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Revolution #308 June 30, 2013
June 30, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
We at Revolution are moved, inspired, and challenged by the uprisings first in Turkey and now in Brazil—all this taking place in a situation of great turmoil and people rising up in many parts of the world. Millions of people have risked life and limb up against the armed power of the state, willing to sacrifice and refusing to bow down in the face of that power and brutality.
If you are coming to this website for the first time in search of information about those movements, and for answers on revolution, communism, and a whole different and radically better world—welcome!
These current massive uprisings began as demonstrations with very simple demands—to save a park in Turkey; to halt a raise in transportation fares in Brazil. But they have become much more than that. Nobody knows where they will go; but everyone who hungers for liberation takes joy when the oppressed rise up, fight, and begin searching and debating a different—a better, a liberating—future.
We appeal to readers who live in these countries, or who have ties there, to write to us. And we also appeal to you and readers in all countries to spread the word of the new stage of communist revolution, the most liberating, emancipatory movement there is. Read and get out Communism: The Beginning of a New Stage, A Manifesto from the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA. This Manifesto is currently available in the following languages: English, Spanish, Farsi, Turkish, German, Arabic, and Portuguese. Get into the works of Bob Avakian, the Chairman of that Party, who has re-envisioned the communist project.
In particular: two years ago the people of Egypt also rose up. The statement made by Bob Avakian to those who stood up then, "Egypt 2011: Millions Have Heroically Stood Up... The Future Remains to Be Written," contains great lessons for the rebels of today and all who sympathize with them. (This statement is currently available in English, Spanish, Arabic, German, and French)
Get in touch. Connect. As Bob Avakian ended that call:
To all who truly want to see the heroic struggle of the oppressed masses develop, with the necessary leadership, in the direction of real revolutionary transformation of society and genuine liberation: engage with and take up the emancipating viewpoint and goals of communism, and the challenge of giving this organized expression and a growing influence and presence among the struggling masses.
Revolution #308 June 30, 2013
June 30, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
The following is a transcript of the speech given by Andy Zee, spokesperson for Revolution Books, New York City, at the program “WE WILL NOT BE COMPLICIT” at Cooper Union in New York City on June 19, 2013, shortly after the revelations of massive U.S. government surveillance:
Almost 11 years ago many of us gathered in this very hall for the “Not In Our Name Evening of Conscience” against the crimes begun by the Bush regime. We vowed, “Let it not be said that people in the United States did nothing when their government declared a war without limit and instituted stark new measures of repression... President Bush has declared: ‘you're either with us or against us.’ Here is our answer: We refuse to allow you to speak for all the American people. We will not give up our right to question. We will not hand over our consciences in return for a hollow promise of safety.”
Those words bite deep today as the war crimes of the Bush regime have been codified, carried forward, and taken to even more obscene criminal levels by the Obama regime, which has arrogated to itself the right to be judge, jury, and executioner. They have dramatically expanded a vengeful police state that viciously targets whistleblowers who have acted on their consciences to expose injustice. Obama has wielded the Espionage Act of 1917 more than all other administrations combined. Bradley Manning, after months of torture, is caught in a trial with huge stakes that is unbelievably Alice in Wonderland. Julian Assange is surrounded and confined in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London; and Edward Snowden is in hiding1 while continuing to bravely speak truth, such as when he exposed with apt ridicule the NSA rationale for massive surveillance of everyone by sharply posing: “So we can potentially reveal a potential terrorist with the potential to kill fewer Americans than our own police?”
Edward Snowden’s actions reveal not just the vast repressive technology, but also the power even a single person acting on their conscience can have to challenge and change the whole political landscape. The reality is that this system which daily grinds up humanity from the killing fields of Afghanistan and Pakistan to the death trap factories of Bangladesh, depends on people. People are the system’s Achilles’ heel. We here have the responsibility to awaken and arouse that latent power of the people as we confront not only authority but the thinking of the people that justifies great crimes in the name of protecting privilege—that cripples the conscience and political sights of those who could and should be part of changing the world.
