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Revolution #283 October 28, 2012
October 28, 2012 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
|Rally 8:45 am Trial 9:30 am
Queens Criminal Court, 125-01 Queens Blvd
|Rally 8:45 am Trial 9:30 am
100 Center Street, Manhattan
|6:30 pm Raise the Roof on the Legal Defense Fund Party
St. Augustine's Church, 290 Henry Street
Outrageous trials against five courageous freedom fighters who put their bodies on the line to end the racist police policy of stop-and-frisk begin on October 23 and October 30. Carl Dix, Jamel Mims, Morgan Rhodewalt, Bob Parsons and Noche Diaz could be jailed for 2 to 4+ years.
Make no mistake: what is being put on trial here is nothing less than the ability and right to stand up and say NO MORE to the racist policy of stop-and-frisk, which terrorizes Black and Brown people throughout the city.
Without mass resistance and the actions of these people and hundreds more who put their bodies on the line in protest, stop-and-frisk would not now be so hotly contested in the city and the courts. The even more urgent truth is that standing up to defend these freedom fighters has everything to do with putting an end to the crime of stop-and-frisk and the way a whole generation is being condemned to lives of criminalization, marginalization, brutality and the spirit-crushing, human-wasting confinement of the largest prison system in the world.
The authorities want to punish these people for having stood up for justice, and through doing that deliver a message that anyone who resists their criminal injustice will pay a heavy price. This must not go down! If we allow them to be convicted and jailed without a massive fight, the battle against stop-and-frisk and the whole spirit of resistance will be seriously weakened. But if many, many people stand with them in this legal battle, if we beat this back, then the movement will gain further initiative, pulling more people into the struggle.
BACKGROUND: Carl Dix is a revolutionary leader who initiated, together with Cornel West, the movement to Stop "Stop-&-Frisk" and End Mass Incarceration, including by leading a series of courageous non-violent protests of civil disobedience at police precincts throughout New York City. Carl Dix, Jamel Mims, Morgan Rhodewalt and Bob Parsons will be on trial in Queens on October 23 facing more than 2 years in jail for the protest in Queens on November 19, 2011. The Queens District Attorney has piled charges on them, twice adding to the charges they faced months after their arrest. This DA, who couldn't or wouldn't put on an effective case against the cops who murdered Sean Bell in 2006, is vigorously trying to put these freedom fighters in prison. This makes it even more clear their intent to punish any who dare to stand up. This only underscores the importance of people coming to court to demand the charges be dropped!
On October 30, Noche Diaz, a leader in the movement to end mass incarceration who is known throughout Harlem as a member of the People's Neighborhood Patrols and across the city's campuses for speaking in classes against stop-and-frisk, goes on trial in Manhattan, facing more than four years in prison for politically calling out police who were brutalizing people.
Fourteen more defendants will be tried in two more trials in Queens, and on November 5 and 27 in Brooklyn for a November 1, 2011 protest at the 73rd Precinct, which has the highest rate of stop-and-frisk in the city.
What You Can Do:
Contact Stop Mass Incarceration Network: 347-979-SMIN (7646)
Twitter: @StopMassIncNet Web: www.stopmassincarceration.org
Revolution #283 October 28, 2012
October 14, 2012 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
You know Romney is a fascist and that the racist lunatics are all whipped up against Obama. So you are thinking of voting for Obama. But before you do—and before you put your money and energy and hopes into “the lesser evil”—let us ask you a question:
What crime would Obama have to commit for you to stand on principle and refuse to vote??
>> Killing people, including U.S. citizens, without any sort of legal due process?
He’s done it. More than once. According to the New York Times (May 29, 2012), Obama meets with advisers to go over a “kill list” and decide whom to take out—with absolutely no “day in court” for those who end up on the list.
>> Holding prisoners of conscience in jail in conditions that are internationally recognized as torture?
He’s doing it. Bradley Manning was held in conditions of sensory deprivation and sleep deprivation in order to “break him”... for the alleged "crime" of exposing U.S. war crimes.
>> Ordering the bombing of countries and carrying out other military acts of aggression, and covering up the murder of civilians?
He is either doing it or has done it in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Iran, and Libya.
>> Signing laws that enable the government to imprison people without trial if the government says they support “terrorism”?
He did it—he signed the National Defense Authorization Act that endows the executive branch of the U.S. government with just such unprecedented power.
>> Exult in such crimes?
He’s done it—with his sick jokes about “predator drones” and the ugly cheerleading at the Democratic Party convention for precisely these international outrages.
>> Remain silent while millions are shuttled through the horrors of the U.S. prison system and then, when he does speak of the problem, blaming the victims themselves?
He’s done it. There are now 2.4 million people in prison—a shameful “world record.” Many people agree that this genocidal mass imprisonment is the central and defining fact of American life—yet Obama says and does nothing, other than to continue and even step up policies that feed this modern-day slave ship. For instance, Obama has actually intensified the so-called war on drugs, especially marijuana. And when he does touch on the issue, it is only to warn people against protesting related crimes like police murder (as he did when the New York police who murdered Sean Bell went free), or to blame the masses themselves (as he did in his notorious 2009 Father’s Day speech, and in other instances as well). And the very fact that Obama was made president is used to say, “Look, he made it—why can’t all these other Black youth”—as if the fact that the one person out of 100 who makes it out of this white racist meat grinder of a system somehow shows that the meat-grinder is “fair and equal for all.”
>> Set the record for deporting immigrants and then, right before elections, making a small concession—which will enable the government to collect more names for more deportations later?
He’s done it. More than one million immigrants have been forcibly deported since Obama became president. The U.S. caused the wars or wrecked the economies of the countries that these immigrants come from. Now, their lives are further ruined and families are broken apart for the “crime” of seeking work or safety here. And the fact that he gives a little bit of a concession just before election of letting some younger immigrants to stay here—which, by the way, is a temporary concession and one whose registration procedures can later be used to deport the people who fall for it—cannot change the four years of unmitigated, escalated horror that went before it.
>> Refuse to do anything about the environmental emergency faced by humanity?
He’s not only fucked around while the earth has continued to burn—he’s made it worse. New gas and oil pipelines are being laid all over the place, and “fracking” (an environmentally destructive form of mining for natural gas) has blossomed under Obama. And this year, in his Earth Day address, he refused to even mention the words “climate change.”
>> Remain silent while abortion doctors are murdered, and then seek “common ground” with those who are not only attacking the right to abortion, but to birth control?
He’s doing it. Meanwhile, the outright fascists who would take away the right to abortion and birth control run riot and these lunatics are actually allowed to seize the “high moral ground.”
Again—what crime would he have to commit—and what crime would the system that he heads have to commit—for you to stand up and say: “NO MORE!”
These are horrors—and complicity is unacceptable. And, no, Romney is no better. But once you get into the “lesser evil” logic of defeating Romney, you are led to accept and support things that you abhor. It is as if you were to say, “We can’t have the openly fascistic Romney as president, so we have to support the president—a president who actually carries out some fascist measures and conciliates with others and goes even further in some cases.” People have been doing this for years now, election after election. But where has that logic led? Away from what needs to be done, which is to RESIST these horrors—all of these horrors—and not conciliate with them... and into the arms of growing used to them, accepting them and then going along with and in fact supporting them.
And beyond that—beyond the destructive logic of staying confined within the choices that they offer you—there is this fact: there IS an alternative. We really do not have to be confined to constantly choosing between evils, and ending up in a situation that continually grows worse.
There is an alternative to the current capitalist-imperialist economic and political system in which increasing exploitation is the driving rule and people, in fact, count for nothing. A different society—a socialist society in which masses of people are empowered to set about wiping out exploitation and oppression, and all the institutions that go with it—is possible. There is a constitution for such a society. And there is the leadership to lead the revolution needed to bring it into being.
Stop acting against your deepest principles. Start checking out, getting into and supporting the real alternative that gives expression to those principles.
Revolution #283 October 28, 2012
October 28, 2012 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
In a world that is desperately crying out for revolution, be part of the movement to spread the voice, vision and works of Bob Avakian—the leadership we have for the revolution we need into every corner of society. This is what people need!
The world, as it is, is a horror for the great majority of humanity—from millions of children dying needlessly each year from preventable causes, to women being trafficked as slaves in the "sex trade," to global climate change threatening catastrophe for life on earth, and much, much more.
But the world does NOT have to be this way. All these horrors stem from the workings of the system we live under—capitalism-imperialism and the rule of exploiters and oppressors. It will take communist revolution to get rid of this criminal system and bring about a whole new, liberated future. And because of BA 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.
Many more people throughout society urgently need to know in a basic sense what BA is about and to seriously engage the questions of revolution and human emancipation bound up with the breakthroughs Avakian has made. No one should underestimate the impact this can—and will—have in lifting the sights of people who right now hate the way things are but are caught up in thinking that the world can be no other way, and in moving them to join this movement for a real revolution.
This is where the campaign to get BA Everywhere has come in. It is a major effort to raise big money, through different creative means and involving many different people, in order to fund the projection of BA's leadership, voice, and work in a much greater and broader way—in short, to make BA a household name and the new synthesis of communism a point of reference, discussion, and debate throughout society. This fundraising campaign is dynamically related to, and in fact crucial to, putting this movement on the map, to expanding and pushing forward the overall movement for revolution.
Over the past year, a movement has been born. (Check out the BA Everywhere section at revcom.us to get a sense of this.) But there is much more to be done... many more people to reach and to draw into this movement. This is a moment to renew our efforts and make new leaps. Let's look to the next weeks and months to make much-needed advances. And if you're just finding out about this, there are many ways you can get involved.
The prominent public intellectual Cornel West recently interviewed BA for the public radio show Smiley & West. The interview aired on stations across the country and is available for download, and permission has been given by the original radio show for it to be picked up and broadcast all over. This is an extraordinary introduction to BA. Packed into a little over 30 minutes, the interview gives a living sense of this leader and what he has been working on. The warm, heartfelt introduction by West and his thoughtful questions open the door to listeners to really check BA out if they haven't heard of him before, or to get deeper into him if they have.
This is a great opportunity for there to be many listening sessions/parties and to raise money for the BA Everywhere campaign—in the neighborhoods, dorms, salon-type gatherings, and other places—inviting broadly. The interview will no doubt spark lively discussion—and this is an excellent situation to ask people to contribute funds so that BA's voice and vision can spread out in a qualitatively wider way. (See box on page 4 for more on the interview and how to help it reach far and wide.)
In every corner of the country, campus and other radio stations should be urged to play this interview.
This is also a time when people are being hit with even more intense levels of election frenzy, as those in power work overtime to suck people in to play the game of "choosing" between the two candidates for top political representative of the ruling class. It's a game that the people always lose if they play—because it is controlled and decided entirely by the rulers, in order to further their interests which are directly opposed to the interests of the people. BAsics 1:22, the currently featured BAsics quote—along with last month's quote, 1:3—cuts right through this election game to some essential truths about the system. (See this issue's centerfold for BAsics 1:22 and the back page for 1:3.)
Think about how stacks of the BAsics quote palm cards can get into the hands of many people—who can then spread them out to many, many more. Getting these cards out in the neighborhoods, at workplaces, on campuses and other places is a very concrete and important way people can be part of BA Everywhere and the movement for revolution—right now. And fundraising should be an integral part of the plans, so that even more quote cards can be printed for wider distribution.
Along with pushing out with the Cornel West interview and BAsics 1:22, it's also time to make fresh plans for the months ahead and around the upcoming holiday season. Gatherings of friends and family are opportunities to hear the Cornel West interview together or to view video clips of the BAsics Bus Tour from Atlanta to Sanford and BA speaking over the years—giving them a vision of how getting BA's voice and work out there in a much greater way can change the awful terms pervading society right now.
Fundraising not only raises money that is absolutely essential to accomplishing critical goals in the movement for revolution, it is a way for many people to do something concrete and meaningful that makes a real difference, even as they are starting to check out BA and the movement for revolution. And it brings people together and helps forge community—a shared sense of momentum and excitement at reaching goals and making breakthroughs, including seeing how the funds that are raised translate into an immediate impact in society.
The new synthesis of communism is a potential source of hope and daring on a solid scientific foundation. This potential has come alive in beginning ways. A national movement is being born and has begun to break through. People the campaign has touched across the country not only see the source of the brutality and misery they and others suffer under this system, but the possibilities for a whole other way the world can be.
In the coming weeks and months, let's go out into the swirl of the world and make urgently needed leaps in getting BA Everywhere!
Revolution #283 October 28, 2012
The following was written by two young revolutionaries:
Can we talk about the world? Over one billion people live in slums. In the past century, tens of millions of civilians across the globe have been murdered, tortured, and driven from their homelands by the leading global superpower—the United States—alone. That same global superpower imprisons nearly 2.4 million people, the majority of whom are Black and Latino, while working to the bone, terrorizing, detaining, and deporting millions of immigrants who cross its borders after making life unbearable in their home countries. Millions of women around the globe are raped, beaten, and trafficked as sex slaves each year. Tens of thousands of children die every day from starvation and preventable diseases. The planet itself faces the threat of literal extinction due to a multifaceted environmental emergency. And all this isn't even the half of it. Or anywhere close.
If anyone wishes to argue that the above statements are not true, that humanity can do no better, or that all this can be fixed with merely a few minor adjustments—let's hear it. And good luck! Otherwise, the following demands serious, substantive, and honest engagement:
There is a person on this planet who has dedicated his life to putting an end to these and countless other horrors confronting humanity. For the past several decades, that person—Bob Avakian, the Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party—has been engaging in exhaustive, uncompromising, and ever-deepening analysis of why the world is the way it is and how it could be radically different. On the basis of the work Avakian has done over those decades to sum up the positive and negative experiences of the communist revolution so far, as well as many other streams of human endeavor, he has come up with a new synthesis of communism. Because of Avakian and the work he has done, there is a vision—and an actual Constitution—for an entirely different and far better socialist society, on the road to a communist world free of all exploitation and oppression. Because of Avakian and the work he has done, there is a strategy—and an actual strategy statement—for how to make a revolution to reach that society and world. Because of Avakian and the work he has done, there is a Party and a movement—which Avakian is leading—working every day to hasten and prepare for the emergence of the future conditions that would make revolution possible.
It bears repeating: All this objectively demands serious, substantive, and honest engagement from anyone who yearns for a different world than the nightmare in which humanity is currently trapped. And indeed, as has been powerfully brought to life in the pages of Revolution newspaper, increasing numbers of people from all strata and in all spheres of society have been finding out about and engaging Avakian, transforming in powerful and exhilarating ways as a result, and contributing to spreading his work and vision throughout society. And yet, it is still the case that far too many people—including those who consider themselves radicals and progressives and say that they want to change the world—choose to dismiss Avakian and his work without even the pretense of engagement.
In no other realm would this fly. If a doctor had spent decades tirelessly studying cancer and, on that basis, announced that she had found a cure for the disease... if an astronomer made an unprecedented breakthrough in further understanding the origins and development of the universe... if a musician had pioneered a whole new style or sound or technique... if a sports coach had invented a whole new offensive or defensive strategy... and people, including those who fancied themselves enthusiasts of these various spheres, reacted by saying: "I don't need to check this out. I already know what I need to know"—this would be laughed out of town. But somehow, this dismissal without engagement is viewed as a perfectly valid and acceptable response to breakthroughs that forge the pathway for all of humanity to be emancipated from conditions of unbelievable misery and suffering.
