FRISK:
Photo: Li Onesto/Special to Revolution
IN THE NEIGHBORHOODS—Get whistles and flyers everywhere. Organize a committee to prepare people to be on the look out for police harassing people on Thursday, September 13th and ready to blow their whistles.
STUDENTS—Organize cores of people who will be ready to go into schools when they open and distribute whistles and flyers to prepare people when coming out of school on September 13th to look out for each other and to blow their whistles when they see cops stopping, frisking and harassing people.
IN FAITH INSTITUTIONS—Organize a committee to distribute whistles and flyers and bring speakers from the Stop Mass Incarceration Network (SMIN) in to speak to the congregation.
LAWYERS—Organize legal observers for Thursday, September 13th. Get others to support this effort by publicizing it and contributing money to help make it happen.
CONTRIBUTE MONEY—Funds are needed for whistles, flyers, palm cards and buttons. To donate contact SMIN below or donate online at: www.stopmassincarceration.org.
Contact the Stop Mass Incarceration Network and get an organizing kit.
Revolution #277 August 12, 2012Download printable PDF
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.
It is a striking fact—which is starkly evident in the U.S. now—that, in comparison to what is done to women, there is no other group in society that is so systematically reviled and defiled in a way that has become acceptable (or widely accepted in any case) as a significant part of “mainstream” life and culture, as happens in a concentrated way through pornography and the extremely demeaning and degrading images and messages about women it massively and pervasively purveys (with the Internet a major focus and vehicle for this), including pornography’s extensive portrayal of sadistic and violent sexual domination of women...
I began the “Revolution” talk with “They’re Selling Postcards of the Hanging,” reviewing the ugly history of the lynching of Black people in America and the way in which celebration of this became a cultural phenomenon in the U.S., with the selling of picture postcards of these lynchings a major expression of this—often including smiling and leering crowds of white people surrounding the murdered and mutilated body of a Black man. In a recent exchange, a comrade emphasized this profoundly important and compelling point: Today, the way in which pornography depicts women—the displaying of women in a degraded state for the titillation of viewers—including the grotesque brutality and violence against women which is involved in much of this, is the equivalent of those “Postcards of the Hanging.” It is a means through which all women are demeaned and degraded.
Revolution #277 August 12, 2012
Week of August 6
This is a regular feature that gives an ongoing picture of the multifaceted campaign BA Everywhere, and the variety of ways that funds are being raised and the whole BA vision and framework brought into all corners of society. Revolution newspaper is at the hub of this effort, publishing reports from the campaign, and playing a pivotal role in building an organized network of people across the country coming together to make BA a household word. We urge our readers to send in timely correspondence and photos on what you are doing as part of this campaign to email@example.com.
Once the BAsics Bus Tour headed into the South, the Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund (PRLF) started getting letters from prisoners like this one: "MAN... this BAsics Bus Tour is what's up! I really see this making many qualitative leaps each and every new part of the country this tour hits. Plus, as I just mentioned I'm always looking at things dialectically these days (thanks to you) -:), so when I evaluate how this is all starting to unfold, I can see how all these particulars (tours) are truly bring together a more dynamic community of revolutionaries across state lines (universally), who'll be able to continuously learn from each other, thus strengthening our mass line collectively, as all these loose pieces steadily start to come together and become more scientifically grounded in practice/and theory..."
Prisoners have been reading BAsics, discussing it with others and writing about their experiences and ideas since BAsics came out, and new requests for the book continue to stream in. PRLF wrote to a group of correspondents and asked for their thoughts on BAsics 1:13 and the quotes for July, 5:7 and 5:8. Letters started arriving by return mail, and some of those letters have already appeared in Revolution and on basicsbustour.tumblr.com. A few PRLF volunteers decided to put excerpts from those letters on a banner so the bus tour volunteers could show people that many prisoners see themselves and act as part of this movement for revolution, too, and as one person said, "to let the prisoners ride the bus together with the volunteers."
Revolutionaries took BA Everywhere to the Grand Slam Finals of Youth Speaks' Brave New Voices Festival in Oakland, California, on July 22. This electric and inspiring yearly event is a place for emerging spoken word artists from across the country to raise their voices to an enthusiastic audience—the Fox Theater in downtown Oakland was humming with excitement. We distributed 28 CDs of BA's 'All Played Out" (with music by William Parker) to the poetry teams competing in the festival; 1,500+ cards with the quote "No more generations..." (BAsics 1:13) were handed out to the crowd. And outside, before and after the event, young people added their statements to the two quotes on internationalism (5:7 and 5:8). Some people told us they had read the copies of BAsics that teams were given last year. And one woman, on reading the quotes, said, "This is what I've been searching for!"
The idea for the fundraising barbeque came around a dining room table as we discussed the new synthesis of communism and how to get BA Everywhere. The guy who suggested the barbeque saw it as an opportunity to spread the message of BA, raise the needed funds for the bus tour and get more people involved. This person said, "I buy copies of BAsics and I give it to people, because if people would just read this book, then they would understand things so much better."
The plan was to get people to donate sides and then cook ribs and wings in the park. A number of people made sides to donate. A local well-known restaurant, which has hosted Cornel West and Tavis Smiley, donated trays of green beans and corn muffins. A woman whose son was killed by the police and who is active in the campaign to get BA Everywhere made potato salad. Other donated sides included baked beans, greens, coleslaw, mac and cheese, watermelon, and cookies and mini-cupcakes.
We decided to take pre-orders for plates and then have the barbeque in the park, fill the orders and deliver the plates and invite new people to come make a donation and check out BAsics, the displays about the bus tour, and this movement for revolution. While we were in the park, people checked out the displays and signed up to learn more and spread the word of BA Everywhere. This included two physics majors from universities who were very intrigued with what we were doing and a guy who had much to say about the situation of mass incarceration, police killings, and finding a way out of the madness.
The day before the barbeque, two artists from an old warehouse full of artists' lofts bought meals because they really want to have connections with the more impoverished residents on this side of town. They were very happy to hear that people in the neighborhood were becoming part of a serious effort for the emancipation of all humanity. They said that even if they didn't make it over to the park, they would come by Revolution Books.
During the barbeque, a team went to a local shopping area nearby to sell more plates. A couple of the storeowners who were fasting for Ramadan decided to donate to the barbeque. Two other vendors bought plates with wings and chips to show support.
As word of the barbeque spread, people phoned those on the job to get more orders. Family members contacted each other to come out and get a plate.
We set a goal of $1,000 for this event which would include matching funds from people of means. We are pleased to announce that after expenses the barbeque raised $589.
Two poems written and performed at an Anti-July 4th event by a high school student inspired by BAsics 5:7 and 5:8:
What is made manifest is the walls that bleed red,
inhumanity in living in desolate corners
of the earth, is displayed in miserable statistics
and dollar signs.
