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Revolution #279 September 2, 2012
A new school year is beginning on colleges and universities. Students, including freshmen, are heading off to campus. And you’ve got your whole life ahead of you. Anything seems possible. There will be fun, whole new experiences and friendships... along with anxieties and parental pressures to “succeed.” And for many of you—aspirations to do something meaningful. To contribute to bringing about some positive change in this world. Because wherever you look, the world is a horror show: endless U.S. wars, killing poverty, police shooting down Black youth in the streets, and a system killing the environment and threatening the very planet we live on.
We live in a society full of boundaries and segregation: Black/white; those who work with their hands/those who work with their minds; young/old; those who come from different countries and speak different languages—the list goes on. Let’s begin to break these barriers down as people come together as part of a growing movement for revolution. Teams of revolutionaries with decades of experience, those new to the movement for revolution, high school students, people from the most oppressed communities, old and young, men and women of different nationalities are coming to the campuses.
In the 1960s the Black Panthers brought the Red Book onto the college campuses, radicalizing, energizing and challenging the students. Now we have BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian, a book of quotations and short essays that concentrates more than 30 years of BA’s work. It speaks powerfully to questions of revolution and human emancipation. And it is playing a major role in bringing forward and forging a new generation of revolutionaries.
RIGHT NOW, you can do something really meaningful to change the world. Become part of the movement for revolution when the BAsics Bus Tour hits college campuses around the country! Join in when boldly decorated vans arrive at your campus and the BAsics Bus Tour crew turns up the volume with BA’s “All Played Out” (Bob Avakian’s spoken word piece with music by jazz musician William Parker) and huge displays of the quotes from BAsics!
Look forward to being there when impromptu gatherings and debates take off on the spot. And imagine a whole scene you can be a part of: informal discussions in dorms, classroom presentations, brown-bag lunches with professors. If you have hopes and aspirations for a better world, then join in. There are ways, on many different levels, in beginning ways, for everyone to immediately become part of the movement for revolution. Imagine this and more: classroom debates, stirring things up in the cafeteria and outdoor debate and discussion about the world as it is and how it could be because we have BA’s work and leadership for this liberating revolution. Get your hands on BAsics and the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal) and set up dorm discussions. Get out postcards with quotes from BAsics and put them up wherever you go, organize on the spot showings of excerpts from the Revolution talk (Revolution: Why It’s Necessary, Why It’s Possible, What It’s All About) and discussions of BAsics 1:22 on the class nature of democracy—and what this has to do with the elections... and the whole future of humanity. Exchange messages and responses about all this—joining with people coming on campuses from the oppressed communities, sharing experiences and learning from each other as they come together as part of the movement for revolution. And donate money. Take up collections in the cafeterias and dorms. Be part of organizing fundraising!
Colleges and universities are supposed to be places of inquiry and discussion—a place for “big ideas” that can change your life and change the world! A place for big debates about things that really matter. Not an education of memorizing and echoing dry lectures. There’s not much air to breathe on campuses these days, critical thinking is almost verboten, the atmosphere is one where you’re there to listen, recite—not to question. Bringing controversy and political struggle into the classroom is frowned upon in most cases. Young professors who challenge the accepted curriculum better not count on tenure. But all this needs to be overturned with a fresh revolutionary wind of discussion, debate and struggle over all the big questions of the day.
This fall is the time to break out of the stifling atmosphere that permeates a lot of campus life, where it is just accepted that “this is the way things are, where you are supposed to be in school to just become a cog in the wheel.” Even if you manage to navigate a course of study and career you find interesting, even somewhat fulfilling—deep down in their hearts there’s the knowledge that it’s not really changing the horror show in the world that’s just getting worse by the day. Ask yourself: what is the future of the earth and the people who live on it if we just “do a little good in a totally fucked-up world”? And more than this—just think what contribution you can make by working for something that will lead to real change, to real liberation on this planet and the actual survival of the planet itself!
There have already been three BAsics Bus Tours. The first, in California, hit the immigrant neighborhood of Pico Union, impoverished rural sections of the state, and college campuses in outlying areas. The second tour traveled from Atlanta to Sanford, Florida, right after the outbreak of resistance to the murder of Trayvon Martin. And the third, in the New York City area, focused on the Bronx and Brownsville in Brooklyn, two neighborhoods where the NYPD’s policy of stop-and-frisk is the most intense. Thousands and thousands of people have been impacted by, and supported and joined in these tours in many ways. Now the tour is hitting campuses across the country.
And the BAsics Bus Tour is coming at a crucial time. From the Middle East, Europe and Latin America to the Occupy movement and the massive protests in this country when Trayvon Martin was murdered by George Zimmerman, people—and especially the youth and students—have begun to rise up against injustice and demand a better world.
Now, when the situation in the world cries out for real, fundamental change more than ever, and people of all nationalities have begun to awaken and fight for this...now comes the two-ring circus of presidential elections once again calling people into the big tent of false promises. Just think about it for a minute. They’re telling you that all your concerns and hopes for a better world should be placed in choosing who will preside over the country that is the biggest exploiter and oppressor in the world. This is not only a dead end, but a deadly choice for the people not only here but all over the world who suffer and die from the crimes of U.S. imperialism. Read the exposure in this issue of Revolution of Obama and the Democrats—how in so many ways, Obama has not only continued the crimes of the Bush regime, but is committing even worse crimes! The fact is—the choices this system gives you aren’t the only choices! The fact is things actually don’t have to be this way. We need a revolution that will bring about fundamental change, that will bring about a whole different economic and political system.
The BAsics Bus Tours are a focal point in getting BA Everywhere, making this person, his writings, and his leadership a point of reference on campus and for all of society. BA Everywhere is a mass, nationwide campaign to raise big money to project the work and vision of BA into every corner of society.
As we wrote in launching this campaign: Because if we succeed with this—if we collectively raise enough money to make it concretely possible to project the whole BA vision and project into all corners of society and to introduce him and what he is bringing forward to millions who are not yet familiar with his works and vision; if the framework he is bringing forward and advocating for becomes increasingly debated and wrangled over by thousands and by millions of people from all walks of life; if, together, we manage to accomplish this, this will actually make a very big difference. The whole social and political culture will “breathe” more freely, people will wrangle passionately over “big questions” concerning the direction of society (like knowing that much of the future of humanity hangs in the balance) and the times will once again resonate with big dreams for fundamental change and the emancipation of humanity.
The BAsics Bus Tour is coming to a campus near you. Be a part of organizing to make that happen! (For more information about the BAsics Bus Tours, email email@example.com or contact your local Revolution Books store or outlet.) Donate now to BA Everywhere! Throughout history, in this country and around the world, youth and students have played an important role in electrifying others part of society with their rebellion and calls for moral consciousness. So we are talking about making history here. Join us!
Revolution #279 September 2, 2012
Take Out BAsics 1:3
“The essence of what exists in the U.S. is not democracy but capitalism-imperialism and political structures to enforce that capitalism-imperialism. What the U.S. spreads around the world is not democracy, but imperialism and political structures to enforce that imperialism.”
As we go into September, it’s time to make plans to get this month’s quote from BAsics, 1:3, out onto campuses and broadly into society. Get together with others to think about and discuss this quote—and make plans to put it into the hands of many, many people.
The message of this quote goes right up in the face of the massive efforts by those in power who will be hitting people from every direction this “election season”—to corral people into choosing one or another top representative of this capitalist-imperialist system, which exploits and oppresses people here and around the world, causing much death and suffering. BAsics 1:3 lays bare the essence of the nature of this society...and the reality of what the U.S. does all over the world. It can be the focus of broad debate and wrangling of people in the neighborhoods, on campuses and wherever people are gathering over the Labor Day weekend. Especially look to distributing tens of thousands of BAsics 1:3 palm cards, along with many copies of BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian, at events like the Caribbean Day Parade in NYC and major September 16 Mexican Independence Day festivals and independence day festivals by Central Americans, which draw large numbers of people.
Each month the BA Everywhere campaign has featured a quote from BAsics. These quotes have touched and connected with people far and wide; many people have found their way into this campaign and the movement for revolution by engaging with the quotes and being part of spreading the quotes to others.
Very importantly, fundraising should run through all these efforts. The aim of the BA Everywhere campaign is to raise big money to get BA’s vision and works into all corners of society. A national movement is being born—as it grows, both the need and potential to raise money pose themselves in new ways. September should see new leaps in fundraising—ranging 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 those we’ve 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.
Revolution #279 September 2, 2012
It is time for anyone who wants a better world to shake off the deadly illusion that supporting Obama is somehow “the best we can do.”
Barack Obama came into office promising “hope.” Millions of people in this country were eager for a change from the nightmare of the Bush years—its brutal wars; its torture and rendition; the spying; the vicious assaults upon the right to abortion; the mass criminalization and incarceration of Black and Latino youth; the worship of obscene wealth while millions lived on the brink of homelessness and joblessness or were plunged into complete destitution. The reality is that Obama has continued, developed, and intensified the policies begun by George W. Bush.
Do you want to continue living in a world where children are destroyed by remote control bombs and called “collateral damage”...where the president and his henchmen have weekly meetings to decide who to kill this week...where tens of thousands of people suffer the torture of solitary confinement, sometimes for years?
If you do, Obama could be your guy. But if you think this isn’t the best of all possible worlds... you need to check out the movement for revolution the Revolutionary Communist Party is building.
Below is a list of some of Obama’s “achievements” in the first 3½ years of his presidency.
The United States’ first Black president has presided over unprecedented mass incarceration, an epidemic of police brutality and murder, and relentless criminalization of Black and Latino people, especially the youth.
Under Obama, a bitter reality of massive unemployment, large-scale evictions and foreclosures, and homelessness has continued to plague urban, suburban, and rural areas of the country, with inner cities populated largely by Black and Latino people especially hard-hit.
In a world marked by profound class divisions and social inequality, to talk about “democracy”—without talking about the class nature of that democracy and which class it serves—is meaningless, and worse. So long as society is divided into classes, there can be no “democracy for all”: one class or another will rule, and it will uphold and promote that kind of democracy which serves its interests and goals. The question is: which class will rule and whether its rule, and its system of democracy, will serve the continuation, or the eventual abolition, of class divisions and the corresponding relations of exploitation, oppression and inequality.
Obama has sustained and developed wars and military occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan, has initiated drone bombings in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia, is currently threatening war against Iran, and is developing or reestablishing a military presence in many other parts of the world.
Obama promised in 2008 that his administration would mark the “moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.” In reality, the devastation of our planet’s ecosystems by the U.S. and this whole imperialist system has continued and even heightened under Obama.
Obama has taken for himself and future presidents unprecedented and sweeping power to arrest, detain indefinitely, and even assassinate people without judicial review or oversight. He has undermined and repudiated longstanding Constitutional rights such as habeas corpus and the right to a trial. He has presided over a pervasive government spy apparatus that monitors all forms of communication.
If you try to make the Democrats be what they are not and never will be, you will end up being more like what the Democrats actually are.
The right to abortion has been under relentless assault by Christian fundamentalists and other right-wing fanatics who seek to ban all abortions (and even birth control) and reassert the most horrific patriarchal control of women. During the Obama years, an avalanche of laws restricting abortion has occurred in state after state. Obama speaks of finding “common ground” with these murderous fascists. In a May 2009 speech at Notre Dame University, Obama said people must “open our hearts and our minds to those who may not think like we do or believe what we do [because] that’s when we discover at least the possibility of common ground.” Three weeks later, courageous abortion provider Dr. George Tiller was murdered in a church in Wichita, Kansas by an anti-abortion fanatic. Below are some further examples of where the scramble for “common ground” has led in the Obama years.
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.
Driving Forces for Revolution
Making the U.S./Mexico border a completely militarized war zone and waging vicious, massive assaults upon immigrants within the U.S. began prior to Obama’s presidency. But both have reached levels of pervasive mass terror beyond everything that preceded him.
There is nothing more unrealistic than the idea of reforming this system into something that would come anywhere near being in the interests of the great majority of people and ultimately of humanity as a whole.
Revolution #279 September 2, 2012
NSA Domestic Spying Continues Under Obama, Government Accountability Project, April 25, 2012
The Steep Decline in Teen Summer Employment in the U.S., 2000-2010 and the Summer 2011 Teen Job Market Disaster: Another Bummer Summer, By Andrew Sum and Joseph McLaughlin, Center for Labor Market Studies, Northeastern University, Boston MA.
Revolution #279 September 2, 2012
Back in the day—during the 1960s upsurge—as I was being increasingly drawn to communism but still searching out and engaging different groups and programs, I encountered a “theoretician” of the International Socialists (now known as the ISO) who was visiting the campus at Berkeley, and we entered into a discussion, which more and more took on the character of a struggle, over the problem in the world and the solution, including the history of the communist movement and the experience of socialism in the Soviet Union and in China. Finally, as things were becoming increasingly clear and sharp, it occurred to me, and I said to him very simply and directly: The problem with you and your group is that you hate communism much more than you hate capitalism. He couldn’t refute, or even really deny, this.
Nor can it be denied, or refuted, that this has long been, and is today, the essential problem with opportunists in general, who claim to be against this system—or at least some of its more glaring outrages—but, at the same time, in their outlook and their objectives, actually cannot get beyond what Marx called the narrow horizon of bourgeois right. In essence and in its actual effect, their outlook and program amounts to accommodating to capitalism-imperialism, with all the horrors it brings about, while what they really hate and seek to undermine is the only real, and really emancipating, alternative to this capitalist-imperialist system—the communist revolution, and those who represent and fight for this revolution. If you honestly and seriously look into this—and compare and contrast the opposing viewpoints, objectives, principles, and methods—this is the unavoidable conclusion.
Revolution #279 September 2, 2012
To Those Attracted to the ISO:
You look at the world and it’s a fucking horror.
Life is a living hell from the slums of Mumbai to the favelas of Rio, from the brothels of Bangkok to the sweatshops of Shenzen, from the mines of South Africa to the prisons of the United States. Global climate change; U.S. wars and aggression; global food crisis; repression; attacks against gays and lesbians, against women, against Black people, against immigrants, and against the poor; toxic social relations and a world of alienation—all driven by the workings of this system of capitalism-imperialism.
Humanity needs revolution, communist revolution. This is a revolution that defeats and dismantles the whole repressive apparatus of the current order. A revolution that establishes a new state power that enables people to carry out the most thoroughgoing economic, social, and ideological transformations towards a communist world: where people work and struggle together for the common good...where everyone contributes whatever they can to society and gets back what they need to live a life worthy of human beings...where there are no more divisions among people in which some rule over and oppress others, robbing them not only of the means to a decent life but also of knowledge and the means for really understanding, and acting to change, the world.
But the ISO has nothing – absolutely nothing – to do with real revolution. The ISO has nothing to do with communism or forging a radically different world. As I will show, the ISO:
*papers over the nature and workings of imperialism.
*rejects the instrumentalities needed for real emancipation: the dictatorship of the proletariat as transition to communism and the leadership of a genuine vanguard party.
*joins with the bourgeoisie in vilifying the most liberating revolutionary experience in history—that of the Soviet Union from 1917 to 1956 and China from 1949 to 1976.
What is in contention here are two utterly different projects. One is genuine communist revolution, what Marx describes as the “two most radical ruptures”—with traditional property relations and with traditional ideas—and that ushers in a new epoch of human emancipation and in which humanity can act as caretakers of the planet. The other project is the ISO’s paltry and puny vision of a “worker's democracy”—which leaves the world fundamentally unchanged and which, in the real world, can only amount to socializing the spoils of imperialist plunder.
Or as Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, succinctly put it, speaking to someone in the forerunner to the ISO years ago, “The problem with you and your group is that you hate communism much more than you hate capitalism.”
In their publication, “Where We Stand: The Politics of the International Socialist Organization,” the ISO attempts to define capitalism and describe its negative effects—such as the fact that, “In the United States, the top 1 percent of people own more wealth than the bottom 90 percent combined.” However, not once in this opening indictment do they mention imperialism, in particular the great global divide between the handful of oppressor nations and those they dominate!