We call bullshit.
In What Humanity Needs: Revolution, and the New Synthesis of Communism, an Interview With Bob Avakian, Avakian makes the point:
"When people are falling into bullshit, they should be told so. Now, that's not all you should say. You should show them why. You should give them the substance. You should explain to them what's wrong. But this idea that everything has to be all so super-polite—this goes along with the relativist notion that everybody's ideas should be considered equally valid. Well, no. It's not a question of the person, it's a question of the ideas. It's not that one person counts for less than another person, but it's a question of whether the ideas are correct or incorrect. If they're incorrect, and if they're doing harm, they need to be called out sharply. Not in a way that puts people down. Not in a way that's antagonistic toward them—unless what they represent is really, fundamentally antagonistic to the interests of the masses of people, and they're digging in their heels around that. But among the people, so to speak, wrong ideas should be struggled over. Where people are putting forward different notions that are really wrong, and they are digging in their heels around them, they should be struggled with sharply. And where people say things that they don't have a basis for saying, where they haven't really investigated, they need to be told: you don't know what you're talking about."
In that spirit, and with that orientation, let's look at some of the common ways that this dismissal without engagement gets expressed, as well as some of the underlying assertions and arguments:
"I don't need to engage Avakian; I already know what I need to know."
We call bullshit.
You already know what you need to know? OK, then: What is your analysis of the system that we live under, its fundamental laws, dynamics, and contradictions, the things it does all over the world and how these things are connected, and the major global changes created by the unfolding of this system over the last several decades? What will it take to get rid of this system and completely uproot the global divisions and inequalities that exist between those who work with their hands and those who work with ideas, between men and women, between people of different nationalities and between nations? Do we really need to make a revolution? And, if so, then why is revolution necessary, what kind of revolution do we need, what's the strategy, and—when the conditions for this have been brought into being—how could we actually win against the most powerful, vicious, and repressive state in the history of the world? What are the key driving forces, obstacles to be transformed, and questions to be wrestled with in the process of making revolution? How would we go about building a whole new socialist society and ensure that it is a transition to a whole worldwide system of communism? What role can and should dissent play in a socialist society? What actually happened in China and Russia when they were genuinely socialist countries? Did communism "fail" in these countries, or was it defeated? What was tremendously positive about these socialist revolutions, and what must be done differently the next time we make revolution?
Since "you already know what you need to know," what are your answers to all these questions? Have you even thought of all these questions?
Avakian has spent more than three decades studying these and many other questions, and developing a new synthesis of communism that actually answers them. He has done this while learning very broadly from many different realms, including science, art and culture. He has dug into the rich history of the previous socialist revolutions—into their great achievements, and yes, their shortcomings. And through this work, and from continuing to learn from the masses themselves and the continuous struggles that have developed, he's forged a way out of the horrors of the capitalist-imperialist system. And if you actually care about the future of humanity, then you have a responsibility to get into his work and engage it. And you have a responsibility to examine for yourself whether it really does hold the answers we say it does.
"Communism is a nice idea on paper... but it doesn't work."
We call bullshit.
First things first: Where has capitalism ever worked? Can you name a period of even one day when capitalism hasn't meant the brutal exploitation of the masses in the name of profits? Can you name a capitalist-imperialist power that hasn't sat on top of a worldwide system of oppression that has led to the wholesale destruction of the planet and its resources? And let's talk about this country—the "good ol' US of A"—that has waged more murderous wars of terror than any other nation in history, that was born out of a history of genocide of native people and centuries of slavery, that today actually has more Black men locked away in torturous conditions in prison than it even held under slavery, and that imprisons more women than any country in the history of the world. So, again: where has capitalism ever worked? Even for a minute?
And guess what? That same capitalist system of destruction, torture, and murder is also a deceitful one! That capitalist system has fed you countless lies about the history of socialism and communism! Did you know, for example, that because of the socialist revolution in China, the literacy rate went from 15 percent to 80 percent in less than 30 years? That socialist China was able to wipe out prostitution in just a matter of years and lift the stigma off of women who had been victimized by sex trafficking while also doing away with the horrific practice of foot-binding that had been practiced for generations?
That before the socialist revolution of 1949, massive famines periodically caused the deaths by starvation of millions and millions of peasants in China and that even in "good times" severe hunger and starvation were common—but that within roughly 15 years after this revolution, China had solved its food problem and everyone had enough to eat? Did you know that socialist Russia—which emerged from a backward, semi-feudal society—made strides in the emancipation of women that had never been done anywhere else in the world? That before the socialist revolution of 1917, Russia had been characterized by such horrific oppression of minority nationalities that it was known as the "prison house of nations," while after this socialist revolution, Russia placed a priority on channeling resources to minority regions and working to uproot the tremendous inequalities between nations? [See the Set the Record Straight website, thisiscommunism.org.] Did you know that the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in China was actually a movement of hundreds of millions to prevent the revolution from being betrayed and to instead carry forward that revolution's emancipatory and transformative mission in every sphere of society?
And guess what else? Avakian has not only dug deep into the real history of Russia and China and brought forward the reality that they were incredibly emancipatory societies that were really working toward a world free of exploitation and oppression. He has also shown why those revolutions were defeated, and how to do better and go further next time. And while upholding the overwhelmingly positive character of these societies, he's also made criticisms of this experience and made significant ruptures in areas including epistemology, strategy, internationalism, and the nature of socialist society—as part of developing a new synthesis of communism that forges the way for us to do even better in the next stage of communist revolution.
"Who is Avakian to say he has the solution to the world's problems?"
We call bullshit.
Who is Avakian to say he has the solution to the world's problems? He is someone who does have the solution to the world's problems. He's someone who has done the work. Engage that work honestly and you will see for yourself. He has dedicated his life to digging deeply into what the problem in the world is, and what the solution is. He has deeply studied Marx, Lenin, and Mao and the entire past experience—in theory and practice—of the international communist movement and the socialist societies it has brought into being. He has learned from history and science, art and culture, philosophy, and even sports and music and comedy—all to forge a new synthesis of communism! This new synthesis is not just a "cut and paste" job but a real re-envisioning of what it will take for humanity to be free and what we need to be doing to get there. He's someone who has also, all through that process, been leading a revolutionary vanguard party. A party that is forging a movement for revolution right here in this country! And he's someone who continues to learn very broadly, who continues to provide answers to the most vexing questions facing the revolution while also posing new questions that must be wrangled with in the process of working towards a radically different world. And he's someone who has taken the responsibility of leading the masses of people to understand all of this for themselves.
Now here's a question in return: Who are you to say Avakian doesn't have the solution to the world's problems? Are you someone who has actually deeply engaged his new synthesis and, on that basis, has a substantive argument to offer for why it is not what humanity needs? If so, let's hear it, because we are the last people to be afraid of a principled, substantive debate focused on the question of what is the problem facing humanity and what is the solution. And we are confident that this new synthesis does, in fact, represent the way out of the horrors facing the world.
Or, are you instead seeking to rule out of order the very idea of putting forward a solution to the world's problems, without even engaging the specific solution being put forth and hoping nobody calls you on this?
"I don't follow leaders."
We call bullshit.
Did you just wake up one morning and come up with the idea, "I don't follow leaders" all by yourself? Out of nowhere, without anyone or anything leading you to think that? You and how many other people?
News flash: Under this system, you didn't—and don't—get to decide anything of consequence about how this society and world function, about how individuals and groups relate to each other, and about the ideas, culture, and morality that predominate. Did you decide how the food you eat and the clothes you wear were made? Did you decide that the U.S. and other imperialist countries should slaughter and torture people around the globe? Did you decide that a woman should not be able to walk down the street without fear of being raped? That a youth of color should not be able to walk down the street without fear of being killed by the police? Did you get to decide whether or not you have a job, and what kind of job, and whether you earn enough income to have food and housing? And if you do have a job, when you go to work do you get to decide what you do there and how you can best contribute your knowledge and abilities to the betterment of humanity? Or even how long your lunch break is? Did you pick what is taught in schools? What is played on the radio? What is covered in the media? The programs that are shown on TV?
Wake up. You are being led every second of every day, in every sphere of your life. You are being led by a system of capitalism-imperialism in which nothing—including the basic necessities you need to survive—is made or done unless it generates profit. A system in which billions of people—and entire groups of people—are viciously and violently subjugated, and in which the entire planet is plundered. And you are being led—and forced—to accept all of this by the people who rule and enforce this system, and who shape the ideas that have influence in society.
And here's something else: Any idea you have about the state of the world and what should be done about it is one you were led to have. If you think this system is the best humanity can do, or that the world is the way it is because of human nature... if you think that the world is the way it is because of "god's will" and we need to "leave things to the lord"... if you think the problem is the "two-party system" and the solution is a third party... if you think that the problem is "capitalism run amok" and the solution is "more regulation"... if you think that the problem is that the U.S. "is not living up to its democratic principles" and the solution is "expanding democracy"... if you think that the problem is "hierarchy" and the solution is "horizontalism" and "leaderless movements"... if you think the problem is that "capitalism and communism have both failed" and the solution is "something in between these two systems"... there is not one of these ideas that you thought up on your own.
The question is not whether or not you follow leaders. The question is: What kind of leadership will you follow? Leadership that traps, tricks, and tails people—lowering their sights, in one form or another, to accept this system, its confines, and its ways of thinking as all that is possible? Or leadership that raises people's sights beyond the horizon, by challenging, training, and unleashing them to deeply understand and radically transform the world, and to unleash still others to do the same? Or, put another way: Leadership that is rooted in, reflects, perpetuates, enforces, and ultimately keeps things contained within this system and all the shit it brings down on humanity? Or radically different leadership to get rid of this system and bring an entirely different and much better world into being—leadership to emancipate humanity?
And if you don't want to choose the first of those two options, then here is a further question: Do you really, honestly think it is possible without leadership for millions of people to see the need for, and—when the future conditions have emerged—to actually make a revolution to defeat, dismantle, and abolish this capitalist-imperialist state and bring new institutions of a new, revolutionary system into being?... For the new society to go on from there to meet the material, cultural, and intellectual needs of the people while working to overcome inequalities and divisions that have been entrenched for centuries, keeping things moving in an overall direction towards communism while allowing for the maximum dissent and ferment at all times? Do you think all necessary societal tasks can be fulfilled, and all contradictions that are bound to arise in the process can be navigated? All in a way that advances—rather than undermines—the world revolution and works towards an entire planet without any exploitation, oppression, or antagonistic divisions?
Really?! You think all this can happen without leadership?
Here's what it all comes back to: The world is a horror, it has been for thousands of years, and it doesn't need to be. Either that is going to remain the case, or the world is going to be fundamentally and radically changed in a way that puts an end to the suffering of billions. When someone has done the work, forged the vision and strategy, and is providing the leadership necessary to emancipate humanity, it is the responsibility of anyone with a heart and a conscience to engage this.
As Avakian puts it in An Invitation:
"Let's go on a crucial journey together—full of unity against oppression and lively struggle about the source of the problem and the solution. Pursue your own convictions—that the outrages that move you are intolerable—to their logical conclusion, and be determined not to stop until those outrages have been eliminated. And if this, as well as learning about other outrages, and ideas about how all this fits together and flows from a common source—and how it could all be ended, and something much better brought into being—leads in the direction of seeing not only the need for bold and determined resistance, but also the need for revolution and ultimately communism, then don't turn away from that because it moves you beyond your comfort zone, challenges what had been your cherished beliefs, or because of prejudices and slanders. Instead, actively seek to learn more about this revolution and its goal of communism and to determine whether it is in fact the necessary and possible solution. And then act accordingly."
Revolution #283 October 28, 2012
Letter from a prisoner:
October 28, 2012 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
The following letter was sent to the Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund.
July 5, 2012
[You may Print if so choose!]
RE: PURCHASE OF MATERIALS
Greetings within and beyond, "Amandla!"
I hope this finds you Comrades, in the best of all things possible, especially health and spirit—revolutionary spirit!
I am still confined within this hell hole concentration camp but my heart, spirit, desire for the revolution never wanes nor faulters. This Texas Slave camp is supposedly for the 'sick', 'blind', 'deaf', and 'dying', and is a "Medical Unit". Although, there are many who are here that do not fit in any of those categories, all of them need a dose of "Revolution." I am attempting to do just that, give them all—"guards", and "[ALL]" a dose of Real !!! revolution. I'm currently on a mission of buying copies of BAsics and distributing them to individuals here on the unit. This will be a slow proces, but I will buy a copy of BAsics, each month.
I am also sending 'You' my monthly contribution of $10.00 for the "Bus Tour", BAsics. I have been sending $10.00 for approximately 3-4 months, saying to place it for the BAsics Bus Tour in Texas. Well, I change that!! It should be for the BAsics Bus Tour—Period! See, I've come to realize my small minded thinking was only looking at the State of Texas and thinking "We" (IN TEXAS) need a revolution. But, the more I got into the "New" synthesis of COMMUNISM, and INTERNATIONALISM..., I come to realize my thinking was wrong. This is not just about "My" home state or whatever locality I may reside in, this is about the State of the "World", and this "Nation", ... about truly building the "New Socialist Republic", of North America.
Everybody in this Country needs to read BAsics and hear Bob Avakian and come to know who he is, what he has brought forward and the advancements of the science of "Communism" has made. So, lets all take a radical step into the future by advancing our own knowledge and thinking through our actions of supporting and carrying forward B.A.'s BAsics and the new synthesis of [R]evolutionary Communism.
So, included in this letter is $20.00 dollars.
$10.00 for the book BAsics and
$10.00 for the Bus Tour; BAsics.
I can't wait to see the bus tour come to each City in Texas—True!! but, it also needs our support for other States, like New York and all other areas.
So UNTIL the time is ripe, I stand in "Solidarity My comrades"!!...
Send BAsics to ________________
Respectfully: XXXX (Prisoner in Texas)
Revolution #283 October 28, 2012
This Is the Imperialist System... This Is What They Want You to Vote For
October 28, 2012 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Yes: Romney and the ruling class figures most associated with him have a blatantly fascist, greed-is-good, fuck-the-poor, AmeriKKKa über alles agenda. Case in point, the billionaire Koch brothers. Their company is one of the top 10 air polluters in the United States, and they have poured millions and millions of dollars into union-busting, anti-environment politicians.
But what is represented by Obama, and ruling class figures he lauds as models and who are generally associated with the Democratic Party, is also a horror for the people. He acts in and promotes the interests of the system we live under, just as Romney does.
Case in point: The late Steve Jobs and Apple Computer.
In December 2010, Obama told us, "We celebrate somebody like Steve Jobs, who has created two or three revolutionary products. We expect that person to be rich, and that's a good thing. We want that incentive. That's part of the free market."
What Obama didn't say is that the enslavement and super-exploitation of tens of millions of workers throughout vast sections of the world are the source of these riches. And the global competition between these capitalist-imperialist enterprises compels them to scour the planet in search of the most vulnerable and exploitable workers, and the contractors and ruling classes in these countries most able and willing to organize efficient systems for sucking the life, and the spirit, out of these workers.