Part 1- Rose in Concrete
The brutalized section of society,
have single weeds growing out of concrete
Rusty old school fences with chewed up textbooks,
Learning only that life is meant for oppression,
Getting beat into the heads, scolding superiority by skin head racist pig police, loving to devour the youth.
The only beauty lies in the rose in concrete,
amid the struggle, lies incessant hope of better days
amid the hope, lies resentment, boiling anger, overflowing.
Part 2- Rising Sun
Fire rises, flames lick vivaciously, the sun signals upcoming days resonating future possibilities. All countries, all people, see the same sun, feel the same warmth. International Rising sun, burns with a vision having a reason to bring a new earth into being.
Part 3- Stacks of rolled up sleeves
anti-4th, anti imperialism, anti destruction & war,
Revolution as the solution
to have one earth under one sun
where roses will bloom in every concrete crack,
where cracks will be molded & nurtured by masses.
Out of sight, out of ground
grows burning desire, a healthier world free from systematic death, no more demoralizing nor misery, anti 4th of July
* * * * * * * * * * *
Bloody Red, White Supremacy, Blue Tears oozing,
4th of July nationalism permeates,
craters of mourning, drones of danger, decapitated lives.
War infiltrated country, with their shots for democracy.
Systematically killing races, with their own genocide behind jail cells.
Blacks and Browns, stopped and taken
only left with their decapitated lives.
A Rose in the cracked concrete wailed, incessantly hoping, wishing for gods to come down and swoop them away,
Red fledged war, burning visions, sunshine warmth,
hearts at loss are affected by a revolution.
all that sees its shine, and feels its warmth
know they are one earth beyond the division of this country.
Borders, Religions, wars, profit, cutting the people in slices.
4th of July nationalism permeates,
causing ill fumes, malignant senses confounding truth,
blinding vision, creating passivity amongst the people.
We can do much better than red, white, and blue.
Much better than anarchy and democracy.
A new world is possible,
can be reached with outlook & determination.
Getting past all oppression and brutality
a new humanity can be reached.
WE SAY "NO MORE!" Chicago Benefit for the BAsics Bus Tour July 8, an evening of music and spoken word at the Elastic Arts Gallery in Logan Square. Writer Jacqueline Lewis performed a spoken word piece she put together for this event. To the rhythm and beat of the Prince Saleem Ensemble and with a soaring flute from Prince Saleem himself, Jacqueline declared, "I say no more!" and, fist in the air, said, "Today—tonight—is the right time for change!"
July 14, 2012: A small team took a banner and palm cards [with BAsics 5:7 and 5:8] to a Korean Festival. This is a big event that attracts both residents and tourists. During the short time the team was able to be there, the banner attracted a lot of attention and people immediately signed and talked about what this banner meant to them. Here are just a few comments:
A young woman visiting from Okinawa: "If Americans believed this they wouldn't keep their bases in Okinawa."
A resident: "Yeah...that's not the way Americans think. If they did, they wouldn't have come here to 'civilize' us in the first place....and they wouldn't keep occupying us."
A middle school student from Seoul, Korea (about 12 years old): "I think if Americans believed that they wouldn't act like they do outside of the [military] bases at home. They don't treat the Korean people good."
Of course, not everyone agreed. When one young man said he disagreed, and that Americans were better because "our country is better" it prompted a man who was standing nearby, but who had refused to even take a palm card, to immediately step forward to sign the banner and assure us that he "didn't think like that."
* * * * *
July 21, 2012: On Friday a local artist designed and painted a beautiful new banner with both slogans and a team went to a festival on Saturday. This festival attracted a large crowd—both military and local. The team got out a large number of palm cards and leaflets about the BAsics Bus Tour and some people signed the banner. Most people politely took the materials and did not engage, but there were some exceptions. Following are just a few:
A "lifer," a colonel who had served 30 years in the military, enthusiastically thanked us for getting into conversations around the quotes. He related how he'd joined the military thinking he was fighting a just cause, and then was sent to Iraq with Desert Storm. He now opposes all U.S. wars.
Several people from the Baha`i faith quickly identified with the quotes, which then moved to their analysis of communism as "one of the three evils in the world." After digging more deeply into capitalism and why revolution is necessary, one said he'd be checking out Bob Avakian's new synthesis more deeply.
A Chilean woman approached us somewhat antagonistically saying that she'd lived in Chile and that communism was a horror. When asked how she'd describe capitalism, she said it's also a horror. After we had dug into BA's new synthesis a bit she said she wanted to learn more because socialism was a good idea—it just "hadn't worked."
Hundreds at the festival were introduced to the BAsics Bus Tour and Bob Avakian for the first time and left the festival with the materials to enable them to dig in further.
Revolution #277 August 12, 2012
The following statement was issued by World Can't Wait on Sunday, July 29.
Sometime late Monday night, July 23, or in the early hours of Tuesday, July 24, ANSWER Coalition's Los Angeles office was broken into and thoroughly ransacked. All ten of their computers, large sized sound systems and all of their bullhorns were stolen. Files were ransacked, and their office was generally trashed. A quantity of cash that was out in the open, however, was left unmolested.
ANSWER's office is on the second floor of an office building in LA's Koreatown. Despite the fact that other offices in the same building had much higher-value equipment, no other office had their equipment stolen. So much was taken from ANSWER's office, in fact, that a truck must have been needed to haul it all away.
This cowardly, reactionary, and serious attack followed immediately on the heels of ANSWER's visible participation in the ongoing Anaheim protests against the police murders of Manuel Angel Diaz, 25, killed on Saturday, and Joel Acevedo, 21, killed the very next evening. Diaz was shot while washing his hands and talking with friends, first in the back and then, when he fell to the ground, in the head. Acevedo was shot multiple times, including twice in the head, while at Walmart. These executions of Latinos have sparked several days of righteous mass demonstrations in Anaheim.
Given the circumstances, this break-in and burglary appear to be in retaliation for the protests against police murders. ANSWER's signs were clearly visible in many of the media's pictures of the protests and ANSWER spokespeople were interviewed by reporters at these actions. On Monday, immediately preceding the ransacking of their office, ANSWER received a deluge of racist and hateful phone threats, accompanied by and also unquestionably inspired by attacks upon them by right-wing pundits such as Glenn Beck, who specifically singled out ANSWER on his website Monday afternoon.
This attack on ANSWER is an indication of the essence of reactionaries who, in order to remain in control, regard any killings of people of oppressed nationalities as justifiable homicide, issue vile threats anonymously over the phone against those who seek to expose these deeds, and in the dead of the night, break into and destroy or steal materials needed by activists to do their organizing work.
World Can't Wait roundly condemns this attack as further evidence of the need to unite in defending rights of the people to protest actions of their government.
