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Revolution #290 January 6, 2013
Abortion: Stigmatized and Endangered
by Sunsara Taylor | January 6, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
We are fast approaching the 40-year anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion on January 22, 1973. Yet, the stark reality is that despite its formal legality, abortion is more stigmatized, more dangerous to provide, and more difficult to access than at any time in the last 40 years.
And the further reality is this: If we do not reverse this trajectory soon—very soon—we will lose this right and condemn future generations of women and girls to forced motherhood, to lives of open enslavement, terror, and life-crushing shame.
Now some people—in fact, all too many people—believe that abortion is safe because Obama was re-elected.
In recent decades doctors and clinic staff have been stalked, terrorized, threatened, kidnapped, blown up, and violently assaulted. As recently as three years ago—yes, when Obama was president—Dr. George Tiller was cruelly murdered as he worshiped in church. And neither Obama, nor any other politician, nor any leader of the major “women’s organizations” showed their face at his funeral.
Does that sound “safe” to you?
Clinics have been bombed, set on fire, blockaded, vandalized, disrupted, picketed, and invaded thousands of times. Women are verbally harassed, spat upon, shoved and insulted in other ways in weekly “vigils” by these fanatics, and sometimes more often than that. And this goes on all over the country.
Does that sound “safe” to you?
More than one in four poor women who seek abortions cannot afford one and end up burdened with a child against their will. Women who are able to scrounge up the money must run a gauntlet of extreme and medically unnecessary restrictions from mandatory waiting periods to parental notification laws to being forced to endure a probe inserted into their vaginas, and more. Today, 97% of rural counties do not have an abortion provider. And whole generations have grown up never having heard anyone speak of abortion as something positive and moral.
Does that sound like the right to abortion—which is the only guarantee that women can actually determine when and if they will raise a child—is “safe” to you?
Every step along the way, Obama has insisted on seeking “common ground” with the most rabid anti-abortion Christian fascists—going so far as to welcome Timothy Dolan, the Catholic Archbishop who spearheaded a recent rebellion against birth control, to give the closing prayer at the last Democratic National Convention. He upheld the decision of his Secretary of Health to ban the sale of “morning-after birth control” to women without a prescription. His health care plan will actually make it more difficult to get coverage for abortion. And under Obama in 2011, 92 restrictions were passed on abortion throughout the country, almost three times the previous record of 34 in one year under Bush.
Does that—does any of this—sound like the right to abortion is “safe” to you?
No. Admit it and look it in the eye: the right to abortion is not safe at all; it is extremely extremely endangered! And, in some ways, the most dangerous thing of all is that people refuse to face this!
There is a reason the “pro-life” movement is so puffed up these days. There is a reason they are introducing bolder and more restrictive and more vindictive legislation—openly insisting on no abortions and no exceptions, even for rape victims or to save the life of the woman. The reason is that they are winning.
Again, as I said at the outset: If we do not reverse this trajectory soon—very soon—we will lose this right and condemn future generations of women and girls to FORCED motherhood, against their wills, and to lives of open enslavement, terror, and life-crushing shame.
And the only way to do that is through massive, uncompromising resistance—beginning now, this month, on the 40th anniversary of the decision that finally legalized the right to abortion... that basic and fundamental right that is now under assault.
Revolution #290 January 6, 2013
January 6, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
These are just some of the stories, only a few examples, of the millions of different ways women are oppressed in the United States and all over the world:
January 1, 2012, 1 a.m. An abortion clinic in Pensacola, Florida, is engulfed in flames, most likely a case of arson. No one is hurt, but this fire cripples the ability of an already overstretched community of abortion providers to meet the very real and urgent needs of women in western Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi for abortion care. Such attacks on abortion clinics are viciously aimed at those most courageous individuals who knowingly risk their lives every day to provide women with this absolutely essential, completely moral, remarkably common, and medically safe procedure all across the U.S.
You cannot break all the chains, except one. You cannot say you want to be free of exploitation and oppression, except you want to keep the oppression of women by men. You can't say you want to liberate humanity yet keep one half of the people enslaved to the other half. The oppression of women is completely bound up with the division of society into masters and slaves, exploiters and exploited, and the ending of all such conditions is impossible without the complete liberation of women. All this is why women have a tremendous role to play not only in making revolution but in making sure there is all-the-way revolution. The fury of women can and must be fully unleashed as a mighty force for proletarian revolution.
This was by no means the first time an abortion clinic, its staff, or its patients have been the victims of extreme violence. In Pensacola alone, several clinics were fire-bombed on Christmas Day back in 1984 in what those convicted described as "a gift for Jesus on his birthday." It was there that Dr. David Gunn, the first abortion doctor to be murdered, was assassinated outside his clinic in 1993. In 1994, John Britton, along with his security escort James Barrett, were also gunned down. In Wichita, Kansas, in 2009, abortion doctor George Tiller was murdered as he attended church on a Sunday morning.
States across the U.S. have introduced and passed bills to allow institutions to opt out of paying for birth control through their insurance coverage. At the same time, dozens of states made efforts to restrict abortion rights with the goal of outlawing abortion altogether, in many cases criminalizing doctors. For example, Georgia's anti-abortion bill HB 954, called "Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act," places all of the emphasis and value on the fetus and leaves the woman completely out of the picture. The bill, passed at the end of the 2012 legislative season and scheduled to take effect in January, cuts the time for elective abortions by six weeks (from 26 to 20), except when doctors determine the fetus has a defect so severe it is unlikely to live or to protect the life of the woman (a change made by the Senate before the bill was approved). It requires any abortions performed after 20 weeks of pregnancy be done in a way to bring the fetus out alive. This would mean doctors who are involved in abortions past 20 weeks that do not meet the bill's restrictions could be charged with a felony and face up to 10 years in prison. The bill, commonly referred to as the "fetal pain" bill, says that a fetus can feel pain at 20 weeks, therefore the state has an interest in protecting it. In March close to 500 people, mostly women, protested this bill at Georgia's State Capitol. On December 21, a judge issued an injunction that temporarily prevents the law from going into effect in January.
It is a scientific fact that fetuses are not babies and abortion is not infanticide. But hundreds of women in Mexico (as well as in Nicaragua, El Salvador and other countries) are imprisoned for "murder in their capacity as parents" for having an abortion (whether spontaneous or induced). Because of the outlawing of abortion, every year an estimated 1,500 women in Mexico and between 65-70,000 women around the world die from unsafe procedures.
When abortion was decriminalized in the Federal District of Mexico City in 2007, Pope Benedict declared that abortion is "a grave moral disorder" and the Vatican sent Cardinal López Trujillo to spearhead a campaign against it, while the Mexican Church hierarchy threatened to excommunicate the members of parliament who approved the reform. The Vatican and the Catholic Church in Mexico launched a campaign for anti-abortion constitutional changes that have already been adopted in 18 states in Mexico and many other countries. In a statement in early 2012, the Pope called on women to "protect their irreplaceable mission as mothers and primary educators of their children." [A World To Win News Service, April 12, 2012 (Revolution #265)]
December 28, 2012. A young woman dies in Singapore. On December 16 she had been gang raped and beaten in New Delhi, India. She and a male companion were attacked on a bus by a group of men who then threw both of them out of the window and left them for dead. The young woman sustained multiple injuries to her head and body, underwent several abdominal surgeries as a result of the rapists having used a metal rod during the attack, and went into cardiac arrest a number of times before dying. This horrific incident sparked angry protests all over India. Protesters took to the streets for many days demanding more protection of women and punishment against those who carry out such attacks.