• • •
"Life is meaningless," says a 21-year-old worker whose fingernails are stained black with dust after a 12-hour overnight shift. "Every day, I repeat the same thing I did yesterday. We get yelled at all the time. It's very tough around here." Conversation is forbidden on the assembly line; bathroom breaks are limited and timed; the constant noise from the factory is damaging his hearing; and he makes too little to send money home.
The youth was explaining in the spring of 2010 why at least 10 of his coworkers had committed suicide in a year working for Foxconn, the Taiwanese company that is the world's largest contract electronics manufacturer in the world, making Apple's iPhones and iPads. Foxconn employs 1.2 million workers in China and produces 40 percent of the world's consumer electronics, some in factory complexes with nearly 200,000 workers. They are mostly young peasant-workers from the countryside; 86 percent of the workers at the enormous (three square kilometers, or 1.16 square miles) complex outside Shenzhen where he works are between the ages of 16 and 25, housed in dormitories with 8-10 people sleeping in a room.
An 18-year-old who came from the countryside after high school jumped from her dormitory's fourth story, surviving but in a coma for two months. Her father said she felt isolated and without friends. Another worker was hospitalized after he slit his wrist.
"I do the same thing every day; I feel empty inside; I have no future" explains a college graduate who works in product development and who has considered suicide. A 24-year-old said 80 percent of the production workers have to stand for 12 hours, 6 days a week. "It's hard to make friends because you aren't allowed to chat with your colleagues during work.... Most of us have little education and have no skills so we have no choice but to do this kind of job. I feel no sense of achievement and I've become a machine."
Apple commended Foxconn for the measures it took to improve working conditions following the suicides. And Steve Jobs himself told a tech conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, California, "We're all over this." He assured his audience that his company does one of the best jobs inspecting suppliers, and that Foxconn is "not a sweatshop."
Under the laws of the "free market" system Obama extols, and of which he extols Jobs as a model, Apple and all its competitors are driven to move production around the world in search of more vicious exploitation and an edge on the competition. Apple is not alone at Foxconn. Microsoft makes the Xbox there, Amazon builds Kindles, Hewlett-Packard and Dell make laptops there, Nintendo makes Wii, and on and on (and while the owner of Dell Computer is a prominent backer of the Republicans, Microsoft's Bill Gates and Amazon.com's Jeff Bezos are major backers of the Democratic Party).
Whether in the form of old-school fascist oligarchs like the Koch brothers, or in the form of liberal, new-style monopoly capitalists, capitalism-imperialism does what it does: crushes lives, destroys spirits, and ruins the environment in its meat grinder of exploitation.
Knowing this, think about what it means to vote for the "lesser evil" in this election, and to be drawn into and accept the terms that define elections for president under this system.
This Is the Imperialist System...
This Is What They Want You to Vote For
Workers at the Foxconn factory in Shenzhen, China.
Revolution #283 October 28, 2012
At a Critical Time...
October 28, 2012 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
In a world of vicious exploitation, brutal oppression, and environmental devastation, a new stage of the communist revolution, based on Bob Avakian's new synthesis of communism, is fighting to be born. And one essential component of that happening is that Revolution newspaper and revcom.us have the financial resources to survive!
But Revolution/Revolución does not have the financial base to continue to operate—in print or online. That is a situation which must change right away.
A big part of the solution: forging—with creativity and determination—a network of sustainers, people who contribute money to Revolution and revcom.us on a regular basis. Without this network of sustainers, Revolution will not continue to publish—in print or online—and what a disaster that would be! On the other hand, a vibrant, vital network of sustainers will literally sustain this paper and website. That network will itself be part of preparing the ground for revolution. For a full picture of how this can happen, and the role of Revolution within that, see "On the Strategy for Revolution" at revcom.us.
So, it starts with YOU. If you're not a financial sustainer of Revolution, make arrangements with your local distributor to change that NOW. And with those who get, in the fullest sense, what difference this newspaper and website mean to the world at the core of the effort, we should all reach out to many others who are inspired by this new website and Revolution newspaper—from their own perspectives. And we should struggle with and win them to be regular financial sustainers.
Last issue, we called for focused activity in October to forge a network of financial sustainers for the paper and the website. Get together with others to take stock of how this is going—measured against the urgent need to accomplish it. Send us your experiences, and tell us why you are sustaining Revolution.
Revolution #283 October 28, 2012
October 28, 2012 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
In early October, the revolution crackled on the airwaves when the Smiley & West radio show on PRI (Public Radio International) across the country aired an interview that Cornel West recently conducted with Bob Avakian. An audio download of the interview is available online.
This interview is sharp and wide-ranging, challenging and inspiring. Cornel West, a prominent public intellectual, engages with Bob Avakian, the leader of a new stage of communist revolution. The importance of getting this exchange out broadly into society, and fundraising as we do so, should not be underestimated—and in fact, the reach and impact of this interview should be maximized in many different ways.
Media inquiries can be directed to (917) 741-6716.
Revolution #283 October 28, 2012
From A World to Win News Service:
October 14, 2012 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
October 8, 2012. A World to Win News Service. As American drones occupy the skies across Pakistan's North Waziristan, the U.S. is continuing to lie about the many hundreds of ordinary people blasted to pieces or incinerated and the terrorizing of the entire population.
Most recently, an American embassy official in Pakistan insisted that protests against the drone strikes were unjustified in light of "the extreme process that is undertaken to avoid what is very sadly called 'collateral damage.'" Although not allowed to reveal classified information, he said, the number of civilian casualties is "quite low" – "in the two figures." (Guardian, October 7) This statement was meant to counter international news coverage of a convoy of hundreds of people from all over Pakistan and dozens of Western antiwar activists (including women from the U.S. group Code Pink) heading for a town in South Waziristan to demonstrate against the drone attacks and the Pakistani government's complicity.
The report Living Under Drones issued by two U.S. academic research groups in September paints a very different picture.
"[F]rom June 2004 through mid-September 2012, available data indicate that drone strikes killed 2,562-3,325 people in Pakistan, of whom 474-881 were civilians, including 176 children... These strikes also injured an additional 1,228-1,362 individuals." (According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, an independent non-profit news reporting agency based at City University in London whose data and methodology the report reviewed and found valid.)
The discrepancy is partially explained by the fact that "for the purpose of tracking civilian casualties, the [U.S.] government presumes that all military-age males killed in drone strikes are combatants." The report demonstrates that this is not true. Yet even the most narrow interpretation of Washington's claim, that it has recorded a "quite low" number of civilian casualties, may be a lie within a lie, since the exact figures, the identities of the human beings they represent and the circumstances of their death are all cloaked in secrecy.
Who was killed and how they died was the aim of an investigation project by law clinics at the Stanford Law School in California and the New York University Law School. Their report (available at livingunderdrones.org) was based on "nine months of intensive research—including two investigations in Pakistan, more than 130 interviews with victims, witnesses, and experts, and review of thousands of pages of documentation and media reporting."
Their conclusions are moderate to a fault. Instead of calling for an end to the drone war, "this report recommends that the U.S. conduct a fundamental re-evaluation of current targeted killing practices, taking into account all available evidence, the concerns of various stakeholders, and the short and long-term costs and benefits."
"Costs and benefits" for who and for what goals? By arguing on this basis, the report ignores the question of the purpose and legitimacy of the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan and the drone war in neighboring North Waziristan that is a consequence and adjunct to that occupation. It also avoids the broader question of the ensemble of open and covert wars that the U.S. ruling class is waging or threatening to wage throughout the "Greater Middle East" to protect and extend their global empire, no matter which party is in office.
By way of analogy, if someone were to reason that strikes on civilians in the West go against Al-Qaeda's overall (also reactionary) aims, this would be considered a cynical calculation and few people would be impressed by its moral stance.
But whether those involved in this report really believe in this "costs and benefits" approach or just feel that this is the only way their arguments will have impact, their careful review of the facts and first-hand accounts provide not only a damning account of the cruelty of U.S. conduct, but also evidence that this cruelty has a political purpose—that these deaths are not just "collateral damage" but rather part of a war-fighting strategy based on terrorizing the people of an entire region with no distinctions among them.
Living Under Drones describes a 2006 drone attack on a religious school in Bajaur that killed more than 80 people, 69 of them children. In another section, it reveals what really happened in what authorities described as a strike against a militant "house" where "a group of some three dozen alleged Taliban fighters were meeting."
"According to those we interviewed, on March 17 , some 40 individuals gathered [in an open-air bus depot] in Datta Khel town centre. They included important community figures and local elders, all of whom were there to attend a jirga—the principal social institution for decision-making and dispute resolution in [the region]... convened to settle a dispute over a nearby chromite mine. All of the relevant stakeholders and local leaders were in attendance, including 35 government-appointed tribal leaders known as maliks, as well as government officials, and a number of khassadars (government employees administered at the local level by maliks who serve as a locally recruited auxiliary police force). Four men from a local Taliban group were also reportedly present, as their involvement was necessary to resolve the dispute effectively. Malik Daud Khan, a respected leader and decorated public servant, chaired the meeting...
"Though drones were hovering daily over North Waziristan, those at this meeting said they felt 'secure and insulated' from the threat of drones, because in their assessment at the time, 'drones target terrorists or those working against the government.' ... the maliks had even taken care to alert the local military post of the planned jirga ten days beforehand.
"At approximately 10:45 am, as the two groups were engaged in discussion, a missile fired from a U.S. drone hovering above struck one of the circles of seated men. Ahmed Jan, who was sitting in one of two circles of roughly 20 men each, told our researchers that he remembered hearing the hissing sound the missiles made just seconds before they slammed into the centre of his group. The force of the impact threw Jan's body a significant distance, knocking him unconscious, and killing everyone else sitting in his circle. Several additional missiles were fired, at least one of which hit the second circle. In all, the missiles killed a total of at least 42 people. One of the survivors from the other circle, Mohammad Nazir Khan, told us that many of the dead appeared to have been killed by flying pieces of shattered rocks.
"Another witness, Idris Farid, recalled that 'everything was devastated. There were pieces—body pieces—lying around. There was lots of flesh and blood.'... 'None of the elders who had attended had survived.''' All their family members "could do was 'to collect pieces of flesh and put them in a coffin.'"
Other incidents described involve drones firing at cars and taxis, killing people so often for reasons unknown to local people that any travel is considered dangerous.
People in North Waziristan, a tribal area where most people work in subsistence agriculture or trading, have come to avoid all public gatherings, such as mosques and even funerals, which seem to be a particular target. People are afraid to sit together outside; even children cannot play together and few people venture out at night. Many parents no longer let their children attend school for fear of drone strikes.
A humanitarian aid worker in Waziristan told the investigators, "Do you remember 9/11? Do you remember what it felt like right after? I was in New York on 9/11. I remember people crying in the streets. People were afraid about what might happen next. People didn't know if there would be another attack. There was tension in the air. This is what it is like. It is a continuous tension, a feeling of continuous uneasiness. We are scared. You wake up with a start to every noise."
Not only are people terrorized by what seems like random killings, they cannot forget the danger for a second because of the constant presence of drones, sometimes three or four visible at once. They circle in the sky, buzzing, all day, except when it rains. No one knows when they will fire, nor at whom.
One reason for the relatively low number of casualties in relation to deaths seems to be that the Hellfire missiles these drones shoot are thermobaric, far more destructive than ordinary explosives. The pressure wave produced by the blast alone may blow people apart in a circle as much as 20 meters in every direction, but the spray of burning aluminum and metal fragments can kill at an even greater distance. Often there is little left of the victims.
The nature of these missiles alone discredits the U.S. government's claim that these are "surgical" strikes. But the whole way targeting works also needs to be more widely understood. There are supposedly two types, "personality" and "signature."
"Personality" targets are when the U.S. puts particular individuals on a death list based on all sorts of "intelligence," including paid local informers who may have their own agenda. This was the main focus of drone strikes in Pakistan under the Bush administration.
Since Barack Obama took office, there has been a radical increase in the number of drone strikes (45-52 under Bush in 2001-09, 292 in just three and a half years under Obama). He has taken personal charge of approving who is on the kill list and all decisions to go ahead whenever the CIA does not have "a 'near certainty' that there will be zero civilian deaths."
At the same time, under Obama's leadership there has been what Living Under Drones calls "a reported expansion in the use of 'signature' strikes," which it also calls "profiling" and "guilt by association." Under the "pattern of life analysis," groups of men whose identities are not known but who meet certain "defining characteristics" can be killed on sight. These "signature characteristics" are secret, but seem to involve being "in an area of known terrorist activity," being in the vicinity of someone considered a "top Al-Qaeda operative" (which, as the strike on the jirga at Datta Khel demonstrates, can include the many, many thousands of people who might find themselves, at one time or another, at a gathering, a market or a street where someone linked to the many armed Islamist groups might also be found), or even, according to knowing jokes repeated in the report, "three guys doing jumping jacks" or "young men with stubble."
There is another element in this picture indicating that civilian deaths are not just accidental "collateral damage" but the deliberate result of U.S. policy: what American authorities cynically call "double tapping," the practice of following up on one missile strike with another one or more, minutes or even hours later, with the clear intent of killing relatives and neighbors frantically searching through the rubble for survivors and loved ones, "looking for the children in the beds," and trained rescue workers.
The report says, "According to a health professional familiar with North Waziristan, one humanitarian organization had a 'policy to not go immediately [to a reported drone strike] because of follow up strikes. There is a six hour mandatory delay.' According to the same source, therefore, it is 'only the locals, the poor, [who] will pick up the bodies of loved ones.'"
The authors emphasize that "attacks on first responders may constitute war crimes." But their report also provides factual ammunition for the argument that not only this particularly repulsive aspect but the U.S.'s whole drone war in Pakistan in general (along with the use of drones in Yemen and Somalia) is a war crime.
First of all, many careful readers of the report will conclude that killing non-combatants is not just an accidental result of policy but an American policy in itself. Secondly, even if certain known individuals are in some way tied to armed groups, the fact that their names can remain on a "kill list" for a long time means that targeting them runs counter to the international law that apologists for the U.S. government cite to justify these killings. Article 2(4) of the UN Charter considers the use of force in or against another country to be justifiable self-defense only when it is a response to an ongoing armed attack or an imminent threat, which is described as "instant, overwhelming and leaving no choice of means, and no moment of deliberation."
There is no moral justification for the U.S. drone war in Pakistan, and no apparent legal justification for it either. (The Obama government claims that it has a written legal opinion authorizing its actions, but its contents are secret!) The U.S. is not legally at war with Pakistan. This is why the drone war is being waged by the CIA and not the regular armed forces, and why the American government has to treat it as secret, even though everyone in Pakistan knows, as does everyone in the U.S. and elsewhere who wants to know.
In fact, the U.S. is still mainly allied with the Pakistani government (and especially the Pakistani military), despite serious contradictions. For the first three years of the drone war in Pakistan, then President Pervez Musharraf publicly pretended that the strikes were "either Pakistani military operations, car bombs, or accidental explosions." Since then the Pakistani government has found itself caught between outraged public opinion demanding an end to the strikes and an unyielding U.S. government.
One of the most damning, though little noticed, parts of this report is a timeline that correlates the intensity of U.S. drone activity with friction between the two governments, especially around Pakistan's arrest of CIA contractor Raymond Davis for gunning down two men in the street. At first the U.S. halted the drones "to avoid angering a population already riveted by Davis' arrest"; then, when negotiations between the Musharraf and Obama governments stalled, it launched 11 strikes in succession until the Pakistani government finally released Davis. Relying on the U.S. Congressional Research Service, the report cites this as one of three incidents in which "[m]essaging to Pakistan appears to continue to be part of the [drone] programme's intent."