By leaving out any real scientific sense of imperialism, the ISO obscures the fact that the top 1% of the U.S. did not gain their wealth mainly through the exploitation of the 90% in the U.S., but through the plunder and exploitation of oppressed humanity throughout the world. The stark reality is that even the bottom 90% in the U.S. have their standard of living subsidized by this world-wide exploitation.
This is not merely an omission. When the ISO does finally get around to discussing their version of “internationalism,” and naming imperialism, they argue that production is increasingly internationalized, that “interdependence is so deep-rooted that no nation is capable of economic life cut off from the rest of the world without suffering severe dislocation,” and they recount many horrific invasions and occupations waged by the U.S.
But imperialism is not just that capitalism is more globally interdependent than ever before. Nor, is it simply the greater use of force, military aggression, or the quest for being the number one power. Imperialism is the highest stage of capitalism in which the competitive accumulation of capital proceeds through huge monopolistic concentrations and blocs of finance capital...through the division of the world into oppressor and oppressed nations...and through rivalry between a handful of rich capitalist countries for global supremacy. The ISO declares that colonies have disappeared; they do not speak about the no less brutal neocolonialism in the Third World.
The U.S. economy is in fact the “home base” to a global network of exploitation, oppression, and plunder. This reality shapes everything about the way the U.S. functions, internationally and domestically. It underlies the vast wealth of this country and conditions the huge middle class and layers of what Lenin called “bourgeoisified” workers. And on the basis of the international position of U.S. imperialism, the ruling class relentlessly promotes U.S. chauvinism, which permeates the thinking of people very broadly throughout this country.
The ISO softens all of this. Why? Because their’s is a “socialism” locked within the confines of, and acceptable to, the current imperialist order. It is reformist and chauvinist.
Let’s compare and contrast a scientific understanding of socialism with that of ISO. Real socialism is three things. It is a new economic system based on socialist state ownership, socialist planning, and social cooperation—where social production is carried out to meet social need, to overcome all oppressive relations and divisions, to advance the world revolution, and to safeguard the ecosystems of the planet. Socialism is a new form of class and political rule, the dictatorship of the proletariat, in which the formerly exploited and oppressed, in alliance with the great majority of society, have the right and ability to take responsibility for the direction of society and to carry out the all-around transformation of society. And socialism is a revolutionary transition, of continuing struggle, experimentation, and transformation toward communism, a society and world without classes.
Socialism requires digging up and overcoming all vestiges of exploitation. It requires digging up and overcoming all the inequalities and oppressive divisions generated by and deeply embedded within class society: the division between mental and manual labor, the domination of women by men, the oppression of whole nations and peoples, enforced ignorance and superstition, and more.
But this is not what the ISO is about. In place of the revolutionary overthrow of this imperialist overlord of humanity, and the most radical transformation of society, the ISO offers instead a paltry vision of workers seizing control of “the whole machinery of production and distribution” and reorganizing production and distribution according to a contentless “democratic plan.” They write:
“Socialism must involve the active seizure of control over the workplaces by workers themselves, as well as the formation by workers themselves of democratically elected institutions of struggle and control, in order to socialize production and transform it into the property of the people as a whole. Without this component, it will not be possible to reverse the distorted priorities of capitalism and replace them with the humane priorities of socialism.”
Here are a few questions that those serious about emancipation should consider:
It is a basic truth: the oppressed must emancipate themselves. But this can only happen if there is the leadership of a far-sighted, scientific communist vanguard which has a firm grasp of the communist goal and a method of leading that unleashes conscious and multi-channel struggle from among the people to radically change the world and themselves. This can only happen if there is a state of a new kind, the dictatorship of the proletariat: to defeat attempts to restore capitalism, to ensure the rights of the people, and to provide conditions for the revolution to continue to advance.
The ISO rejects the dictatorship of the proletariat. They reject the seizure of state power. They liquidate the need for a genuine communist vanguard party.
And they join with the capitalist rulers and ideologues to heap lies and slander and scorn on the first attempts in modern history to create societies free of exploitation and oppression. They join the chorus condemning Mao and Stalin as power-hungry tyrants who intentionally caused great suffering. They negate the experience of hundreds of millions of slaves rising up and the most advanced revolutionary leadership that had been forged through that time.
In the Soviet Union from 1917 to 1956 and going even further in China from 1949 to 1976, the masses not only took great strides in overcoming chronic hunger, epidemic diseases and staggering poverty. In these societies, millions of formerly exploited and oppressed were led to lift their heads and stormed the heavens—radically transforming social relations, casting off ignorance and superstition, bringing forward new and liberating culture, and inspiring people worldwide in the process.
All of this achieved its greatest heights during the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (GPCR). The anti-communist narrative is that this was a violent and bloody power struggle led by Mao in order to retrench and consolidate power for its own sake. This could not be further from the truth. During the GPCR, the Maoist leadership brought millions into the defense and wielding of revolutionary state power, led millions to rise up to overthrow those in top authority dragging China back down the road to capitalism, and to criticize and supervise leadership. The Cultural Revolution, and the leadership given by Mao, raised the capacity of the masses to take part increasingly in administering the ongoing transformation of society towards complete liberation. Never before—and never since—has there been such a flowering of liberating culture, of revolutionary energy and enthusiasm, of the values of “serve the people,” or of massive and many-sided society-wide debate and participation.
By vilifying this liberating history, the ISO aids the bourgeoisie in closing the door on human emancipation. Further, because their anti-communism masquerades as “socialism” it is all the more insidious, precisely among those who are rising up, searching for answers, and who need this truth the most.
The Soviet and Chinese revolutions opened whole new vistas for humanity. At the same time, they had shortcomings and errors—even grievous errors. All of this must be learned from in order to once again make revolution and to go even further this time.
Fortunately for humanity, Bob Avakian has done this work.
Because of Bob Avakian and the work he has done over several decades, summing up the positive and negative experience of the communist revolution so far, and drawing from a broad range of human experience, there is a new synthesis of communism that has been brought forward—there really is a viable vision and strategy for a radically new, and much better, society and world, and there is the crucial leadership that is needed to carry forward the struggle toward that goal.
Based on Avakian’s new synthesis of communism, the Revolutionary Communist Party has published the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic of North America (Draft Proposal) which offers a visionary and practical framework for a new economy and political system based on genuine internationalism, care for the environment and meeting people’s material needs and at the same time fostering unprecedented ferment and debate, dissent and protest, and cultural and intellectual and artistic expressions that strike out in many directions.
With their disdain for and repudiation of all things genuinely communist, it should come as no surprise that many in and around the ISO have an unprincipled history of discouraging students and others from checking out Bob Avakian. It should come as no surprise that many in and around the ISO traffic in the reactionary notion that the emphasis put on Bob Avakian by genuine revolutionaries reflects the thinking of a “cult.”
At its core, the ISO’s politics and program represent the outlook of the petty bourgeoisie: the small capitalists and intermediate strata who can at times be very militant in their opposition to the extremes of imperialism (the increasing gap of wealth and poverty, unjust wars, corporate power, etc.), but who even more deeply fear the upheaval, dislocation, sacrifice and rupture required to transform this world of horrors into something liberating.
While many with the outlook of the petty bourgeoisie can be won to the side of the revolution, when this outlook masquerades as “socialism,” as it does with the ISO, it is revisionism-reformism, and can only do harm and lead people away from revolution. What the ISO embodies and fights for is “socialism-lite”—the no-sweat, no-sacrifice, easy way to not make revolution.
But for those of you who want to see humanity free of this world of unending horror...
You have a responsibility to deeply engage Bob Avakian's new synthesis of communism. Discover the truth and the real lessons from the most liberating chapters in human history. Discover the vision and the basis to do much better and go much further next time around. Look at Communism: The Beginning of a New Stage, A Manifesto from the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA.
Dig into the ISO's “Where We Stand” and contrast it with the RCP’s Constitution for the New Socialist Republic of North America. Ask yourself: which opens up the path to real liberation and makes a radical rupture with the existing order?
Do not tolerate—and do fight against—any suggestion that these questions should be dismissed based on anti-communist prejudices against leadership and the history of communism.
Too much is at stake for humanity to do anything less.
To find the main works in this letter:
Revolution #279 September 2, 2012
Interviews from the NY BAsics Bus Tour
I first met Nicky in a Harlem park where the BAsics Bus Tour volunteers were having a send-off breakfast on the first day of the "New York and Beyond" leg of the tour. We all chowed down on food and drink donated by people in the projects in Harlem and other parts of the city. A supporter who had helped organize people in the 'hood to support the tour talked movingly about how street corner tables were set and that as people learned about the tour and what it's doing, they gave with all their heart. Now these are people who don't generally have a whole lot of anything extra hanging loosely and pockets that have little more than holes in them. But they gave with their hearts and their brains. They dug deep and gave what they could and went to their neighbors and friends, to their churches, tenants' associations, schools and buildings, to do the same. All told, $450 and a whole lot of food was contributed to the tour in a neighborhood where people often have to choose which meals they need to skip in order to stretch the food out to the end of the month. These were people who were eager to be part of this movement for revolution in whatever way they could.
As the brother continued to tell stories about taking the tour out to the people, I glanced over in Nicky's direction. She was listening hard—sometimes she rubbed the corner of her eye and other times a broad smile lit up her face. I went over to talk with Nicky and she told me that she was a hardcore supporter of the tour. She also told me that she had gotten Bob Avakian's latest book, BAsics, and would love to talk with me about her thoughts on all this. We arranged to talk at her home a couple of days later.
The Bronx is the northernmost borough of New York City and sometimes it can seem like it takes half a day to get to the Bronx from any other part of the city. It's one of those places that all kinds of people know about—some people work in the area and a whole lot of people drive through on the highways that slice across the Bronx as they head out to someplace else. It's renowned as the birthplace of hip-hop and a center for Latin jazz, but truth is, very few people purposely make their way to most of the neighborhoods in the Bronx for fun.
More than 1.4 million people live there—most of them Puerto Ricans, Dominicans and other people from the Caribbean, together with African Americans. Over the last couple of decades a number of African immigrants have also moved to the area. The Bronx has the lowest number and percentage of white people living in it of all the New York City boroughs. And while it has a few better-off neighborhoods, it is also has some of the poorest neighborhoods in the U.S. For many decades at the end of the 1900s, the Bronx was a concentration of abandoned buildings. For a while, the urban renewal program in the Bronx was the City pasting pictures of window panes and flower pots over the sheet metal covering the gaping holes that once were windows in buildings that could be seen from the highways. Arson fires took care of the rest.
As I got off the bus and walked towards Nicky's street, I passed by two cop cars parked on opposite sides of the street. The cops eyed me for a while but didn't interfere. But by the time I got to the intersection with Nicky's street, one of the cop cars was crawling up the hill behind me. I only knew this because just as I got to the intersection I heard a loud, gravelly voice yelling out "Poliiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiice!" Three old men were sitting on a bench just outside of a neighborhood playground. They explained that they were old friends who now saw themselves as "watchers." They explained that they sat on that bench all day, every day, and knew everyone in the 'hood and everything that happens. As we talked, they shouted out birthday greetings to passers-by, asked about health problems and tossed around enough sharp jokes and comments to make your head spin. They said that they watch out for the people and explained that yelling out about the police was just so no one would be taken by surprise. They told me that for many in the neighborhood, just being alive made them a suspect and a target for the police. They also pointed out that in some neighborhoods in the U.S.,their little bench would be inside the park instead of outside of it. They called my attention to a sign that barred any adult not in the company of a child from entering the park. They also pointed out that the listed rules of the park pretty much forbid most things that kids do for fun in a park.
I asked the watchers which way to go to reach Nicky's building. They pointed down a street lined with identical light brown or off-white brick walls, often stained with dark smears that come from decades of human sweat, tears, and laughter. A poetic symmetry of dull black metal fire escapes forming cascading Z's down the front walls of all the buildings drew me into the neighborhood. As I made my way into Nicky's building, concerned neighbors took careful note. Nicky greeted me warmly and we began to talk. I asked her about life in the Bronx, and Nicky explained that for her the Bronx was home but that for a very long time that meant a life of fear, abuse, and pain.
"I've lived here my whole life, since about the age of four. And living in the Bronx is a struggle. It's always been a struggle. It's been a struggle for my mother and my father who raised me. Having a job where I still can't have enough to make ends meet. I've been forced to work two jobs and even seven days a week, where I still can't seem to get ahead. I've raised four children right here in this apartment. There has been times where I've had to rely on public assistance with my jobs. I have children that have gone to college. And even today I still struggle with a job. Just seems like no matter what I do I just can't get ahead."
I told Nicky about the watchers and what they said about the police and the youth in the neighborhood. I asked her what it was like to raise three sons in these conditions. "I think, just like for me, fear, always fear. I have two of my sons that, well actually all three of my sons that have been stopped by police, not doing anything. I tried to be a mother that asked for a curfew because I fear what will happen to them out in these streets, you know? My oldest son actually did seven years for something that he didn't do.
"He was accused of two cab driver robberies in 1999—basically no proof at all, but he was sent to prison for seven to 14 years. And at that time my son was into the rap business. He had a $90,000 contract signed with Def Jam Entertainment. And still that didn't matter to these people. They accused him of robbing one cab driver for $100 and a ring and said that he smoked a cigarette in the back of the cab. My son never smoked a cigarette a day in his life. But none of that mattered.
"I have a handicapped son who has been arrested and thrown up against the wall for no reason at all. He'd gone to visit neighbors in the project, maybe at a party. He was arrested for trespassing. The officer said, 'Do you live here?' 'No. I'm just visiting. There's a party here.' They hauled him off to jail. So basically as a mother, I've had to live in fear. I feel lucky to some degree that my children have only just been arrested. Because a lot of other mothers have actually lost their sons' lives. So to that degree I feel sort of blessed. But I still don't know, you know, will that day ever come? That's what it's like living here in the Bronx."
Life Devoted Toward Making Change
It was hard to think of Nicky as living in fear. Although I had only met her a few days earlier, she seemed so determined and really inspired by the BAsics Bus Tour and the movement for revolution it's bringing forward. I asked Nicky what drew her to the tour and the revolution. "I believe it happened maybe about a month ago. I was on 125th Street, in Marcus Garvey Park, and some gentlemen came by with this big poster and they were talking about the bus tour and they asked me if I'd like to write something on the billboard and I did. And I left my number and my email with them. And I would say maybe about a week or so later, I got a call and that person asked me what would you be willing to do, you know, to help us in this revolution, in this movement? And I was like, what do you need me to do?
"Basically, my whole life has been devoted toward making change, you know, for the better of people, even as me, a mom, and also as an educator in the school system. I just think that this world is just so upside down. And people only do better when they know better. I mean it doesn't seem fair to me that one household has food to throw away and another barely has food at all. I don't like the idea of one particular group of people being able to determine what I eat, where I live, what type of education I'll have, you know, and it goes back to the BAsics book, you know, that one particular race of people defines the lives of others, and even before our children are born. You know, they're doomed before they ever get here. And that really bothers me."
I read that quote, BAsics 1:13, out loud to Nicky. "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." She thought about it for a minute and then leaned forward on the couch and started to talk again.
"We're Not Going to Take This Any More"
"What I found striking about that quote is that, I think that for so long that we have learned to become comfortable with the abuse that we suffer on a daily basis. And when we say, 'No more,' to me it means that in our hearts and our souls that we're not going to take this anymore. It's not like a smokescreen that we don't realize what's happening to us, and what you're doing to us. And we have to fight back. You know, we just can't just stay laid down and do nothing. And that's why that's really important to me."
Nicky described being part of the "silent march" this June in Manhattan of thousands of people against stop-and-frisk and how powerful she thought it was and how good it felt being there and fighting back. She also talked about how she thought about Trayvon Martin during the march and all of the young Black and Latino men killed by the police in New York and across the country. "Well, to be honest, because it's a typical thing here, in our city, I went, 'Another mother's child.' You know, like, when does it end? There's been so many. I mean, it's almost like I'm losing count. And it touches me because it makes me look at reality and say, 'Will it be my son tomorrow?' I can't imagine what it's like to lose a child. But I know that living where I live, that it's a possibility that that day may come for me.