Revolution #277 August 12, 2012
The following article was written by a volunteer in the Revolution mass incarceration project:
Another prison hunger strike began on July 16 at three different prisons in North Carolina. Prisoners from Central Prison, Bertie Correctional Institution, and Scotland Correctional Institution launched the strike to demand an end to inhumane prison conditions, including the torture technique of solitary confinement.
Out of the 36,000 prisoners in the state of North Carolina, 7,000 are in “Close Custody,” which means they can be subjected to solitary confinement, locked in their cells for 23 hours a day and must be “highly supervised and under tightly controlled perimeters,” (according to the North Carolina Department of Correction’s glossary on Corrections-related terms on Close Custody).
Solidaritywatch.com reported, “Central Prison currently holds over 600 inmates in Close Custody. In March, an inmate with a history of self-harm was found dead in his solitary confinement cell. In North Carolina, self-harm can be punished by up to 30 days in isolation.”
Central Prison also was the site of another prison strike in December 2011, when inmates protested conditions of kitchen employment. Leaders of this strike, known as “The Strong 8,” were punished and are still being held in solidarity confinement for contributing to the “work stoppage.”
In the context of the horrific conditions and threats of repression, the prisoners who are participating in these strikes are incredibly brave and courageous. Those who have been on hunger strike have all been reported to be Close Custody inmates. As many as 100 have been reported to be participating in the hunger strike, with different inmates joining and stopping at different points. On July 29, Chapel Hill Prison Books Collective and the Greensboro Legal Defense Fund held a rally in support of the inmates. All people of conscience must build visible support for the prisoners who are lifting their heads and fighting through to end the inhumane treatment of prisoners once and for all.
Demands of the strikers include:
“The end of cell restriction. Sometimes prisoners are locked in their cell for weeks or more than a month, unable to come out for showers and recreation.”
“An immediate end to the physical and mental abuse inflicted by officers.”
“Education programs for prisoners on lock-up.”
“The levels of I-Con, M-Con, and H-Con need to be done away with altogether. When one is placed on Intensive Control Status (I-Con), one is placed in the hole for six months and told to stay out of trouble. But even when we stay out of trouble, we are called back to the FCC and DCC only to be told to do another six months in the hold, infraction free.”
“The immediate release of prisoners from solitary who have been held unjustly or for years without infractions; this includes the Strong 8, sent to solitary for the purpose of political intimidation.”
(See the San Francisco Bay View article, “North Carolina prisoners on hunger strike,” July 25, 2012 for a more complete list of demands.)
Revolution #277 August 12, 2012
May 10, 2012 National Lifers of America, Michigan
Please place the Lifers listed below on your list to receive a free copy of your Book, BAsics (English). We have written to our families and asked them to send you a donation to help distribute this book. Thank you very much for your time, hoping to hear from you soon. Sincerely, AA
Note: This is followed by 22 names of Michigan prisoners and their addresses.
2-17-12 Thank you very much for your letter. I enjoy BAsics and I strongly agree with Bob Avakian. I read it every day. It's my support. I also love Revolution news paper some of the talks and writings, and discussions and every day events touch me deeply to where I'm teary eyeid. I love how Bob Avakian keeps it real and tells it how it really is. Carl Dix and ...fellow R.C.P members are doing wonderful things! I love how everyone comes together for a greater cause - Revolution –...BB, Prisoner in California
A donation of $35 will pay for one yearly subscription to Revolution newspaper
Your contribution is even more important now: On Jan. 16, 2012, PRLF's fiscal sponsor, International Humanities Center through which it had 501(c)(3) tax-deductible status, declared financial insolvency and ceased to function. While much remains unclear about the situation at IHCenter, it could mean that PRLF and many other projects affiliated with IHCenter organizations have lost significant chunks of donations. PRLF is searching for a new fiscal sponsor. In the meantime, we encourage you to make it possible for PRLF to fill current literature requests, as well as re-raise lost funds, by making non-tax deductible donations online at www.prlf.org or by mailing checks or money orders to:
Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund
1321 N. Milwaukee Ave. #407, Chicago, IL 60622
Contact PRLF: 773-960-6952, contact@PRLF.org
Revolution #277 August 12, 2012
From A World to Win News Service
July 23, 2012. A World to Win News Service. On June 28, 23 Adivasis (tribal people) were killed in the state of Chhattisgarh, where the Indian government is carrying out what it calls Operation Green Hunt (OGH), a campaign launched in September 2009 to hunt down, torture and murder members and leaders of the Communist Party of India (Maoist) and their supporters. The Indian government claims that they have only killed Maoists while also stating that anyone helping a Maoist will be treated as a Maoist and killed, created a huge outcry of protest. According to journalists from the BBC and The Hindu and many witnesses, the villagers were attending a meeting to discuss an upcoming seed festival held every year just before the onset of the monsoon. This meeting is part of a collective decision-making process on the utilization and distribution of land among the peasants. In the late evening they were surrounded by security forces who opened fire on the attendees, many of whom had come from nearby villages. Victims of this attack were also hacked with sharp objects. Young girls were chased into the fields and beaten, their clothes torn off and threatened with rape. Following are excerpts from an article which first appeared on countercurrents.org and sanhati.com by Kamal K.M, a Mumbai-based film maker who was a member of the fact-finding team that visited the village where the massacre took place.
Dandakaranya is a stretch of forest in India that runs through the states of Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Maharashtra, and Andhra Pradesh. Roughly translated in Sanskrit, the word means "Jungle of Punishment."
When you enter the village of Kotaguda, located in Bijapur district of Chhattisgarh, the first impression is one of serenity. The vestiges of the Salwa Judum pillage from a few years ago still remain as a burnt scar. The houses have stood starkly against these acts of aggression.
We couldn't see any trace of the massacre after ten days.
We were a group of thirty people from different parts of India, people of different professions and academic backgrounds. There were some people in the group who had been to similar kinds of fact-finding report missions, like Advocate Tharakam, Prasanth Haldar, V.S Krishna, Advocate Raghunath, C. Chandrasekhar, R. Shiva Shankar and Ashish Gupta. Some of them were official members of different human rights organizations under the umbrella of Coordination of Democratic Rights Organizations (CDRO). We advocates, teachers, government employees, students, former trade union activists and media professionals were united by a single objective: to unearth the truth about what had actually happened on the night of June 28.
When we entered the village there was a solemn air about it. The only humans we saw there were some heavily armed paramilitary forces inside the bushes they might have been from CoBRA [an elite military unit] force or CRPF [Central Reserve Police Force].
The men in arms averted our gaze. They couldn't meet our eye with the shadow of the dastardly act of a few days ago looming large over them.