In other words, at least part of the reason why the U.S. is killing people in Pakistan has little to do with even perceived military necessity but is in fact aimed at pressuring Pakistani "deciders," not because the Pakistani ruling classes and armed forces care about the lives of ordinary Pakistanis or anyone else, but because when the U.S. kills civilians in their country it makes their government look bad and provokes popular anger.
If terrorism is defined as the deliberate killing of civilians for political ends, this is an unmistakable "signature" of a terrorist operation.
The "cost" and "downside" of the drone strikes, the report warns, is that they "have facilitated recruitment to violent non-state armed groups, and motivate attacks against both U.S. military and civilian targets." This is undoubtedly true. It is also undeniably true, as the report says, that these armed Islamic fundamentalists are doing great harm as they seek to impose their rule over the people.
This report should help us understand that what the U.S. is doing in Pakistan and around the world is actually helping propel the jihadi movement. At the same time, however, although it exposes the harm caused by the U.S. with its drone war, the report does not take into account the even greater harm done by the American occupation of Afghanistan and decades-long domination of Pakistan, including its support for Pakistan's military and ruling classes and the Islamization of the country that was initially meant to make U.S. domination palatable. For both of these reasons, we should be very clear that the U.S. is the biggest terrorist of all.
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 #283 October 28, 2012
The following letter was sent to the Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund:
October 28, 2012 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Hello there please recieve my warmest red greatings. Hope all is well with you all. I write this letter to speak my mind on a couple things.
First I would like to congradulate the BAsics Bus Tour Volunteers for the inspiration that they gave to the people and communitys in wich they visited and let communism be known. I feel as if that has the real potential to grow and give life to something entirely of its own. It gives me great hope as a prisoner but mostly as a young communist to see the truth been told to the people. It seems by reading the little tid-bit RCP Newsletter [Revolution newspaper, eds.] prints that there is a real gravitational pull to learn more and get into the communist ideology. Like people hear about communist and right away they think dictator, Stalin, genocide, murder and terrible other things. I'm currently reading a book called "Inventing reality—the politics of the mass media" by Michael Parenti and for goodness sakes, at this time in age with so much knowledge literally at the tips of your fingers thinks that what "they", the "capitalist" say is true about the communist...then you really are a big dummie. Truly the book is good not done with it but its a recomended read from me. But like I was saying the truth is the truth and as a communist we should be saying nothing but the truth and once the people hear the truth, they wont react to it right away, thanks to the dominit capitalist state of mind but as I wanna say reality sets in on people they'll go "oh, shit, this is been going on this whole time?"... And with the world coming to a sharper divide, it is more now then ever to have the masses realize the side they must not only join and be with but know it is the only side for to be with. The capitalist is to choose war/destruction over community/harmony. This is not to say that there wont be a complete wipe out of violence in an communist society but I'll say and "presume" that it'll be lower than 30%.
The other thing I want to comment on is BA's interview "What Humanity Needs." I have read it and must say it was lively, joyful and full of golden nuggets wich are not Mc-donalds but of the kind wich the ingridients are knowledge. With so much golden nuggets I don't know where to begin. So I'll say what stood out to me the most and that was the part when BA speaks of Communism as a science and goes on to speak on synthesism and knowing that whole panorama of theory and learning from reality. He also goes on to show the connection of social science with other sciences & how when they come to the truth, formulas and such. I may not be saying this right in wich case my apologies are due.
Much is to be learned from this interview and although I don't agree with everything that's what we must struggle with each other. I will not offer my criticism at this time, for Im still learning my self. With all this said I'll bid my outro and from the inter most death of the beast, I continue to struggle for the people.
XXXX, Prisoner in California
Revolution #283 October 28, 2012
October 28, 2012 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
In July 2011, prisoners in the Security Housing Unit (SHU) at Pelican Bay State Prison (PBSP) in California went on a hunger strike. The list of demands included an end to long-term solitary confinement. At one point, nearly 12,000 prisoners joined this hunger strike in more than 11 prisons throughout the state. The hunger strike ended, but this fight has continued as prison authorities still refuse to meet the prisoners' demands.
Now, as part of building their unity and pushing this struggle forward, a group of prisoners that identifies itself as the SHU Short Corridor Hunger Strike Representatives, have issued a call for an "end to hostilities" among prisoners of different nationalities within California's prisons and jails to begin October 10. In "Agreement to End Hostilities," dated August 12, 2012, they state they are speaking "on behalf of all racial groups here in the PBSP-SHU Corridor" and begin by saying: "If we really want to bring about substantive meaningful changes to the CDCR [California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation] system in a manner beneficial to all solid individuals, who have never been broken by CDCR's torture tactics intended to coerce one to become a state informant via debriefing, that now is the time for us to collectively seize this moment in time, and put an end to more than 20-30 years of hostilities between our racial groups." Their call goes on to address the "manipulative divide and conquer tactics" used against them and says that, "all racial group hostilities need to be at an end... and if personal issues arise between individuals, people need to do all they can to exhaust all diplomatic means to settle such disputes; do not allow personal, individual issues to escalate into racial group issues!!" and that people need to refuse to allow "informers, snitches, rats, and obstructionists" to "create chaos and reignite hostilities amongst our racial groups." (See Revolution #282, October 7, 2012, for full text of the call.)
The following letter to the Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund is from a prisoner in the Midwest who offers his thoughts on the significance and meaning of the call. We feel the letter is an important contribution to the discussion about how to deal with contradictions among the people.
October 12th, Friday, 2012
To whom it may concern,
I want to first start this off by applauding those brothas out in California in proactively taking steps to agree to end all hostilities between the different races. That's big! I've been watching attentively the progress that's been made out there ever since they launched that historic hunger strike last year. Since then, their call to officially turn a new leaf October 10th, 2012, will definitely usher in a new phase within their move to increase their solidarity amongst each other, which will further enable them the opportunity to start consciously challenging not only their immediate conditions, but also the 21st century prison system of "control movement" and everything related to its perpetuation. So again, I want to first start this off by congratulating all of your brothas for achieving that level of solidarity.
Being that I'm on a supermax unit myself and been down almost a decade and a half now, I understand how much the degree of solidarity or lack thereof achieved will significantly determine the success or failure of something. Believe me, I know.
With that said, I would like to share a few thoughts of mine, that I hope will be of some value to this emerging solidarity. Before I immediately dive in, though, I would like to take an indirect route to my main point first.
This morning I watched a re-run of T.J. Holmes' new talk panel show called Don't Sleep. The original episode came on last night at 11 p.m. Eastern time, but since I missed it, I had to check it out when it re-aired again the following morning at 8. Well, the topic they were discussing was about the racist NYPD's policy of "stop and frisk." Now... I've known about this racist policy and practice for quite some time now, due to reading the Revolution newspaper all the time. So, I already knew Carl Dix and Cornel West were the main actors who really initiated this mass movement against "Stop and Frisk"; however, not only weren't any one of those brothas a part of T.J. Holmes' panel, but they didn't even mention any one of their names. Instead, on the panel they had immediately to T.J.'s right the actor Malik Yoba. Normally, the first person who sits to T.J.'s right is either a right-wing Black Republican (or as I like to term them "the classical house nigga") or some type of an apologist for the system; and Malik Yoba definitely lived up to the latter. The other two on the panel were Anthony Hamilton, the R&B singer, and the New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow. Usually, the other two panelist are either pro-Democratic Barack Obama supporters or liberal intellectuals, entertainers, or activists.
Of all the panelists, Charles M. Blow was the most correct in his arguments against "Stop and Frisk" as being a systematic problem that goes beyond just "the individual bad apples." He persuasively made many good points against it, but never once did he ever scientifically tie it to the true source of the problem, which is the capitalist-imperialist system generally, and the New Jim Crow phenomenon of mass incarceration particularly. Again, even though he was partly correct, every regular reader of the Revolution newspaper knows, by him failing to comprehensively tie it to the New Jim Crow phenomenon of mass incarceration, and most importantly, to the capitalist-imperialist system as a whole, the audience who tuned in that day had been robbed of a chance to understand that policy within its larger context. Instead, the people who had watched that program today walked away ultimately seeing REFORM as being the only solution to those types of circumstances. If Carl Dix and Cornel West would've been those panelists, though, best believe they would've walked away ruminating on "Stop and Frisk" in an entirely different context and came to an entirely different alternative; and that's the real reason why they weren't on there too. Think about it!
One thing I've come to realize about the bourgeois media is that they like to get ahead of potential cracks in their system which has the potential to expose them for what they really are and really stand for. And one way they do so, they try to hijack issues which others have actually did all the hard work to expose; and once they successfully do that, they set the limits of the narrative behind it, while picking those whom they want to speak out about it which they believe will best keep it within the bourgeois framework of acceptable solutions. After listening to Malik Yoba, one would've thought all the community had to do was partnership with the police department in NYC or become a police officer themselves to change "police culture," as if "police culture" just needs reforming. I tell you what Carl Dix would've said about the police and their culture, if he had been on there though. He would've said [quoting Bob Avakian]:
"The role of the police is not to serve and protect the people. It is to serve and protect the system that rules over the people. To enforce the relations of exploitation and oppression, the conditions of poverty, misery and degradation into which the system has cast people and is determined to keep people in. The law and order the police are about, with all of their brutality and murder, is the law and the order that enforces all this oppression and madness." (BAsics 1:24)
This brings me to my main point which I want to convey to those brothas out in California. As we dialectical materialist say, everything "divides into two" and it's that internal contradiction which will determine the nature development, and potential qualitative leaps in any phenomenon, be it something social, natural, or relating to one's level of consciousness. Despite the fact that Carl Dix and Cornel West had been the main activists behind Stop "Stop and Frisk" and had established this movement on a Revolutionary footing, now Stop "Stop and Fisk" has divided into two. Those on T.J. Holmes' talk panel represents the emerging bourgeois line of reform against Stop "Stop and Frisk." While Carl Dix and Cornel West represents a revolutionary line against it since theirs is framed within BAsics 3:1 still.
My point to you brothas out in California, though, is that the same will occur to you too. This movement of Solidarity that you're trying to create is not going to be some classless form of solidarity in some classical social democracy sense. It will be divided into two. In the end, either a Revolutionary line will come to define this Solidarity or a reformist one will. Now... I know movements in prisons are generally more circumscribed around improving conditions all around the board, but I believe we as prisoners need to set our sights even higher than that. I think we should view the solidarity created amongst us as being independent, yet interdependent to an even larger solidarity and movement. Our ultimate goal should include more than just improving our slavery; it should be about abolishing all forms of slavery period (READ: The 13th Amendment), especially the capitalist-imperialist slavery which is ultimately responsible for the poverty and economic hardships that drove us to commit the acts which sent us to prison.
If we are going to target our real enemies from now on, then let's look even beyond these prison walls too. In the last analysis, it's the class dictatorship of the bourgeoisie which these wardens and commissioners are only the repressive representatives of.
From now on, prisons should become the universities we are unfortunate to be sent to, yet leave away with a revolutionary communist degree in resistance upon our release. There's no doubt in my mind that many of these leaders of this generation will come from these very dungeons around the country. I have no doubt about that whatsoever.
Now, as a dialectical and historical materialist myself, I understand achieving the type of revolutionary solidarity that's needed, is easier said than done. It definitely involves a lot of arduous struggle. That's why we dialectical materialists say all true solidarity must involve "unity-struggle-unity." Even though most might not be on the same revolutionary page, one must continue to unite with those taking different political stances, while also struggling with them and trying to win them over to the only solution which they really have: revolutionary communism. The advantage that you brothas taking up this line already have, is that y'all have BAsics, the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal), the RCP, and BA as important resources to study. So take advantage of all that! Start building a "solid core with a lot of elasticity" amongst y'all now. Y'all are still in the preliminary stages of this new found solidarity, but y'all may lose y'all's advantage to those pushing lumpen positions, if y'all don't take proactive step upon these lines now. Because believe me, those lumpens who you are now uniting with—who don't truly want to see too many fundamental changes in the system—will see this solidarity as a way to better regulate the black market just like any CEO of a corporation or a mega-bank would do. These "illegitimate" capitalist motivations will be one of the strongest reformist lines y'all will be competing against, if not the main one. If I had to predict, it will also be the way the prison regime will try to undermine every gain y'all do make. So pay attention, so this side of your flank is not left unattended.
Again, I applaud you brothas though. Now, that y'all will be taking the lead in this struggle, I will be watching y'all even more attentively. I encourage those who want to respond to what I've said to write to the paper. I definitely think it will strengthen not only this solidarity being created in California, it will provide us with an opportunity to create a growing solidarity across the state borders between us.
I'll close now with something Frederick Douglass had said many years ago about what all struggles are about:
"This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress."
In solidarity, Prisoner in Midwest
Revolution #283 October 28, 2012
October 15, 2012 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
September 29 was bright, sunny, and a very inspiring day in the Windy City. Hundreds of people—mainly defiant young women—came together for "Slutwalk," rallying and marching through the streets of Chicago. This outpouring in Chicago is part of an international movement that has sprung up since last year in cities across the planet, demanding an end to the rape and sexual assault of women and taking on the whole culture of "blame the victim" and a consensus of silence throughout society which supports a heightened degradation of women.
Many of the women attending Slutwalk are from colleges in the Chicago area, some dressed in provocative ways in a highly theatrical attempt to "flip the script" on the sentiment expressed by a Toronto police officer who provoked the "Slutwalk" movement in 2011 by declaring that women who didn't want to be raped should "avoid dressing like sluts." In Chicago's Loop this year, hundreds of young women took to the streets—in anger and yes, in joy—joined by older women, young Black, white and Latino men, and whole families attending in support of their daughters who survived sexual assault or who died at the hands of their attackers.
A group of us came down to unite with this powerful and very welcome manifestation and to raise a banner saying "STOP PATRIARCHY, RESIST THE CULTURE OF RAPE AND PORNOGRAPHY—STAND UP FOR ABORTION RIGHTS," Some of us were wearing our Revolution tee-shirts and some the "stop patriarchy.com" shirt, with the slogan "If You Can't Imagine Sex without Porn, You're Fucked!" A couple of us got out the stop patriarchy.com palmcards and other materials, while others got out Revolution newspaper and did thumbnail interviews with the people participating in the event. Slutwalk snaked through the streets chanting "Blame the System, not the Victim," and then many got up to the mic, again and again and from all sorts of points of view to denounce the crimes against women and how it affects all of us. Our group definitely impacted Slutwalk with our advanced expressions, and most especially with our stickers that went viral among this highly receptive crowd: everywhere and on many body parts, you saw the flashes of neon, emblazoned with the slogan from the stop patriarchy shirt as well as "Imagine (crossed out)—Create—a World Without Rape" and "Abortion on Demand without Apology." People gave generously, so that we raised more than $150 on the day. And people poured out their rich thinking about all this to us, expressing their fury at the nightmare that half of humanity faces and their hopes for a better world, and also told us what struck them about what it would take to end this age-old and worldwide oppression of women and the fact that some of us were saying it would take communist revolution to end this and were calling on them to be part of that.