We can and must do much, yet we can only do so by truthfully challenging the thinking of many people in this country. Helping people break free from a framework that leads to complicity with war crimes and to passively accept a massive government dragnet program directed against everyone—total surveillance—in the hands of a government that has repeatedly shown that their repressive power will only be used against the interests of the people.
You can always rely on [New York Times columnist] Thomas Friedman to articulate a viewpoint that at one and the same time offers his advice to those who rule on how to best package and carry out their crimes while offering an alluring self-centered pragmatic rationale to liberals and progressives to go along with the program. Friedman excitedly picked up on an awful blog post written by David Simon, creator of The Wire—a show which did some good exposure of the War on Drugs as a war on the people. Bill Keller, of the Times, was so pleased with Friedman he repeated the argument in an op-ed a few days later. Their argument is a rationale for complicity. Before getting into this, I must appreciate not only Glenn Greenwald’s exposure of the NSA revelations, but his comment: "If they started a club called Liberal Pundits to Defend the National Security State, no auditorium in the country would be large enough to accommodate them.”
Friedman writes; “Yes, I worry about potential government abuse of privacy from a program designed to prevent another 9/11—abuse that, so far, does not appear to have happened. But I worry even more about another 9/11.” After which he goes on to argue why the massive spy program is not nearly so bad as what might happen to his way of life if there is another 9/11. He concludes: “Imagine how many real restrictions to our beautiful open society we would tolerate if there were another attack on the scale of 9/11. Pardon me if I blow that whistle.”
Well, fuck you, Friedman. The only talk of pardons we should have is for Bradley Manning, and for the millions of Black and Latino youth grabbed up off the streets or in the hallways of the housing projects in this country who are incarcerated or under the control of the prison system in the tens of millions, all in the name of a war on drugs. For three decades this has been nothing short of a slow genocidal war on sections of the people who the system can no longer exploit profitably and who are feared by those in power for their potentially radicalizing effect on the rest of society. Friedman’s beautiful way of life does not exist for Black, Latino, immigrant, poor, women victimized by a culture of rape and denial of basic reproductive rights.
I say face that reality and act accordingly, or become a part of it. That’s the choice.
The logic that defends the War on Terror is no different than the logic that defends the War on Drugs—because in its essence the War on Terror is a war to defend and spread empire. What the U.S. is doing overseas, what it does here at home is about that—nothing else, nothing less. Empire is just a grandiose word to describe the exploitation of people and the planet.
On the face of it, isn’t it a peculiar brand of INSANITY to argue that to protect “our beautiful” freedom and way of life we have to spy on EVERYONE? Just who is going to carry out this benign surveillance for our own good? The FBI, which spied on Martin Luther King—hounding him, attempting to blackmail him, or to drive him to suicide? The FBI that set up and murdered members of the Black Panther Party and others in the ’60s and which never stopped disrupting all kinds of social justice movements through ’80s and ’90s down to today? Trust the CIA/NSA? The blood of people from Guatemala, to Indonesia, to Yemen and Somalia runs deep and wide and is ignored at the price of complicity here and unspeakable horror in countries the world over.
Friedman’s logic is nothing more than brocade on what Obama argues. Obama seeks to rope in progressive “rational” people to empathize with “his” dilemma as the way to convince them to identify with the imperial death machine that is this country. Enough already of Obama’s Hamlet act of agonizing over kill lists every Tuesday, of making the difficult choices between privacy and security. The punch-in-the-gut line of Obama’s fairy tale deception, which people said they would never accept from Bush, is: “Trust Me.”