"To me, they always get away with it. I mean, I've not really ever heard of any case where they've, you know, wrongfully killed our children or imprisoned them, or even beat them where they haven't gotten away with it. Like I said, my son did seven years for something that he didn't do. And he came out. He was supposed to be on seven years of probation, but because my son is not the monster they thought he was, they lessened his parole. He was done in three years. He's a musician and he chose to travel the world and to share his talent. And I believe my son went over to Europe and he was scheduled to have a concert there. And as soon as he got off, you know, the plane or whatever, he was detained: never allowed to make it to his concert because when they looked at, you know, his papers and so forth, they went into the computer and they says, 'Oh, we see that you have a record.' So he spent, I believe it was like four days in this detaining center. And then put back on the plane, you know, like, get him out of here.
"And this is a label that many of our young adults as well as old ones, you know—you steal a loaf of bread because you're hungry, because you're starving, you have a family to feed. And they send you to prison for stealing a loaf of bread, a place where they tell you is rehabilitation for you. So, I mean, doesn't that count for something? Then you walk outside those doors and your family hasn't gone away. You still have a family to feed. And you try to do things the right way. You go and you apply for a job. But you've been labeled and you've been stamped, so they'll say, 'No, sorry, we don't have work for you. You're a ex-con.' So what do you do? I mean, where do you turn to? You go to public assistance and you've got five kids to feed but they decide that you only need $300 to feed your family of five or six people. So you get what we have or you starve to death. And that's not the way this system should be."
Nicky and I talked about the quote a little longer. I pointed out that what Nicky was talking about is exactly how the system works and is designed to work. We went back and forth for a little bit parsing out what it means to talk about the system and that the very nature of this capitalist system is what makes the system do what it does to people—it can't do anything else. Nicky thought for a minute and then spoke up. "To me, it's just not human. A system that only cares about wealth and power and is willing to just annihilate human life to get it. To me, that's not a system, that's—I don't even know what to call it. I mean, what happens to everyone else that's in need. I mean, how do you have so much hate for other people that you don't care if they breathe, if they eat, if they die, if they live. I know there's a better way. I know there is."
"An Awesome Book"
"I put a lot of faith into this BAsics book because overall what it tells me is that we have to be united. We have to come together. But a lot of times we don't know what's being done to us. And this is why I think the BAsics Bus Tour is a wonderful thing, because it goes around and it educates people. And it gets them to see what exactly this system is doing.
"I think that it's an awesome book. I think that so far what I've read, and like I was telling you, I'm just so into other things right now in school, but every chance I get, I pick it up. It's knowledgeable. It shows me some of the things that are being done to me that I couldn't maybe see before. Because it's done in a way that it doesn't—the system does things in a way that it like blinds you, you know. You think because if you're on public assistance they pay your rent or, you know, they give you a couple of food stamps, you know, your life is great. But why can't you live where they live? Why do we have to have food stamps? Why don't people just be able to have enough money to go out and to buy food? You understand what I'm saying? So it opens my eyes to some things that I was never able to see before. And I think that's the wonderful thing about this book.
"One piece that really stuck with me is that when you talk about public assistance, you know, everything's on the computer now. And there're millions of people on public assistance and depend on that to survive. That's how they eat. And the system is able to just press a button and say, 'Millions of you will just starve.' I mean, that's not human."
"America Is This Greedy Place"
We talked a little more about BAsics, and I asked Nicky what she thought of the two quotes that were being featured in July—"American Lives Are Not More Important Than Other People's Lives," and "Internationalism—The Whole World Comes First." Nicky mentioned that these were the quotes she saw when she first met this movement for revolution and they hit her hard.
"It just seems like America is this greedy place, you know and they go places and they take people's lands, and they put them in situations where they can't do for themselves, you know, and have to be dependent on them. No one person anywhere is more important than anyone else. We're all human beings. And we all deserve to be treated with the same respect, the same dignity, and no one should have more than another. There's no reason why those children over in those third world countries should, you know, you should see their ribs, and they're starving because of mere medications and no food, you know, no family. It's just not right."
I brought up the children in the Congo who are being worked to death in the mines digging out coltan that's used to make cell phones work. Nicky got a horrified look on her face. "Absolutely. They're working sunup to sundown on whatever they're working for. They still don't have adequate food. Isn't it something? Oh my god. It's horrible. And then I think about the ones, you've got nine- and ten-year-old girls in places, they're prostituting their bodies just to eat. You know, I mean, like it's unreal. It's just unreal."
I reached for Nicky's copy of BAsics that was sitting on the coffee table. I wanted to read her BAsics 1:10 about the oppression of women under capitalism. When I picked the book up I could see it was well read, some pages dog-eared and others highlighted in yellow. I stopped when I noticed that she had BAsics 1:22 completely highlighted. "In a world marked by profound class divisions and social inequality, to talk about 'democracy'—without talking about the class nature of that democracy and which class it serves—is meaningless, and worse. So long as society is divided into classes, there can be no 'democracy for all': one class or another will rule, and it will uphold and promote that kind of democracy which serves its interests and goals. The question is: which class will rule and whether its rule, and its system of democracy, will serve the continuation, or the eventual abolition, of class divisions and the corresponding relations of exploitation, oppression and inequality." Nicky said it was one of her favorite quotes. I asked her why.
"I just never really understood why are we separated, you know? Why are you the poor class, the middle class, the wealthy class? Why don't we all have equal? And money seems to take preference over human life. So those who are richer and have more will always be in the predicament to keep us oppressed and keep us from reaching that same level. And, is that democracy? Is that what democracy is supposed to be about? 'Cause I don't think so. I mean like democracy, like we all supposed to be a team, you know, and decide things together. Things are supposed to be divided up equally. I have a say; I have a right; you have a right. But in this country and around the world we don't have a right. We have no rights. There is no democracy. You're not rich, you have no voice."
Born Female in a World of Male Domination
Since Nicky had commented about being horrified when she heard about the sexual abuse and enslavement of young girls around the world, I wanted to read her BAsics 1:10: "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."
Nicky's face got very, very serious. She took a deep breath before she started to talk and then laid out a horrible story of abuse she suffered simply because she was a "female in a world of male domination."
"I've had a lot of debate and talk about this because of the way society is implemented, that males are dominant over females. I know that even, you know, in the corporate world like we can't get ahead. A lot of women have degrees, master's degrees, and you know, are suited for these jobs, but just because they're female they don't get them.
"I have been raped as a child, was told you're a woman, you will grow up to be a woman, this is part of life, you know. This is just what men do because they can. I've been in a very, very [bad] domestic situation with my first husband, you know where, just about every day, you know, I had black eyes and so forth, you know. I had to leave and go to shelters to see that me and my kids, you know, would live.
"The thought that men have a right to do this because of their masculine strength is just—it's unbelievable. And this is another thing, you know, that needs to be addressed, because women, you know, we are women, we shouldn't be exploited and raped and beat and just demoralized just because we're women, you know. There are a lot of very strong women, women that raise families on their own, you know that are very productive in society, and they should be treated as such, especially when you have a partner. You understand what I'm saying? And it's true because we're born female it's just, you know, you're a female, you do what I say, and I'm the man and that's it."
I mentioned to Nicky that one of the horrors piled on top of the horror is that so often women who face this kind of abuse are told that it's their fault. Nicky nodded and took the story even further.
"Yes! If you have—'oh, that dress is a little short, if you hadn't have worn that dress, maybe you wouldn't have got raped', you know what I'm saying. I mean we're not even allowed to wear the clothing that we want to, you know, it's always some reason. It's always our fault, like I said my first husband and I, we met when I was 14 and he was 19. I was physically abused and raped by the time that I was 20 and I actually married him—god, don't even ask me why—but then is where I began to learn about the abuse, you know, that women have to take. And you know he would get drunk and today I have a black eye and tomorrow he'd be sorry, you know, and my kids were in turmoil. They were always shaking and nervous, not knowing what's going to happen today, what's going to happen tomorrow, you know, my daughter learned how to dial 911 in the dark by the time she was five years old. I've been beaten with police rods. I've been stabbed. I mean, you name it, it's been done. You know, and this is why I fight as hard as I do, you know, no matter what has happened to me, I realize that I have to continue to fight so that this can change."
"It's Powerful Stuff"
Nicky and I both had to take a minute to pull ourselves back together after talking about this horror. I quietly asked her, in the face of all this terrible oppression she has suffered through, what did it mean for her to find this movement for revolution and its leader, Bob Avakian.
"It meant thank God! Somebody else sees the vision that I have for changing what women go through, for changing the educational system so that everything is equal when it comes to education, changing that some countries are starving and some that are not. Just making changes to better human life period. And that's how I felt. I've had this vision my whole life. There's really people out here that share my vision. And that's why it was like a godsend. Wow, God sent these people to me, like, see, somebody else thinks what you think, you know, and that's why I'm just so happy to contribute, to do whatever I can to make this movement a success."
Nicky mentioned that she hadn't heard of Bob Avakian before she met this movement but now that she has she has some strong opinions. "I've never met this man. I've just started reading his book. But I think that he is a leader. You know, a leader is a person that has a vision and is so genuine in that vision that they're allowed to get other people to share that vision and to become a part of it. And in my opinion, he's a leader in a positive manner, you know. People say, oh, you know, communist or whatever. Listen, this man is teaching me things that I never knew before and is showing me a way to change the things that I feel that need to be changed, which is this whole world, by the way, you know. It's powerful stuff."
Revolution #279 September 2, 2012
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There are, in America's dungeons, a growing layer of prisoners who are seeking a critical understanding of the society which imprisoned them, and a way to change that society—and themselves. Be part of giving these prisoners the means to understand this world, and the vision of a better one. Make a donation specifically to send the Constitution for the new society to those prisoners who request one.
When a monopoly of political power—and, in a concentrated way, the monopoly of “legitimate” armed force—is in the hands of one group in society, and that group excludes others from that monopoly of power and force, then that is a dictatorship of the ruling group—or class—regardless of whether or not that ruling group allows those it excludes from power, and over whom it rules in fact, to take part in elections to vote for different representatives of the ruling class, as happens in the U.S. and a number of other countries. Political rule in the U.S., regardless of whether or not there is an open and undisguised tyranny, is and always has been a bourgeois dictatorship, a dictatorship of the ruling capitalist class (or, in the early history of the U.S., before the defeat and abolition of the slave system, through the Civil War, what existed was the dictatorship of the ruling classes—the slaveowning as well as the capitalist class, or bourgeoisie).
Revolution #279 September 2, 2012
We need much more resistance to the way the cops, courts, prisons—the whole criminal justice system—has been unleashed on people locked onto the bottom of this society. Look at what's happened in just the past few weeks:
The NYPD reported that the numbers of people stopped and frisked declined in recent months, but still for the first six months of this year, New York cops on average stopped nearly 2,000 people each and every day.
On top of that, there are tens of thousands of people held in solitary confinement in prisons across the U.S. subjected to conditions that fit the international definition of torture. And there are five million former prisoners who have served their sentences but face discrimination when looking for work, are denied government loans, can't live in public housing, and aren't even allowed to vote.
Add in the families and loved ones of all these people and you get tens of millions of people forced to live their lives caught up in the criminal "injustice" system of this country. This is a horrible injustice. It amounts to a slow genocide targeting Black people that could easily become a fast one. It is unacceptable, and it must be stopped. We will make a big leap in stopping it on Thursday, September 13, when we "Blow the Whistle on Stop-and-Frisk." And you have to be part of making this happen!
Stop-and-frisk concentrates the racial profiling police enforce all across the country, racial profiling that serves as a pipeline to mass incarceration—the 2.4 million people warehoused in prisons throughout the U.S. Mass Incarceration + Silence = Genocide. If we don't meet this with determined, mass resistance, the masses will be ground down so far, they'll never be able to do anything about all they do to us. From the other end, through standing up and coming back at this injustice in a powerful way, we can build our strength and organized capacity to resist and inspire others to join in the resistance. It's time to break the silence! And you must be a part of doing that.
On September 13, we will shatter that silence. Tens of thousands of people in New York City will politically confront police violating people's rights with whistles and cameras—blowing the whistle on all the crap these pigs inflict on the people. The actions in NYC will be the centerpiece of resistance on the 13th, and there must be diverse expressions of resistance to the many ways people are being beaten down—mass incarceration, racial profiling, police brutality and murder in cities across the country. These actions must involve the active participation of thousands and thousands of people.
The word needs to get out everywhere through Facebook and Twitter. Public Service Announcements and videos of people saying why they're going to "Blow the Whistle on Stop-and-Frisk" need to be recorded and played on the media and posted online. Some of these can feature artists and other well-known people. Students need to take whistles into their schools and organize others to come out on the 13th. Organizing has to be going on in neighborhoods, through church groups, unions, etc. People who hear about this have to organize their own actions on September 13! Organizing kits and other materials to use in doing this will be available on the Stop Mass Incarceration website—www.stopmassincarceration.org.
Through all these actions a powerful message will be delivered: WE WILL NO LONGER ACCEPT ALL THIS INJUSTICE IN SILENCE!
From Anaheim to Chicago, from Saginaw, Michigan to Jonesboro, Arkansas, people will be blowing the whistle on brutal murdering pigs. People will be blowing the whistle against torture behind prison walls from California to Red Onion Prison in W. Va. In different cities, people will express in many different ways their determination to end mass incarceration, racial profiling, police brutality and murder. People will mobilize people to go to the prisons, courthouses, police stations or into oppressed neighborhoods with signs, stickers and whistles, declaring their determination to "blow the whistle" on the slow genocide this system is inflicting on the people. At 6 pm EST, everybody, wherever they are, will blow their whistle in solidarity with the developing nationwide movement of resistance to mass incarceration and its consequences.
We will have to raise a lot of money to do all this. Funds are urgently needed in order to realize the vision concentrated in this call for nationwide resistance—money to get tens of thousands of whistles to put into people's hands and cards to spread the word on September 13. Money has to be raised from all sections of the people. Tax-exempt contributions can be made at stopmassincarceration.org. Donations for whistles, buttons and stickers need to be collected every time people are out in the streets organizing people to be ready to Blow the Whistle on Stop-and-Frisk.
On September 13, we will be building on the resistance that has developed over the past year, resistance which must be built as part of building a movement for revolution—the prisoners who went on hunger strike in California, in Georgia, in West Virginia, the neighborhoods that exploded in protest and rebellion in response to police murders in Anaheim, the thousands of people who have taken to the streets calling for an end to stop-and-frisk. And the advances made on September 13 will be the launching pad for leaping further forward in making this battle against mass incarceration a major societal issue, changing the political terrain and contributing to the building of a movement for revolution.For more information, or to get involved go to www.stopmassincarceration.org.
Revolution #279 September 2, 2012
In today’s world, millions of young women and children are kidnapped, or sold by their starving families, or lured with the promises of employment and then sold across borders into a sex-slave trade on a scale never seen before in history. This is happening in a world dominated by the capitalist-imperialist system where everything and everyone is transformed into a commodity.
The extreme sexual violence of the global sex trade is embedded in the culture of reactionary armies, including the U.S. military, which treats women as prizes of war, and as objects to torture in the brothels around military bases throughout the world.
Fundamentally, an army is a concentration of the society it fights for. The army of U.S. imperialism uses the objectification of women and pornography as a cohering force and reward, from the barracks to the brothels to the battlefields.
In the U.S. military: women are raped and sexually assaulted by male soldiers at nearly twice the rate as in civilian society; nearly 1 in 3 women soldiers will be raped and assaulted in the short span of 2-6 years while serving. Women soldiers are more in danger of being raped by a fellow soldier than of being killed by enemy fire. Because of the element of betrayal, rape and sexual assault contributes more strongly to developing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) than combat-related stress. The long-term consequences for these women are severe PTSD and lifelong problems with depression, alcohol abuse, and chronic illness. Journalist Helen Benedict, who has studied women serving in Iraq, said the woman-hating in military culture is so pervasive, from boot camp through active duty, that she could only describe it as “sexual persecution.”
The response of the U.S. military command structure has been to downplay and cover up this epidemic wherever possible, or to give lip service to promises of reforms, while continuing to do little or nothing. Women who report military sexual assault can expect to be ignored, threatened and retaliated against, including by being diagnosed with a “psychiatric disorder” and discharged. As a result, the great majority of women who are raped or sexually assaulted do not report it.