A 25-year-old white working class woman from a small town in Illinois told us, "I came here because I am a rape victim myself. I was actually raped by a cousin at 4 years old and it continued till I was about 10 years old! I came here to support my best friend who committed suicide my junior year in high school because this happened to her! By her own father. Since she was two years old. Her father did not go to jail. Because he knew the police in my town. And when I see the police here today, hemming us in, I say, 'Fuck the Police!'"
A college student from the Mexican community told us, "Rape can happen to anyone. I was on campus wearing a tee-shirt and sweat pants when I was sexually assaulted. I was not looking for it! The thing that infuriates me the most is that they say it is the victim to blame! We are not to blame!" Her mother responded to what Revolution was putting forward, "Overthrowing this entire society and all its institutions and ideas strikes me as radical. But a culture of rape may demand a radical solution. If all we can do under this government is try to vote out a lot of this and that just doesn't work, well, then I say whatever it will take!"
A young woman who works in the fashion industry and is a dominatrix in the BDSM scene told us, "When I saw your banner saying 'stop patriarchy' I just ran to grab it!" When confronted with our point of view, insisting that we must fight for a new society where no woman sells herself, she confided, "I didn't ask to be a sex worker. Yes, being a dominatrix wears on you. It colors your whole view of humanity . . . not just your view of men."
A 35-year-old woman told us, "I am Brazilian. I moved to the States when I was 13. I've been exotified and eroticized all throughout school from the time I was 13. Parents, teachers, boys in school, all telling me that I dressed 'slutty.' ... I work with middle schoolers today. And the messages these girls receive if they are interested in having some type of relationship with boys or other girls, that they are sluts, that they are whores and dykes. This is ridiculous! They are kids! Exploring their sexuality and I think it's perfectly normal... I was at Slutwalk in Rio for 2011. It was one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen in my city. Rio is a city full of macho culture. There are tourists that go to Rio just for the sex, just for the women. The main thing exported from Rio is images of women, of Carnivale. I think it was very powerful to have women in the streets of Rio not for Carnivale, not for men to grab. But women who were playing drums, doing martial arts in the streets, capoeira. We were no longer sexual objects. We are fierce, fearless, we are strong. We can wear what we want. We are not for men to gawk at. We are not sexual objects."
Revolution #283 October 28, 2012
October 28, 2012 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
On Monday, September 24, Christine Dobbyn of KTRK News in Houston reported that "a mentally ill double amputee was shot and killed by a Houston police officer this weekend after he refused to drop a pen." On October 11, the same station reported, "A Houston police officer shot and killed an unarmed man, whose family says he was mentally ill."
In less than two weeks, two unarmed men, one white, one Black, both suffering from mental problems, were murdered by the Houston Police Department. These are the latest in a string of killings and shootings by the HPD that the Houston Chronicle said "almost doubled" the pace they set in 2011.
The brutal end of Brian Claunch's tormented life came shortly after 2:30 am on September 22, when two officers of the Houston Police Department responded to a call of a man in distress and entered the Healing Hands group home in Houston's East End. Moments later, the 45-year-old Claunch lay bleeding to death on the floor from one shot to the head.
The police report on Claunch's murder claimed he had waved a "shiny object" at the cops and refused to drop it. The report continued, "As the suspect backed one of the officers into a corner, he attempted to stab the officer with the object. Officer Marin, fearing for his partner's life, and his own safety, discharged his duty weapon one time, striking the suspect. The object was discovered to be a shiny ballpoint pen."
Brian Claunch, who had long suffered from bipolar disorder, was in a wheelchair. He had one arm and one leg—the others had been torn off when he placed himself on a railroad track in front of an onrushing train to "purge the devil" from the left side of his body. John Garcia, caretaker at Helping Hands, said Claunch often carried a pen because he "liked to doodle. He was always doodling at the table."
A little over two weeks later, police swarmed into a neighborhood of the Third Ward, one of Houston's oldest Black communities, just across the Gulf Freeway from the East End. 37-year-old Kenny Releford, a Navy veteran, had allegedly broken into the house of an elderly neighbor. The man's son called 911, something he now deeply regrets.
Police arrived after Kenny Releford had gone back home. KHOU News reported that "an officer with the Houston Police Department said he had no choice but to shoot and kill an assault suspect in the Third Ward Thursday morning. An officer ordered him to come out with his hands up. HPD said the suspect kept one arm behind his back while yelling at them, ignoring the officer's verbal commands. Police said Releford kept approaching the officer with one arm hidden, and the officer fired his weapon twice. He was rushed to the hospital where he later died."
Neighbors who witnessed the events immediately disputed the police story. One woman who lives across the street told the Houston Chronicle, "Releford exited his house with his hands in the air. She agreed that Releford continued walking toward the officer despite the policeman's order to stop. Releford fell to the ground after the first shot, she said, then rose. The policeman then fired a second shot. Another witness ... said Releford had both hands in the air as he walked toward the policeman. [She] said she and others watching the confrontation called to the policeman to alert him of Releford's perceived mental illness. 'We were saying, please don't shoot. He's mentally ill. I truly understand police concern. They want to go home after work.... They had no reason to shoot him.'"
The murders of Brian Claunch and Kenny Releford are part of a nationwide epidemic of police brutality and murder, and an indictment of a heartless system. Even if everything in the stories of these cops is true—what does it say about a system that trains its armed enforcers to gun down unarmed people in severe mental and emotional distress, and then exonerates and justifies these killings before the facts are even investigated?
Bob Avakian wrote after Riverside California police shot and killed Tyisha Miller, a young Black woman suffering from a seizure, "If you can't handle the 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)
We demand justice for Brian Claunch and Kenny Releford!
Revolution #283 October 28, 2012
by C. Clark Kissinger | October 28, 2012 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
We received this contribution from a correspondent, and are sharing it with readers.
It is a sad trajectory from the antiwar classic Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb to the latest output of Hollywood's liberal establishment, Argo. What would make the likes of Ben Affleck, George Clooney, Alan Arkin, and John Goodman turn out a hymn of praise to the CIA?
Yes, that CIA. The one that overthrew the Mossadegh government in Iran, the Arbenz government in Guatemala, the Sukarno government in Indonesia, the Goulart government in Brazil, the Allende government in Chile, and so on, killing hundreds of thousands in the process—the covert keepers of the empire.
The fact that Argo is such a well-made movie makes it all the more insidious. Viewers are drawn step by step through this fast-paced thriller that eventually has the audience on the edge of their seats... cheering for the bad guys: "Go CIA, Beat Iran!" The whole jingoist atmosphere in the U.S. at that time is lovingly recreated with yellow ribbons around the trees and Iranians attacked on the streets.
The background for the film is the 1979 Iranian revolution and overthrow of the reactionary Shah of Iran. When the Shah fled Iran, he eventually took refuge in the U.S. This led to the storming of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran by a large crowd with the demand that the Shah be returned to Iran to stand trial for his many crimes. The situation had been exacerbated by the earlier ostentatious show of support for the hated Shah by U.S. president Jimmy Carter.
The situation was complicated by the fact that the impetus to seize the embassy came from supporters of the Ayatollah Khomeini, who wanted to embarrass and drive out of office the remaining pro-U.S. figures in Iran's interim government. It took place on the eve of a referendum on the new reactionary constitution for an Islamic republic. But the seizure of the embassy and the demand to return the Shah were wildly popular among the people of Iran.
Further, shortly after the embassy seizure, the Soviet Union invaded neighboring Afghanistan in a power move of its own in the area. And as the crisis dragged on, the Ronald Reagan team, which soon after defeated Carter in the 1980 election, began its own dealings with Khomeini behind the back of the Carter administration, eventually leading to the Iran-Contra scandal. All this made for a cauldron of contradictions that fueled the creation of a whole "America Under Siege" atmosphere.
Ignoring most of this, the film Argo turns reality on its head. First of all, as the RCP said at the time, "It's not our embassy!" The embassy in Tehran did not represent the U.S. people, it represented the interests of the U.S. ruling class, and the demand to return the Shah for trial was fully justified. The embassy was in fact a "nest of spies," as the Iranians charged. This was fully borne out by the thousands of pages of documents seized from the embassy, some of which were painstakingly reconstructed from shredded originals. As for the 52 "diplomats" held captive after the seizure, 21 were subsequently identified as members of the U.S. military and an undisclosed number were CIA agents. This small cadre of agents seeking to destabilize the new Iranian regime was the residue of an embassy staff of 1,000 before the overthrow of the Shah.
The plot of Argo ignores all this and deals instead with the smuggling out of Iran of six "diplomats" who had ducked out the back door when the embassy was seized and had taken refuge in the Canadian embassy.
Throughout the film, the Iranians are portrayed as either incompetent dimwits or as a bloodthirsty mob out to kill every American they could lay their hands on. This, of course, was not the reality. I know because I was in Tehran in December of 1979 leading a delegation from the U.S. supporting the demand that the Shah be returned for trial. I walked through what is portrayed in the film as a howling mob outside the embassy and was well received everywhere I went. The truth of the matter was that the Iranian people were very careful to draw the distinction between the U.S. government, which they did hate for very good reason, and the people of the U.S., who were not perceived as their enemies.
The objective role of this film is to soften up progressive people to accept any crime that the U.S. ruling class may deem necessary with regard to Iran today.
Here we see the relevance and importance of the ruling class playing the "Black President" card. Were a white Bush in office, Hollywood might actually be producing real oppositional films and there might be demonstrations in the streets. With Obama at the head, people who should know better are de-fanged. Progressive politics is restricted to an occasional whimper about single-payer health care or slightly higher taxes on the ultra-rich. Meanwhile, crimes against the people of the world are swept under the rug or outright accepted as the price for the life we enjoy in this country.
The solution to continually being dragged to the right is not to be found in taking sides with either the reactionary Islamic fundamentalists in power in Iran or with the reactionary rulers of the U.S. empire. What is needed now is for people to increasingly oppose the threats and crimes of this government, no matter who is in office, and bring forth another way for the people of the world.
Revolution #283 October 28, 2012
October 28, 2012 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Revolution received the following initial reports of protests on October 22, the National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality, Repression, and Criminalization of a Generation. Check back for additional reports which will be posted as we receive them.
Updated October 28, 2012, with reports for Greensboro and San Francisco Bay Area, and photos from New York.
In Los Angeles, people and families who have been targets of police brutality, murder, and incarceration came together with others who refuse to condone this injustice. About 35 people from Las Vegas, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, and Los Angeles rallied at the Twin Towers/Men's Central Jail at noon. A huge banner that read "Mass Incarceration + Silence = Genocide," signed by people from the Crenshaw area in LA and Cal State Northridge, was held up facing the street. The Cuauhtemoc Aztec Dancers brought a spirited cultural participation to the action.
Wayne Kramer, of Jail Guitar Doors, a Unitarian Universalist minister, and Keith James of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network spoke at the rally. By joining together to "break the silence" people found a way to do something about the horrors of mass incarceration. Yolanda Trotter, whose 96-year-old mother died after being tased by the police who had been called to help her, came all the way from Vegas to LA to tell her story to the world and cry out for justice. Visitors to the jail and people going to the nearby court joined the protest and shared their stories. One of them, a woman who had come to the jail that morning to tell her incarcerated husband that their son had died in police custody that Saturday because, out of fear, he had swallowed the drugs he was carrying when the police stopped him, stayed for a while by the banner. "I felt so happy when I came out and saw this here," she said. In an embryonic way, collectively breaking the silence transformed people's outrage and pain into strength and resistance.
A spirited march of about 300 people, led by a truck decorated with pictures of people killed by police, went from Pershing Square in downtown LA through Skid Row to police headquarters. On Skid Row, people welcomed the marchers; many took flyers, and people enthusiastically took up whistles (building on the Stop Mass Incarceration Network's "Blow the Whistle" campaign). Some of the homeless joined the march, vigorously blowing their whistles. At 5th and Spring Streets, in the downtown arts district, where Dale Garrett, a 51-year-old Black man was shot down by an undercover LAPD detective in broad daylight, the march defiantly stopped. A die-in covered the intersection. Body outlines were chalked in the street.
Black stickers reading "Mass Incarceration + Silence = Genocide! October 22nd. Break the Silence!" were widely taken up, as well as "Fight the Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution!" At police headquarters, friends and relatives of people killed by police and representatives of various organizations spoke to the crowd.
In Anaheim, California, friends and families of Manuel Diaz, Joel Acevedo, Cesar Cruz, Joe Whitehouse, Andres Avila, and others killed by police, and 16-year-old Jesus Aguirre, sentenced to life in prison, held a march and rally on Sunday, October 21, as part of the National Day of Protest Against Police Brutality, Repression, and the Criminalization of a Generation.
Despite a morning of pouring rain people chanted, blew whistles, and called on the public to stand up and stand together against police brutality and mass incarceration at rallies that were held in various neighborhoods throughout the day. At one community college people were called on to get handfuls of flyers and whistles and take the protest inside the school (because of the rain).
People involved in forming Revolution Clubs together with family members of people shot and/or killed by the police were at the center of some of the neighborhood rallies. Where family members spoke it gave powerful testimony to the impact of the outrage of police brutality.
These rallies unleashed people to tell their own stories of police brutality and abuse, as well as to dig into the overall impact of mass incarceration. One person encouraged people to reach out to those who were formerly incarcerated, talking about how they are the constant target and victim of police harassment. He knows because he, himself is one. Another person described how a friend received a call from his wife saying she was being set upon by men down the block from his house. He rushed from his house to the scene—where he was shot to death by an undercover cop.
People at the neighborhood rallies recalled the "Blow the Whistle on Stop-and-Frisk, Police Brutality, Racial Profiling and Mass Incarceration" day on September 13 and saw the October 22nd actions as part of a growing movement of resistance. Revolutionary communists described how they saw this resistance as part of building a movement for revolution in which "Fight the power, and transform the people, for revolution" is a central part. And Revolution newspaper was in the mix. Hundreds of whistles and flyers got out, with people joining on the spot to distribute them at some of the rallies.
One feature of the rallies were banners reading "Mass Incarceration + Silence = Genocide" which people were encouraged to sign. These banners were brought from the neighborhood rallies to a citywide gathering the evening of October 22nd at the County Courthouse/County Jail complex.
The evening citywide gathering brought out some of the people who had been at the earlier neighborhood events, an anarchist drum corps, "punks against apartheid," people who are part of the Occupy movement, victims of police torture and others. Members of the group Rebel Diaz dropped by the event at the end of the evening. Speakers addressed the question of mass incarceration, its origins in the workings of the system and the conscious policies of the ruling class. The situation with stop-and-frisk in New York City and the resistance to it were described. And a call was put out for people to support those facing trial for that resistance.
The highlight and main event of the citywide gathering was a march around the walls and barbed wire fences that surround the massive county jail complex. Marchers carried a banner announcing the "October 22nd National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality, Repression, and the Criminalization of a Generation," 20 feet long by 6 feet high. The "Mass Incarceration + Silence = Genocide" banners were bright yellow with big black lettering standing out starkly. Among the chants were "We don't want a Prison Nation—Stop Mass Incarceration" and "Mass Incarceration IS the Crime." Visiting hours stretch until 9 pm and the marchers were able to connect with many family members who had come to visit loved ones. The message of October 22nd struck a chord and the resistance was welcomed.