It was 8 pm on the evening of June 28, Kotaguda village in Bijpapur District, Chhattisgarh.
There was a meeting being held to discuss the upcoming seed festival Beeja Pondum. It was a wet monsoon night. Some people from other villages, like Sarkeguda and Rajpenta, were also attending the meeting. A few children loitered around playfully. At 10 pm, the CoBRA force and CRPF cordoned off the villages and started firing indiscriminately and without any warning.
The first attack came from the west, and instantly killed three Adivasis. This was quickly followed by firing from three other directions. Terrified villagers started running; some tried to take shelter, some ran towards their respective villages. Yet, the bullets continued to spray for another 30 minutes. Then, as if to survey the dead, the CRPF forces fired two flare guns that lit up the area. They languidly ambled through the scene and collected the dead bodies that remained.
The national media duly reported the incident following the government version. But by the next morning it slowly emerged that those killed were actually villagers. It was in fact a massacre. It was clear that the victims were tribal villagers, who were randomly killed. Some newspapers and TV channels corrected their mistake and reported the truth. Some still have not corrected their mistake.
After that news report, there was no reaction at the national level. The governments at the state and the center indicated that the massacre was actually a Maoist encounter, thus relegating the blame to victims. A day later, Mr. Chidambaram expressed regret over the massacre taking place in a BJP-led state. The blame was passed around in this way. One would have thought that as Home Minister, he could have walked into the village, and expressed regret in a more palpable way.
The tribals in this area have had to suffer violence at the hands of various aggressors in the past. Feudal lords, in a lust for power, terrorized the villages with rape and pillage. Being a tribal belt, the post-industrialization government also ignored the well-being of the people there. In reaction to this injustice, the Maoists emerged as revolutionaries to liberate the people from this aggression.
Beginning June 2005, the Chhattisgarh government encouraged a criminal vigilante movement titled Salwa Judum that pitted tribal against tribal, a divide and rule lesson learned from the Raj [the British colonial administration]. Adivasis in the former united Dantewada district received weapons and training support from the Chhattisgarh State Government. They ran amuck, terrorizing tribals perceived as being the support base of the Maoists. Over 600 villages were torched, over a hundred Adivasis killed and a lot of sexual violence took place. Thousands of Adivasis were forced into camps, even as upwards of 70,000 tribals fled to neighbouring Andhra Pradesh, which has a fairly long border with Dantewada.
The Maoists came together from different parts of Andhra Pradesh, and started working with village folk protecting them from the intruders, organizing their farming techniques, empowering their women, teaching them to wear clothes. All in all, the tribals of Dantewada forests felt safe with the Maoists.
The proceedings that terrible night of June 28 were nothing but a routine meeting in the village to discuss several community issues. Nobody was conspiring against the Indian Government, as our Home Minister Mr. Chidambaram insinuates. Dismissed by NGOs and Corporate Charities as "Maoist-infested areas," the tribals of Dantewada have little hope for relief from their circumstances. Yet, those thirty minutes plunged them into a profound, grieving silence, a silence that they are still trying to come to terms with.
As our fact-finding team entered the open ground between the villages of Sarkeguda and Kotaguda, we could hear a mournful singing. The women of the village were gathered around a house. The first women who saw us started crying, as though they had seen some distant relatives come to offer condolences.
The village folk started gathering around us. Men, women, children each had their story to tell, each one desperate to be heard. Mothers who had lost their sons wept inconsolably. Widows and children looked on hopelessly. Several relatives showed us photos of their deceased loved ones, wearing them like badges of fortitude. Many didn't even have such a relic to display.
Six of the dead were minors, including a 12-year-old girl, Kaka Saraswati, daughter of K. Rama. She was hit while fleeing towards her house in Kotaguda. Of the other five minors, two, Kaka Rahul (16) and Madkam Ramvilas (16), were studying in class 10 at a school in Basaguda. Both stayed at a hostel in Basaguda and were visiting home during the summer vacations.
Several victims showed us their injuries and bullets that had penetrated their flesh. The landscape too had been tainted. Bullets, which had been randomly sprayed at the villagers, were found lodged in nearby trees.
A loitering bull had also been injured. Apparently several other cattle had also been killed that night. This particular bull had a bullet lodged in his leg. He could not put his foot down, because of the deep pain he felt. His resilient balancing act on three legs spoke volumes for the people who tended to him. My question about any veterinary help for the ailing bull was dismissed as facile. There was no doctor to tend to the injured people here in these distant villages.
As each person spoke, we started to patchwork the facts of the incident together. On the morning of the 29th, CRPF killed the last victim when he came out of his house to check on the silence outside. Then the CRPF men dragged two women to the fields nearby, and tore at their clothes. Three other women were also abused, beaten up and threatened with rape, all this to no end.
In fact, flouting standard norms, the CRPF men not only carried away the bodies but also scooped away the bloodstained ground beneath the bodies. According to the Bijapur superintendent of police, a proper post mortem was conducted by a team of doctors at the Basaguda police station and a report is being prepared. This is hogwash, as a post mortem has to be conducted at a hospital properly equipped for the routine and not a police station. Significantly, the villagers are unanimous that no post mortem was carried out, a fact corroborated by several reporters who saw none of the tell-tale marks that show on the body after a post mortem procedure.
The CRPF now says that seven of the deceased, Madkam Suresh, Madkam Nagesh, Madvi Ayatu, Kaka Sammayya, Korsa Bijje, Madkam Dilip and Irpa Narayana, were Maoists and that there are various cases of violence of a serious nature lodged against them in various police stations across Chhattisgarh State.
The killing was actually arbitrary. For the CRPF to now find some validation of it is astonishing. If what they say is to be taken at face value, then it is clear that it is extra judicial killing in prima facie [on the face of it].
Ten days after the massacre, the first governmental action was taken. A truckload of compensation arrived, escorted by R. A. Kuruvanshi, the Revenue Sub-Divisional Magistrate of Bhoopalapatnam. Rice, daal, clothes, utensils this was the value of 17 lives. The villagers vociferously refused it. Their anger screamed, but with dignity. They did not abuse or curse. They didn't set ablaze the truck, an epitome of the insult rendered to them by the Government.
If we are Maoists, then why do you bring us this rice? Why did you do this to us?
The Revenue officer listened dumbfounded. He didn't have any real response in front of the lamenting people. He returned with a shiver in his soul. Everyone watched silently as the truck made its way back through the jungle path.
In the recent past, encounters between Maoists and members of the police and special forces have only drawn attention when it is the latter who are injured or killed. In 2010, the Prime Minister demanded a report from the Home Minister about the incident of April 6, 2010, when 74 troopers of the CRPF were shot dead by the Maoists near Chintalar in what is now Sukma district. The massacre of tribal villagers in Kotaguda didn't elicit such a response. It is convenient to believe the official version that the massacre was an encounter between Maoist and State forces, and that the villagers were used as a human shield.