At the same time, in the military, sex is increasingly equated with violence. The most grotesque scenes of sexualized torture from the U.S.-run Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq are reproduced at porn sites, as are battlefield scenes of Iraqi women’s bodies with their clothes torn off; there are even depictions of U.S. soldiers gang-raping Afghani women during military assaults. This is all part of degrading those they conquer.
With more than 200,000 troops stationed in 130 countries—not counting the 90,000 troops in Afghanistan or the hundreds of thousands of private contractors working for the military—sex slavery flourishes around U.S. bases worldwide. In 2009 former prostitutes in South Korea accused their government and the U.S. military of taking a direct hand in the sex trade from the 1960s to 1980s, complete with a testing and treatment system to ensure the prostitutes used by American troops were disease-free. “Our government was one big pimp for the U.S. military,” one of the women said. Another said, “Looking back, I think my body was not mine, but the government’s and the U.S. military’s.”
Kathryn Bolkovac, hired in 1999 for an international “peacekeeping mission” in post-war Bosnia (one of several national groupings that fought for their independence following the break-up of the country of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s), blew the whistle on a sex slavery ring that included extreme sexual violence and torture of trafficked young women, and the selling of female children as young as 12, hidden and protected by the U.S. State Department, the UN, and a private military contractor—DynCorp.
For being the whistleblower on these crimes against women, Bolkovac was threatened, fired, and sent home. Despite a lawsuit, no one was held accountable; and DynCorp was awarded a $250 million contract to train the Iraqi police force.
So the horror grinds on. Neither Obama nor Romney, Democrats nor Republicans, have seriously questioned, let alone challenged, the ugly patriarchal, male supremacist social relations rampant in this society and concentrated in its military.
Only a few months back, Secret Service agents and U.S. soldiers “bought” at least 20 prostitutes while in Cartagena, Colombia, in advance of an Obama visit. Obama went on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and called those involved “knuckleheads,” as though a frat party had gotten out of hand.
This system needs, thrives on, and is cohered around the most violent forms of patriarchy and male domination; and neither the Democratic nor the Republican party can, or will, call that into question.
Liberals have an Oedipal complex: It's not that they want to sleep with their mothers—it's that they willfully blind themselves.
Revolution #279 September 2, 2012
Tens of thousands of young immigrants without papers began lining up early Wednesday morning, August 15, at immigrant rights centers, attorneys’ offices, foreign consulates, and temporary counseling centers in Los Angeles, Houston, Chicago, Miami, New York, Boston, and many other cities. It was the first day of implementation of President Obama’s executive action—Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)—and these immigrant youth were getting counseling and advice before mailing their request for deferred action to USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services). What they are in fact doing is turning themselves, and any other members of their families who are also undocumented, in to federal immigration authorities, admitting that they are all undocumented. By doing so they are putting themselves on track for deportation, with a promise only that this deportation will be delayed for two years.
In some cases this will stop deportation proceedings in progress for those eligible. But there are no statistics, or estimates, of the percentage of the youth turning themselves and family members over for deportation who were not previously known by, or in the clutches of, federal authorities.
Those accepted for deferred action will be given temporary work permits, which will enable them to get temporary Social Security numbers. Some youth say that not having a Social Security number has kept them from accepting scholarships to universities, or getting financial aid, which can make the difference in whether or not they are able to go to college. In some states they may be able to get driver’s licenses. In Arizona, however, Governor Brewer immediately issued her own “executive order” denying state and local public benefits to young undocumented immigrants eligible for deferred action.
First, this action by Obama does not abolish the threat of deportation, it only postpones it. This is not a law that has been passed, it is an executive action that can be revoked at any time on the word of (whoever is) the president. It puts deportation off for two years, with the possibility (not the promise) of renewing the deferral for another two years. But that renewal assumes the program will still be in effect.
Second, this action does not confer any legal status on these young people, or open a path to citizenship. But because those eligible for DACA are the same grouping of young immigrants who would have qualified for the proposed DREAM Act (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors), many young people who’ve fought for passage of the DREAM Act are being misled into going along with and applying for DACA. Rep. Luis Gutierrez (IL) repeatedly appealed to “DREAM-eligible” youth to sign up for DACA in his August 14 statement, “Ten Reasons Young People Should Come Forward for Deferred Action.”
Third, it will not be easy to qualify for the program. An undocumented immigrant must
With inner-city schools that graduate fewer than half their high school students, and police who make sure these youth have criminal records as early as possible, how many inner-city youth don’t fit these criteria? Some newspapers estimate that 1.4 million undocumented young people in the U.S. between the ages of 16 and 31 could apply for this program, but only about 800,000 will qualify; 600,000 will be rejected. A criminal conviction (for shoplifting, for example) or a serious misdemeanor (like driving under the influence) or multiple misdemeanors will disqualify a person.
Applicants must prove that they have been in the U.S. for five continuous years. If they’ve been living “in the shadows,” it may not be easy to provide the financial, employment, medical and school records as proof. If an application is denied because the person submitting the application committed fraud (like using someone else’s social security number to get a job), then the applicant could be referred to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for deportation. If an application is denied for lack of proof, it’s not clear what will happen, but all the information the person provided is now in the USCIS database. There is no right to appeal a denied application and it’s not clear that USCIS has to give a reason.
Finally, what happens to the family members turned in by the person who applies to this program? The sisters and brothers; the mothers and/or fathers who brought the child illegally to the U.S. are very likely undocumented themselves. This DACA program will not apply to most of them. USCIS officials promise that they won’t turn over information from applications to ICE, but all the information will be in the USCIS database.
An opinion piece by immigration law attorney Eli M. Kantor, in the Los Angeles Daily Journal, the newspaper for the legal profession in L.A., warns: “[W]hat will happen to all of the applicants who will be in the system? ICE will have their names and addresses in the system. Will they then be subject to deportation, once the ‘deferred action’ has ended? Will it all turn out to be an elaborate ‘sting operation’? The unintended consequence of this executive order may be that hundreds of thousands of undocumented young people will voluntarily turn themselves into ICE, in the hopes of legalizing their status, only to find themselves in the nightmare of deportation.” (July 11, 2012)
The undocumented won’t know until after they turn themselves in to Immigration, after they’ve given up all their information and shined a light on their families, whether they will be accepted into this program. USCIS says it will take months to determine whether a person qualifies.
There’s fundamental agreement within the ruling class that having over 11 million undocumented immigrants living and working in the U.S. poses an intractable problem and a strategic danger. These undocumented workers are deeply embedded in the economy and social fabric of the U.S. They labor in the fields, factories, hotels and restaurants, doing backbreaking and mind-numbing work for little pay, that is essential to the profitability of the companies that exploit them. But these same conditions raise worries that their allegiance to this country can’t be counted on in a crisis; and because their status requires them to “live in the shadows,” they have learned how to live “out of reach” of those who maintain “order.”
The two main approaches to dealing with this have been trying to fence off the border to slow undocumented immigrants from entering the U.S., and terrorizing those here with the constant fear of deportation. The Obama administration has deported a record number—almost 400,000—undocumented immigrants in the last year. Thousands more are locked up in hundreds of detention centers in brutal and unsanitary conditions.
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals is a new tool that is enticing hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants out of the shadows, voluntarily giving up all their information and information about family members in exchange for two years of freedom from deportation. The ruling class has a lot to gain and very little to lose from this deferred action.
While the main reaction to the deferred action program by those applying for it has been enthusiasm and support, there are, not far beneath the surface, serious doubts, misgivings and uncertainty. Some express hope that there is strength in the large numbers taking part; others believe that the movement of protests and other political actions they’ve waged around the country up to this point for passage of the DREAM Act can again be mobilized if promises are not kept. But the greatest danger is the illusion that Obama and the Democrats are “on their side”; and that the heart of their political activity now should be to work for Obama’s re-election.
Revolution #279 September 2, 2012
Getting the Whistles Ready in the Bronx
The following is from an interview with "Noche" Diaz, a young revolutionary who is facing unjust charges and faces years in jail if convicted. Noche has been arrested five times since October 2011 and has had 11 charges piled on him in four New York City boroughs, all for observing and protesting the illegitimate actions of the NYPD. Noche was one of the first members of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network and helped organize protests that kicked off a citywide struggle against stop-and-frisk. He is well known to the people—and to the NYPD—for being a member of the People's Neighborhood Patrol of Harlem.
One late afternoon, me and a comrade went to the Bronx to follow up at a playground where a lot of youth play basketball and skate. It's a half-court and skating area they're allowed to use because the janitor who is supposed to keep it locked up leaves it open for them. He's a very cool guy. We had done some work up there with the BAsics Bus Tour and were following up. We knew that some of the youth hang out there, so we went with Bob Avakian's Revolution talk, whistles, STOP Stop and Frisk buttons. We didn't even have fliers for the whistle day yet. We went there cold, and sat down on a bench and took out the DVD player.
One of the youth recognized us and said hello, and we started playing the Revolution talk. Some youth gathered around. We played the clip about how the police are the enforcers of all this. BA gets into what a system is. He gets into the history of police murders, and we were right in the neighborhood of one of the murders BA talks about, where Amadou Diallo was killed by police. It's also right where the viejos are playing dominoes, which BA is also describing, and right where the kids are playing basketball, just like he talks about in the Revolution talk (Revolution: Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About) in terms of the rules of the game. So it's a very interesting scene. We played that part where he gets into "it's a system." A lot of the young people were talking about, even when we got there they were stepping to us with like, what do you think about the police? They were testing us about it.
A lot of them have some bitter experience. There was one guy who when he was 15 he caught a case for assault. He's 16 now, and dealing with his legal case. There was a fight that happened, and because he was friends with the kids fighting, now he's got charges. It was a fight—I'm not saying kids should be fighting—but it was a kids' fight. So now he has a case open. They have a lot of visceral experience. So they were listening to that part of the talk, and that part was more like confirming what they already know a lot of. Then we showed them the part on how the youth deserve a better future, where BA talks about, yes, this is a horror—but no more of this, we're trying to get to a whole other place. That was cool, there was conversation about that. We said, "What about the fact they set up all these prisons? And the schools are built like prisons." We're at a school that looks like a penitentiary. It was so literal, at the same time, artful.
So we're talking to them about how we're coming into this fight against stop-and-frisk from this standpoint. We think this whole system has no future for youth and we need a revolution to get rid of the whole thing. But as part of making that rev, we see the importance of people getting together from different understandings, to lift their heads, and look at the whole world. So we're part of building for this whistle day coming on September 13. And some of them knew about it because people had been out there. They would come up asking for a whistle, and we'd say, "You have to know what it's about." So they would recite, "The whistles are for when you see the police, and when people aren't doing anything wrong, and the police are just messing with them, you blow the whistle." It became a thing they all knew. It was pretty cool. They're young; some are seven, and some are 20. We only had 10 whistles that day. Every time a patrol car would pass through the playground, everyone would kind of play the whistles, but it was sporadic.
There was one point where this large police van comes through, and this 8- to 10-year-old on a scooter rides through the playground and yells, "Alright everybody, it's whistle time!" And the people who are taking their basketball shots on the court, the guys doing their skating thing, everyone kind of stopped what they were doing. They all started blowing their whistles in harmony. I'm sure it sounds cool, but when you were there it was electrifying. It lifted you up and straightened out your back. Pretty intense. It brought them all together. They were all spread out, but they were acting and working together, and communicating with each other. It was a very cool scene.
Revolution #279 September 2, 2012
From A World To Win News Service
August 20, 2012. A World to Win News Service. When Ecuador granted WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange's request for political asylum, the British government responded almost as if it were an act of war. Foreign Minister William Hague, with all the bellicosity of his recent call for military intervention in Syria, issued a note threatening to revoke the Ecuadorean embassy's diplomatic status and send the police storming in. In fact, police did swarm through the building's stairwells and lobby (which are not part of the embassy's offices). The building is currently surrounded by 50 constables at all times, with two more vans full and an armored car waiting nearby. On the day Assange came on the balcony to give a statement, a police helicopter hovered overhead.
To an objective observer, this frenzied escalation of the campaign to imprison Assange, including through the blatant threat to violate international law protecting diplomatic missions, would reveal how much is at stake. Yet British, American and other media who claim to be impartial have unleashed a cloud of smoke and lies to cover up the importance and meaning of this case, arguing that the real issue is rape, and that the UK is merely complying with its legal obligations.
The UK Guardian, just to take one of many possible examples, stated in its August 19 editorial, "It is to avoid questioning by Swedish prosecutors that Mr. Assange battled extradition orders for 18 months... It is to avoid being confronted with accusations of rape that Mr. Assange is now holed up in the Ecuadorean embassy." The British and American media in general have maligned Assange, and even many people with high ideals have been confused and taken in.
The facts seem to indicate that while accusations of rape should always be taken seriously, that's not really what this case is about. The Swedish prosecutors failed to question Assange during the weeks he was in Sweden after two young women complained about him to the police, they refused to question him in the UK, and they are now refusing offers to interview him in the Ecuadorean embassy. In fact, the Swedish authorities didn't seem to take the case seriously until Assange left Sweden, with a prosecutor's permission according to Assange.
Once Assange left, Interpol issued an international warrant demanding not only that he be arrested but that he be held in prison and cut off from communication with the outside world, including lawyers, visitors and other prisoners, not because of the nature of the charges against him—no formal charges have been filed and he is wanted, supposedly, for questioning—but because he is a "flight risk."
Both the Swedish and American governments have refused to say whether or not they have plans, if Assange is brought back to Sweden, for him be extradited to the U.S., where he could be charged with espionage, and sentenced to death or life imprisonment if convicted. It has become known that a U.S. federal grand jury convened in secret in Alexandria, Virginia, is investigating him and other people allegedly associated with WikiLeaks for violating the Espionage Act of 1917 and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1986. Despite their names, both laws were designed to punish people for what used to be considered free speech.
An article in the Washington Post (December 15, 2010) speculated that it would be much easier for the American government to accuse and convict Assange for espionage if it could charge him for being an active "conspirator" in the leak and not just a passive receiver of information. This strategy would also allow the Obama government to go after Assange and not after the media that carried WikiLeaks material, including The New York Times and the Guardian, both of which have turned against Assange. This ongoing inquiry is led by the Justice Department under the supervision of Obama's Attorney General, Eric Holder. Assange's lawyers and others believe that he has already been named in a secret indictment.
The timeline of events proves nothing conclusively, but it makes powerful implications. In April 2010, WikiLeaks released a video called "Collateral Murder," a documentary showing American forces deliberately and callously killing Iraqi civilians. In May of that year, U.S. Army soldier Bradley Manning was arrested and [later] charged with having found that footage in supposedly secure U.S. military online archives and sending it to WikiLeaks, along with a great deal of other material. By June 2010 several news outlets reported that the U.S. government was trying to "locate" Assange, who had been traveling from country to country. The Interpol warrant was issued in November, and the UK government arrested him for extradition.
Assange contested the legality of this extradition in court, and against the wishes of the British government a judge assigned him to house arrest instead of jailing him while the extradition order was appealed. It was after he lost his Supreme Court appeal that Assange decided to enter the Ecuadorean embassy.
How could this be interpreted as trying to "avoid questioning by Swedish prosecutors"?
Assange used his recent public appearance on the embassy balcony to call attention to the other track being taken by the U.S. in its campaign against WikiLeaks, the imprisonment of Bradley Manning, who at that moment "has his 815th day of detention without trial."
Manning was held for nine months in an American military brig under conditions that a UN Special Rapporteur on Torture called "cruel, inhuman and degrading." He was kept in a tiny isolation cell 23 hours a day (with up to an hour for exercise), deprived of sleep and often forced to remain naked. Even Obama's press secretary was repulsed enough that he criticized this treatment and was then forced to resign. Since then Manning has been transferred to another military prison.
Manning has been charged with a number of serious crimes for allegedly downloading classified material, including "aiding the enemy," punishable by death. Although who this enemy might be hasn't been officially specified, officials have said that by exposing American war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan he was objectively helping "Al-Qaeda." The Espionage Act of 1917 was used in the same way at the time it was passed. Leading opponents of U.S. entry into World War I were jailed for allegedly helping the "enemy" of that day, Germany. By this standard, any exposure of state crimes could be similarly punished. The prosecution has said they will not ask for an execution in this case, but his sentences could total up to as much as 150 years in prison.