CNN News reports that according to official figures, the number of rapes in India went from 2,487 in 1971 to 24,206 in 2011. New Delhi alone had 572 rapes reported last year and more than 600 in 2012.
October 8, 2012. A flier is posted in a men's bathroom in a coed dorm at Miami University, a state university in Oxford, Ohio. The flier, "Top Ten Ways to Get Away With Rape," spews out horror after horror against women such as "Rape rape rape college boys live it up!" "If a woman's window is unlocked sneak in and rape her to teach her not to do it again," "Practice makes perfect: the more you rape the better you get at it," "If you are afraid she will identify you, slit her throat," and six more of the most misogynist shit you can imagine.
Millions of young women and children are kidnapped, or sold by their starving families, or lured with promises of employment and then sold across borders into a sex-slave trade on a scale never seen before in history. This is happening in a world dominated by the capitalist-imperialist system where everything and everyone is transformed into a commodity.
The extreme sexual violence of the global sex trade is embedded in the culture of reactionary armies, including the U.S. military, which treats women as prizes of war and objects to torture in the brothels around military bases throughout the world. Fundamentally, an army is a concentration of the society it fights for. The army of U.S. imperialism uses the objectification of women and pornography as a cohering force and reward, from the barracks to the brothels to the battlefields.
In the U.S. military: women are raped and sexually assaulted by male soldiers at nearly twice the rate as in civilian society; nearly 1 in 3 women soldiers will be raped and assaulted in the short span of 2-6 years while serving. Women soldiers are more in danger of being raped by a fellow soldier than of being killed by enemy fire. Because of the element of betrayal, rape and sexual assault contribute more strongly to developing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) than combat-related stress. The long-term consequences for these women are severe PTSD and lifelong problems with depression, alcohol abuse, and chronic illness.
A 25-year-old white working class woman from a small town in Illinois testifies at a SlutWalk rally in Chicago: "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!'"
Every 9 seconds in the U.S. a woman is assaulted or beaten. Every day in the U.S., more than three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends. About 25 percent of women are raped or physically assaulted by their spouse or partner in their lifetime, with women between the ages of 20 and 24 the most likely to be subject to domestic violence and 3 million children witness domestic violence every year. 1 in 3 women who are murdered are killed by their current or former partner. Over a million women are stalked annually in the U.S.; 77 percent know their stalker and 59 percent are stalked by an intimate partner.
October 9, 2012. Malala Yousafzai, a 14-year-old Pakistani activist who championed education for girls, is sitting in a bus returning home from school and is shot in the head. A Taliban spokesman claimed responsibility for the shooting, saying the teenager's work had been an "obscenity" that needed to be stopped. In 2009, during Pakistani army operations to crush a Taliban insurgency that had taken hold in the Swat Valley, Malala had written an anonymous blog for the BBC about what was happening, including the burning of girls' schools. She had also talked about how she wanted to set up her own political party and a vocational institute for girls in her area.
November 24, 2012. 121 garment workers die and at least 200 are injured in a fire at the Tazreen Fashions factory in Ashulia, an industrial suburb outside Dhaka, Bangladesh. The nine-story building had no fire escapes, the ground floor exits were locked. Tazreen is part of the larger Tuba Group, which makes apparel for top global retailers like Carrefour, Walmart, H&M, Tesco, Ikea, C&A, Gap, and Sainsbury's. In Bangladesh, about 600 workers have been killed in fires like this since 2006. Two million workers, mainly women, are employed in the country's 4,500 garment factories. Among the lowest paid in the world, Dhaka's garment workers sometimes earn less than a dollar a day.
October 21, Brookfield, Wisconsin. A woman who had been physically abused and terrorized by her estranged husband, and who had repeatedly sought police protection and a restraining order, was hunted down at her job and shot dead by him. Two other women were murdered by this man and at least four other women were shot and sent to the hospital. These four women had no personal connection to the killer—their "crime" was simply being female in this world where men are trained to view women as disposable and worthy of punishment. The response of the mayor of Brookfield, Steven V. Ponto? He said, "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 asked people 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; that every 15 seconds a woman is beaten; that one in every four women will be raped or sexually assaulted; 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 asked people 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 then promised, "Try as we might, these can't be avoided."
As Sunsara Taylor said, "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!"
In today's world, whether you live in the so-called "enlightened democratic" West... where women are systematically discriminated against and turned into sexual commodities; where prostitution, pornography, and strip clubs are "just part of the culture," where the patriarchal relations of the family mean women are brutally beaten, even murdered by their husbands and boyfriends. Or whether you live in a country where feudal traditions and backward religious strictures mean women are required to cover themselves head to foot, not even allowed to be seen, where they can be given the death sentence for choosing whom they want to marry or deciding they want to get an education...
The capitalist system has engulfed the entire world... the system of imperialism turns everything and everyone into a commodity... this system has created a situation where all over the world, half of the population is systematically denied their humanity.
The workings of this system produce laws, courts, and prisons which punish women for exercising the most basic right to decide if and when to have children; militaries that carry out rape as a component part of invasions and occupations; a whole culture and economy of pornography and prostitution where women are nothing more than objects for the pleasure and violence of men; angry mobs, or husbands, who brutalize and kill women for the "crime" of rebelling in any way against traditional relations in society where women are subordinate to men.
This must be ended together with and as a part of ending all the horrors that capitalism wreaks on people all over the planet. And it will take nothing short of revolution to do that. It's not yet time to go all-out to seize power in the United States. The capitalist rulers aren't yet deep enough in crisis, divided up and fighting against each other. And the people aren't yet ready to put it all on the line to fight to bring a totally different society into being. But... a situation in which these conditions exist could come together. And now is the time to be getting ready for revolution. Those who want to see all the horrors this system inflicts on all of humanity ended once and for all need to throw their all into building a movement for revolution and as part of that need to Fight the Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution. This means building resistance in a way that calls into question the legitimacy of the current order and brings forward a totally different and far better way society could be organized and run, not as some far-off ideal, but as something to be actively fought for today.
The outbreaks and outpourings of protest and rebellion, in different countries and in response to different incidents, against the oppression of women are tremendously important. And it is critically important that these continue and grow—that women and men including those who aren't won to revolution (or at least not yet won) not sit back and be silent, but increasingly find many different ways to fight back and express determination to get justice for all the women who are victims of this patriarchal system.
Look at all these beautiful children who are female in the world. And in addition to all the other outrages which I have referred to, in terms of children throughout the slums and shantytowns of the Third World, in addition to all the horrors that will be heaped on them—the actual living in garbage and human waste in the hundreds of millions as their fate, laid out before them, yes, even before they are born—there is, on top of this, for those children who are born female, the horror of everything that this will bring simply because they are female in a world of male domination. And this is true not only in the Third World. In "modern" countries like the U.S. as well, the statistics barely capture it: the millions who will be raped; the millions more who will be routinely demeaned, deceived, degraded, and all too often brutalized by those who are supposed to be their most intimate lovers; the way in which so many women will be shamed, hounded and harassed if they seek to exercise reproductive rights through abortion, or even birth control; the many who will be forced into prostitution and pornography; and all those who—if they do not have that particular fate, and even if they achieve some success in this "new world" where supposedly there are no barriers for women—will be surrounded on every side, and insulted at every moment, by a society and a culture which degrades women, on the streets, in the schools and workplaces, in the home, on a daily basis and in countless ways.