The National Human Rights Commission didn't consider visiting the villages with an official fact-finding team, and scouring for the truth of what happened that night. They asked for a report from CRPF Director General 12 days after the incident. One can only imagine what kind of report will be drawn out.
It is only the Government of Violence that is the ever-present demon in these forests of Dandakaranya.
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 #277 August 12, 2012
From A World to Win News Service
July 23, 2012. A World to Win News Service. The Communist Party of India (Maoist) has issued a call for a celebration (July 28 to August 3) of those who have lost their lives in the revolutionary struggle. It discusses the increasing repressive attacks on the people's movement and the importance of protecting the party and its leadership and is a tribute to party members who lost their lives in the last year. Following is an excerpted version. The full document is available at: bannedthought.net/India/CPI-Maoist-Docs/Statements-2012/120705-CC-MartyrsDayCircular-Eng.pdf
In the course of striving with utmost dedication for the success of the New Democratic Revolution in India in the path of Protracted People's War as shown by the founders of our party, great leaders and martyrs Comrade Charu Mazumdar and Comrade Kanhai Chatterji, for the establishment of socialism and ultimately communism nearly more than 150 worthy daughters and sons of the proletariat and ordinary people have laid down their most invaluable lives. Many among them have lost their lives in fake encounters carried on by the government armed forces. Our party Central Committee pays humble red homage to all our beloved martyrs and dedicates itself one more time to the fulfilment of their aims. It calls upon the party, People's Liberation Guerrilla Army, Revolutionary People's Committees (RPCs), mass organizations and revolutionary masses to observe with revolutionary spirit the Martyrs' Memorial Week in memory of our beloved martyrs from July 28 to August 3, 2012, holding aloft their sacrifices and pledging ourselves one more time to fulfil their aims.
The most reactionary Indian ruling classes with the complete support, guidance and all kinds of help from the imperialists, particularly the US imperialists are carrying on the countrywide, multi-pronged Operation Green Hunt and it is increasingly becoming more dreadful, horrible and most oppressive to the masses in its second phase. Our beloved martyrs have laid down their lives while valiantly fighting this back. Majority of them have lost their lives while defending the successes of the People's War, the people, the party, and the people's army, while defending and expanding the newly emerging and sustaining new democratic power organs in the guerrilla zones and the guerrilla bases. They fought back the enemy valiantly and laid down their lives thus adding new chapters in sacrifice to the history of People's War. Some comrades have died in accidents and due to illness and they were primarily martyred due to lack of medical facilities in enemy repression. Some died due to the tortures of the enemy and in jails. Whatever may have been the manner in which they died the aspiration, selfless practice and sacrifices of all these martyrs are aimed at liberating the people of our country and the oppressed masses of this world from all kinds of exploitation and oppression.
That is why their martyrdom is loftier than the Himalayas and worth remembering. The Martyrs' Memorial Week of this year particularly brings us unbearable grief and supreme inspiration of a great martyr. The leader of the Indian Revolution, general of People's War, our Politburo member and the beloved leader of the oppressed masses, Comrade Mallojula Koteswara Rao alias Kishenji was martyred in a fake encounter on November 24, 2011 caught in a dragnet of the central and Bengal state governments and the Bengal state and central intelligence agencies. This cruel murder by Sonia-Manmohan-Chidambaram-Pranab Mukherji-Jairam Ramesh fascist ruling class clique in connivance with the Chief Minister of West Bengal Mamta Banerji caused immense loss to the Indian revolutionary movement.
If we are to advance the revolution towards victory by utilizing the excellent material conditions, then we will have to improve our subjective conditions too as rapidly. Preventing losses to our subjective forces, particularly preventing losses to top leadership is one of the most important tasks faced by our party. It is true that people give birth to revolutionary leaders in the course of revolution. But it is equally true that once we lose such leaders, leaders who had gained decades of vast experience and have been guiding the party with unwavering confidence on the people and the revolution, it is not so easy to give birth to such leaders again.
Deployment of the army in Bastar, opening army training schools, giving special training to a Brigade of forces, building new battalions every year, huge increases in military budget, building of the necessary infrastructure for deployment of Air Force, buying-hiring and usage of helicopters and UAVs [drones] are all part of the multi-pronged massive military offensive of Operation Green Hunt (OGH). The deployment of the army in Bastar is not just for wiping out the movement there but also to damage the movements in Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Maharashtra that border Bastar and also the movements in Jharkhand, Bihar, other North and East Indian states and the movements in South and Western India, thus aiming to wipe us out in the whole country. That is why we must put special efforts to build a vast and militant mass movement in our movement areas, in our country and abroad opposing the deployment of the army in movement areas and concretely in Bastar.
In the massive special operations carried on by the enemy forces at a brigade level recently in Dandakaranya, Jharkhand, Bihar, Odisha, COB and AOB, UAVs were used. They are completing all preparations for deploying them on a vast scale (for gathering information, bombing and firing). We must mobilize on a big scale people of all sections against the usage of UAVs. We must link this with the movements that are arising against the usage of drones internationally, particularly in countries such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Iraq, Palestine etc. We must strive to mobilize international support opposing the deployment of army and usage of drones in our movement areas. In fact, the lakhs [one lakh = 100,000] of armed forces, paramilitary, police forces and the number of helicopters deployed in our movement areas is more than the number of armed forces or the Air Force planes or helicopters of the majority of countries in the world. We must place this fact in front of the people of our country and the world and mobilize them.
At present one of the important aspects of the enemy repression is to arrest our comrades (right from CC to party members and ordinary people), foist false cases on them and incarcerate them in jails for years together. They are being meted out death sentences or life sentences, their bails are rejected or even if they get bails they are arrested at the jail gates again and new cases are being foisted on them. The political prisoners are not given even basic facilities, especially medical facilities and are being tortured in various manners. On the other hand the rights of the people are being crushed on a daily basis in innumerable instances and massacres are perpetrated on them.
On the whole, observe these solemn and inspiring days as occasions to rededicate ourselves to the fulfilment of the aims of the martyrs.
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 #277 August 12, 2012
From A World to Win News Service
The verdict in the case of PC Simon Harwood, charged with manslaughter in the case of the killing of the newspaper vendor Ian Tomlinson during the protests against the G8 (the Group of the leading 8 imperialist countries) in April 2009 was announced for last Thursday July 19. [Harwood was acquitted.] However much you worried that the system would do what it usually does, that justice would not see the light of day, still, even hardened skeptics of British justice harbored some hope that this time their concerns would prove unfounded—after all, the video clip was unambiguous. Millions had witnessed the 47-year-old Tomlinson, his hands stuffed in his pockets, his head down, eyes on the ground, shuffling home from work in a way that could not be less threatening, when suddenly PC Harwood steps out of a rank of half a dozen police in balaclavas and full riot gear and, drawing his baton back to full head height, strikes Tomlinson from the rear, sending him tumbling to the ground. Witnesses reported hearing a noise as his head hit the pavement. A few minutes later Tomlinson was dead.