According to the Bradley Manning Support Network, he will face a military court hearing in October and a court martial in early 2013.
When the prosecution presented its case against Manning last November, it included what was claimed to be evidence that Assange helped the soldier crack the password protecting the military archives. Manning's lawyers are said to believe that his mistreatment in prison, and the piling up of charges with such long sentences, are meant to force him to testify against Assange in a civilian trial.
As to whether the UK's role in this is simply "complying with our legal obligations" as FM Hague claims, under international law no country can extradite or deport someone to a country where it is reasonable to believe that they will then be sent to a third country to face inhuman treatment. While the Guardian mocked Assange for "the best legal representation money can buy," the British government has showed extraordinary enthusiasm, "determined to see Julian Assange extradited to Sweden," as Hague says, and has thrown the extraordinary legal, political and police resources of one of the world's richest countries into this campaign.
The British government, then under the Labour Party, had much less enthusiasm for its international legal obligations when the Spanish government asked it to extradite Chilean general Augusto Pinochet to stand trial for killing Spanish citizens, in addition to the murder of thousands of Chileans and the torture of tens of thousands more (including organized and supervised rape) after his U.S.-backed 1973 military coup. Pinochet had been in England as the guest of ex-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher when he was arrested in 1998.
Pinochet, too, fought a long legal battle against extradition, and like Assange, lost his appeal. But when the British courts ruled that Pinochet had to face trial for crimes against humanity, the government stepped in and declared that it would refuse to extradite him on "humanitarian grounds." When Pinochet arrived in Chile, the first thing he did as he addressed a crowd of supporters was to triumphantly stand up from his wheelchair. He lived another six years without ever having been convicted of anything.
When challenged about Manning's treatment in April 2011, Obama justified it by saying, "he broke the law." Manning had not even been charged with anything at that point, let alone convicted, and under U.S. law people are supposed to be presumed innocent until proven otherwise. But the "law" Obama was referring to was probably this one: Whether or not an imperialist country abides by any law or not depends, in the end, on what its ruling class perceives as its best interests.
In his balcony speech, Assange said, "If Bradley Manning did as he is accused, he is a hero and an example to us all and one of the world's foremost political prisoners. Bradley Manning must be released."
The video Manning was first arrested for leaking was shot through the gun-sights of an Apache attack helicopter in 2007. It shows the aircraft machine guns cutting down a Reuters news service photographer and his assistant and other people casually walking down the street in a Baghdad suburb. Several minutes later, a van pulls up, and men get out to rescue a severely wounded man who is trying to crawl onto the sidewalk. Children are visible through the window. The helicopter flies over the van, opening fire again and again on each pass until the crew is satisfied that everyone seems dead.
The audio track records the crew's eagerness to kill Iraqis, and their laughter and mutual congratulations at the sight of at least 18 bodies ("Good shooting!"). When ground troops report over the radio they have found two seriously wounded children in the wrecked van, one of the crewmen sneers, "It's their fault for bringing children into a war zone." American medics are about to take the children for treatment when an officer orders that they be abandoned.
What made this video all the more an exposure of the U.S. government was that it had long been in the possession of the American military, which had ruled that its men had been doing what they were supposed to do.
In persecuting Assange and Manning, the U.S. authorities and their imperialist allies are not only seeking revenge for that and other WikiLeaks exposures, they are trying to make sure that no one dares expose and oppose their present and future crimes. In that sense, this persecution is of a piece with the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S.-backed coup in Chile and all the misery that the imperialist states have brought to the world's people.
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 #279 September 2, 2012
"Decision by Netanyahu, Barak to strike Iran is almost final"
(Times of Israel, August 11)
"Israeli speculation over Iran strike reaches fever pitch"
(Guardian, August 14)
Over the past several weeks there has been an eruption of alarming reports, high-level meetings, and public debate over whether Israel is close to deciding—or has already decided—to launch a military assault on Iran before the November U.S. presidential election.
On August 10, Channel 2 News, Israel's leading news program, reported that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Barak were on the verge of making a decision to go to war. Yedioth Ahronoth, Israel's largest daily, reports, "Insofar as it depends on [Prime Minister] Benjamin Netanyahu and [Defense Minister] Ehud Barak, an Israeli military strike on the nuclear facilities in Iran will take place in these coming autumn months, before the U.S. elections in November."
The week before, the New York Times reported, "In Israel, there remains feverish speculation that Mr. Netanyahu will act in September or early October." A former head of Israeli intelligence commented, "If I was an Iranian, I would be very fearful of the next 12 weeks."
In the midst of these threats, the BBC reported that a document purporting to be an Israeli plan was leaked describing a "shock and awe, Israel-style" assault including a massive cyber-attack, barrages of ballistic and cruise missiles, and follow-on attacks by Israeli war planes.
There is widespread debate and speculation over what's really going on here. Is Israel actually preparing to attack in the coming weeks, calculating that on the eve of the presidential election it would be difficult if not impossible for the Obama administration to refuse to support or join such an assault? Are the threats by Israel's leaders part of a high-stakes ploy aimed at forcing the U.S. imperialists to take an even more aggressive stance toward Iran, with an even more clear cut and near-term commitment to take military action against Iran in order to head off a unilateral Israeli attack as the New York Times and others are suggesting? Is it some combination of both, or another scenario entirely? In any case, there is doubtless more going on behind closed doors than is being aired in public, and in all likelihood no one outside the highest levels of the Israeli and/or U.S. governments can answer these questions with certainty at this moment (and there may be uncertainty at these levels as well).
But three things can be said.
First, whether bluff, actual attack preparations, or some other machination, this flurry of threats represents a further escalation of a very dangerous overall trajectory toward confrontation and possible war against Iran by the world's main capitalist-imperialist powers and their creation and Middle East garrison state—Israel.
This dynamic has ratcheted up sharply in the past year and in certain ways the U.S., Israel and the European powers are already waging forms of war on Iran (sanctions, covert cyber-attacks, assassinations and the like). The stated and public focus of this clash has been Iran's nuclear enrichment program, but this is part of a bigger battle by the U.S. and Israel to maintain their domination and control over the entire Middle East-Central Asian region, including their military hegemony. At present, this battle for dominance is concentrated in their clash with the Islamic Republic of Iran, which is posing an obstacle and challenge to the U.S. on many fronts. This is a clash between two reactionary, outmoded forces, with the U.S. and Israel posing the far greater danger to the planet. Stepped-up U.S. intervention in Syria, including possible military intervention, is linked to these efforts to weaken, isolate, and ultimately topple Iran's Islamist theocracy.
Second, whatever Israel's motives, the moves against Iran are still outrageous and must be condemned. Threatening preemptive war is itself a form of aggression. Let's call it what it is: terrorism, aimed at terrorizing the people of Iran and the region. And it must be noted here that whatever differences do or don't exist between Israel and the U.S.—the Obama administration has neither condemned these threats, nor stated categorically that it opposes an Israeli strike and would not support such an action. Instead, Obama officials have talked of Israel's sovereign "right" to make its own decisions concerning its "defense."
And coming from Israel, the region's only nuclear power, a country whose main backer, the U.S., is the only country in the world to have ever actually used nuclear weapons, there's an implied nuclear threat here. This makes it all the more clear that Israeli and U.S. aggression is not aimed at lessening the nuclear danger, much less ridding the world of these horrific weapons of mass destruction. Israeli and U.S. threats—"all options are on the table"—are a form of using nuclear weapons—their nuclear weapons—against non-nuclear Iran. Their demand: that only they be allowed to possess and wield these doomsday devices, while Iran must not be allowed to enrich uranium or ever develop nuclear weapons know-how.
Third, what should our stand be towards all this? First, recognizing that any U.S. and/or Israeli attack would be a towering crime against the people, with the potential to escalate in unpredictable ways. Second, the need to act with urgency to mobilize mass opposition, in many forms and on many fronts, to the U.S.-European-Israeli aggression against Iran that's taking place right now, and to any kind of military attack—right now. Third, the solution to this madness is not siding with either of the reactionary outmoded forces now at each other's throats, but fighting to bring forward a whole other, liberating way—including here in the U.S. by actively opposing the threats and crimes of this government—election or no election, no matter who's in office.
Revolution will continue to closely follow these developments.
* * * * *
For background analysis:
"Hype, False Hopes, and the U.S. Imperialist Agenda Behind Iran Nuclear Negotiations," Revolution #272, June 17, 2012
"Threats, Aggression, War Preparations...and Lies—U.S. and Israel Accelerate Campaign Against Iran," Revolution #262, March 11, 2012
"Is Israel Driving the Threat of War?" Revolution #262, March 11, 2012
Revolution #279 September 2, 2012
From a reader:
On August 17, a week after a vicious and retaliatory Anaheim, California, police raid on the Anna Drive community, where they executed Manuel Diaz, a press conference was held at the site where he was murdered to condemn the Anaheim police shootings of Manuel Diaz, Joel Acevedo and others, to call for the arrest of the police who killed Manuel Diaz, to call for the immediate release of all those arrested in the raid, to call for dropping the charges against all those arrested during the protests, and to expose the retaliation against community members by the APD, the feds, and other police agencies.
A wide-range of community members and political activists participated in and spoke at the press conference. Participants included: Genevieve Huizar, mother of Manuel Diaz, Theresa Smith (Anaheim Cruzaders, mother of Caesar Cruz, killed by APD on Dec. 11 2009), Sonia Hernandez (sister of 21-year-old Martin A. Hernandez—killed by APD on March 6, 2012), Albert Castillo (Chicanos Unidos), Keith James (Stop Mass Incarceration Network), Roger Dittmann (Physics Professor Emeritus Cal State Fullerton and past President of Unitarian Universalists of Orange County), and a statement from the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, Los Angeles Branch was read by a person from Revolution Books.
The press release for the press conference upheld "the righteous protests that have occurred since the two murders, which have included people from inside and outside Anaheim, and have taken place in other U.S. cities as well." It called for more protest actions to take place. It took on how "the 'gang member' label has now become justification for law enforcement to demonize, criminalize and execute youth of color; especially in Anaheim—where the APD have killed five people since January 1." It laid out how "'Gang member' and 'street gang' is now a cover to wage war on impoverished mainly Latino neighborhoods and to justify outright murder of innocent young men and the incarceration of them in massive numbers."
The press conference was covered by radio, TV, newspapers, and online news. The Orange County Register ran an article and posted photos online. NBC News had online coverage. A video of Genevieve Huizar's statement was posted on line by the news media. The press conference was described by the Orange County Register that "the mother of Manuel Diaz—joined by activists and relatives of others killed in officer-involved shootings—met a throng of reporters near Anna Drive, where Diaz was shot by police on July 21." (See the accompanying sidebar on quotes from the press conference.)
The August 10 raid included more than 100 police from the Anaheim, Orange, Placentia, Buena Park, Tustin, Garden Grove, Fullerton, Santa Ana, and Irvine Police Departments, together with the Orange County regional gang task force and federal agents from ATF, DEA, and the ICE Homeland Security Investigations, broke down doors, threw flashbangs, and woke people up with rifles to their faces. Moms, families, and little kids were terrorized. Young people in a nearby neighborhood said cops rappelled down ropes onto rooftops from two helicopters. 33 people were arrested.
People in the neighborhood had their own version on why this happened. "They're trying to make it look like they killed Manuel for a good reason," outraged residents said the next day. The raid was "a perfect cover-up" for the murder, one youth said. "It always happens like this." People angrily refuted the police story that the raid was about gangs, drugs, guns, and money.
"They got all the guys," a resident said. "People on Anna Drive shined a spotlight on the APD, so now they retaliate. They didn't expect this community to do this." "We were asking for justice," said a high school student. "We had the courage to go to City Hall—that made them more mad."
A young woman told how one of the targeted young men was helping a friend with young children to start her car that morning. Suddenly they were surrounded by police cars and a helicopter. The young man was knocked to the ground and then tazed. When the woman he was helping got upset, the cops told her to shut up, or they'd arrest her and take her kids.
The cops gave the impression that they had confiscated weapons and drugs from the raid by putting on a table, after the raid, 40 mainly "assault-style" weapons and 12 pounds of methamphetamine. Then it came out, based on the cops own confession, that only one gun was seized in the raid while all the others had been purchased by informants and undercovers over the course of a year. One pound of meth was purchased and 10 pounds seized during operations prior to August 12.
One resident put it this way: "It's about time that people stood up and said 'Ya Basta!' Think about the unjustified police brutality to countless families. It's time for all those who have been afraid to speak on it.... The people want justice. This raid is no good! It's a way for the police to justify their crimes."
The press conference exposed all the police lies about the raid and expressed the righteous anger of people in the community and activists supporting them, and pointed the way forward to continue this fight.
The people in the community along with the Stop Mass Incarceration Network is planning a "Bear Witness" program in Anaheim so that people who live in Anaheim's mainly Latino, 'flatlands' next to Disneyland will have a platform to tell their stories and paint a picture of the harassment, brutality, and terror they face daily from the APD.
Plans are also being made in the community to unite with people around the nation on September 13 to blow the whistle on mass incarceration, racial profiling, and police brutality and murder that is taking place in Anaheim and other cities across the country.
* * * * *
Albert Castillo of Chicanos Unidos:
"What got us upset was having Manuel Diaz' picture on the wanted list on last Friday. That was uncalled for! ...completely wrong."
"We demand that these young men not only be released but they also bring out what they got charged for."
"These guns! 40 guns! They were not found here on Anna Drive... this is the PR that the police always use to make these young men look like criminals."
"You're calling gang members terrorists, it's the police—as you can see behind me, these are the pictures that they use, the emblems that they use." (He displayed pictures of the logos of OC gang investigators.) "The Grim Reaper—that's one of their emblems here they used to identify themselves. Another one here of the gang investigators here, and of course the Orange County Gang Investigators Association. Death. These are their emblems right here. Now who are the terrorists?"
"So many murders have happened here that Anaheim today is ‘ground zero' for police murder and brutality."
Sonia Hernandez (sister of 21-year-old Martin A. Hernandez—killed by APD on March 6, 2012):
"My brother is Martin Angel Hernandez... He was shot 5 months ago by Anaheim Police Department."
"I wanted to come to support Genevieve Huizar because I know my mom, she's devastated as well. I know Manuel didn't deserve to die this way, and my brother didn't deserve to die that way as well. There needs to be a change. And there is going to be a change...."
Theresa Smith, mother of Caesar Cruz, who was killed by Anaheim PD on Dec 11, 2009:
"I've been fighting for justice for almost 3 years... We're still in the process of fighting..."
"I'm here to support Manuel's mother Mrs. Huizar. I know the pain that she's feeling right now."
"I'm grateful that finally there's some attention what has been going on for years in Anaheim. It needs to be looked into...."
Genevieve Huizar, Manuel Diaz's mother:
"...Tomorrow marks 30 days from when my son Manuel Angel Diaz was shot and executed. The first bullet to his lower back, he fell to his knees. That was not good enough to have him down. The second bullet to the back of his head after Manuel was down on the ground bleeding, unconscious. They rolled him over like an animal and they handcuffed him. Where's the compassion? Where's the humanity? If this was your son gunned down in cold blood. I am here with very mixed emotions. I am here today to ask for justice.... And for the Joey Acevedo family, we are in the biggest battle of our lives. We want justice."
"I want the officer who killed Manuel arrested and prosecuted for his murder.... This officer is walking free while young men who protested the execution are in jail. They stood up against the execution of their friend. All these boys are my sons now. The cop should be in jail and the boys the young men, if there were no criminal things, they should be released...."
"We want the protests to continue. Thank you New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle, everyone who protested for my son. I thank you from my heart."
"People are saying they want healing, but there's no healing without justice. Justice for Manuel! Justice for Joel Acevedo. Justice for the people killed by the Anaheim police department...."
Roger Dittmann, past president of the Unitarian Universalist Society of Orange County:
"...police murder and violence is a systemic problem that needs a systemic solution."
Revolution #279 September 2, 2012
A point of orientation—and this is something where clarity is important...