Revolution #290 January 6, 2013
An Interview with Bob Avakian
BA continues: Also, since we're talking about Winston Churchill—which we weren't right now [Laughs], but whom I did mention earlier—lest people think that, when I referred to him as a reactionary pig, I was just engaging in a gratuitous attack or quaint and obsolete revolutionary rhetoric, it is an actual fact that Winston Churchill was a mass murderer on a horrific scale. We're always told about how Winston Churchill came to the United States in 1946 and made his famous speech about how an "iron curtain" had descended over Eastern Europe, etc., etc. And he's always upheld in this way as a great leader of the "free world"—maybe not as great as the American presidents, but nevertheless a great leader of the "free world." Meanwhile, during the course of World War 2, as a result of conscious decisions made by Winston Churchill, millions of people in India were starved to death during that war. And then after that war, when there was the massive uprising—the Mau Mau uprising in Kenya among the Kikuyu people—Winston Churchill oversaw the massive uprooting and sending to concentration camps of literally hundreds of thousands of the Kikuyu people, who were tortured on a mass scale and murdered in the thousands and thousands and thousands, all with Churchill's knowledge and firm approval.
So, once again, it is no exaggeration or hyperbole to refer to Winston Churchill as a reactionary pig. In fact, that doesn't get anywhere close—and I've only cited two examples of many that could be cited of the great and towering crimes against humanity that this "great opponent of the 'iron curtain' and leader of the free world" committed in the name of freedom and the western way of life.
Brooks: I wanna follow up on one part of that—which is that, as you're talking, it's kind of striking me: the contradiction between, on the one hand, Churchill, one of the key imperialist rulers, and actually millions of people starved as a result of his very conscious and deliberate policy, and that's not talked about; and then I know there's a lot of complexity to it, but people always have these slanders or talk about the Great Leap Forward in China and things like that, and claim that Mao was responsible for all kinds of deaths in relation to that. And I know there's complexity in relation to that, but whatever happened was happening in the context of actually trying to overcome starvation and misery and poverty, and yet Mao's always accused of causing all these deaths, while people like Churchill, who actually—this was a matter of conscious and deliberate policy—millions of people died and that's not ever talked about. That's one thing that strikes me as you were talking.
BA: Well, there is this book—of course this book doesn't get a lot of publicity, and it doesn't get promoted by the powers-that-be—there is this book, Churchill's Secret War, by Madhusree Mukerjee, and there is also the book, Imperial Reckoning, about Kenya, by Caroline Elkins, and these books do get into some of these crimes.* The decisions by Churchill regarding India that Mukerjee focuses on were made in the context and for the purpose of waging World War 2 on the part of Britain, as part of the alliance with the United States—and the Soviet Union, by the way. But they were conscious decisions based on the idea, frankly, that the lives of Indians were much less important than maintaining stability at home in Britain, and making sure that the people of Britain didn't suffer on anything like the scale that people in India did. The British people had to make sacrifices in the war and suffered some hardships, but that was nothing like the level at which people were subjected to mass starvation in India.
These were conscious decisions that Churchill made. And conscious decisions do have to be made when you're up against real contradictions. But then we have to ask the question: What values and outlook did these decisions reflect? And, in Churchill's case, they reflected explicitly—because he was an open national chauvinist, an open racist, to put it simply—they reflected the orientation that the lives of Indians were not worth nearly as much as those of English people—and that, again, stability in England was far more important than what happened in India, and specifically what happened to the people of India—and if a few million people in India had to starve to maintain stability in England during the war, and to wage the war effort, so be it.
And, with regard to Kenya, the orientation was: England must hang on to Kenya—and, anyway, those people are just "savages"—this was the outlook, explicitly, of Churchill and his inner circle of advisors: this Mau Mau uprising was an uprising of "savages," who deserved to be treated like "savages," like subhumans. And they were treated that way. Again, hundreds of thousands were rounded up, put in literal concentration camps, systematically tortured in these concentration camps, and killed in the thousands and thousands.
Then the question is: besides the outlook that infused this, what was the objective? In both cases—and this is very pronounced in the Kenya example—it was maintaining the interests of British imperialism, in other words, maintaining oppressive domination and exploitation. Maintaining, in the case of Kenya, colonial rule, at the cost of all the things I've described: the massive torture, the mass murder—the rounding up and subjecting to torture in concentration camps of hundreds of thousands of people, all to maintain an oppressive and exploitative system.
BA continues: Now, on the other side, not only with the Great Leap Forward in China, but also with the experience in the Soviet Union under Stalin, there were errors made, and they did have real consequences. It does seem to be the case that—although not on the scale of this tremendous exaggeration that continually escalates—there was starvation, in the early 1930s in the Soviet Union, or during the Great Leap Forward, from the late 1950s to the early years of the 1960s, in China. There was a loss of life. There was dislocation. Now, part of the objective context for this, in China during the Great Leap Forward, is that there were severe droughts. This also occurred in conjunction with the fact that the Soviet Union was basically attempting to set the terms for how socialism would be built in China; it was supplying some aid, but the terms of that aid were basically that socialism in China had to be built along the lines of the Soviet model, in order to utilize the aid that was being provided.
Mao had summed up that going along on that model was not going to lead to the positive outcome that needed to be striven for; that, in fact, this would work against actually developing socialism in China, and that it would work against the conscious activism of the people themselves being unleashed to transform the economic, social, and political relations, especially in the countryside of China. When, therefore, Mao set out to lead things in a different direction—and the Great Leap Forward was one key expression of that—the Soviets pulled out their aid. This occurred at the same time as there were several years of severe droughts in China. And that—combined with, yes, mistakes and dislocations—did lead to a significant number of people suffering severe malnutrition or even starving. The point is, however—and this is reflected in how you posed this question—unlike Churchill and the imperialists, this was done as part of developing a mass movement to overcome the conditions of privation for the masses of people. Privation they had suffered, not with the beginning of the communist regime, but for decades and centuries and even millennia going back in China, where the mass of the peasantry, making up the overwhelming majority of the population, was continually in conditions of severe malnutrition and there was mass starvation repeatedly. And, very quickly, when the experience was scientifically sifted through in the Great Leap Forward, and when mistakes were recognized and corrected, they actually overcame these severe problems and, for the first time in the history of China, they actually solved the food problem by the mid-1960s. In other words, while there was still some hardship, people had enough to eat in order to be able to be healthy. And that had never happened before in the history of the masses of peasantry in the countryside in China.
And that, all along, was the objective with Mao. It wasn't to wring wealth out of the peasantry, to feed an elite class, so to speak. In fact, that was one of the criticisms that Mao had of the Soviet model of socialism: that it, in a sense, took too much from the peasants in order to develop heavy industry at a breakneck pace. Mao felt that, while it was important to develop heavy industry, if you did it by, in effect, taking too much away from the peasantry, and subjecting the peasantry to too much hardship, that was actually gonna, first of all, cause suffering—unnecessary suffering—and, second of all, it was gonna actually undermine developing a well-balanced and articulated socialist economy in which there were healthy relations between agriculture and industry and they were mutually reinforcing each other in a positive way, so that the economy could grow in a balanced and proportionate way.