Trust who? The Democratic Party is a party of war criminals no less than the Republicans. Madeleine Albright, Clinton’s Secretary of State, answered point blank that the sanctions against Iraq that resulted in the deaths of a half million children during the 1990s was, she said: “WORTH IT.” If any other leader said this in any other country—people would recognize this for the advocacy of genocide that it is. Such war crimes are not incidental or exceptional in the history and the workings of this system, capitalism-imperialism, which requires ever wider and more competitive exploitation of people and the planet. From the founding genocide against the native people here, to the enslavement of Africans, to the support for the genocide against the Palestinian people, to the one million killed in Indonesia in the 1960s with active CIA involvement, this is the essential nature of what the U.S. is and does. No oversight can or will regulate that. The driving force of competitive global capitalism is what regulates what any government that enforces this system does and will do.
The heart of the argument [made by the rulers of the U.S. in the wake] of 9/11 is that the only choice we have is between Islamic fundamentalism or worldwide capitalism. This is the America first logic of the War on Terror that has resulted, in just Iraq, in more than 100,000 killed outright, the hundreds of thousands maimed and sickened; and the millions that have been displaced from their homes. This is the logic, this is the morality, of empire.
There is a deadly dynamic in the world today that we can and must break out of. Bob Avakian, the leader of the Revolutionary Communist Party, has described it:
“What we see in contention here with Jihad on the one hand and McWorld/McCrusade on the other hand, are historically outmoded strata among colonized and oppressed humanity up against historically outmoded ruling strata of the imperialist system. These two reactionary poles reinforce each other, even while opposing each other. If you side with either of these ‘outmodeds,’ you end up strengthening both.”
He has emphasized that we must recognize that it is the historically outmoded ruling strata of the imperialist system, and in particular the U.S. imperialists, that has done the most damage.
There are reactionary, Islamic jihadist forces that pose a threat to the interests of imperialism in strategic parts of the world. And these forces do carry out actions that target innocent civilians. But the U.S. rulers are not waging this "war on terror"—however it is branded or rebranded—to "save lives." The rise of Islamic jihadist forces is in the main a product of and reaction to the workings of imperialism: to the ways imperialism has uprooted and devastated the lives and livelihoods of millions; to how imperialism has propped up vicious regimes (like Mubarak in Egypt); and to how it has literally sponsored the rise of these jihadist forces when that served the perceived interests of U.S. imperialism (as in Afghanistan, where the U.S. backed and funded Islamic fundamentalists going up against the Soviet Union). When a child in Pakistan hears a whirring buzz overhead and fears that she will be the next kid blown to bits . . . that serves to recruit more jihadists, and the cycle goes on and on.
But, these two outmodeds must not be, and are not the only choice in the world today. There is indeed a whole other way the world could be through revolution, a revolution for a radically new state power that is concentrated in this Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal) that I urge you to check out—where the right to speech, assembly and dissent is far beyond any constitution that has been promulgated anywhere before as part of a radically new state where people could flourish and would be empowered and backed up to abolish all forms of oppression and exploitation around the world, moving forward to a time when state structures as we now know them would no longer be necessary.
I do not have time to get into this here, but I extend an invitation to you to be true to and carry through acting on the principles that motivated you to come out tonight, and if this leads you to come to see that the source of the problem and its solution lies in revolution and communism, do not turn away because it takes you out of your comfort zone, challenges your cherished beliefs, or because of prejudice and anti-communist slander. Instead, learn more—go to REVCOM.US or stop by Revolution Books—while we act together to stop this madness.
These are not just good ideas that could never be. Do not be cowed by our relatively small numbers today. We are acting on big things—the surveillance, the hunger strike at Guantánamo, the continuing wars—that at certain moments, depending on what we and people like us actually do, can move the world. In just the last few weeks, from 50 people defying a bulldozer in Taksim Square in Istanbul, to still growing protest in Brazil, to the stand of Edward Snowden which brought us here tonight, we can see how acts of conscience in the interests of the people can at certain junctures, galvanize and move millions to think and to act differently. Those who rule this empire do not have things all sewn up. Their whole system is riven with problems for which they have no answers that would be in the actual interests of humanity.