Rather than avoiding (or being defensive) we need to be assertively and boldly—and, in a real sense, positively—putting forward the fact that BA is a "contended question"...that a lot of people who find out what he is all about really like him and what he stands for, and then there are people who really hate him, fundamentally because of what he stands for. We should speak directly to why "doofuses," backward fools, opportunists and outright counter-revolutionaries, as well as functionaries and enforcers of the present oppressive order in the world, hate him: precisely because of what it is that he is all about, what a radical break this is with this whole rotten world, while some people, out of their own deeply invested interests, or their narrow outlook and aspirations, want to hold onto this, or at least significant parts of it—and so actually hate BA for being very clear and firm, and putting forward very clearly and firmly, why we need to sweep aside and move beyond all this, and move forward to something far better.
Further, there are people who do have a basic sense of what BA stands for and have contradictory feelings about this—liking some of this, while disagreeing, or feeling uneasy, about other aspects of it—which is a concentrated reflection of their contradictory sentiments and aspirations in relation to the need and the prospect of radically changing the world.
And then there are people who themselves are confused (or misled) about what he stands for, because of distortion, slander, etc.—which further emphasizes the importance of popularizing what it is that BA actually represents (and in this way countering this distortion and slander).
Again, the point is that, rather than seeking to avoid, or to play down, this controversy around BA, we should be popularizing it, AND VERY POSITIVELY putting forward that what many really like, and what some others really hate, what still others feel conflicted about—and what many, many more need to know about—regarding BA is what in fact he is a concentrated focus of, that is, what humanity needs: a real, really radical and thorough revolution, aiming for the ultimate goal of communism throughout the world and the emancipation of all humanity as a whole from thousands of years of tradition's chains, exploitative and oppressive relations and outmoded ideas.
Doing this will actually better orient and prepare, and better lead overall, people who are being newly drawn to this and are inspired and enthusiastic about taking this out into the world, as well as people who have been part of, or partisan to, this for some time.
Revolution #279 September 2, 2012
Week of August 26
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
We received this prisoner letter from the Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund (PRLF):
I received the BAsics, thank you! I just want you all to know that some of the readers of the Revolution has started our version of BA everywhere in this warehouse. Some subjects such as "mass incarceration" is welcome, others like "war on women" not such a warm welcome. Being in prison where pornography material is actively sought out, to speak out about it, is like I am a saint or something. Well, those who know me, know that if anything, I am more a demon! Regardless, reading Rev. #263 "Fierce, Bold, Rude, and Unapologetic" how can you not rally to support those Sisters of Struggle? I always been pro-choice, but I must admit that I, too, once look at women as only here to please, and cater to my needs, wants, etc. But, now looking back on my past ideas, I feel like an reformed neanderthal! Still, better late then never. I just want you all, at PRLF, all the volunteers, all those who donate to help indigent prisoners, such as myself, your efforts, and monies are appreciated. And we, in these warehouses, may not be able to send money, but we are propelling the struggle onwards! As you all Struggle in the outside world, we Struggle in this inside world, please don't forget us!
And, I, also, make a promise to my Sisters of Struggle to not stop until never again is women demeaned, degraded, enslaved, disrespected, spit upon, set on fire, beaten, raped, humiliated, mocked, tortured, stalked, devalued, or dismissed simply because they are female... That is my promise, and that is my word.
On August 18, several dozen people participated in a Night of Revolutionary Culture to Welcome Back the BAsics Bus Tour Volunteers and Raise Money for the Tour. And what a night it was! Inspired by various BAsics quotes, especially those that have been the themes of the bus tour, and by the tour itself, everyone present in that diverse assemblage that night—audience and performers alike—walked out of there inspired and uplifted—with a deepened sense of hope for the future.
BAsics quotes alternating with scenes from all 3 legs of the bus tour flashing in a loop on a back wall set the stage for a what was to be, as BA calls for, "a radical revolt against a revolting culture."
The evening opened with a one-man band of guitar, voice and keyboard. Introducing his performance with "Internationalism—The Whole World Comes First" (BAsics 5:7), he delivered a somewhat understated, yet beautiful, performance of songs in the "nueva trova" tradition from Latin America.
A young poet, struck on impact by the "no more generations..." quote (BAsics 1:13), just a week before, recited the quote as preface to and inspiration for her poem. She sharply challenged the downpressed youth to reject the empty, consumerist mentality and recognize and break with what the system is doing to them.
Two musicians played a lively set of Klezmer music, which the band described as music that Eastern European Jewish immigrants brought to the New York area a century ago, much like Latino immigrants today bring their musical and cultural traditions. The clarinetist began their set introducing their first piece with BAsics 5:23: "if you have had a chance to see..." They played a traditional folk song he had found that had four parts, which he renamed "The 4 Alls," and prefaced it by reading BAsics 2:3.
Another young poet recited BAsics 3:22, "you cannot break all the chains, except one..." followed by a piece she had written a few years ago, in response to the murder of Sakia Gunn, a high school student killed for being a lesbian. The poem ends with a declaration of pride to be a revolutionary, a communist.
Volunteers shared their experience on the New York leg of the tour, giving people a living sense of a movement beginning to tap the revolutionary potential and set up roots among the oppressed.
The high point of the night was when nationally acclaimed New Orleans native Sunni Patterson stepped up on the stage. She picked up the mic, then put it back down, and walked right into the audience, drawing everyone into her magic (and song!). Based in deep cultural traditions of Black people, especially the mix that is New Orleans, Sunni's poetry at the same time embraced all of humanity. The links she explicitly made between the experiences of Black people and of the Iraqi people were powerful. With fierce condemnation of the current system, and confidence in the ability of the people to liberate themselves, her performance was challenging and inspiring. And she asserted that she was (no less) inspired by the volunteers, how they put their lives on hold to get on that bus to bring this movement, and to bring hope, to the people.
Over wine and baklava, donated by a Middle Eastern store, people tossed around ideas about popularizing this bus tour and raising more money to keep it on the road. Conversations reflected the themes of the night, especially dealing with how people look at the world and each other. Like people seeing that capitalism's "me-first" ideology saturates every aspect of society, including in sectarian in-fighting among progressive movements (vs "the whole world comes first"). And that underscores how important cultural events like this are. Because, as one person put it, after all, "Communism is about community."
Revolution #279 September 2, 2012
The following interview was conducted with a young African American man (X) who spent a number of months working in South Africa in a technical job. The description of conditions of life for the masses in South Africa provides a searing exposure of the lopsidedness of the world. The same point was driven home in the interview when X pointed out that in the U.S., as a Black youth, he’s never been able to get a full time job or afford to go to college. But in South Africa, as a foreigner working for a major corporation, he could live a life of comparative privilege. All these contradictions caused him to search deeper for answers to why is this so and he was eager to share his observations and his thinking about South Africa and about the impact of imperialism and capitalism and on the relationship between what's going on within this country and what's going on the rest of the world.
Expectations and The Reality
Revolution: What were your expectations and what did you encounter. What struck you.
X: It was a very interesting trip. I didn’t know what to expect. I was slightly nervous. I lived in a regular neighborhood with regular South African people and I had a chance to mix. Even though I didn’t live around foreigners, I didn’t get a full picture of how most SA’s live because by South African standards I was living quite rich.
Before I went I read online a joke somebody made about Johannesburg that you’ll go home saying how many times you got killed there—like you could die more than once. Nothing bad happened to me, but it is a very dangerous place, you have to be vigilant. What it means to have a secure home in Johannesburg means having barbed wire, electric fences, walls, private security. Every house in the area I lived in had a threatening sign “armed household,” “Armed response.” You don’t see cars parked on the street, there is reserved parking for cars. There is 24-hour private security on just about every corner, I’m not sure who hires them. The hut has a barrel where the security guards burn whatever they can find to keep warm. You wonder why do they need so much security?
I got to travel in the country but one of the problems is it’s not developed like the U.S. Not very far outside of Johannesburg, there are no businesses. The businesses are all concentrated where the wealth is. [Otherwise] you can’t find anything anywhere. It’s a country where the average person is making about $4 day. A high percentage of the population (maybe 40-50%) is making $1 day, I can’t remember exactly. It's an astonishing number.
Revolution: Are there still shantytowns?
X: Tons of them. If you drive down the highway, they are everywhere. That’s how a large percentage of the country lives. People are living with no electricity, essentially living off the land almost. An area might have one store with food or really basic necessities for every 5 or 10 miles maybe. What makes it bad is people have to walk so far to those stores, people walk along the highway just to get where they want to go.
The infrastructure is strange, it’s designed so that the people can’t go very far. A guy I talked to said it had something to do with apartheid when they just didn’t want non‑white people to travel at all. They were doing everything they could to keep people from traveling, so the infrastructure was designed so that it’s really difficult to get around without a car in SA. There are almost no black people in SA who have cars. Most white people have cars.
Work is Hard to Find
Revolution: Michael Slate wrote a whole series in the 80's about South Africa, Soweto and the youth and the uprisings, and one thing I remember is that people came from the countryside to work in the mines far away. They lived in dorms and they never got to see their families.
X: It’s still like that, I don’t know about the mines, but I did talk to some South Africans and they live so far—or it might not even be that far, but it is far for them because they have no way to get back and forth easily so they have to live where they work. So then maybe they only get home on the weekends. To commute, one person was 2 hours from his job and it cost him $20 U.S. to get there and he is making $4/day. They don’t have a choice, unemployment is so high, people are doing anything to get work. Their life is truly hard.
A lot of college graduates can’t find work. I got a chance to know some—two whites and two blacks. One of the whites received a job offer before graduating and one got an offer a month after graduating. The blacks had received no offers. It’s amazing with the unemployment so high, it was like the opportunity was just handed down to the white guy. I knew the two unemployed black guys personally and it was not an issue of them not being qualified or not willing to work hard or not having the ability or their personal attributes. There was something else that distinguished them and how they got or didn’t get work. If I owned the company and had the choice to hire from those people I wouldn’t be able to distinguish the black candidates from white. They were good people, but that didn’t seem to matter.
Foreign Companies Hiring Foreigners
Revolution: Why did they hire you to come all the way from the U.S. given the high unemployment in SA.
X: A lot of people ask me that question and to be honest I don’t have an answer. I didn’t question why I was picked. I was very lucky to get this opportunity, but I didn’t want to ask anybody why specifically because I didn’t want them to reconsider what they were doing. They could have used one of the black SA graduates to do the job, unless they were looking specifically for an American. Do you realize how many Americans are working there? A lot of them have moved there. One Black guy thought it’s great there. The others were white folk. I got into a lot of conversations shopping or at restaurants. You draw a lot of attention if you have a foreign accent, if you run into someone from your home country it almost always results in a conversation. They have opportunities there for foreigners. You’d be surprised—it wasn’t just Americans I met, there were a lot of foreigners for whatever reason. The company I worked for was an American company. That’s probably why Americans took precedence in the selection process, that’s what I think.
Revolution: I’m wondering it’s kind of a classical colonial, imperialist thing where they bring the people from their country to work in the white collar jobs. Were most of the people you worked with mostly Americans?
X: People I worked with were from all different countries. It was shocking because I guess to be honest, I almost have the impression that the black South Africans have such high unemployment because they lose all the jobs to the white SA’s and all the foreigners. There are so many foreigners maybe that’s why there’s such high unemployment. It doesn’t make sense to me. Then again, it’s nothing but foreign companies. South Africans don’t have any of their own companies, they are all foreign companies over there.
It was interesting for me to see. You never really pay attention here in the U.S. to when you go to stores to buy stuff, I don’t normally think about who owns those companies and what is the country of origin. In America you find that a high percentage of the stores you actually shop at or have services provided by are American owned. In SA it’s the other way around. About 90% are foreign companies, and 10% are SA. The UK has such a big stake in SA. If not British owned, then they are European like German or Dutch. And lots of American companies.
It works like this: you have these companies in SA and the profit that’s made there, where is it going? Back to the nations that establish those companies. It becomes problematic, the way capitalism works, this whole ownership thing... well, I’ll describe slavery as a situation, where a person works only for sustainability because the whole point of slavery is to have a worker that works for maximum profit. You want a worker where he works and the only thing the owner has to do is provide enough to keep that worker working. How you enforce that on a person can be done by force, or done more incognito with a political/economic system. It takes us to a system of ownership where that can lead to ultimate oppression where you have a group of people who own everything. And the other people have to depend on you for everything because you own everything. Those people are completely oppressed by you because they have to work for you, and then they have to turn around and get the products they need to survive from you. You can deny entire groups of people those resources. It’s a big problem in SA because you have a nation with a certain amount of land and resources and then you roll all these foreign countries in, dominate all the resources and take up all the desirable land, put all the native people over here in places where nobody wants to live. Then make a profit off of all that labor you control. The catch to it is all that labor you control because capitalism creates its own poverty. You have to deny some people basic necessities to maintain the system. It happens in the U.S. But oppression abroad is worse, definitely worse.
Revolution: When you were describing whole areas where there are no stores and people have to go miles. I was thinking about a large African American area in [home city], an area where there are all these vacant lots and no jobs or hardly any stores, no supermarkets. A bleak landscape. Do you see any parallels?
X: I think there are some parallels between the blacks in SA and Blacks in the U.S. Sometimes I drive through a neighborhood and it looks like a lot of people are living very hard. Sometimes I question whether I’m in SA or in U.S. Unemployment statistics often are bad statistics because they exclude a vast number of people that would normally be considered unemployed—people who are not working. And also I think you should include people who work part time but can’t find full time work, because you just can’t make it on a part-time job. There are tons of people not working, I don’t know how they are living. There’s high unemployment and there’s a whole section of people who are totally displaced. There’s no money flowing into those areas. Why not, that’s a whole other story. The conditions, the discrimination when it comes to opportunities, is similar to SA.
I can say personally that discrimination is alive and well in this country. It’s a lot harder for a Black male to find work. I have Black friends from top universities who can’t find work. Someone I know just got a job and got it quickly. I mentioned this to a couple friends, the first thing they asked “is he Black or white.” I said, “Are you asking me is he white or is he Black because you are saying if he was Black it would not be possible for him to find work so easily? Is that what you are saying? ” And that’s what it boiled down to. It’s getting to this whole system that oppresses groups of people. The very same thing could be said for Hispanics in the U.S., or for other third world countries, but the reason I mention this to you, is because that’s my experience. I get a chance to experience that first hand, that is my race, and I can tell you what that experience is like, in much the same way an Hispanic person could explain the burdens they have under an oppressive system. To be honest, they are going to have to do something soon, because I don’t know how they are going to sustain this. There are a lot of people, my generation, if you are a Black male and you are not the top 1% of something, you are not going to find a job. That’s just how difficult it is.
Revolution: Before you had this job in SA, this temporary job....
X: (laughs): I’ve always had temporary jobs. I’ve never had a real job. Well, they’ve been real jobs, but not a stable job.
Revolution: So when you said you went to SA to work, it seems there’s an irony there.
X: Like I couldn’t work here, I went there to get work. [Laughs] There’s a lot of inequality here. Where is that wealth going to, it’s going to 1%, another part to the irony. I was reading on the news, the wealth gap in the U.S. has intensified in the last five years between the top 1-2% and the rest of the population. The majority of people are losing money and a tiny percentage are gaining.
We have to get rid of that. It’s not working. People are deprived of the basic necessities of life. Those towns are in SA, they are completely separated from political decisions, or normal commerce. Capitalists don’t open businesses in shantytowns. The people have their own courts, grow their own food. They are on their own.
Being American you expect to live a certain way, to a small extent I participate in the economy and I go out and buy stuff. In SA even people who work can’t buy anything, only enough to barely sustain themselves. The stores are NOT for those people. It gets you to question the system as a whole. You thought you were in this economy, you are a consumer, but you also produce, and then you consume and businesses profit from that from a vast number of people. You’re brought up in America with those expectations that’s supposed to be the way things are, how it works. But that’s not how the system works. There is no interest in YOUR role in it. You’re taught in this system you are supposed to play a role in the economy, but if you end up poor then they end up blaming you, it’s your fault, you bought the wrong stuff, you made bad decisions as a consumer, you didn’t work hard enough, you didn’t save enough.