And millions in the UK also know the story of what happened after Tomlinson's death, before the video emerged: the slew of lies and distortions that emanated from Scotland Yard and the Independent Police Complaints Commission, that no policemen had touched Tomlinson, that he had collapsed on his own, perhaps upset by "violent anarchist protesters," that the police had tried to rescue him but were stopped by the protesters' attacks, and then the coroner ruled death by natural causes. The IPCC concluded that the police had nothing to answer. Tomlinson's death was all set to disappear from view, forever.
But then came the twist in the tale: unbeknown to the police, a New York businessman had filmed the scene of the attack—he had held back the footage for a week, hoping that he wouldn't have to get involved, that the police would own up to their deeds and the truth would come out on its own. When he evidently concluded this wasn't going to happen, he sent the footage to the Guardian newspaper, and then the web of State lies began to fall apart like a house of cards. (see the video at http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/g20-police-assault-ian-tomlinson)
Faced with the video evidence, bit by bit another picture emerged. The first postmortem examination by the coroner, Dr. Patel, had immediately upheld the police version of events, ruling that Tomlinson had died of natural causes after suffering a heart attack. But it turned out that Patel had an unblemished record of upholding the police version in every case ever brought before him, including the case of Roger Sylvester, who had been killed by the police in the north London area of Tottenham. Unfortunately for Patel his list of cover-ups included a case in which his rulings had contributed to allowing a serial rapist and killer to go undetected. In Tomlinson's case, this police stooge had thrown into the sink liters of "a rosy-colored fluid" drained from the dead man as irrelevant—the only other sample was later "mislaid"—and ignored bruises to Tomlinson's body that the subsequent coroner's examination concluded were from Harwood's baton. The next coroner's verdict then came in: "unlawful killing."
And what about the police claims that they were the ones who tried to save Tomlinson's life? The video showed for all to see how after Tomlinson fell under Harwood's blows, not a single policeman lifted a finger to help him, and it was instead a young protester who came to his aid. After Tomlinson was helped to his feet and walked around the corner and collapsed again, it was the same story. Young protesters again came to his assistance, including a news photographer and then a young woman who started first aid. The first thing the police did when they arrived was pull her away, despite her protests and even though she identified herself as a medical student.
At the trial, Harwood took the stand, and his testimony spoke clearly to the culture of the police, and particularly of his elite Territorial Support Group, the riot squad of London's Metropolitan police force. The TSG is the successor to the infamous Special Patrol, which was reorganized in the wake of the widespread revulsion it aroused when it killed the schoolteacher Blair Peach in 1979. Before the G8 protests, Met chiefs had gone on TV to warn that they were "up to it and up for it."
When asked at the trial what methods were at his disposal to move someone along in a public order situation, Harwood responded, "You could use a baton strike to the arm or leg," he began, going on to list, in order, a push, a kick or punch, CS spray, or handcuffs. He finally listed a vocal order. As the Guardian reported, "'You have gone straight to violence, force,' noted a visibly surprised Denis [the prosecutor]. 'No, I have gone for reasonable force,' Harwood responded. Seemingly oblivious to the reaction in the courtroom, the policeman went on to cite other possible tactics—a firearm, a shove from a riot shield, or a 'life-threatening strike'." Some of Tomlinson's children fled the courtroom in horror at the brutality of the man who'd struck down their father.
Immediately after the trial, it came to light that Harwood in fact had a long history of alleged police misconduct. He had been charged with attacking a civilian during a road rage incident, and when the civilian pursued the case, and it was clear that the PC was facing a difficult hearing, he resigned only a few days beforehand for "health reasons" he claimed were related to a motorcycle accident three years earlier. Harwood was then later re-hired as a civilian consultant, but because he was no longer formally on the force, the disciplinary hearing wasn't held. Over the next few years Harwood was involved in other charges of misconduct leading to disciplinary proceedings, but all had been dropped. Was this a case of a "rogue" policeman who slipped through the Metropolitan Police's normal vetting procedures? Or was this in fact just the type of person who was sought for the TSG, the "heavies" brought in as the front-line enforcers of British law and order?
What does this verdict say about Britain? Perhaps more than anything it shows the power of the British state to protect those who it has granted a monopoly of legitimate violence to uphold the existing order. At every step in this story, since Tomlinson hit the ground under the blows of Harwood's baton, extraordinary resources have been brought to bear to protect one of their own: from the coroner's report, to the reports of the IPCC, to the protests of London Mayor Boris Johnson and other politicians against "an orgy of cop-bashing," to the workings of the judicial process itself. On top of all this is the current climate of intense concern for security during the Olympics that start next week, with a constant barrage of headlines about possible terrorist attacks and endless harping about the vital role of the police and army as "front-line defenders of the nation."
The verdict also came down just before the anniversary of the riots that shook the country last August. Given all this, there was surely high-level attention to what kind of reaction there would be to this verdict. Some commentators had called it "Britain's Rodney King moment," after the Black man who had suffered a prolonged beating at the hands of several Los Angeles policemen, which had been captured on video. The cops' subsequent acquittal had then led to the famous rebellion there in 1992.
But there must have been expectations that surely Tomlinson's case would be different, that it would not provoke the same sort of furious reaction as had the beating of King or last year's killing of Mark Duggan—after all, Tomlinson wasn't a young Black man, like King or Duggan, and so the verdict might not tap into the deep vein of bitterness and resentment at police racism. He was instead a middle aged white man who often slept rough [was homeless], a known alcoholic, a cast-off of society... who would care?
The group Inquest investigated the 300 deaths in police custody that occurred over a period of slightly more than a decade, from the 1990s—and showed that not a single policeman had been convicted in even one of these cases. Likewise, an article in the Independent states that "1,433 people have died after contact with the police since 1990. Not a single officer has been convicted of manslaughter." (July 23, 2012) The callous disregard for all these lives, and the disdain in particular for the life of Ian Tomlinson that is reflected in this verdict, have delivered a pointed message to the people: the poor and marginalized live at the sufferance of the capitalist state, which can snuff out their lives at a moment's notice. And no one will pay, even when the evidence is staring the world in the face.