So, that was the objective. And, along with that, the objective was to mobilize the masses of people themselves to overcome and transform the oppressive and exploitative relations which had been inherited, if you will, from the old society—which had been carried over and still remained in significant aspects. That was the purpose of the Great Leap Forward. Now, in some ways it succeeded, and in some ways there were serious errors, but they learned from that, and went forward, and they not only solved the food problem, but also, by the mid-'60s, they made tremendous strides in transforming those oppressive and exploitative relations, particularly in the countryside, where the great majority of Chinese people lived, as well as in terms of the workers in the urban factories, and so on.
So, again: completely different world outlooks, completely different objectives, and very different results, in terms of the actual effect for the masses of people and their actual role in society.
* Madhusree Mukerjee, Churchill's Secret War, the British Empire and the Ravaging of India During World War II (Basic Books, New York, 2010); and Caroline Elkins, Imperial Reckoning, The Untold Story of Britain's Gulag in Kenya (Owl Books, Henry Holt and Company, New York, 2006) [back]
Revolution #290 January 6, 2013
December 23, 2012 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
The following leaflet was distributed in Chicago:
On December 15, 23-year-old Jamaal Moore was murdered by the police. He had been riding in an SUV the police were chasing, and when it crashed Jamaal got out and a police car ran him over. As he tried to get up, a cop shot him twice in the back. At first the cops said he had a gun, but this was a lie. Later they admitted there was no gun. Jamaal Moore was murdered in cold blood.
Horrified bystanders at the busy intersection of Garfield Blvd and Ashland witnessed this bloodthirsty act. Word spread quickly and people from the immediate area poured angrily into the street to confront the cops. Soon friends and family from Jamaal's neighborhood arrived. When Jamaal's mother asked the police what was going on, one cop told her "Another n*gger dead." This, in a nutshell, is the racist and genocidal program these enforcers carry out for the system. The cops taunted the crowd with this shit and the people erupted with righteous anger right in the cops' faces. People were shouting, "We're tired of this. We're tired of them shooting down our kids." And "fuck the police!" In the face of the guns and clubs, the people defiantly fought back.
A friend said Jamaal had "put aside all of his youthful habits and was getting things together so he could take care of his 4-month-old son." Jamaal was part of a group of tight friends who had grown up together. Only a few days before his death they had a party to celebrate the fact that none of them had been killed through the whole summer and fall of 2012. Pause on that... celebrating 6 months of not getting killed! What does that tell us about the "choices" this system has carved out for a huge section of the Black and Latino youth: death at an early age, prison, or the military where they can kill other oppressed people around the globe for the interests of the same system that is oppressing them. No More! No More!
It is the workings of the capitalist-imperialist SYSTEM that produces killer cops and the mass incarceration of a whole generation of Black and Latino youth—over 2.4 million in prison. We need a revolution to end once and for all the brutal, vicious oppression of Black people and other oppressed nationalities, and the 1,001 other horrors this system inflicts on humanity—the violence and degradation enforced on women all over the world, the wars for empire, the destruction of the environment.
Were the cops who ran over Jamaal and then shot him dead removed from duty? Charged with murder? You know the answer to that question. No. But nine of the courageous people who stood up to the illegitimate power of the police were arrested, 5 of them for "mob action." Some had additional charges for "refusing to disperse" and bogus charges like "clinching his fists as if he intended to strike an officer."
It is very important that people stood up against this wanton police murder! We must spread the resistance and stand with them and stand up for them and demand that charges against them are dropped.
Now is the time to build a movement for revolution. That means we have to
Fight the Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution!
Join the Revolution Club! Humanity Needs Revolution and Communism!
Join the People's Patrol! For more info: 312-933-9586
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Revolution #290 January 6, 2013
by Toby O'Ryan | January 6, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Editors' note: The following article is adapted from a similar piece Revolution printed in 2004, during the presidency of George W. Bush. Among other things, Bush was infamous for the severe intensification of state repression during his administration. Today, at the dawn of 2013, Obama has actually ratcheted up this repression—a fact that is ignored, excused, or wished away by all too many people who at one time opposed Bush.
This article helps speak to a very important question: what kind of standards will set the terms in the movements against the repression that has in fact been ratcheted up by Obama? An ad placed in the November 5 issue of The Nation magazine called out the repressive moves by Obama. That ad included an explicit stand against the dangerous singling out of Bob Avakian and the RCP, USA in an overall positive court decision that has since been overturned. Over 750 people have signed it.
We will, in the future, update our readers on further developments. Meanwhile, we are reprinting this article, as adapted, with its very important lessons.
"First they came for the Communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.
"Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.
"Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.
"Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant.
"Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up."
Regular readers of this paper, and many more besides, may recognize this little poem. The author was Martin Niemöller, a German pastor imprisoned by Hitler from 1937 to 1945.
Niemöller's poem summed up a very hard-learned lesson. Niemöller had originally supported Hitler and the Nazis, when they came to power in Germany. Once in power, the Nazi regime did not actually institute an all-at-once, blanket repression. Instead, they went after groups one by one. Each group in turn was isolated, then peeled off and put away. Then, on to the next.
Niemöller actually supported the Nazis at first. But in 1934 Hitler attempted to forcefully bring the many Protestant sects into one "Reich Church" and to somewhat transform their ideology along Nazi lines. Niemöller led the Confessing, or Confessional, Church, and he opposed this move against its autonomy; in May 1934 the Confessional Church declared itself to be the legitimate Protestant Church of Germany, effectively in opposition to Hitler's bid for religious hegemony. Several years of skirmishes alternating with uneasy truces ensued, with the level of friction steadily escalating, but most of this friction focused on Hitler's moves against the church. For instance, Niemöller opposed Hitler's measures forbidding converted Jews from being ministers in Protestant churches, and the later Nazi mandates confining such converts to segregated worship, away from ethnically German Protestants; but the larger measures against the Jews—and others—went unopposed.
Even as Niemöller came increasingly into conflict with the Nazis, he carefully kept within certain bounds. He even attempted to outdo the Nazis in patriotism at one point, and at other times claimed to friends that Hitler was an intelligent man, surrounded by fools and charlatans. And when Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a Protestant theologian and fellow minister in the Confessional Church, demanded that Christians not just help the Jews but take direct action against their persecution, Niemöller opposed Bonhoeffer. He told Bonhoeffer that before standing up for others, the church must first secure its own safety.
Note well Niemöller's excuse to Bonhoeffer. How often are similar things said, and done, today? Let's be as blunt here as Niemöller was when he summed up his errors at the end of the war. He turned a blind eye toward the repression of other groups; ultimately, he threw them to the wolves for the sake of his own safety.
In the end, none of this did Niemöller or the Confessing Church any good. In May of 1936, when the Confessional Church dissented from elements of the government's anti-Semitism and again demanded an end to its interference in church affairs, the Nazis arrested hundreds of pastors, murdering one of the most prominent, and confiscated church funds. Then on July 1, 1937, Niemöller himself was arrested for treason.