The county sheriff's deputies, on the other hand, were anything but welcoming. They grew increasingly tense as the marchers message received support from family members and long lines of traffic backed up because of the increasing number of sheriff cars.
When prisoners crowded the galleries to watch and when the prisoners' fists went up in the air, the sheriff's deputies started blaring their sirens to drown out the chanting from the marchers. This drew even more attention to the marchers and their message.
Throughout the march there was an exuberance as people stood up right in the face of the state authority to get their message out.
On Saturday, October 20, at the historic Auburn Research Library, several activist groups worked together to organize two events to address police brutality. The first event, called "Break the Chains," was an open forum calling on the audience to speak bitterness about their encounters with police or to recount the circumstances surrounding the murder of their relatives, as well as a platform for the resisters in Georgia who are part of the undocumented youth movement. They even had the testimony from a former corrections officer who detailed the attitudes and vicious culture of hatred among prison guards towards the prisoners, collaborating on how to make life more miserable and tortuous for targeted prisoners. The second program, called "Every 36 Hours: Extrajudicial Violence in the Black Community," was sponsored by the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, the Ariston Waiters Foundation, and the October 22nd Coalition. There were a number of cultural presentations, from several dozen children from a local Black Liberation School marching in the auditorium to perform, to prominent local hip hop artists. The first panel featured several parents of children whose lives have been stolen: Nicholas Heyward, Freda Waiters, Missy Stafford and Joe Harris, as well as a close relative of Troy Davis. All of their testimony was riveting, making clear with substance not only how their loved ones were deliberately murdered, but how they feel the pain like it was yesterday. While some still held out hope to pressure those in power or even use the ballot box to get justice, Nicholas Heyward from New York City's Parents Against Police Brutality explained why he was part of the October 22nd Coalition, and why we must not rely on the system. He explained that over many years he had found that his time spent in the courts and in politicians' offices had gotten him nowhere... appealing to the audience to cast aside such illusions and go directly to the people to mobilize ever greater resistance that cannot be ignored. The second panel featured activists from Copwatch, Nation of Islam, October 22nd Coalition, and National Action Network, and Mawuli Davis, a defense lawyer known for taking on the cases of victims of police murder, and Vincent Fort, a politician who has stood with the families and got arrested in defense of the Occupy movement.
Revolution Books got a lot of attention with big display boards featuring different quotes from the book BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian, as well as an enlarged image of him. A huge hit was a banner, "Mass Incarceration + Silence = Genocide" which was signed all day.
On October 22, protesters gathered in a downtown park called Troy Davis Park (renamed by the people during the Occupy days). The park has an interesting mix of homeless people (mostly playing chess), students from Georgia State University and Atlanta Metropolitan College, vendors, and office workers. In a sea of people wearing black, the demonstration opened with drummers and a brief speak-out including Nicholas Heyward, whose 13-year-old son, Nicholas Jr,. was killed by the NYPD, and civil rights attorney Mawuli Davis, before stepping off for a very lively march that took Peachtree Street to the Atlanta Detention Center. Piercing the air were the sound of whistles blowing and loud chanting as the march snaked through the downtown traffic. The October 22nd banner led the way with people holding signs with the names of those killed by the police followed by "The Whole System Is Guilty!," a banner that said "Mass Incarceration + Silence = Genocide," and the most popular banner was "Fuck the Police." As the march passed by the MARTA transit station, lots of Black youth joyously joined in the demonstration. They were really attracted to the "Fuck the Police" banner. By the time the march arrived at the detention center there were about 120 people. To the dismay of the jail guards, the demonstrators took the front stairs and had another speak-out. There was a continuous stream of harrowing stories by those whose loved ones were murdered by the police: Freda Waiters spoke about her son Ariston Waiters, who was shot in the back by the Union City police a year ago; Mary Neal spoke about her mentally ill brother Larry Neal, who was murdered in a Tennessee jail by the guards; a Vietnamese mother spoke about her son who was shot by the police and left to bleed to death; a teenage boy spoke about his brother who was killed in an Atlanta jail by the prison guards. And going through the crowd, you could hear outrageous story after outrageous story of those who were either brutalized by the police or jacked up by the "injustice" system. A middle-aged Black man who came over to see what the demonstration was about said he just walked out of jail after doing 60 days for littering (!) and lost his job. Following the families, several organizations made statements: Revolution Books Atlanta, National Action Network, FTP Movement, and others. After the speak-out, the march took off through the streets once again, this time winding its way through the MARTA station plaza and back to the park. The day really captured the anger and anguish of all the lives devastated by this system on the one hand, and on the other tapped into the feeling of joy and liberation in standing up and fighting back, and the need for revolution.
During the course of the afternoon, Revolution Books distributed very widely a palm card with the BAsics quote 1:13, "No more generations of our youth, here and all around the world, whose life is over, whose fate has been sealed, who have been condemned to an early death or a life of misery and brutality, whom the system has destined for oppression and oblivion even before they are born. I say no more of that." They also distributed a flyer for an open house at Revolution Books including the URL for the Cornel West interview with Bob Avakian and sold 60+ copies of Revolution newspaper.
On the evening of October 22 a mixed crowd of family members who have had their loved ones murdered by the police; revolutionaries; proletarian and middle strata youth; Veterans For Peace activists; and Occupy people braved the cold and drizzly evening to show their opposition to the epidemic of police brutality in Seattle and around the country. There were large posters that read "Stolen Lives" that had the pictures of people who had been murdered by the police. One of the images was of Henry Lee, an elderly Black man with dementia who was recently shot by the police in the doorway of his home in south Seattle. Friends and family members of Jedidiah Waters, Prince Gavin, and Victor Duffy Jr. courageously spoke out about the injustices and shared their stories of loss and pain. Waters, Gavin and Duffy were some of the most recent Seattle-area young people wantonly murdered by police this year. There have been six people murdered in the last three months alone in the region. One of the things about October 22nd is that every year, there are always new families who show up who have had their loved ones murdered by the police. Friends of Jedidiah Waters described how they found out at the inquest hearing that Jedidiah had been shot 11 times, five in his head, mutilating his body. After hearing this at the inquest, they ran into the hall screaming and crying. All this for "allegedly shoplifting" from Walmart. Marie Young, whose son, 23-year-old David, was murdered last year by the same cop, Matthew Leitgeb, who murdered Waters, also spoke. Pointing to the Stolen Lives posters, she said, "This is just getting ridiculous. We have to do something. This has to end." She said the inquest hearings were ridiculous and weren't set up to get any kind of justice for the people. A Native woman whose nephew was found dead in a juvenile detention facility spoke out about the daily police brutality and intimidation inflicted upon Native youth and the fear that this instilled in her and her son. The family members of John T. Williams and Victor Duffy Jr. took the stage holding pictures of their loved ones, and spoke through their tears and anger with a spirit of determination to keep up the fight for justice in memory of them. To be there in the crowd and listen to these stories was completely heartbreaking but also inspiring. Many in the audience were emotionally moved and responded with shouts of encouragement and agreement.
The president of the Seattle Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild spoke about mass incarceration and repression, remembering how the system murdered revolutionaries like Fred Hampton and other Black Panther Party leaders.
A volunteer with Revolution Books spoke about the nature of this system we live under, the scope of police brutality, mass incarceration and repression, and saluted people who have participated in the righteous resistance that has taken place this year and called for others to build off of it and take it further. The statement also told how within this situation there lies the possibility and basis for a radically different world through revolution, and Bob Avakian's new synthesis of communism. Some greeted this speech with exclamations of "right on" and a former prisoner said this spoke to everything that he had wanted to say.
Whistles were passed out and it was announced how these whistles were about everyone standing up to police brutality by blowing this whistle if they see or are being harassed by the police. People donated money in the donation bin that was passed around to support the work of O22.
The march set off for the Cinerama theater, where Chris Harris had his head rammed into a brick wall by the police, and is now unable to feed or dress himself because this caused a traumatic brain injury. The police presence was huge: motorcycles, cars, vans, and bicycles. A long row of bicycle cops lined up against the brick wall where Chris had his head smashed, as if they were proud of the fear and violence it represented. The people called this out, telling these cowards how much they hated them and the system of terror they represent. The march went into populated and visible areas of downtown and the protest was covered by at least two major mainstream news stations. People chanted, "Mass Incarceration: We Say No More! Police Brutality: We Say No More! Racial Profiling: We Say No More!" and added the names of people unjustly murdered like "Troy Davis: We Say No More!" Some people off of the sidewalk joined in the march and whistles were going off all throughout downtown. As the march continued, people along the way got copies of Revolution, O22 palm cards that had the faces of those who had been recently murdered, and BAsics cards with the "No more generations..." quote. There was intense anger, a resolve to get justice, and a determination to put an END to all this!
A group of about 50 people gathered at Market Square: several organizations fighting mass incarceration and police brutality were represented, as well as prison rights, LGBT rights, and anti-drug war activists, students, a group of homeless people, and artists. People penned their outrage on a banner reading "MASS INCARCERATION + SILENCE = SLOW GENOCIDE" that had been taken out to housing projects, stores, outside a county jail, and different neighborhoods the weekend before. Many comments described set-ups, victimization and murder by cops and the "criminal justice system."
An Occupy activist wrote in large letters, "Free Eric Marquez," a young man incarcerated and awaiting trial on felony charges, set up by an undercover cop for Occupy Houston's port protest last year—an example of how political dissent, too, is being criminalized.
A hallmark of O22, 2012 was the passion and participation of those whose lives have been directly and horribly impacted by police brutality and murder. Arlene Kelly spoke about her mentally ill daughter, Colleen, who HPD shot and let bleed to death in 1999. A woman people met at the jail came down with her sister, who got on the mic to tell her story. One after the other, people testified.
As the march stepped onto the street, whistles and chants reverberated across train stops and skyscrapers and people along the way grabbed flyers and copies of Revolution newspaper. Several people joined along the way. At the police station a couple joined in, one of them saying, "The words of people speaking out rang so true with me." Another joined because "this situation with the police is out of control and it affects the whole community, no matter where you live."
A Black veteran carrying a Stop Mass Incarceration sign recounted how he got arrested for arguing with a friend. Because he had a knife on him—one that he carried every day for use at his job—they hit him with a felony weapons possession charge. He subsequently lost his job and is now homeless. He marched because "I'm one of those persons that's fed up with this type of brutality... I've been everything in the book—I've been tased, I've been pepper-sprayed—for no reason—I've been falsely arrested, several times... Somebody got to start stepping up...I got some friends, they're like, 'Oh, it'll go away'. No it won't go away."
He agreed with the quote from BA about how the police "serve and protect" the system not the people. He added, "Like you said, it's an emergency, and it's something that is needed right now, very much needed right now, not later. Every day it's destroying people's lives; innocent children being murdered, handicapped people being murdered. They're not stopping. So it should be other people coming up and making aware of what they're doing that won't stop either. And eventually it will bring about change."
A cousin of Chad Holly, a 15-year-old whose brutal beating by HPD cops drew national attention and protest, remarked, "I'm so glad to see you out here because this has to stop."
Later, some of the participants got together with the revolutionaries to reflect on the day. Several said that this protest helped open people's eyes, especially about the link between the system and the police, and were struck by the unity expressed among people coming from different directions, and among different nationalities. One immigrant referred to a palm card she had recently gotten, with the quote from Bob Avakian, BAsics 1:3, which she said "got right to the point—that yes, this is not a democracy—this is imperialism."
On October 22, there was a real swirl of curiosity, excitement, and engaging even before the rally started. People were moved and riveted by the stark, enlarged photos of people who had been killed by the police in Cleveland. Many stopped in their tracks, and just tried to take it all in, with reverence, shock and anger. One woman said she knew one of the victims pictured there, that he was full of love and potential never to be realized.
People testified to Revolution sellers about their experiences with police brutality and murder. A middle-aged Black woman who worked for the transit company talked about her nephew who has repeatedly faced police harassment. A white woman from a small town in Ohio where a young woman had been killed by the police told people the details of the police murder. A Black man in his 20's, who at first seemed apathetic, had a lot to say—including how police brutality and mass incarceration is all linked to the history of slavery in this country. When he saw the first quote in BAsics, it immediately resonated with him: "There would be no United States as we now know it today without slavery. That is a simple and basic truth."
With djembe drumming in the background, the MC called on people to join the movement of resistance against the horrors of police brutality and murder, the degrading practice of stop-and-frisk, and the massive incarceration especially of Black and brown people. He spoke about a Black homeless man in Saginaw, Michigan, Milton Hall, who was shot 48 times and killed, and that is only one of hundreds every year. He called on people to "Fight the Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution."
A Black student from Cleveland State University's African American Cultural Center spoke about how he was arrested and convicted of three felonies for having some marijuana on him, and now can't get a job. He said, "We need to take revolution to the youth, got to get to the youth with that message." A Black woman said, "We all need to take a stand on the police brutality: Black, white, everyone." Members of the New Black Panther Party spoke about the need to fight the police who are an occupying army in the Black community. A 25-year-old woman who just met up with the protest that day spoke about how she was abused in jail, strip-searched and degraded, and she called on people to continue to fight back.
Several youth jumped into the march to the "Justice" Center, blowing whistles, chanting "ICE, FBI/No more detentions, no more lies," "Stop the killing, stop the lies/NO MORE STOLEN LIVES," and more. At the "Justice" Center, suddenly about 50 cops in formation came marching right by the protest, yelling their reactionary grunts, trying to intimidate people and block out the message of the march. That didn't happen. Whistles blew loudly, and people yelled "Fuck the Police" at them. Then the family of Guy Wills (killed by an off-duty cop) came along. As the march went by the County jail, many inmates raised fists and the V-sign at the windows and people in the march raised their fists in response, whistled and chanted.
With deep passion and conviction, a Black youth said, "WE ARE SLAVES. I stand for my people, like Tupac and others did. FIGHT THE POWER." Afterwards, some people finished off the day by going to Revolution Books to watch the BA Everywhere DVD and listen to Cornel West's interview with Bob Avakian.
On October 22, one person went down to the Frank J. Murphy Hall of Injustice. This is the site of the courthouse where countless people, mainly Black and Latinos, are sent off to prison. This is also the site of a scheduled hearing on the criminal trial of the cop who shot and killed 7-year-old Aiyana Jones as she slept on the sofa. Officer Weekly has filed a motion to dismiss the charges and some say his attorney, the prosecutor and judge are colluding to find a way to grant this motion.
With all of this going on at the Hall of Injustice, the National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality, Repression, and the Criminalization of a Generation was met with a lot of enthusiasm. A young Arab guy said that he was down at the courthouse because of racial profiling. He pointed to the part of the flyer about discrimination against Arabs and told about how the police confiscated his $60,000 truck because he is Arab. An older, well-dressed Black man paused, looking at the flyer, and finally said, "I didn't know anyone else thought about this the way I do." A lot of younger people took the flyer and agreed that police are constantly harassing, brutalizing, and arresting people for bullshit.
After the person distributing flyers had been there for a while, a county deputy came out to the courthouse plaza and ordered him off "their" property. Immediately they threatened to arrest him for failure to obey a lawful order by a police officer, a felony in Michigan. A crowd gathered around as the distributor asked what law prohibits distributing literature on public property. Rather than answer the question, three more deputies and a city cop with a dog appeared. After the confrontation ended, some people came up to the distributor and expressed appreciation for what he was doing to stop police brutality.