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 #277 August 12, 2012
The U.S. Constitution and the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal)
Part 4: Breaking the Chains in a New Socialist Society
The U.S. Constitution was drafted, debated, and approved by slave owners and exploiters. Despite this profound truth about the historical birth of the United States, many people argue that the U.S. Constitution has protected and expanded the political and civil rights of the people; and that it continues to provide the legal foundation and political vision for overcoming existing inequalities and injustices. But this message—that the U.S. Constitution establishes a vision and basis for achieving a society where "everyone is equal"—is profoundly UNTRUE and actually does great harm. From the very beginning this Constitution has provided the legal framework and justifications for a society torn by deep inequalities, and the preservation of a whole economic and social setup in which a relatively small number of people rule over an exploitative society, and maintain that dominance.
In 2010, the Revolutionary Communist Party published the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal).1 This visionary document, based on the new synthesis of communism developed over decades by Bob Avakian, provides the framework for a whole new society, a framework to advance to a communist world—a world no longer divided into antagonistic social groups, where people will instead live and work together as a freely associating community of human beings all over the planet.
This series compares and contrasts the U.S. Constitution and the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal)—in relation to the enslavement, oppression, and emancipation of African-American people. We encourage readers to discuss and study this series; spread and share it among your friends; get it into the classrooms, communities, and prisons; and send us your comments. See Revolution #264 (April 1, 2012) for the introduction to this series; #270 (May 27) for Part 1: A Slaveholders' Union; #271 (June 10) for Part 2: Reconstruction, and the First Great Betrayal, 1867-1896; and #275 (June 11) for Part 3: Battleground Over Segregated Education in the 1950s and 1960s (see earlier parts of the series here). This is the fourth and final part of this series.
This series has taken a hard look at what the U.S. Constitution has meant for African-American people since the founding of the United States of America. Some important truths have been revealed:
Today the U.S. has the highest rate of incarceration in the world, with the majority of the prison population made up of Blacks and Latinos. It is a society where youth whose ancestors were Black slaves are deprived of a decent education, and are unable to find work in a system that has no place for them. They are relentlessly hounded by armed police enforcers of the system that oppresses them, and are locked away for years in crowded prisons—many times driven mad in conditions of solitary confinement that amount to illegal, inhumane, and immoral torture. And all of this takes place within the framework of the U.S. Constitution, and the whole legal and "justice" system that derives from this Constitution.
This is the reality of American history and present day society.
Why have the U.S. Constitution and the "laws of the land" consistently allowed for these atrocities? Why have the U.S. Constitution and the "laws of the land" perpetuated the condition of Black people as an oppressed people? It's not mainly because of white supremacist judges or racist lawmakers writing racist laws—even though this has and continues to exist. There is something far more fundamental involved: the U.S. Constitution, the laws stemming from it, and the whole legal-repressive system enforcing these laws reflect the very nature of U.S. society.
As Bob Avakian has written, "Constitutions, where there is a necessity for them and they play an indispensable role, establish the basic framework, principles and provisions (or, more baldly, the 'rules') for how a government can and must function, how state power shall be exercised."3
With regard to the United States of America, its Constitution embodies the basic rules for how to enforce economic and social relations of exploitation and oppression. The U.S. government has functioned consistently to protect and expand a property rights system based on the control of the means of producing wealth by a small capitalist class that exploits wage laborers. The so-called Founding Fathers established a system of government serving capitalism—and, for more than 70 years, the preservation of slavery.
The continuing oppression of whole peoples has been foundational and is a defining and integral feature of the entire fabric of U.S. society. The history of Black people in this country is one in which the U.S. Constitution and the laws derived from it have been wielded by the ruling capitalist class to develop and maintain white supremacy while deepening the oppression of Black people—even as this has taken different and changing forms and expressions.
Now let's take Avakian's point about how constitutions establish "rules" for how a government can and must function and how state power shall be exercised—and apply it to a whole different kind of society, a socialist society.
Let's look at the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal) that is based on Avakian's new synthesis of communism and see what kind of society this Constitution provides the institutional framework for. The introductory explanation of the nature, purpose, and role of the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America starts off by saying:
"This Constitution (Draft Proposal) is written with the future in mind. It is intended to set forth a basic model, and fundamental principles and guidelines, for the nature and functioning of a vastly different society and government than now exists: the New Socialist Republic in North America, a socialist state which would embody, institutionalize and promote radically different relations and values among people; a socialist state whose final and fundamental aim would be to achieve, together with the revolutionary struggle throughout the world, the emancipation of humanity as a whole and the opening of a whole new epoch in human history—communism—with the final abolition of all exploitative and oppressive relations among human beings and the destructive antagonistic conflicts to which these relations give rise."4
Today we ARE building a movement for revolution—a revolution that WILL put this visionary document into practice. So it is extremely important, exciting, and relevant to study, discuss, and debate what the rules of a whole new game will be... and how they will be a guide for those who will lead the new state power for what to do on Day One, and after.
This Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal) would take effect in a society where the capitalist-imperialist state of the U.S. and its institutions would have been defeated, abolished, and dismantled by masses of people, led by their vanguard, the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA. In its place a new, revolutionary state would have been born.
The relations at the base of this socialist society would be radically transformed from the old, capitalist ways. Instead of a handful of capitalists monopolizing ownership of the wealth produced by the labor of millions of people, the means of producing society's material needs would be placed under socialist state public ownership, with the economy serving the betterment of society and humanity, the advance of the world revolution, and the protection of the environment.
Further, the relations among people in a socialist economy would be dramatically changed. People would not be pitted against each other in a struggle to survive in the capitalist snake pit, but millions and millions of people would work "based on and promoting relations and values of people working cooperatively for the common good and for the interests of world humanity"5; and where the spheres of social consumption were being expanded continually, and consciously.
It is through the overall process of making revolution and moving, through waves of struggle and transformation, to a communist world that it will be possible to overcome the effects and legacy of the oppression of Black people and all relations of social inequality. The struggle in socialist society to dig up the soil that breeds capitalism, to change people's thinking, to forge new values, and to defeat attempts at counterrevolution will be complex and protracted, and the outcome is not a sure thing.
But with a new state power, it can be accomplished. And decisive measures and changes will take effect right away! The Constitution for the New Socialist Republic provides the necessary direction and framework. The police forces of the old society that had brutalized and degraded Black and Latino youth, that functioned as an occupying army, that maimed and killed in the name of security—they will have been disbanded with the seizure of state power. New public security forces will be created. They will protect the victories of the revolution. They will ensure the safety and rights of the people, including the right to take responsibility for the direction of society. These new public security forces will help people resolve disputes and problems among themselves in non-antagonistic ways.
Right away, resources will be channeled into the former ghettoes and barrios to provide housing and health care, cultural and recreational facilities. People will have the opportunity to engage in meaningful work that contributes to the all-around transformation of society. The society envisioned by this Constitution is one in which architects, urban planners, ecologists, artists, and other professionals will be joining with the youth and with residents of these areas to solve problems and learn from each other—and take part together in great debates and struggle over how to move society forward and overcome the scars of the past.