But by 1937 Niemöller and the pastors arrested with him were essentially alone—the vast majority of the Protestant Church had already bent to the government's will. And even the Confessional Church itself came around after Niemöller's imprisonment, voting in 1937 to begin closer cooperation with the state church and thanking the government for its revitalization of German life! Niemöller, for his part, only gained his release upon Germany's loss in the war in 1945. He spent the eight years in prison and, later, concentration camps, including four years in solitary confinement.
In January 1946, representatives of the Confessional Church met in Frankfurt to discuss reconstitution. Niemöller again mounted the pulpit to give a sermon, this time of a most different character. He spoke first of the rationalizations that he, and by implication, others had had for not stepping forward. "Yes, Hitler went after the communists, but weren't they after all atheists and revolutionaries? And yes, he went after the disabled and the sick, but weren't they really a burden? And the Jews, yes, Hitler came for the Jews, and that was deplorable, but the Jews were not Christian, were they? And the Occupied Countries, it was a shame, but still, that was not Germany, was it?"
None of the rationalizations would do, he insisted.
"We can talk ourselves out of [our need for atonement] with the excuse that 'it would have cost me my head if I had spoken out,'" Niemöller said.
"We preferred to keep silent. We are certainly not without guilt or fault and I ask myself again and again, what would have happened, if in the year 1933 or 1934, 14,000 Protestant pastors and all Protestant communities in Germany had defended the truth until their deaths? If we had said back then, "It is not right when Hermann Göring simply puts 100,000 communists in concentration camps in order to let them die." I can imagine that perhaps 30,000 to 40,000 Protestant Christians would have had their heads cut off, but I can also imagine we would have rescued 30 to 40 million people, because that is what it [cost us.]"
Niemöller, with the vantage point of hindsight and with the task of actually getting his countrymen to face their responsibility, put it starkly. It is important for every single progressive person in the U.S. to think about this little-known remark of Niemöller—and think hard about it.
Let's return to Niemöller's famous poem, and its first line—"first they came for the communists." The communists had formed the most implacable opposition to the Nazis. Beyond that, though—and related to that—they represented the only force that posed a real path for the German people out of the horror that was looming; they stood for nothing less than a revolution to overthrow German imperialism.
The German communists were identified in the people's minds with the newborn, struggling but very inspiring Soviet Union, which itself had burst out of the imperialist world-system with a revolution after World War 1. There, millions of people were being mobilized to build a whole new world, working to free society of the stamp of class division and exploitation, and the relations, institutions, and ideas that went along with it. The Soviet Union was also intent on eradicating the oppression of nations and nationalities and eliminating discrimination. Leaving aside serious shortcomings the German communists had in vision and strategy, they stood for something completely different than the Nazis and they also had something of a mass following, receiving nearly 20 percent of the vote in the last election before Hitler was installed. For all these reasons, they were the first on Hitler's list, and he went after them with a vengeance.
Again, a lesson that should be pondered—and applied.
Oddly enough, Martin Niemöller never wrote down the exact poem for which he became famous. He spoke all over the world after the war, usually along the lines quoted above, and his poem more or less took shape in the course of his speeches. The version given here is the one that was officially "approved" by his widow. Unfortunately, the "oral tradition" character of the poem has allowed all kinds of forces to play fast and loose with it—including to take out the whole first sentence about communists. This effectively guts Niemöller's meaning and also clearly does violence to his intent, as he almost always began with the communists in his speeches. Besides, the whole thing makes no sense if you cut out the communists who were, after all, the first to be put into the camps! This outrageous rewriting of history, however, apparently poses no problem and raises no fuss if it furthers the political agenda of U.S. imperialism.
It is another thing, though, when people within the movement effectively ignore the point of that poem. It is very important—it is crucial—that the message be clear: nobody in the movement must allow any group to be sacrificed in the name of protecting some. The lesson taught by Niemöller must be learned.
Revolution #290 January 6, 2013
January 6, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Hello there. My name is XXX and Im a 22 year old Mexican. I've been incarcerated since the age of 15. It seems like from the begining of my life I was destined to hardship. At 1 years old my dad died, wich left my mother with 5 kids to raise. At 1 I was tooken away and placed in foster home. At 9 I came back to live with my mom. With only gangs and strife all around were else was I to flock? At 15 I got sent to prison.
Ever since my life has been not only up-lifted but great! Your probably thinking what the... but through my incarceration not only have I found my-self but I realized what my life was to consist of. Enough of this monotomy of working 8 to 5 job, being a part to the genocide of my own people, degrade my wommin, ancestry and most of all, took the deliberate act that my life is not mines, it [belongs to] the people that suffer, they people that are in such a state of distitute that they can only resist so much.
Me, I've come to this realization by reading books and more, my First experience of communist literature was with the Revolutionary Communist Party and the books [that I got] through PRLF. Like a man coming out of the cave for the first time, my eyes read every word, my mind was not only shocked but my life changed. It changed in that through the power of words, I came to know a sickness and given a blue-print on how to cure what is really a epademic.
But as a donater can contribute to what cause they choose, you by donating to cause of humanity help oppressed all over. For by educating one person, that person in turn is not limited to who can they educate back and therefore having a ripple affect. So not only have books opened my mind but let me see a better and more wonderful world can be born. From the depths of my crying heart thank you for your contribution to the cause.
—Prisoner in California
Revolution #290 January 6, 2013
From the Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund:
January 6, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
You can help fill an urgent need by contributing to send Revolution newspaper, BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian, and other literature to prisoners in 43 states across the U.S.—like the prisoner who wrote "...my life is not mines, it [belongs to] the people that suffer...". Picture the literature from PRLF—and the wrangling over these ideas—traveling from cell to cell and prison to prison... and DONATE NOW.
How to Donate to PRLF:
Regular (non-tax-deductible) donations can be made
online at PRLF.org, or
By check/money order, payable to PRLF, and mailed to PRLF:
1321 N. Milwaukee Ave #407
Chicago, IL 60622
Revolution #290 January 6, 2013
January 6, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
"Scenes from BA Everywhere" is a weekly feature that gives our readers an ongoing picture of this multi-faceted campaign, and the variety of ways that funds are being raised, and the whole BA vision and framework is being brought into all corners of society. Revolution newspaper is at the hub of the BA Everywhere effort—publishing reports from those taking up the campaign. Revolution plays a pivotal role in building an organized network of people across the country coming together to make BA a household word. We urge all our readers to send us timely correspondence on what you are doing as part of this campaign.
On Saturday, December 22, several generations of people came together in an East End café for a Night of Revolutionary Culture to raise money for the BA Everywhere campaign.
Performers as well as audience members were drawn by and embraced BA's call for "a radical revolt against a revolting culture." A word to capture this night's experience is "transformation." About $400 was raised to take BA Everywhere into the New Year.
Several people had donated hand-made jewelry, pottery, baked goods and other items which were sold as holiday gifts. One of these items was created by the husband of a woman who supports Revolution newspaper, after she introduced him to the Revolution website. As she donated, she noted "now we have joined the revolution".
While the event was being put together, word got out among poets, and several offered to participate. Some had heard of BA, some hadn't. Some considered themselves radical, some "not political." But all who responded, hungry for an alternative to this putrid culture, jumped at the chance to be part of an event like this, even as they were learning more.
The program opened with a short clip from the "Imagine" section of BA's Revolution talk video, from which BAsics 2:8 was taken, where BA calls for a culture that uplifts and unifies people, as opposed to "...'bitches and ho's' and swat teams kicking down doors..."