For us, for the people of the world, we have to start by confronting the world as it actually is. Our morality and our actions must be grounded in reality which stands in sharp contrast to the spreading of illusions and the self-serving immorality of those who rule and their defenders like Thomas Friedman. Bob Avakian has put it like this:
“There is a place where epistemology and morality meet. There is a place where you have to stand and say: It is not acceptable to refuse to look at something—or to refuse to believe something—because it makes you uncomfortable. And: It is not acceptable to believe something just because it makes you feel comfortable.”
This evening we are standing with Bradley Manning, Edward Snowden, Lynne Stewart2 and with the millions of people around the world who yearn for a world where they could be free of the terror and misery in which the outmoded systems of the world keep them confined. Let’s go forward from here and resist together the unconscionable outrages and crimes that are brought down on the people while we learn and struggle with each other over the causes of all this and the solutions. The hour is late. But, there is time for courage and conviction. It’s time to act.
1. Since this speech was given, the U.S. government has charged Edward Snowden with three felonies, including two under the Espionage Act. According to court documents, Snowden is charged with theft of government property, unauthorized communication of national defense information, and willful communication of classified communications intelligence information to an unauthorized person. See the statement from The World Can't Wait, “Indict the Criminals Responsible for Government Spying, Hands Off Edward Snowden,” at worldcantwait.net. The statement begins, “For his courageous and principled action in revealing vast, unlawful surveillance by the United States, we defend Edward Snowden and call on others to join us in opposing the U.S. government’s plans to gain custody of him, try him and imprison him on espionage charges. We join a large section of the U.S. population—and billions worldwide—in outrage at the unconstitutional, illegitimate surveillance of whole populations by the U.S. which has been covered up and lied about for years.” [back]
2. Lynne Stewart, a well-known people’s lawyer, has devoted her life to defending oppressed people, people who resisted injustice, and people whose criminal defense other lawyers wouldn't touch. In 2010 she was sentenced to 10 years in prison for allegedly aiding a terrorist—“aid” that consisted of releasing a public statement by her client. Stewart, now 73, was battling breast cancer at the time of her imprisonment. Her sentencing prevented surgery that she already had scheduled. Her federal imprisonment in Texas delayed the needed surgery for 18 months and her cancer has now reached Stage Four. [back]
Revolution #308 June 30, 2013
Emergency NYC Forum Responds to Government Spying:
June 30, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
The most massive government spying/surveillance program in history has been revealed. Through a courageous and self-sacrificing act by Edward Snowden, people now know the U.S. has been monitoring and storing information about the phone calls and Internet communications of literally billions across the planet. The powers-that-be are now engaging in high-stakes damage control. They want and need to frighten people into submission so they are telling people: “don’t worry,” just go along with “the new normal”—as Guantánamo remains open and drones strike terror in Pakistan, Yemen, and elsewhere.
This is a pivotal moment. There is a real political battle that must be fought, with high stakes.
In the face of this situation, World Can’t Wait (WCW) stepped forward to give direction to, and to provide a vehicle for expressing, mass outrage. With less than a week of organizing time, WCW called for an emergency forum on June 19 at Cooper Union under the slogans: “No Government Spying on Whole Populations. Close Guantánamo Now. Hands off Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning.” A critical anchor of the outreach and the program was the Guantánamo statement that appeared as a paid ad in the New York Times on May 23: “Close Guantánamo Now”.
This event, co-sponsored by the Continuing Education Department, Cooper Union, was the first major political and cultural response to the spying revelations. Very significantly, a core of people came together to make this event happen, to participate in it, to build it, and reach out to others to take a strong stand: No, we will not be complicit. We do not consent. We take responsibility to act.
Speakers and participants for this powerful and inspiring evening, attended by 230 people, included Debra Sweet, World Can’t Wait; Dennis Loo, professor at Cal Poly, Pomona; Heidi Boghosian, executive director of the National Lawyers Guild; spoken word artist Aladdin; Ray McGovern, former CIA analyst turned political activist; Andy Zee, Revolution Books; Whistleblower Theater Founder/Director Claire Lebowitz with a performance from BradAss87, a play about Bradley Manning; and renowned monologist Mike Daisey.