Later that afternoon a small group of people went downtown to an area where there is city bus traffic. Again the response was enthusiastic and a number of people took flyers to give to people on the bus, in their neighborhood, or to friends. Person after person spoke with anger and disgust about the abuse they've suffered at the hands of the cops. An older white man said the cops have always brutalized people. He told of a beating he received at the hands of the cops in his youth. A young Black man pointed to an unhealed wound on his face. He had received it at the hands of a cop after he objected to an overly intimate pat-down. He was beaten unconscious for this "crime." He said when he regained consciousness he was in a cell in a pool of his own blood. No charges were ever pressed against him. A well-dressed middle-aged woman from India told about how the police everywhere do this, it's not just in Detroit. An older Black man spoke with bitterness about how many young people are being sent to prison. He spoke about grandsons and nephews who were all locked up. He said he thought this was being done because there are no jobs for youth so they just lock them up.
Community activists held a protest rally in front of the New Orleans city hall on October 22nd: "We were demanding an end to police brutality and the decriminalization of a generation," said Rev. Brown, who joined thousands of protesters across the country demanding justice for innocent people killed and arrested by law enforcement. Speaker after speaker denounced racism in the criminal (so-called) justice system and will continue to fight for justice.
October 22nd in Greensboro, NC was marked by a spirited march through the Smith Homes housing project and was preceded by a rally/picket at the newly opened $114 million, 1032-bed Guilford ("Guilty") County Jail where banners, signs and drummers lined the street. An activist for immigrants' rights noted that the new jail "has made room in the old jail [next door] for immigrants awaiting deportation. It is now becoming a new regional detention center."
In the housing project, people were waiting for the march and some readily joined, including quite a few youth who were encouraged by their parents. One mother in a motorized wheel chair beamed as she joined the march: "My kids do this every year and they bring their friends. This is important." Another wheelchair-bound resident joined. The Cakalak Thunder drummers provided a loud pulsating beat that got people's attention and was hard to resist.
The march easily tripled in size as spectators were now discussing and debating with each other whether or not to join in or just wave support from their porches. Some people walked along the sidelines. Others took O22 Calls and revolutionary literature.
Significantly, Bob Avakian's name is beginning to be known to people here and some in the march (particularly young folks) took multiple copies of BA cards to distribute to others stating, "No more generations of our youth..." (BAsics 1:13) One man who had bought BAsics last year approached a person selling Revolution saying that "That first sentence in the book [about the exploitation of slave labor as central to the "wealth" of the U.S.] says it all!" The BA quote about the role of the police was distributed and discussed.
After the march, people gathered to talk about the police and their tactics, like arbitrarily "banning" residents (especially young males) from all public housing in Greensboro. One man spoke to the rally stating, "This tactic (banning) breaks up families, keeping men from their children and loved ones. It breaks your support, for instance, if you've just gotten out of prison, you often can't stay with your family if a cop decides you are 'undesirable.' There is no recourse and the 'banning' can last for years."
A "Blow the Whistle on Police Brutality" campaign was announced at the rally and young people got or signed up to receive whistles. At the end of the rally, the Stolen Lives Pledge was read by the mother of another Black man killed. Names were read from the Stolen Lives banner and the crowd shouted "Presente!"
Downtown Oakland on October 22nd a hundred people rallied, marched, and blew their whistles against police murder and mass incarceration. Called jointly by Cephus Johnson (the uncle of Oscar Grant) and the Bay Area Stop Mass Incarceration Network, the rally brought together many families of young men recently killed by police in Oakland and neighboring cities, high school and university students, people from the neighborhoods, revolutionaries, and activists from Occupy Oakland.
This was the first demonstration for one high school youth. He was challenged by one of the speakers in his class to step forward, and said he was amazed that there were so many different kinds of people standing up together. In fact, hundreds of students were part of raising the issue of mass incarceration to another level. At one high school, classroom doors were thrown wide open to speakers against police murder and mass incarceration. A teacher there told us how when one speaker asked how many knew someone in prison, every single student in a class of 40 raised their hand. Over 300 students (all the 9th and 10th graders in the school) heard from Cephus Johnson, Adam Blueford (whose son Alan, was killed by Oakland police only days before his high school graduation) and a youth from the Revolution Club. Cephus spoke to the epidemic proportions of police brutality and murder, from New York's Stop and Frisk, to Trayvon Martin and thousands of others; and how it's increasing. He spoke bluntly, "If you think it's bad now, just think what it will be like in a few years—unless you come out and stop it now. You are the future." The youth from the Revolution Club told the students that the situation they face of mass incarceration and police brutality is not their fault. In fact, they are the answer to this horror. Their stepping forward now to be part of this fight to end mass incarceration and police brutality is a very important part of changing what people are facing here and all over the world.
At the end of the day, students grabbed up hundred of whistles to blow against police brutality and mass incarceration, as well as copies of Revolution, stickers and leaflets to get out everywhere.
The use of BAsics 1:24 in the schools and more broadly has been both controversial and provoking—going up against the mantra of a "few bad cops spoiling the barrel." We challenged one family member on that. She admitted that "I kind of felt that unless I say that 'not all cops are bad, there are some good ones too,' I would come off as sounding too biased against the cops—too radical. But what he [BA] says is really true. We can't be lying to people."
At the rally, many spoke bitterness and outrage, both to the crowd and to the press— the mother and family of Mario Romero (one of the six people killed by Vallejo police since May), who was executed while sitting in his car in front of his house; the father of Alan Blueford, chased down and killed while lying on his back, unarmed; Denika Chapman, mother of Kenneth Harding Jr., gunned down by San Francisco police for not paying a $2 bus fare. At the end of the rally, the Pakistani/American family of 21-year-old Mohammed Shah—killed only days earlier in Hayward—bravely stepped forward to join in expressing both their pain and their determination to fight for justice.
Students from U.C. Berkeley brought a banner against police brutality they had made and signed. One older man from Egypt, after viewing photos of conditions of prisoners at Pelican Bay Prison, commented, "If this was in Libya, or some other country, this government would be screaming about it. But it's not there. It's here in the U.S.A.” Many passersby were attracted to the Stolen Lives Wall, listing some of the names and photos of the thousands who have been killed by law enforcement across the country. Others came up to the table to get their whistles, stickers, copies of Revolution, and to look through and buy a copy of BAsics.
Carl Dix's call "All Out for October 22nd" in Revolution newspaper was a crucial part in building for the day. What he said about this being an "emergency situation" really resonated with people—how "the powers-that-be have unleashed their whole criminal 'injustice' system to carry out intensifying murderous assault on oppressed people across the country."
People got a sense of a new movement of mass resistance against the whole system of mass incarceration as a powerful march, led by the families of the "Stolen Lives," took to the streets and marched to the jail—the Alameda County "pipeline to prison." We pledged to continue to stand with those incarcerated, and to spread the word of the courage of the hunger strikers and the call by the leaders of the Pelican Bay Hunger Strike for "peace between different nationalities in prisons and jails" (reprinted in Revolution #282). The rally ended with a call to blow the whistle here from this day forward, to have each other's back, to build the spirit of resistance against all of mass incarceration. Mass Incarceration + Silence = Genocide!
Revolution #283 October 28, 2012
By Jamel Mims | October 28, 2012 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
The following article was posted in the Stop Mass Incarceration Network website (stopmassincarceration .org)
On Tuesday October 23, I will be on trial along with Carl Dix, who, with Cornel West, initiated the 2011 campaign of nonviolent protest to stop Stop-and-Frisk. We are facing up to two years in jail for non-violent protest at the NYPD 103rd precinct in Jamaica, Queens last year.
The stakes are undoubtedly high: this is the second stop-and-frisk protest mass trial resulting from the culminating action of the civil disobedience campaign that sparked citywide resistance to the policy. The Queens District Attorney added a serious misdemeanor charge on us last month, and re-wrote our charges last week so that we're charged with 'acting in concert' rather than as individuals.
The action last November was the third such protest at New York City precincts with the most stop-and-frisks, this one taking place in the borough of Queens. We held a community rally and march through Jamaica, Queens, which ended at the 103rd Precinct. As our march arrived at the precinct, it was completely barricaded on all sides – on lock-down in anticipation of the protest. An officer slides open one of the metal grates and motions us inward so that we may protest at the precinct doors. After minutes of chanting and singing outside of the precinct steps, 20 of us were arrested, quite quickly, but held for hours late into the next day. For less than ten minutes of protesting stop-and-frisk outside of the doors 103rd precinct, which houses the NYPD officers who put fifty shots into Sean Bell, 12 co-defendants and I now find ourselves facing two years of jail time.
If anyone think this is just an empty threat, and they won't convict or send us to jail, let me reiterate—the DA has twice bumped up the charges in the last month, and has made it very clear that the prosecutorial apparatus intends to place us behind bars. A year ago, those who had no first-hand experience of the humiliation of being illegally searched barely knew the practice occurred. Those who got stopped and frisked thought there was nothing one could do about it. Now, the stop-and-frisk policy and the horrors it inflicts are going viral in mainstream society. Copwatch and videos of NYPD stops garner thousands of views, and nearly every day there are articles or opinion pieces about stop-and-frisk. Potential mayoral candidates have even had to confront this, as politicians line up to claim their opposition to the policy, or express their desire to reform or modify it in the ongoing pursuit of public opinion.
In this watershed moment, when stop-and-frisk is opening a window into the daily plight of thousands, the very people who put their bodies on the line to put this issue into the spotlight and openly call out for its abolition are vigorously prosecuted and threatened with incarceration. I refuse to accept this. It's unthinkable that the Queens District Attorney, who couldn't make a case against the cops who murdered Sean Bell, is now throwing the book at nonviolent civil disobedience protesters. In this light, the intended effect of this prosecution is insidiously transparent: to send a chilling effect through the movement against mass incarceration, and dampen the spirit of resistance it has ignited. To put it quite simply: don't speak up, and certainly don't fight back.
Well, I'm speaking up. And not just as someone who is passionate about the issue. I speak as a target of police abuse, as a Fulbright Scholar whose scholarship was almost denied after being assaulted by Boston police while trying to leave a party. I speak to you as an artist and teacher whose work in New York City public schools has me witness the humiliation and degradation of the youth by the NYPD on a daily basis. I speak to you as a committed opponent of the New Jim Crow, a system of mass incarceration that has 2.4 million mostly black and Latino men warehoused in prisons across the nation, with stop-and-frisk as a major pipeline into that system.
Most of all, I speak to you as someone who has cast their lot with those at the bottom of society: with those thousands of youth who are brutalized, targeted, harassed, and shuffled off behind bars — and is now facing years in prison for standing with them.
We fully intend to stop this railroading by bringing the political battle into the courtroom and putting Stop and Frisk on trial. If we are allowed to be convicted and jailed without a massive fight, then the battle against stop-and-frisk and the spirit of resistance it has engendered will be seriously dampened. On the other hand, if people stand with us in this legal battle–if we meet and defeat their attempts to silence and punish us–then the movement will gain further initiative and pull many more people into the struggle against mass incarceration.
On October 23rd, I am calling on you to stand with us. The fate of this policy and those thousands of youth crushed underfoot is bound up within this case, and cases like these. Join us at court in Queens and pack the courtroom, call in the DA's office and demand they drop the charges – speak up and fight back.
Jamel Mims is a multimedia artist, hip hop pedagogue, and Freedom Fighter who currently lives in Harlem.
Revolution #283 October 28, 2012
by Sunsara Taylor | October 28, 2012 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Every day we are told that women have achieved unprecedented equality in this "greatest of all possible countries." Every day politicians point their fingers at the very real crimes against women in other countries to reinforce the idea that it is so much better here. Every day, the news media and the Democrats bombard us with the horrifically enslaving program of the Christian fascists and the Republican Party to attempt to get us to accept the deadly "status quo" of society's treatment of women.
But let's look at the reality of life for women in this so-called "best of all possible worlds."
On October 21, in Brookfield, Wisconsin, a woman who had been physically abused and terrorized by her estranged husband, a woman who had repeatedly sought police protection and a restraining order, was hunted down at her job and shot dead by him. Not only that, but two other women were murdered by this man and at least four other women were shot and sent to the hospital.
In one morning, the lives of three women were extinguished. For years their families, their children, their loved ones will battle the sorrow and the rage of this loss. Their lives will be haunted by this cruel viciousness and they will never fill the holes left by the theft of these women's lives.
Four other women were severely injured. For the rest of their lives, they will bear the trauma and the scars of having dared to go to a salon—whether for work or for relaxation—in a world where men feel entitled to murder and punish women with startling regularity. That they had no personal connection to the killer is of no consequence, their crime was simply being female in this world where men are trained to view women as disposable and worthy of punishment.
For everyone else who was present, this day will rival—if not overshadow—all the other memorable days of their lives (the birth of their children, their greatest achievement, etc.) as the one that leaves the most lasting impression. For the rest of their days, they will not only sense in their heads, but they will feel in their bones, the constant force of hatred and violence that rains down on women. The way that all of us are touched at every minute by this war, whether head-on as its primary targets or "merely" as its "collateral damage."
And all throughout society, women everywhere have been cruelly reminded: you live in a society that has accepted violence and hatred against women as a constant and the murder of women as routine.
So, what was the response to this massacre by the ruling authorities in this "oh-so-greatest-of-all-possible-countries"?
The mayor of Brookfield (where the massacre took place), Steven V. Ponto, put it this way: "Today's action was a senseless act on the part of one person... Try as we might, these can't be avoided."
In other words: Ponto asks us to ignore the fact that every single day in this country three or four women are killed, most often by men they consider their most intimate partners. Ponto asks us to ignore the fact that every 15 seconds a woman is beaten. Ponto asks us to ignore the fact that one in every four women will be raped or sexually assaulted. Ponto asks us to ignore the way that the celebration of violence against women is a cornerstone that shapes the outlook of men in this culture—from the increasingly brutal and humiliating nature of pornography to the TV news and crime shows that titillatingly recount stories of stalking, rape, and murder to the video games that give points for beating or killing prostituted women and more. Ponto asks us to ignore the fact that for centuries women have been treated overtly as the property of men such that the notion, "If I can't have you, I'll make sure no one else can," is so common that most women are killed precisely when they are trying to leave their abusers.
Ponto, acting as a perfect spokesperson for a system that has no answer to the hatred, violence, degradation, disrespect, and terror that is the constant companion of women, asks us to willfully ignore the realities that surround us every minute of every day and treat this as a mere "isolated incident."
But not only that, he then promises, "Try as we might, these can't be avoided."
No. This is not acceptable and we should refuse to accept it. While these things "can't be avoided" under this system, they can be avoided—and ended for good—through making revolution to get rid of this system!
Violence against women is not just part of human nature. It is part of the nature of people as they are shaped and conditioned by this male-supremacist, woman-subjugating, patriarchal, capitalist-imperialist system. But through making the kind of communist revolution that has been re-envisioned by Bob Avakian, it is possible to dig up thousands of years of class divisions and the corresponding oppression of women by men and to bring about a new "human nature."