Next began a succession of artists expressing heartfelt condemnation of this system—how it ruins, commodifies, gentrifies, impoverishes, and even paralyzes everything and everyone, both physically and spiritually. They spoke bitterness about the violence it brings down on people constantly, and expressed deep pain over the consequences. At the same time, even if not very defined in conception, their desire to end all this was tangible.
One poet spoke to the need for each individual to confront their own responsibility; to rise to the need, to not acquiesce, to embrace change. A clarinet, guitar and violin trio, playing klezmer music—a genre associated with Eastern European Jews and their resistance to the Nazis—did several pieces. On one of them, they improvised a chorus—chanting in between verses—"BA Everywhere!" An immigrant read a letter from a prisoner about a journey from "blind banger to conscious revolutionary."
The people who came out were from different walks of life, and the various elements of the event provoked a good back and forth among them. A young teacher who struggles to go up against the lies and bullshit the kids are fed in school got into a conversation with an immigrant from Central America... who, getting a richer sense of BA's perspective on art and culture, acquired a new desire to dig deeper into BA's new synthesis.
As we reached the end of the program, some in the audience demanded more. One of the poets returned to the stage to read a piece addressing the mistreatment of Latino immigrants, prefacing it with personal experience that turned his head around. The m.c. followed that with BAsics 1:14, where BA answers the question, "why do people come here?" with "because you have fucked up the rest of the world even worse than what you have done in this country...." A roar emerged from the gathering.
One striking thing was how many people thanked us and expressed an interest in the next event, including some people who had migrated to our event from another party at the cafe.
From a reader:
On December 28, a holiday fundraiser for the BA Everywhere campaign jumped off at Cleveland Revolution Books. Walking through the door, you could feel the liberating music of Outernational's "Todos Somos Ilegales" playing, festive lights, the smell of food and lots of people. There was conversation over all kinds of issues, from the environment, to police murder and the "injustice" system, to how people's loved ones are being railroaded into long prison terms for something they didn't do, to small groups talking about what this revolution is all about, or how in some places very little activism is going on among the people, or just getting caught up with old friends.
As the BAsics Bus Tour video was shown, where one woman says how the police treat Black people there worse than a dog, people shook their heads in agreement. A Black woman liked Clyde Young's call to get BA out throughout society, in the schools and universities, to show people a pathway to change—fundamental change. She said how she has seen him on you tube and likes what he says. As she was leaving she said, "Taking revolution to Sanford gives people some hope not only about Trayvon but youth all over the world. And I can see more young people getting involved."
Besides world music playing, Art Blakey III played electric guitar and Ronnie B of 10:08 Vision rapped "Windows of Pain" exposing the horrors of mass incarceration. People who went on the New York City BA Everywhere Bus Tour spoke of their experiences like after a young person bought BAsics after flipping through the book and reading 1:31 about a world without America. Interspersed between clips of BA and BA Everywhere tour videos, there was a call for people to donate money, buy raffle tickets and as one person on the tour put it, "not just imagine the difference it could make but making that difference a reality." A woman who helped organize the event told about her experience in prison and can't get work while out, read the letter from a prisoner, "From gang member to revolutionary" calling on people to contribute to the PRLF.
There was a mix of people, young and older, different nationalities, some kids and all feeling they are part of making revolution, raising money to get Bob Avakian's vision of revolution, socialism and communism out among people in their thousands and millions. Everyone smiled when it was announced that we collected over $270 for the evening. Several restaurants donated food which was sold to help raise the money.
As music was still playing and people were still talking about what they thought about the evening and how to move this movement for revolution forward. A woman new to this movement told everyone, "I just sort of fell into this. I didn't know what communism is, now I see it as a viable solution and Bob Avakian puts out a scientific way of looking at the solution. I kept looking for answers and they are here."
As people left out into a cold night, they took bundles of palm cards and the Cornel West interview with Bob Avakian on CDs. There was a feeling of being part of the revolution and a determination to raise more money in different, creative ways to get the BA Everywhere campaign out in a bigger, broader and more impacting way.
From a reader:
Recently in discussions over BA's interview with A. Brooks, What Humanity Needs: Revolution, and the New Synthesis of Communism, we discussed how the new synthesis goes at the profound contradiction (under socialism) of meeting the people's material needs and giving room for art, culture, intellectual ferment. It was a struggle to understand why this is a contradiction, and it is not just an automatic that you will have both. There was examples of what if an artist like Cristo wanted to wrap cloth around the South Bronx, but the people in the South Bronx needed cloth for clothing...not an easy decision when you want to bring into being a different kind of world. The discussion provoked a lot of new thinking on these questions, and it really made you appreciate the new synthesis in a new way.
A couple of days later Yoko Ono made a call for people to come out to Times Square at 11:57 pm to sing "Imagine" by John Lennon and watch her movie "Imagine Peace," showing on 25 different screens in Time Square. It was a cold night, and I had many things to do... but seeing how "Imagine" is my favorite song, and I was leaving NYC the next day, I went to check it out.
It was beautiful! On every other day in Time Square you are bombarded with images of woman half naked, products you are supposed to need even if you can't afford them, investment banks, you name it, everything you can buy under capitalism. It's the image of buy, buy, buy.... everything is for sale, everything is a commodity!!!
But on December 21 (and throughout the rest of the month) for three minutes you see the world! Over blue skies you see in 24 languages Imagine Peace.... And on this special night there was a gathering of thousands of people singing "Imagine" by John Lennon.
Standing there in the crossroads of the world, watching the images of different languages, singing the lyrics (at the top of my lungs)...
Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people living for today
Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people living life in peace
For three minutes you had that feeling of living there! A world with no heaven or hell, no countries or borders.... It was a feeling that cannot be described, but you were there for three minutes...And you were not alone, there were hundreds and thousands of people with you there and you felt the people of the world.
After the three minutes, the Times Square commercial images come back like you are being rudely awakened.... But those three minutes are known in your being, that you felt another world, and see a possibility of how the world can be different.
I spent the next couple of hours talking to people around me, handing out the BA card "American Lives Are Not More Important Than Other People's Lives," and "Internationalism—The Whole World Comes First." The cards with quotes from BA and what we had just experienced provoked some deep thinking about the state of the world. We talked about drones that kill thousands of people being dropped in our names, could you imagine a world without borders, why is the world so violent today, or has it been like this for a long time? What causes wars, is it people, government, religion? Can you really have happy holidays, knowing the world is suffering?
When I woke up the next morning I had a fucking cold, I was congested, had a cough, and body aches.... But it was so worth having this experience... and I thought back to the discussion of the new synthesis, and what a profound contradiction it answers, when you think about a new socialist society, where people's basic needs are met, and there is a flourishing of art, culture and intellectual ferment. That would be a society fit for all of humanity!
In early December 2012, we had a fundraising dinner get together for BOB AVAKIAN EVERYWHERE Campaign. There were ten people in the group, including people from North Africa and East Africa and the United States.
After informal discussion and dinner, we gave a brief summary on BA Everywhere, what's been accomplished and the difference it will make when millions more watch videos of BA, read books and articles he's written, and hear such things as the Cornel West interview of Bob Avakian. Then we watched the video of Bob Avakian "1969 - 1979 - 2003."