On the question of doing away with national oppression the Preamble to the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal) states:
"The New Socialist Republic in North America is a multi-national and multi-lingual state, which is based on the principle of equality between different nationalities and cultures and has as one of its essential objectives fully overcoming national oppression and inequality, which was such a fundamental part of the imperialist USA throughout its history. Only on the basis of these principles and objectives can divisions among humanity by country and nation be finally overcome and surpassed and a world community of freely associating human beings be brought into being. This orientation is also embodied in the various institutions of the state and in the functioning of the government in the New Socialist Republic in North America."6
The Constitution later explains:
"In light of the egregious crimes, oppression and injustice perpetrated by the former ruling class and government of the United States of America against various minority nationalities, to give expression to the voluntary union and growing unity of the various peoples within the New Socialist Republic in North America, and to give the most powerful effect to the principles and objectives set forth in this Constitution, discrimination against minority nationalities, in every sphere of society, including segregation in housing, education and other areas, shall be outlawed and prohibited, and concrete measures and steps shall be adopted and carried out, by the government at the central and other levels, to overcome the effects of discrimination and segregation, and the whole legacy of oppression, to which these peoples have been subjected."7
And then the Constitution goes on to say:
"As one important dimension of this, in regions (or other areas) of significant population concentration of minority nationalities which were oppressed within the borders of the former imperialist USA, there shall be the right of the people of those nationalities to autonomy, in the form of self-government within the overall territory, framework and structure of the New Socialist Republic in North America and its unified socialist economy, system of law, armed forces, and conduct of foreign relations."8
The Constitution makes clear that Black people, Chicano people, and other formerly oppressed nationalities, while having the right to live in such autonomous regions, will not be required to live in these areas—this will be a matter of choice. And the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic also makes clear that the new government, at all levels, would be working to overcome the effects of discrimination and segregation and would be promoting integration and unity among the various nationalities on the basis of equality. Resources and assistance will be provided to the autonomous regions.
This Constitution upholds the right of Black people to self-determination, up to and including the right to secede and form an independent republic. The Constitution sets out the procedures enabling the African-American people to decide this matter without force or coercion.
This is a whole different society and orientation for leading society. The U.S. Constitution pretends there is equality while the system perpetuates inequality. The Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal) stands for genuine equality while also recognizing the special measures that must be taken to redress and overcome the historical effects and continuing expressions of inequality.
Tackling the legacy of racism and overcoming inequality, along with the struggle to uproot patriarchy and the oppression of women, will be defining features of the new socialist society.
Take the question of education. Here we are in 2012, and segregation remains in force; as we pointed out in Part 3 ("Battleground Over Segregated Education in the 1950s and 1960s"), a third of all Black and Latino children sit in classrooms that are 90 to 100 percent Black and Latino. Many of these children must pass through metal detectors and gauntlets of security guards to go to school. Many of them are in overcrowded classrooms starved for resources, and many of these youth are written off at an early age.
Here we are in 2012, and affirmative action, which was supposed to open up opportunity long denied Black and other minority nationalities as well as women, has been gutted by the courts, including the Supreme Court—in the name of a "color blind society." But consider this fact: nationwide, in 2006 2.2 percent of doctors and medical students were Black—a lower percentage than 100 years ago.9 So under the pretext of achieving a "color blind society," the discrimination against—the oppression of—Black people continues and has been given the legal seal of approval by the U.S. Supreme Court and the U.S. Constitution.
Let's turn to education in the socialist society. The Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal) explains that the new educational system will provide for well-rounded learning, as well as specialization, at government expense. A core principle of the educational system will be to promote the pursuit of the truth wherever it leads, with a spirit of critical thinking and scientific curiosity. A central purpose of the educational system will be "to enable students (and the people broadly) to learn deeply about the reality of, and the basis for, the oppression of whole peoples, and the domination and oppression of women, in the former imperialist USA and throughout the world where societies have been founded on exploitation and ruled by exploiting classes—and, on this basis, to become deeply dedicated to and actively involved in the fight to uproot and eliminate all such relations of inequality and oppression. ..."10
Education in the new socialist society will be oriented towards "overcoming, in society (and ultimately the world) as a whole, such antagonism relating to the division between mental and physical work, which is deeply rooted in the development of societies marked by oppressive and exploitative relations and which itself is a source of such relations, shall be a concern of the state overall, and attention shall be paid to this in all spheres of society"11.
Unlike the old capitalist society where oppressed people's culture and language was denigrated and denied—the new socialist society will bring into being something rather extraordinary: a bi-lingual/multi-lingual educational system and a whole society that promotes critical thinking; equality of cultures and languages; and the real study of the whole history and remaining expressions of the historic oppression of minority nationalities.
This is a society that will be putting the interests of world humanity first and instilling people with an internationalist understanding and spirit.
Think about how totally opposite this is to what now exists in U.S. society. Look at the situation in Arizona where government authority is trying to ban the teaching of Chicano Studies. Look at how in this society immigrants are told to "Speak English" and scolded for speaking their own languages; or how Black people are discriminated against for not speaking so-called "proper English."
We don't have to live this way. The masses of Black people and other oppressed nationalities do not have to endure the ongoing horrors of America as the price of some mythical "progress towards freedom" guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. No, the U.S. Constitution is, as Bob Avakian has put it, the "instrument enforcing ... exploitation and oppression."12
But there is a way out, a way forward, a vision for a radically different and better society, and a strategy to get there. The Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal) is the legal-political framework for a truly emancipating society, where the masses of the people and their vanguard are confronting the challenge of advancing to a world where the divisions among people based on nationality, gender, and class will have been overcome: a world where people produce for the common good and the betterment of the planet, and are fully engaged in cultural, scientific, and political life, instead of millions of people slaving away in body- and spirit-crushing work, condemned to lives of wretched poverty and deprivation for the enrichment of a handful.
2. Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience—The Concise Desk Reference, Kwame Anthony Appiah and Henry Louis Gates Jr., Running Press, 2003.
These murderous activities, carried out by mobs, cheered on by whole families, were protected by the U.S. Constitution and its laws. [back]
3. Birds Cannot Give Birth to Crocodiles, But Humanity Can Soar Beyond the Horizon, Part 1: Revolution and the State, From a talk given in 2010. [back]
4. Constitution (Draft Proposal), p i [back]
5. Ibid., p 79 [back]
6. Ibid., p 5 [back]
7. Ibid., p 51 [back]
8. Ibid., pp 51-52 [back]
10. Constitution (Draft Proposal), pp 32-33 [back]
11. Ibid., p 32 [back]
12. Birds Cannot Give Rise to Crocodiles, But Humanity Can Soar Beyond the Horizon [back]