Capitalism has no concern about making everybody a consumer, its primary concern is just to profit when possible. It’s a monopoly for a small percentage of people. It boils down to the money—who controls the capital and resources, and who has access and where it gets used. It’s a constant transfer between those people, and a little bit trickles down to the ordinary person in the process of them competing with each other in the 1%, only in the process of competition do the 90% ever get a chance to participate in the economy. It’s not concerned with making opportunity for the people, it’s only concerned with making more money for the tiny percentage, done in a competition way with each other.
Any news media exists as long as it’s serving that group of people because it’s outright propaganda. Bill O’Reilly says this is a prosperous country because we’re a noble and righteous people, not that it’s because the U.S. is exploiting billions all over the world.
Effect of the End of Apartheid
Revolution: I want to ask you about the effect of the end of apartheid in SA, yet the oppression of the vast majority of people is the same or maybe worse. The form of apartheid was righteously defeated and done away with—so the system of apartheid changed, but the system of imperialist domination and exploitation did not change.
X: There’s a real direct parallel to the situation in the U.S. and the end of slavery. Apartheid is over and in a textbook I would say “great!” I would expect to see a SA where there is some kind of equality. The SA I went to now has a black African-run government, but one has to question what was accomplished when apartheid was ended. I can tell you a few things I learned. I said before that the infrastructure makes it very difficult to travel. Well apartheid made it illegal for black people to travel outside of where you were placed. So Johannesburg, the city, was strictly off limits.
When apartheid ended, money flowed into the city of Johannesburg. The blacks wanted opportunity so they moved to the city. Then the whites started to move out of the city, they moved up north of the city and then eventually to the north suburbs. I’ve been to both of those areas. So when the blacks moved into downtown the businesses moved out, and now the city center is poor, with tons of unemployment. Under apartheid there was no crime in the city center. The black South Africans come there not to bring crime but for opportunities, but they found there are no jobs, all the businesses abandoned it, and now it’s dangerous. People had traveled so far to get there, so you literally have people sleeping on the streets. You have homelessness here in the U.S., but downtown Johannesburg is full of people in the street with nothing but maybe some blankets, that’s it. Tons of people like that. Everything is shut down. What used to be malls... it’s gone. When the blacks came, the whites packed up and the whites didn’t leave them anything to work with.
It’s almost like an illusion of black control. One of the main things that was done when apartheid ended was that blacks can go to certain schools now, or travel to certain areas. But people go to school and then come out unemployed. They gave them a few things, but they gave them no economic opportunity whatsoever.
So the whites kept their wealth and they moved up north to suburban areas. Whites are riding around in BMWs, and Mercedes, with Aston Martin dealerships around the corner. But look at the rest of the country. Hardly any black people own cars at all, even professionals and highly educated blacks don’t have cars. People get around by taxi, which is a small bus, I call it an ice cream truck, that size with about 25 people packed in. No subway, some buses, but a huge number of people have to take the bus because they don’t have cars. A bus stop will have a whole block-long line of people waiting to get on. And whole sections of the city don’t even have busses, so people take the “taxis.”
Revolution: To get back to the “black African-run” government. Apartheid was ended, but the capitalist-imperialist domination was not. There was no revolution to uproot the system, the state, no transformation in the economic base of imperialist domination. But there was a section of the black bourgeoisie that got rewarded. In their class view, the change that happened was the change that was needed. They were not looking to transform the whole society toward ending exploitation and oppression, including the national oppression of the South African people, and putting the economy and relations between people on the basis that it’s not about profit and commodity relations, and not about imperialism dominating all that. They saw the goal as getting rid of apartheid and becoming part of the ruling class. One of the things BA talks about is that when there is a mass uprising by the people, but there is no genuine revolution, then often when the people are still left with nothing, that gets channeled into demoralization and crime that reflects the values of the dominant society. Did you have a sense of how people view all this?
X: That’s very interesting. It’s kind of backwards what’s happening. The whites always complain about the corruption of the government, and they list a thousand things that could be done about it. But among the black people I talked to, I encountered some difficult moments. In terms of their views on the political system, the people I talked to were in support of the government even though they think it could use some improvement, they were strongly in favor of it. They think things will progress. A lot of people have become content with their conditions. I was trying to tell them...I couldn’t fire up anything. They were like “this is how things are.”
Revolution: What kinds of people did you talk to about this, were these mainly people who had gained something through this? Were some of them the people you were describing who are living by the side of the road?
X: I talked to people from various backgrounds. I tried to throw at them: what apartheid does is one thing, but look at other nations, there’s so much unemployment. Why do I as an American get the privilege of working in SA? It was very easy for me to get permits. An American can go anywhere. But a black South African trying to come to the U.S. is going to be very difficult, why is that? I gave some lectures. I tried to bring people’s attention that there’s a huge wealth inequality. I’m a broke American, but there’s a huge gap. Just because I was born in U.S., and just because those white SA’s were born white, we get all this entitlement.
I met a hardcore capitalist from Zimbabwe, I never met anyone like him before. He outright said, “if you say you’re trying to benefit humanity you’re nothing more than a hypocrite. I’m concerned about me. It’s bullshit to be for the common good.” His philosophy was to tip over the imperialist power to Africans, so “we can get the wealth we’re entitled to.” He was a banker, he worked for Morgan Stanley. I had never talked to someone like that in the U.S. I know they exist, but they would not be having a conversation with someone like me. He just made it outright clear, I’m out to make hardcore money.
Many black South Africans were so happy to get rid of apartheid, that they have blind faith in the government. But people would also say conditions are not so good. In certain ways the Africans are being dragged back into apartheid. The government keeps track of every criminal and tragic event. They are twisting it around to go back. Their ideology overlaps with fascism, and it has genocidal implications. That’s what they are brewing up.
Revolution: What did you lecture on?
X: I was talking about the system, I said you guys work so hard, you are not guaranteed anything. It’s so hard to do anything. It’s just not fair.
Revolution: Have you studied communist political economy? Read Bob Avakian?
X: I have read some of that in the past.
Revolution: Were you thinking about this when you went there or did it hit you when you witnessed all this?
X: I was kind of prepared, but being able to experience it helped. You get a chance to see how the system really works on a global scale. It can be explained to you, but to actually see it and outright know. I’m not that old, but the further I get in my life, I’m breaking away from this stuff that’s bad.
Revolution: When you look at literally billions of people around the world who are superexploited by the imperialists...
X: That’s a word I use: Superexploitation. Labor rate is so much lower, but the product cost remains the same.
Revolution: Marx in Capital talks about wages being based on buying labor power as a commodity and the commodity is the minimum needed to keep the worker alive to come back to work the next day. If you can eat on $1/day and live in a cardboard box on the side of the highway and keep working, that’s what they will pay, because if you don’t want to take it, there will be somebody else who will, that’s part of the competition.
X: It’s kind of crazy that a capitalist can sit back while other people do all the work and don’t have to worry about providing them with anything. It’s insane.
Revolution: So I was wondering about your thoughts on fundamental transformation, the need for revolution and how your experience impacted your thinking.
X: It is essential that there be revolution, and it will have to occur on a global scale, not just in one country. Capitalism is always digging it’s own grave, causing it’s own problem. You gotta be there when that problem arises and be ready to get revolution out to people, create an awareness among the people. If people are feeling kind of revolutionary, you have to let them know what their efforts are going to lead up to, and from an historical perspective. We need a massive expansion of the movement for revolution. To get a movement like this going, you need to get as much exposure as possible. If there is a way to get out to different groups of people, do it. Consistency. Being there when those gravedigging issues arise. Eventually leadership rises up, but it might not be leadership that’s going to put an end to those problems. Have to be there as leaders when those issues arise, so people have a full perspective on what’s going on and can be assured that their efforts are going to go toward curing the ailment and not taking that nice aspirin.
I want to tie the end of apartheid into the end of slavery in the U.S. How it parallels slavery—slavery is over but the condition of Black people in this country is pretty bad—why that is, how this group has been disadvantaged even 150 years after slavery is over. One analogy I thought of is it’s like there’s a race—one person has a Mustang, he floors it, and the other person is supposed to race them on a bicycle. Never will there be complete equality under capitalism.
The Revolution Interview: A special feature of Revolution to acquaint our readers with the views of significant figures in art, theater, music and literature, science, sports, and politics. The views expressed by those we interview are, of course, their own; and they are not responsible for the views published elsewhere in our paper.
Revolution #279 September 2, 2012
The administration of Barack Obama, which had promised to put an end to torture and other outrages committed by the Bush Administration, is in fact putting into place a dangerous system of repression and control. This is a serious assault on fundamental rights, and it must be answered not with silence and complicity but with heightened awareness and more determined opposition.
The record of the Obama Administration is a chilling one. President Obama has preserved Bush’s rendition program, which relies upon torture, and has extended the Patriot Act. His Administration has adopted a quasi-official assassination policy, complete with secret “kill lists” reviewed by the President, which Attorney General Holder has brazenly asserted meets Constitutional standards of due process. In the 2010 case of Holder v HLP [Humanitarian Law Project], the Obama administration successfully argued before the courts that the “crime” of “material support” to “terrorists” be broadened to include merely speaking with and advising (even on some legal matters) any group designated by the government as terrorist. The ruling has already been applied to pro-Palestinian activists and endangers many others, including prominent public intellectuals, as well as groups upholding or advocating fundamental social change.
The most recent expansion of dangerous and illegitimate government authority is the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). This law grants to any U.S. president the power to detain any person, including U.S. citizens, indefinitely and without charge or trial, for the alleged crime of associating with a broad and vague category of people, which could include people who have nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks or with terrorism in general.
The pattern is disturbingly clear: not just a continuation but a further leap in the draconian measures taken by the Bush administration—under the pretext of the open-ended, so-called War on Terror—to detain, torture, and assassinate...not just a continuation but a further leap in measures to restrict and criminalize dissent and opposition to the status quo.
This must not go unanswered—nor be allowed to continue to grow increasingly worse. In opposing these repressive moves, it is imperative that people not allow anyone, or any one group, to be singled out or targeted for repression. In this regard, the lawsuit Hedges et al. v Obama et al. that is challenging ominous provisions of the NDAA is quite salient. On May 16, a federal district court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs and issued a temporary injunction blocking the government from implementing Section 1021 of this law. But insinuated into this mainly positive ruling is a reference to the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA and its Chairman Bob Avakian which is an erroneous and potentially harmful characterization that could be used as a pretext to criminalize what is constitutionally protected freedom of speech and association and potentially sweep the RCP and its Chairman into a category of organizations identified by the government as terrorist.
Those of us signing this statement cannot speak for the RCP and indeed have various levels of familiarity with and a variety of views on its philosophical and political principles and objectives. But we do not countenance—and recognize as very dangerous—the designation by the powers-that-be of groups as politically “acceptable” and “unacceptable.” History teaches, by negative and positive example, that we must stand against attempts to divide progressive, radical, and revolutionary forces along any such lines.
In this there are very important lessons to be drawn from the self-critical summation by Pastor Martin Niemoeller of his experience when confronted with the heightening repression carried out by the Nazi regime in Germany during the 1930s:
“First they came for the communists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.
Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak out because I was a Protestant.
Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak out for me.”
The signatories of this statement call on people to step forward and stand together to oppose the assault on dissent and the moves to restrict and criminalize oppositional speech, association, and political activity, which are being carried out by the Obama Administration and which continue and expand dangerous precedents and mechanisms which can also be utilized by any future Administration.
Elliott Adams, Veterans For Peace, past President, Creating a Culture of Peace, Secretary
Rafael C. Angulo, Clinical Associate Professor, University of Southern California School of Social Work
Fr. Luis Barrios, Co-Executive Director, Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization-IFCO
Toby Blomé, Bay Area CodePink
Leah Bolger, President, Veterans For Peace
Robert Cliver, History professor
Daniel Costa, ACLU
Peter Coyote, Actor, Writer, politically engaged human
Larry Everest, Revolution correspondent, author
Ann Fagan Ginger, Author, human rights attorney (ret.)
Lyn Hejinian, Poet and Professor, Department of English, University of California, Berkeley
George Homanich, Binghamton, NY
Mickey Huff, Director, Project Censored/Media Freedom Foundation
John Hutnyk, Professor, Goldsmiths College, University of London
Chuck Kaufman, Executive Director, Alliance for Global Justice
C. Clark Kissinger, Revolution Books, NYC
Jim Lafferty, Director, National Lawyers Guild, LA
Linda LeTendre, Saratoga Peace Alliance
Raymond Lotta, Revolution newspaper, advocate of Bob Avakian’s new synthesis of communism
Bob Meola, Courage to Resist, War Resisters League
Jon Olsen, Green Party
Scott Olsen, Iraq Veterans Against the War
Art Persyko, SF99% Coalition
Peter Phillips, President, Project Censored/Media Freedom Foundation
Michael D. Rectenwald, Ph.D., Professor, Liberal Studies/Global Liberal Studies, NYU
Walter Riley, Activist, Attorney
Stephen Rohde, Civil liberties attorney and author
Candice Rowser, Hunter College CUNY
Marc Sapir, MD
Saratoga Peace Alliance
Carole Seligman, Co-Editor, Socialist Viewpoint
Michael Steven Smith, National Lawyers Guild and Center for Constitutional Rights
Carol Strickman, Attorney
Jeffrey Shurtleff, Amnesty International USA 466, and SF99% Coalition
Michael Sorgen, Civil Rights Attorney
Mark D. Stansbery, Columbus Campaign for Arms Control
David Swanson, Author, warisacrime.org
Debra Sweet, Director, World Can’t Wait
Howard Switzer, Architect & Green Party of Tennessee delegate to the GNC
John F. Thielking, Peacemovies.com
Veterans For Peace, Chapter 147
Paul Von Blum, UCLA African American Studies Program
Steve Wagner, Lake Merritt Neighbors Organized for Peace
Donna Wallach, Justice for Palestinians
Steve Wasserman, Professor of Constitutional Law, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, NYC
Curt Wechsler, Editor, FireJohnYoo.net
Andy Zee, Revolution Books, NYC
Maggie Zhou, Ph.D., Boston, MA
Stephen Zunes, Professor of Politics, University of San Francisco
Institutional affiliations are for identification purposes only, and do not imply endorsement
To sign the call go to opposerepressionndaa.net.
Revolution #279 September 2, 2012
The following was posted at the Stop Mass Incarceration Network website (www.stopmassincarceration.org):
Monday (September 3), the Stop Mass Incarceration Network distributed thousands of bright orange and yellow whistles to parade viewers and marchers heralding a new and more widespread wave of public protest of the NYPD policy of stop-and-frisk beginning Thursday, September 13.
Their message, “No one will be stopped-and-frisked in silence,” was cheered. Thousands of photos were snapped of their banner “Blow the Whistle on Stop-and-Frisk Thursday Sept. 13.”
But one group did not like the contingent’s message, and blocked them from entering the parade, then encircling them with hundreds of armed officers. The NYPD, despite the group’s authorization from the West Indian Day Parade Association to participate in the parade, refused the contingent admittance at several times and places along the route. At one point, after they were directed to their place in the march, police pushed the contingent out of the march and onto a side street.
Carl Dix, an initiator of the campaign along with Cornel West, said, "The NYPD set out to keep our message--Blow the Whistle on Stop-and-Frisk--from getting out on Labor Day. A ‘white shirt’ cop told us that he wrote the permits for who gets to march on Eastern Parkway in the West Indian Day Parade. This is what a police state sounds like."
The Stop Mass Incarceration Network says, “If it sickens you to know that under Stop-and-Frisk, almost 2000 people, most of them Black or Latino are subjected to harassment, disrespect, brutality and even worse; if you are tired of seeing Muslims and South Asians targeted; if you hate the way immigrants and LGBT people are treated as less than human by NYPD; if you are someone who knows this will never happen to you but also know it's wrong; Join in BLOWING the WHISTLE on STOP-and-FRISK Thursday September 13. On September 13, nobody gets Stopped-and-Frisked in silence!”
The Network has announced gathering points where youth are regularly stopped and frisked in 5 boroughs on September 13, and also plans to symbolically “blow the whistle” on 1 Police Plaza at 4:00 pm that day.