After watching this video, one person in the group said that Bob Avakian "breaks down the concepts of revolution and communism so that anyone could understand them." Another person, after watching this video plus an additional video of "No more generations of our youth, here and all around the world, whose life is over,..." said "yes, what he is saying about the youth is true, it is true all over the world and as well as in the USA, and we have to do something about it." The host (myself) impressed upon people that for all this time, from the late '60s until now, Avakian's message of ending imperialism and oppression has stayed consistent and never changed. Most of the people at our dinner had never before heard of Bob Avakian. One Black man who lives in the neighborhood, who we'd been discussing the Jim Crow period in the southern U.S. with (and who grew up in Mississippi during this time) made his contribution after seeing this Bob Avakian video.
All in all, we talked for six hours! We discussed many topics. For example, the new imperialists "land grab" in Africa and political developments in Egypt. We had this issue of Revolution newspaper—with the recent cover article on Egypt. Everyone received a copy and we discussed the main themes and lessons from that article. We used the BAsics promotion cards with everyone BAsics 1:3 (check it out).
There was a lot of contention on Obama. Some in our group were apologetic for Obama. When we spoke of Afghanistan, drones, and torture... they kept saying it was Bush's fault. Another person agreed with us, but thought the formulation "Obama is in some ways worse than Bush..." was a bad formulation and we should "just leave it as Obama being pro-capitalist." We talked about all this intensely. By the end of this round of discussion, we fought for people to show some determination and to come out of the fundraising dinner by telling people the truth about Obama rather than promote the idea, "Whew... at least Obama won" which way too many people think and say.
There was a lot of discussion about communism, the real history, and whether we can and should take communism straight up to the people. Some felt we should show the Avakian tape far and wide—they loved it—but "maybe it's best to not tell people up front he's a communist." A couple of others asked whether we'd thought of changing the name? Interesting were the comments, made in quite a matter-of-fact way, that communism "didn't work." We showed people that it did work in the Soviet Union and China. We argued with a lot of evidence. One man from Tunisia, who had made this remark, said "well... yes, Mao Tsetung was for real—a genuine communist, and my understanding is he helped the Vietnamese fight the U.S.," which he had some understanding of but it took challenging his comments that communism didn't work to pull that out of his thinking!
During the last couple of hours, many people contributed ideas for where to take the Bob Avakian Everywhere campaign. People felt those who are the most poor and oppressed were most important and also BA Everywhere needs to get to junior college students because they come from lower sections of society. We discussed how these suggestions were very important. Also there was discussion of how the starting point should be who needs to be reached from the standpoint of making revolution for real. The major colleges were mentioned as were the professionals. Some said "the professors at the major colleges fear for their jobs," (which we discussed from numerous angles)—they thought maybe we should also go to student clubs and give presentations to them to look for support and people who will help spread word about BA Everywhere on major college campuses. Honestly, some from this group from Africa voiced frustration about the lack of a determined and radical political movement from the students in the U.S.
There was also some discussions on the rise of religion in the last thirty years, including religious fundamentalism and how bad it is for women. Some in the group were Muslim, others were Christians, others were atheistic. I felt some brought into the discussion what I call "centuries-old logic" so we had some respectful debates on this matter too.
We were able to raise $175 from donations! Heartfelt contributions to help push the BA Everywhere campaign out there. People from this dinner are being invited to year-end benefit parties for BA Everywhere so they can meet other people. A couple are distributing Revolution newspaper to friends from these areas of the world, and we recently heard it's very controversial, and eye-opening.
—From two people who attended the dinner
It's been said before that fundraising (especially for BA Everywhere) "brings people together" and introduces Bob Avakian to people who've never heard of him before. Members of Revolution Club in the 'hood wanted to do something to contribute to this exciting effort in getting BA Everywhere. A meeting was held and people decided to do a special project of raising money to get BAsics to prisoners during these weekends in December. We had listened to Cornel West's interview with BA; and a nerve had been struck in all that we didn't want to wait another "30 years" down the line just to endure more of the hell of police murders, war, racism, sexual exploitation, etc. Yes, humanity needs revolution and communism; and we wanted to raise money precisely to get BA's books to those in the hellholes of America.
Our fundraising was on two fronts: brownies and tamales; and a lot was learned in breaking down traditional roles and boundaries in the process. In making tamales, orders were taken which soon looked overwhelming. The sister who took up this responsibility said, "There were lots of obstacles we had to overcome. We had to cook on an electric stove, and we couldn't cook while my husband (who works at night) was sleeping ... the kitchen is right next to the bedroom! I got 2 friends to help, but we also got the men to help." After a lifetime of eating tamales, this was the first time the men were actually making them!
Although it wasn't part of the original plan, when the word about tamale making reached some Revolution Club members in another area of the city, they decided to take the project out to some of their own contacts. Soon some college students and others were taking orders and still others were collecting the funds. One Revolution Club member remarked, "This was not like delivering pizzas. It became an opportunity to talk about the Cornel West interview with BA, and it took a little more time than just taking an order." It was interesting that a few of those who ordered tamales for themselves also in turn took orders from others they knew. One woman who was intrigued by the idea of BA Everywhere and this fundraising effort from people in the 'hood came all the way to the 'hood to collect her order of tamales. $230 was made from tamales on one weekend; and the orders continue to come in! In fact, when another Mexican woman living in a nearby city heard about the success of this effort, she was inspired by it and volunteered to make some more tamales so she could take them out with us to sell in the upcoming weekend.
Meanwhile, a couple of women from the 'hood had volunteered to make brownies; and after some discussion, one said "what the hell have we gotten ourselves into"! She had expected this to be an easy responsibility to fulfill but it turned out she had to overcome some difficulties she hadn't forseen. This "cook" lived in a small single room with a microwave toaster oven; and her friend, herself also a member of the Revolution Club, offered to spend the night there with her and help out. But they decided they weren't going to use dollar store brownie mix. Since they had little money, they asked a friend to make the donation for materials. After reading some BAsics quotes, their friend bought $30 worth of groceries for them; and they were on their way.
The apartment was so small, they kept bumping into each other, but they had fun! Putting each brownie on a paper plate, they wrapped them up with a ribbon and one of the 12 ways from the palm card attached to it. The "cook" said, "That way when people come to the table, they can read at least one of the 'ways' that they can be involved in the revolution." They got one or more of 12 choices of brownies! The brownies were almost sold out in one Saturday at a farmers market in a neighborhood of mostly middle class folks; and this was a nice complement to a beautiful display of enlarged prisoners art and letters which were assembled and mounted with help from a college student with artistic talent, also a member of the Revolution Club. People at the farmers market donating to BAsics for prisoners ranged from women and men shopping for organic food, Occupy people with questions about the new synthesis, to an ex-con who wanted to make sure that his "friends" behind bars knew about BA.
In a follow up on the overall fundraising, one of the women remarked that it "was a good thing that Black and Mexican people can come together like this. It pulls us a little closer; and this is all about making a better world."
On one weekend alone when the brownies were sold at the farmers market and in the 'hood and when the tamales were going out through orders, the Revolution Club raised $336 from tamale and brownie sales, in addition to direct donations. In another rainy weekend, we took Revolution papers, palm cards of BA quotes, and Churros (made by the woman making tamales and her vendor friend she recruited for this effort) to laundromats in a couple of basic people neighborhoods and raised $63, not counting the paper sales. A good number of Blacks and Latinos donated, including a young man who repeatedly came to drop change in the donation bucket and told us that he just got out from San Quentin where he had heard of the Revolution paper and the BAsics.