It is possible to bring into being a world where no woman ever knows what it is to fear for her safety at the hands of men while walking down the street any time of night or day. A world where no woman ever knows what it is to give herself to a man sexually for any reason other than her own desire—free of pressure, judgment, or degradation. A world where men view women as full human beings and full partners—both in their intimate lives and throughout society and in the world more broadly. A world where law enforcement and the courts, for as long as we need law enforcement and the courts, really prosecute and hold accountable the perpetrators of violence against women, rather than blaming the woman for what she was wearing or whether she did something to "provoke" the man. A world where the culture is filled with poetry and music, television and movies, that foster deep respect towards women and that celebrate women's full participation in every realm of human endeavor together with men—as part of bringing about a world without any form of exploitation or oppression.
As it says right at the outset of the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal) which is based on the new synthesis of communism developed by Bob Avakian, "Abolishing and uprooting all this is one of the most important objectives of the New Socialist Republic in North America. This is expressed not only in full legal equality between women and men, but beyond that in the declared orientation and policy of this Republic to overcome all 'tradition's chains' embodied in traditional gender roles and divisions, and all the oppressive relations bound up with this, in every sphere of society, and to enable women, as fully as men, to take part in and contribute to every aspect of the struggle to transform society, and the world, in order to uproot and abolish all relations of oppression and exploitation and emancipate humanity as a whole."
Today, all who are sickened by and refuse to accept that "these [massacres of women] can't be avoided" need to be part of fighting the power, and transforming the people, for revolution. You need to be digging into this Constitution and the concrete vision it puts forward. And you need to be joining me to rally thousands and soon tens of thousands to join in the fight to End Pornography and Patriarchy: The Enslavement and Degradation of Women; standing up today and drawing forward others to bring forward society-wide resistance to the war against women. We have a world to win and not a day—or another woman's life—to waste.
Revolution #283 October 28, 2012
October 28, 2012 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
The November 5 issue of The Nation magazine features, as a paid ad, A Call To Stand Together to Oppose the Obama Administration's Dangerous Assault on Fundamental Rights. The statement has garnered more than 700 signers from diverse fields.
The statement sounds a much-needed wake-up call about the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). This law extends the arbitrary and illegitimate authority of the President to indefinitely detain, without charge or trial, a broad and vague category of people. The Call is a summoning to step up resistance to the NDAA and other repressive moves underway.
The Call is also an affirmation of a core principle: people cannot allow the powers-that-be to determine which movements or organizations are "acceptable" or "unacceptable." This has particular relevance owing to the fact that the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA and its Chairman Bob Avakian were singled out in a legal ruling about the NDAA and mischaracterized in a way that could cause great harm.
Signatories include Cornel West, Daniel Ellsberg, and Cindy Sheehan; actors Mark Ruffalo and Peter Coyote; Peter Phillips and Mickey Huff of Project Censored; scholars Steven Zunes and Donna Haraway; Raymond Lotta of Revolution; poet Lyn Hejinian; Michael Steven Smith of the Center for Constitutional Rights and civil liberties attorney Stephen Rohde.
In September, an appeals court stayed an injunction against the NDAA. So this draconian law is now in full effect, while the dangerous mischaracterization of the RCP and Bob Avakian remains part of the court record.
The publication of the Call could not be more timely, and its organizers plan to take the message of the Call into the media and to stir wider public discussion.
To sign the Call, to see the signers, and to make a tax-deductible donation for publication, go to Opposerepressionndaa.net.
Revolution #283 October 28, 2012
October 28, 2012 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Editor's note: This interview was conducted during the summer. We recently received a transcript and are sharing it with our readers.
Revolution: [After showing and talking with R about a palm card featuring BAsics 5:7—"American Lives Are Not More Important Than Other People's Lives" and BAsics 5:8—"Internationalism—The Whole World Comes First."]
These quotes are both from this book BAsics, which is from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian. And he's a revolutionary leader who's re-envisioned revolution and communism. And he's gone really deeply into the past experience of the communist revolution—both in theory and in practice—and he's identified the tremendous achievements that these socialist societies accomplished in every sphere of society, but also the mistakes they made and areas where we need to do better. And he's leading a movement for a new stage of communist revolution. And this book concentrates more than 30 years of his work.
And this book actually starts out like this—this is the first quote in this book: [BAsics 1:1]
"There would be no United States as we now know it today without slavery. That is a simple and basic truth."
R: Built on the backs of slaves, the United States. Free labor. My people are from Haiti, we had the first slave revolt—successful slave revolt—and we pushed the French out of Haiti. But we built the country on our labor, on our backs, and then basically we were set free and nothing—40 acres and a mule we never got. The whole capitalist system is kind of fucked up. I don't know if communism is the answer. I read a little bit of Marx. The system right now is broken. I'll probably check out [BAsics.] Can I get it online?
Revolution: There is an e-book, but there's a table over there where people are selling this book today. You should get it, because it goes really deeply—
R: What's his name, Bob Avakian?
Revolution: Bob Avakian, yeah. This book goes really deeply into what is the system that we live under, why is the world this way, what's the connection between the conditions that the most oppressed people in this country are facing and what's done to people all over the world, how could we actually make a revolution in this country to get to a whole new society and a whole new world. There's a vision of a whole new way humanity could be living in here.
R: I think the problem is you would have to break a lot of eggs to do something like that (laughs).... You can't steer the minds of people that have been constantly programmed... They've been told that capitalism is the way since you were little, you know what I mean? They want big cars, they want money...
Revolution: When you say you don't know if communism is the answer, why do you say that?
R: Look at Cuba, China—I mean, they're communist countries, right?
Revolution: No, that's the thing, there are no socialist countries in the world anymore. This is one part of the experience that Avakian has gone really deeply into—
R: I think on a small scale socialism works. But when it starts to get big, some people are gonna take to try and take most—the people that control it, they want more. People are greedy naturally, [even as] little babies. Like my son, I had to teach him to share, he doesn't want to share. That's what happens. You can talk about it, but then somebody's gonna get greedy, and the people in control are gonna want more than the other people. And it becomes cash, people divide themselves. And we separate ourselves. I don't intentionally do it, but regardless of whether it's race or cash, we find ways to separate ourselves... Once there's separation involved, it's like, "He has more goats than I do—I want his goats."
Revolution: I think these are just the ways of thinking and relating to each other that are stirred up by this system, though. That people are—
R: Under this system, how do we eradicate—
Revolution: There's a whole chapter in this book, "Making Revolution," on the strategy for how to actually make a revolution to get rid of this system and bring a socialist society into being.
R: I'll check it out. I will check it out.
Revolution: I want to show you, on this point about, "people are always gonna want more." Check out BAsics 2:1 and 2:2 here.
[R reads the quotes]
Revolution: What do you think?
R: I want to see it done in practice. It's all ideas. The ideas sound good, but how would it work in practice when you got people that—right now, we got people that control the media, they control the minds of the people. You can't erase everything, unless there's some kind of nuclear holocaust, zombie apocalypse. That's the only way you can erase everything—you can't. I think the best way to beat the system is to join it, and then try to change it.
Revolution: But that means joining a system that thrives on brutally exploiting billions of people.
R: I know, exactly. Sometimes you gotta think—how else could you beat it, without the resources? If you don't have the resources or the manpower—I mean, it will destroy itself eventually...gotta come to a head. But it's like, I don't know. You can preach all you want, I don't think it's gonna... I was looking at the communism, I look at socialism, it sounds good, but I don't think it would work—I think people are greedy, selfish.
Revolution: A couple things: One, just to be clear, what's being talked about is building a movement for revolution, actually bringing forward thousands of people now to reach and influence millions of people, so that at the time that there's a revolutionary crisis, there would be a real revolutionary people of millions who—when the time for it is right—we could have an actual revolution. So, just to be clear, we're not talking about an actual revolution now. But we are talking about working every day to bring that closer to be able to get to that point—
R: To reach their minds. You got the mainstream media that's controlling everything—mind control right now. So how would you—people are controlled by television, movies, video games.
Revolution: Well, all that is true, but then the thing is, there's a statement on the strategy for revolution in this book, BAsics. One of the things that strategy statement talks about is this: the bases for crisis actually flows out of the workings of this system. This system is constantly creating unemployment, wars, conditions of misery and starvation, and at times this actually leads to crisis where people don't put up with things that they usually go along with. People to start to question and resist what they usually accept.
You can see this in different parts of the world. Like, I'm not comparing these two situations exactly, that's not my point, but just in a general sense—
Revolution: Egypt, yeah, exactly what I was gonna say. A few years ago, people would have never thought it would be possible that there would be a huge upsurge like that that would force Mubarak to step down. Now, the system has not been replaced. There hasn't been an actual revolution there—there's still the same system in place. So I'm not raising that as an example of revolution, I'm raising that as an example of how things can change very quickly, and then that causes people's thinking to go through really rapid changes. But then the question is: Are millions of people going to know about this revolutionary leadership, and are they going to know about the party that he [Avakian]'s leading, and are people going to know that there's a whole different way the world could be?
R: Yeah. So you put the information out there for people. I think people tend to reject it, though (laughs). When you say "communism," they think Russia. We've been told communism is bad. I knew nothing about communism. When I was little, I was told it was bad. Watching wrestling—WWF—they had a Russian guy who was the bad guy. In the Cold War, it was always—so people automatically think without even knowing anything. Maybe you need to spoon-feed 'em or...
Revolution: The point is, that can change though as... nobody's born a communist. People's view and understanding of communism can radically change through struggle. And through people getting into this leader and what he's brought forward. Because this is what communism is today. This is somebody who's looked at—in Russia and China, when they were actually socialist countries, as opposed to now, when they're capitalist countries, but when they were actually socialist countries, they did amazing things. In China under Mao, you went from a country where hundreds of millions of people were starving before the revolution, to within like 15 years, they had solved their food problem and everybody had enough to eat. You had a situation where women were treated as concubines, and there was this slogan: "A woman married is like a pony bought. I can ride her and whip her as I please." That was the way people looked at women before the revolution in China. After the revolution, they had the slogan, "Women hold up half the sky." Tremendous things were done in terms of emancipating women. These are just a couple of examples—in not too distant history, there's been a time when billions of people have lived a whole different way.
But then capitalism was restored in those countries. And what Avakian has done is look really deeply and study really deeply what happened in these societies: What were the tremendous things that we're always lied to about, or which are always covered over that were achieved, but also where there were mistakes that were made. Going to that quote [BAsics 5:8], for example: "Internationalism—The Whole World Comes First." There have been times when different socialist countries have put the revolution in their own countries above the whole world revolution. And there's actually been bad consequences sometimes, as a result of that. And that's just one example of how he's re-envisioned revolution and communism, and figured out how we can do even better.
Right now, the problem is not nearly enough people even know about Avakian and what he's brought forward. When people find out about this, when they find out about this movement for revolution that he's leading, then people's thoughts about what's possible, and how the world could be, can change radically. But if people think this world, with millions of Black and Latino youth in prison, and wars being waged by the U.S. all over the world, and all the other nightmares that you could go on down the list—if people think that's all that's possible, then they try to find their way within that. They try to get a piece of that. Like you were saying earlier: People try to get their part within the system, or be a part of the system. If people know [things] don't have to be this way, then it's a whole different ball,game.
R: I don't know, I mean, at this point, they got the big guns. So you can say that, but I think they will try to crush any type of revolution. Like the CIA—the Black Power movement, they assassinated people, they imprisoned them. I think people that are in power, that have money, and that have guns, they won't go for it... The people who control the system, they'll do anything to stay in power....
Revolution: What you're saying about this system will do anything to stay in power, and what you're saying about the '60s and that experience of going after and killing the Panthers, it's very real. You're absolutely correct that this system is vicious. But that's part of the point of: We are building a movement for revolution. Getting to the point of millions of people. My point is not: You get to millions of people, that means they won't try to crush this. But part of being serious about building a movement for revolution is protecting and defending this leadership who represents a way out for humanity and is bringing forward millions of people to be part of this, so that it's a lot harder for this to be crushed and isolated.
And there is a whole strategy that's taking very seriously, making no bones about the fact, that we're up against a very vicious system that will do anything to stay in power. And that's also why, to emphasize again: What's not being talked about is doing this now, but what is being talked about is building a movement [for revolution]....
They're vicious, they're very powerful, but they're not all-powerful—
R: That's true...
[As the conversation winds down, R heads over to the Revolution Books table to check out BAsics.]
Revolution #283 October 28, 2012
October 28, 2012 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Updated October 29, 2012
The October 14 issue of the The New York Times Book Review contains a review by Isaac Chotiner of The Graves Are Walking, a new book by John Kelly on the Irish potato famine of 1845-46. The book appears to be a moving and valuable account of this famine. The immediate cause of this famine was a potato blight or disease. But the horrific scale of deaths had everything to do with British colonial domination and control over Ireland. And the reviewer seems to recognize the importance of fact-based analysis, as applied to this historical event.
But Chotiner ends his review with a completely baseless, but pervasively repeated, slander of the experience of socialism in the 20th century. He tells readers that the British took some steps to moderate the famine but also withheld food at crucial times. And thus, "this may not put the Irish famine up there with Mao Zedong's Great Leap Forward or some of history's other all-time-worst policies." The clear implication is that the Great Leap Forward was this awful event and Mao was responsible for the famine deaths that took place in revolutionary China in 1959-60.
There's no history, no analysis, here—just unsubstantiated assertion. Let's make a few salient points to set the record straight:
1) The Chinese revolution in 1949 overthrew a political and economic system dominated by a few imperial powers and in which peasants were subjected to despotic landlord rule and exploitation. Famine and hunger were widespread. The Great Leap Forward of 1958-60 was aimed at creating a sustainable agriculture, bringing masses of peasants into the running of administrative and political affairs, bringing women out of the household and into the swirl of the battle to create a new society, and overcoming unequal development between the cities and countryside. The commune system that created new forms of social cooperation and social support was a great innovation of the Great Leap Forward.
Compare that with the lot of Irish peasants: subjugated by British landowners, forced to scrounge out an existence on small and inferior plots of land, totally reliant on the potato (because it was profitable for the British), and stripped of basic political and social rights.
2) The famine that struck China in 1959-60 was the result of unprecedented droughts and flooding. There was a very difficult and complex situation involving a food crisis, social and political struggle, China's encirclement by Western imperialism, and the Soviet Union trying to punish China, including by withdrawing aid, for challenging and breaking with the Soviet economic and political model.
The Chinese government and state, upholding and protecting the interests of workers, peasants, and the great majority of society, took measures to cope with the food crisis. These included emergency deliveries of grain and other assistance and changes in the structure of the communes so that they could better deal with economic matters, and scaling back exports to make more grain available.
Compare this with the Irish potato famine. In Ireland, British capital and wealthy absentee landowners set policy and responded savagely to the situation. Tenant-farmers ruined by the potato crisis were evicted from the land, with many of the displaced forced into overcrowded slums and so-called "workhouses" to earn starvation wages. In these conditions, disease rapidly spread. And some two million people were forced to emigrate. One of the chief architects of British emergency measures stated that God "had sent the calamity to teach the Irish a lesson" and it "must not be too much mitigated."
3) By 1970, China had overcome its historic food problem. The socialist system was able to provide for the basic nutritional needs of the population. By 1911, the population of Ireland had declined to 4.4 million from 8 million in the early 1840s, the result of the potato famine and mass emigration.
To learn more about the Great Leap Forward in China...and to learn the truth about socialism in the Soviet Union (1917-1956) and in China (1949-1976), readers should go to the Set The Record Straight website, www.thisiscommunism.org.
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