To read the call for nationwide resistance on September 13 by Carl Dix and Clyde Young go to: revcom.us/a/278/september_13_call-en.html
September 13th—Blow the Whistle on Stop-and-Frisk:
A Call for Nationwide Resistance to Racial Profiling, Police Brutality and Murder and the Pipeline Leading to Mass Incarceration
Revolution #279 September 2, 2012
Letter from a Reader in L.A.
This summer the "new and improved" LAPD revealed once again that its cruel and vicious nature is unchanged.
Alesia Thomas, a 35-year-old Black woman, takes her two children—one 3 years old and the other 12—to the LAPD Station in South Los Angeles. She tells police that she is a drug addict and feels she cannot care for her children. The police station is supposed to be a "safe haven" for abandoned babies. She is doing exactly what the system tells her to do to keep her children safe from harm. The police, as if mocking her, go to Thomas' home to arrest her for child endangerment. The video recorded by the police cruiser camera, which has not been made public, shows what happens next (the description is from the LAPD): one officer sweeps Thomas' legs from beneath her while two others handcuff her hands behind her back. Two more officers are called and a "hobble restraint device"—an adjustable strap—is tightened around her ankles. They try to get Thomas into the back of a patrol car. One woman officer threatens to kick her in the genitals if she did not comply, and then follows through on the threat. Thomas is put in the squad car and dies there.
Utterly infuriated and cursing under my breath, I flashed to BA's response to the police murder of Tyisha Miller, shot 12 times by Riverside, CA police as she slept in her car.
"If you can't handle this situation differently than this, then get the fuck out of the way. Not only out of the way of this situation, but get off the earth. Get out of the way of the masses of people. Because, you know, we could have handled this situation any number of ways that would have resulted in a much better outcome. And frankly, if we had state power and we were faced with a similar situation, we would sooner have one of our own people's police killed than go wantonly murder one of the masses." (from BAsics 2:16)
The police killing of Alesia Thomas happened on June 22 and only came to light in August because the investigation of the death revealed there was videotaped evidence. In the same period, two more LAPD incidents happened within a week of each other and became public because they were caught on video.
Ronald Weekley, a 20-year-old Chemistry/Pre-Med student at Xavier University in Louisiana was home in Venice, CA, for the summer. He was skateboarding near his home and according to police was on the wrong side of the street. He ignored the police coming toward him because he thought they were going to question some other youth nearby. As he opened the door to his house he was tackled from behind by the four cops. A cell phone video shows the police piling on him and one punching Weekley repeatedly in the face. Weekley went unconscious. He suffered a broken nose, fractured cheekbone, and a concussion. He is being charged with felony resisting arrest stemming from supposedly riding on the wrong side of the street. Weekley's attorney, Benjamin Crump, who is also the attorney for Trayvon Martin's family, asked at a press conference, "Was he (Weekley) stopped because he was on the wrong side of the road, or was he attacked because he was the wrong color?" Weekley is African-American.
And again: Two LAPD officers pulled over Michelle Jordan, a 34-year-old white woman, registered nurse and mother of two, because she was driving with a cell phone in her hand. This is considered an infraction. She parked and got out of her car. The cops claim she failed to comply with orders to get back into her car so they slammed her to the ground and handcuffed her. While cuffed, they slammed her to the ground a second time because—her husband said—she swore at them. A parking lot surveillance video recorded the whole incident and shows the officers doing a fist-bump after the second take down—a lesson passed from the 22-year veteran commander to the 10-month rookie on how to handle women who talk back.
As if these are not enough to make you want to scream, two more incidents surfaced from earlier this year. In May, LAPD was called to help an actor from the porn industry who was threatening to commit suicide. The police called an ambulance and accompanied Marland Anderson, a Black man, to the hospital. Anderson arrived at the hospital in critical condition with brain damage and died five days later. The autopsy released this summer reveals "neck compression." Experts suspect the police used a chokehold, or sat or stepped on his neck. The second incident happened in April when a distraught, but cooperative, Deutsche Bank executive was picked up late at night in a working class part of LA by the LAPD and ended up in the hospital with face bones broken in 15 places. The executive recently filed a $50 million dollar lawsuit against the LAPD.
In the quote above from BAsics 2:16, BA makes this very important point:
"[T]he role of their police is to terrorize the masses, including wantonly murdering them, murdering them without provocation, without necessity, because exactly the more arbitrary the terror is, the more broadly it affects the masses. And that's one of the reasons why they like to engage in, and have as one of their main functions to engage in, wanton and arbitrary terror against the masses of people."
This is why on September 13 everyone who hates the brutal murdering pigs, the racial profiling, the mass incarceration; who wants to see a nationwide movement change the political terrain and contribute to building a movement for revolution—you must answer the Call for Nationwide Resistance to Racial Profiling, Police Brutality and Murder and the Pipeline Leading to Mass Incarceration. On that day, PEOPLE MUST BLOW THE WHISTLE and say: "WE WILL NO LONGER ACCEPT ALL THIS INJUSTICE IN SILENCE!"
Revolution #279 September 2, 2012
We connected a huge crowd with BA and his works at the Rock the Bells (RTB) hip-hop festival. The crowd was very diverse ethnically, mainly 20s, though with lots of people of different ages. We had displays featuring the 3 Strikes quote from BA, which got a lot of attention especially from Black people; the internationalism quotes (BAsics 5:7 and 5:8); and a big banner with "stories from the war zone" featuring the centerfold from the paper containing the "You cannot break all the chains, except one" quote (3:22) and comments from people off of the "10 days" actions in NY against porn and patriarchy. This attracted a lot of attention especially, but not only, from women. We also had displays about democracy = imperialism and the USA as the number one terrorist.
We got out approximately 3K BAsics quote cards—the overwhelming majority were the ones with the 3:22 quote though we also got out a lot of the cards with the "no more generations" (1:13) quote on back. Mainly we engaged people around BAsics and sold 25 BAsics and 1 Lo BAsico by the middle of the second day... We got about $60 in donation for the BAsics Bus Tour and $20 for PRLF to get BAsics into the prisons.
Many of the people who came to RTB came for both days, and by the second day we were getting responses from many people that they had gotten one or more cards. (One person kept a regular display of cards in the men's bathrooms throughout the complex both days of the event and had even put them edgeways in the cracks between the wood paneling at the entrances so people walking in and out could actually read the card sticking face out to them from the wall. We got many responses to this, including from a couple of security guys who said, "We saw your cards" and then added, "not that we're complaining." Also, a couple of women told us that they had seen them in their bathrooms.)
Our focus was on the fact that the world was a horror and we were building a movement for revolution right now with the leadership of BA who had re-envisioned communism and charted the strategy for revolution right here. We engaged people on the spot using the cards and BAsics (and the banner) to get some responses and challenging them to plug into the movement by getting cards, writing their comments, and in other ways...
One Black man who saw the 3 Strikes quote and then the quote about slavery (1:1) immediately bought BAsics and then, when we pointed out BA on the cover of his memoir, got that as well, saying he wanted to check out how this young white guy became the man who was writing these quotes. He said, "This quote [3 strikes] just says it all!"
A number of women were amazed that a man had said something like this [3:22]. One woman said that it raised her spirits that a man could know how something as "normal" as the way women were put down was so fucked up and write something like that. In different ways this kind of sentiment was echoed by women who checked out the 3:22 quote and stories on the banner. Several women wrote comments on colored paper that we brought... I got into a conversation with a woman who took a stack of 3:22 cards—she said that it gave her hope that maybe there could be a radically different world for her 15-year-old daughter if BA was leading a revolution which was about sweeping away something as deeply ingrained as women's oppression and saying "no more" to the misery of future generations. The quote and banner also had a big impact on men. Two young guys from Canada walked along the whole banner, carefully reading all the comments, and then said that they had no idea that all this violence and degradation was happening to women...
We also used a number of other quotes from the book throughout the two days, including 1:1 and 1:24 when we talked to people especially in the wake of the police bust that went down on the paraphernalia booth just down the way from us; 3:3 on the strategy for revolution—especially for those asking about it or saying they "were down for revolution"; as well as 6:18, and 6:19 in putting the challenge for people to throw down into the movement for revolution, in addition to the quotes featured on the cards.
While getting into BAsics with people, we talked to many people about the BAsics Bus Tour as part of getting out BA Everywhere—how people all over the country from NY to the deep South were responding to the fact that there was a leader like this and supporting this movement for revolution in all kinds of different ways. People also got stacks of cards that we had rubber-banded in various amounts to build this movement by acquainting people with this leader and this book. We got out cards to many very far-flung places. People had come from both coasts of Canada—from BC to Montreal and Toronto—specifically for this RTB. We met people from Oklahoma, Texas, Washington, DC, and even from England and Norway. Some of these people, like the Norwegians, who came back to the booth on the second day, got BAsics with the understanding that they were bringing a radically different new synthesis of communism into a place where very few people had knowledge of it—and that this could be significant.
Revolution #279 September 2, 2012
Press Conference at 1 Police Plaza
On August 29, Cornel West, Carl Dix, and others held a press conference to announce a new and more widespread wave of public protest to begin September 13 where, according to Dix, "People armed with whistles and cameras are going to search out and politically confront police who are violating people's rights, delivering the strong message that 'Today, no one will be subjected to this abuse in silence.'"
The press release put out by the Stop Mass Incarceration Network said, "Horrible crimes are being perpetrated throughout New York City. These crimes are being masterminded from NYPD headquarters" and the press conference was held at "the scene of the crime," at 1 Police Plaza—where the orders actually go out for stop and frisk.
Speakers included Carl Dix, from the Revolutionary Communist Party and Dr. Cornel West, who was convicted of disorderly conduct on May 4, along with Dix and 18 others, for blocking the entrance to the 28th Precinct in Harlem to protest stop-and-frisk in October.
Another speaker was "Noche" Diaz, a young man arrested at that same action, but not involved in the civil disobedience. "Noche" Diaz is to be tried on Wednesday, September 5, in Manhattan Criminal Court on charges he obstructed police as they tried to arrest another protester, though that person was never identified nor arrested. Prosecutors are trying Diaz, an organizer with the Blow the Whistle campaign, at the same time for similar charges in March 2012, in what supporters call a "prejudicial" prosecution.
After the press conference, Diaz' supporters marched to Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance's office to deliver hundreds of letters demanding that he drop the charges against Diaz, who faces years in jail on multiple misdemeanor charges, and against 19 other protesters who still face trial in Brooklyn and Queens. Organizers say that, rather than facing jail time for protesting an "unconstitutional, illegal, and racist practice, these new freedom fighters should get medals."
The following are transcripts of statements given at the press conference:
We're gonna blow the whistle on stop-and-frisk. We're gonna do that cause stop-and-frisk is no damn good. It's racist, it's illegitimate, it must be stopped and we are gonna act to stop it by blowing the whistle it on September 13 and everybody in the sound of my voice should join in doing that that. What's September 13 gonna look like? It's gonna be thousands and thousands of people all across New York City blowing the whistle. Students on the way to school before they go through the metal detectors, blow the whistle. Coming out of school when the cops try to herd them like cattle and tell them they can't talk to their friends, blow the whistle. In neighborhoods where cops are swarming on people 24-7. We're gonna be blowing the whistle. People who hate the way that Muslims are being targeted with racist and religious profiling, blow the whistle. People who hate the way immigrants are being targeted and treated like less than human beings, blow the whistle. There are going to be thousands and thousands across New York City and thousands more acting in solidarity.
When these whistles blow people are gonna turn their heads, windows are gonna open, people are gonna come out of their houses, they're gonna ask what's up. People are gonna tell them we're doing this because we refuse to suffer any longer in silence the abuse from the police and the whole criminal injustice system. And then coming off of September 13, there's gonna be a whole different level of resistance. People are gonna stop suffering all this in silence, stop accepting it that way. On October 22, the National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality, people are gonna be out at the prisons, calling out the slow genocide that comes down on Black people.
So look, if you're tired of suffering this kind of harassment just because of the color of your skin, join us to blow the whistle on stop-and-frisk on September 13. If you hate the way that people are being denied their rights just because of the color of their skin, blow the whistle. We are not aiming to mend stop-and-frisk or to lower its abuses. We are aiming to end it because it no damn good, because stop-and-frisk don't stop the crime, stop-and-frisk is the crime. And if you got an ounce of concern for humanity being enforced to deal with injustice you should blow the whistle with us. And now I want to introduce my dear brother, Cornel West.
It's always a joy to stand next to my dear brother Carl Dix. Nine months ago he and I called for a mass movement to end stop-and-frisk because it is wrong, it is immoral, it is racist and unconstitutional and because we wanted to take a stand publicly, to go to jail, to have a trial, to have a verdict, in the name of what?, in the name of justice, in the name of fairness, that each life is precious, I don't care what color, I don't care what culture and when it comes to the weak and vulnerable, especially our precious young people, who are disproportionately targeted, and Black and Brown young people, disproportionately targeted, we will take a stand.
And many wondered would we come back after the verdict, would we come back after the guilty verdict. We're back again and we're stronger than ever. And we've got folk who went to jail who are standing here, not just beside Carl Dix and myself, but outside as well. Give them a hand, give them a hand. Come on, y'all.
This struggle is going to intensify because we want to end it, we don't want to mend it. And because we want to connect it to larger issues. We want to connect it to the military industrial complex. We want to connect it to the Wall Street oligarchic complex where so much greed is running amok. We want to connect it to the prison industrial complex where so much unfairness is at work. We want to connect it to this election where you see the force between one oligarchic party and another. That's what's important, what it's all about. We intensify our commitment and on September 13 we will be at it again.
Some of you out there have never been stopped and frisked, and maybe you don't know what it actually means what it means to be a young person coming up in New York City or maybe you know some people and you've heard these stories. But people need to actually know what happens every day, 1,900 times or more. Maybe you're coming home from school, maybe you're going to school, maybe you're going to work, or coming home. You're minding your own business, you're going about your day and suddenly some cop steps to you. They grab you, they throw you up against the wall, they turn out your pockets and if you speak back you risk being thrown in jail and spending the whole night locked up and facing charges and a case, maybe having to miss school, or maybe having to miss work which you can't afford to do. And your whole life begins to be dominated by the fact that at any moment when you walk the street, some cop can step to you and mess up your whole day, your whole week and the rest of your life.
More than this, why is it that I have to look at these 15-year-olds in the playgrounds in the Bronx who tell me that if you're not a white person in this world you don't matter and you don't mean anything? Why do I have to talk to a 16-year-old, who for a year had to walk around with a restraining order to keep the cops off his back because by the time he was 15 he had been stopped and harassed so many times he couldn't leave his house without his mother fearing for his life and he had to go to a court and have a judge issue an order to keep these cops off his back. And now that he's 16, he no longer has this piece of paper and he's afraid to walk out and hang out with his friends.
What kind of society is this? What kind of world are these youth growing up in? And how come you never hear that story every time they talk about these youth who devalue themselves and carry out violence against each other that the mayor loves to point to after the fact, when he knows and he lies anyway and he knows this stop-and-frisk policy does nothing to stop—that he cares nothing about these youth and these lives that are lost and these generations who are condemned to an early death or a life of brutality and imprisonment. On September 13, that is not going to go down anymore where people are isolated, where people just feel like this is just happening to them, and that something is wrong with them for being stepped to, for being harassed, for being dehumanized, for having their basic rights taken from them and violated. No more in silence and no more at all. On September 13, we're elevating the level of resistance to actually put another nail in this coffin of stop-and-frisk, like my brothers Cornel West and Carl Dix have been saying, we don't want to mend it we want to end it. Like Carl Dix has said over and over again, the Freedom Riders didn't want extra seats in the back of the bus, they wanted an end to Jim Crow segregation. And we want an end to the new Jim Crow of mass incarceration.
Like people have said, I’m facing trials all over the city. On September 5, I’m on trial in Manhattan, facing up to four years in prison, precisely because when these kind of things go down I don’t walk by and I don’t let it happen in silence, I don’t let people get violated without someone speaking up for them. [Noche’s trial has now been continued until October—Revolution.] I’ve been standing up for these youth for years. And I’ve been targeted for my role in doing that. But what’s important for you to know is that you can actually be a part of beating back these attacks on people who stand up for the people and for the youth. And so I invite everybody to join us on September 13 and join me in court on September 5.