Revolution #290 January 6, 2013
January 6, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
In the month of November, people from 65 countries visited the English and Spanish language versions of revcom.us. The number of visitors by country ranged from thousands to dozens. Each of them precious.
Look carefully at every country on the list below. Stop and think about the situation the people in those countries face, and their potential contribution to the world revolution. Think about the impact of people reading, sharing, and spreading the content of revcom.us in places like Egypt and Israel (many Palestinian web users are counted as being from Israel). In Bangladesh, China, India, Nepal and Pakistan. In Greece and Spain and other crisis-wracked countries in Europe. And through revcom.us, people all around the world are connecting with the work and leadership of Bob Avakian—the leadership for a new stage of communist revolution.
Now think about what a disaster it would be if the "lights went out" on revcom.us around the world.
Here's what you can do right now to prevent that from happening, and to enable revcom.us to stay online and the print version of Revolution to continue to publish: If you're not a financial sustainer, sustain right now! If you are a sustainer, please consider increasing your monthly pledge. The coupon is right here on this page.
Following is the list (in alphabetical order) of the countries from which people visited revcom.us last month:
Revolution #290 January 6, 2013
The document, "The New Synthesis of Communism and the Residues of the Past," by the Revolutionary Communist Organization (OCR), Mexico was written to contribute to the two-line struggle in the international communist movement, as discussed in Communism: The Beginning of a New Stage, A Manifesto from the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, and in the "Letter to Participating Parties and Organizations of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement" from the RCP, USA dated May 1, 2012.
"In these days, when everywhere you hear the erudite preaching of the intellectual hitmen of the ruling class saying that communism 'failed,' that it was 'horrifying' and that we have no other future other than the one offered by this horrible capitalist-imperialist system, the new synthesis represents renewed hope for the emancipation of the masses all over the world."
from "The New Synthesis of Communism and the Residues of the Past,"
by the Revolutionary Communist Organization (OCR), Mexico
The "Letter to Participating Parties and Organizations of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement" is available at revcom.us. A concise summary of Bob Avakian's new synthesis of communism can be found in Communism: the Beginning of a New Stage, A Manifesto from the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, also available at revcom.us.
Revolution #290 January 6, 2013
December 23, 2012 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Many people see Slavoj Žižek as the preeminent radical thinker of our day. Žižek states that we are “living in end times” that demand the “full reaffirmation of the Idea of communism.” Raymond Lotta, an advocate for Bob Avakian’s new synthesis of communism, argues that Žižek in fact promotes anticommunism. Žižek declares that the first communist revolutions, in the Soviet Union and China, were failures and closes the door on the emancipation of humanity by attacking Bob Avakian’s new synthesis of communism. Contrary to Žižek, these revolutions were tremendously liberatory; and with this new synthesis, we can go further and do better.
Lotta has called for a public debate. Žižek has now accepted. And the debate is on: Monday, April 15, 2013 in New York City. See the YouTube at: youtu.be/EkdIGjMkOGo.
The world is a horror: accelerating environmental emergency... the objectification and degradation of women, half of humanity... endless wars for empire... 25,000 children dying each and every day of preventable disease and malnutrition. Is there a way out of these horrors? Can there be a radically different and better world? This is the backdrop for this debate on the history of and prospects for communism.
The questions in play are of enormous consequence. What are the lessons and legacy of the socialist revolutions of the 20th century? Can there be a viable and liberatory economic, social, and political alternative to capitalism? What is the potential, and strategy, for revolution in today’s world? At its heart, this debate is about the desirability, the possibility, and pathways for emancipation in a world that cries out for fundamental change—versus leaving the world as it is.
There are big stakes here. Students and intellectuals, activists, artists, basic people and prisoners need to be contributing to the swirl of this debate: studying, arguing, posing questions, and responding to the issues being joined. Starting now, people need to be promoting and building for April 15 in all kinds of creative ways. Tune in to Revolution which will be publishing materials to sharpen the issues of this debate.
Revolution #290 January 6, 2013
From the Desk of Carl Dix
January 6, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Sisters and Brothers,
I spent 2012 deeply involved in building resistance to mass incarceration. Along with other STOP "Stop & Frisk" Freedom Fighters, I faced several trials for having stood up in 2011 to say no to that racist, illegitimate policy of the NYPD. In waging a legal-political defense, we successfully turned the tables on the authorities and put stop-and-frisk on trial inside and outside the courtrooms, and beat back their attempts to put us in jail for standing up and fighting back.
Along with Cornel West, I issued the Call to "Blow the Whistle on Stop-and-Frisk" on September 13, 2012. In NYC alone, more than 20,000 whistles were distributed, giving people who the cops sweat non-stop a way they could enlist in the resistance to police abuse and the way the whole criminal "injustice" system comes down on them.
I did all this as part of building a movement for revolution, a movement that has set its sights on leading millions of people in doing all that's necessary to get rid of this capitalist system and all the horrors it inflicts on humanity — the wars for empire; the pillaging of whole countries; the brutality and sexual slavery enforced on women in many different parts of the world, including in the U.S.; the ravaging of the environment and more.
This kind of revolution is possible. In Bob Avakian, the leader of the RCP, we have the leadership we need to make revolution. And the new approach to revolution and communism he developed by studying the many great achievements and the errors and shortcomings of the revolutions in the Soviet Union and China make it possible to go farther and do better the next time revolution is made and power is in the hands of the people. And the RCP has a strategy for making revolution in a country like this: It's spreading revolution everywhere and "Fight the Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution!"
Look, I know a lot of people argue that the thing to do in 2012 was to make sure Obama got re-elected. And those same people now say the thing to do is to hold his feet to the fire to get him accountable to the people who voted for him. Doing this paralyzes and immobilizes people who should be out there building resistance to the crimes against the people Obama presided over and will continue to preside over.
At Obama's campaign rallies, the cry "Four More Years" rang out. Four more years of what? ...Of drone missiles rained down on Pakistan, Afghanistan and other countries destroying whole villages and killing thousands of innocent people? ...Of Obama reviewing a kill list and deciding who gets assassinated on his say so every week? ...Of Obama instituting policies like his assertion that the president can kill U.S. citizens if he determines they are enemy combatants? On these and other fronts Obama is worse than Bush! Working to keep him in the White House, and trying to make him accountable to the people who voted for him, keeps the system that breaks the bodies and crushes the spirits of millions and millions of people around the world in effect. Doing this is worse than useless.
But there is something worthwhile you can and must be a part of.
Join me in making 2013 a year of rising resistance, a year that thousands—and even millions—stand up to say police murder, racial profiling, torture-like conditions in prison—all this shit—must end. The slogan—Mass Incarceration + Silence = Genocide—expresses the reality for tens of millions of people in the U.S. We must make 2013 a year of breaking that silence. I urge you to be a part of making this happen because it will make a difference: for the youth treated like criminals and seen as guilty until proven innocent, if they can survive to prove their innocence; for those warehoused in prison; for those discriminated against after they've served their sentences; and for all their loved ones.
There are practical ways you could be part of breaking that silence.