The program gave people a deeper understanding of the larger situation—what is happening and why, with different speakers coming at it from various angles and perspectives. Some spoke from radical democratic perspectives, and Andy Zee from Revolution Books presented a revolutionary communist analysis (see speech).
What came through was not only the enormity and illegitimacy of the spying program, but its connection to the unjust and immoral “war on terror.” People spoke about the ratcheting up of repression against whistleblowers and the escalation of surveillance at home, the war crimes being carried out in our name, and our responsibility to act. The heroism of Bradley Manning, and how he has been punished and tortured for disclosing U.S. war crimes, was a major focus of the event.
At the end of the evening, many left with a greater sense of determination to ACT. Mike Daisey expressed this at the end of his talk, “It really does my heart good to hear people who understand that this is serious, that something is happening, that things need to be done.”
Off of this event concrete plans were made on how to act: Going to DC on June 24 and beyond to join the ongoing vigil to bring public attention to the dire situation facing imprisoned people’s lawyer Lynne Stewart and her case for a “compassionate release.” Demanding that Obama close Guantánamo NOW and joining the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, June 26 at the White House. Supporting Bradley Manning at the trial at Fort Meade which resumes June 25. (Go to worldcantwait.net for information on how to get involved in all of this.)
To watch the full program go to worldcantwait.net
The following are excerpts from speeches and statements from the emergency forum:
They were going to shoot Haushofer [a geologist at the University of Berlin who spoke out against the Nazis] but before they did this, the Germans were very orderly and they said you have to sign a confession and Haushofer wouldn’t do it. They shot him anyway and as they picked him up off the floor a little zettel, a little piece of paper [fell out], and it was his confession, and it was composed in the form of a sonnet. I’m going to share it with you, it’s very brief.
Doch bin ich schuldig, aber anders al Ihr denkt
Yes, I am guilty but it’s not what you’re thinking.
Ich musste früher meine Pflicht erkennen;Ich musste schärfer Unheil Unheil nennen.
I should have recognized my duty earlier; I should have more sharply called out evil.
Mein Urteil habe ich zu lang gelenkt.
I put off my judgment far too long.
Ich habe gewarnt, aber nicht genug, und klar.
I did warn but not enough, and clear.
Und heute weiß ich, was ich schuldig war.
Today, I recognize what I was guilty of.
Dr. King said famously, there is such a thing as too late, folks. As I look out at you tonight, I see a recognition that it is getting to be near that time. We’re not going to be obedient, servile Germans, and we’re not going to be conned by the upper crust. We’re going to seek the truth, we’re going to find it, and then we’re going to act on it. Thank you very much.
“I have another name for the so called “whistleblowers” who are responsible for shining a bright and revealing light on the secret crimes of our government. I call ’em RIGHTEOUS HEROES. From exposing the murder of civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan to blowing the lid off the outrageous NSA “Big Brother Is Watching You” conspiracy against We The People, there is nothing more courageous than persons of conscience risking their freedom and risking their lives in the hopes of creating a more just, more free, more peaceful planet.
So when the powers that be try to intimidate YOU into towing the line and bowing your head in quiet acquiescence I recommend raising your voices with deafening thunder and quote that old gospel spiritual that rings as true today as the day it was written: FUCK YOU I WON’T DO WHAT YOU TELL ME!!”
I would not have imagined in 2008 that he [Obama] would be the architect of making it so much worse. Like I did not really understand or imagine that not only would he passively let those policies continue but that he would deepen them and extend them. And I think this is the most important betrayal, that he would entrench them because there was sort of this idea I think in a lot of people in this country that we exist in this sort of dichotomy, flipping back and forth between one side and the other, that we have two sides, that really, that when the sides switch, that anything that’s gone too far will be pulled back. I don’t think that’s true. I think there are two sides, there are two sides of one coin and the metal that makes up that coin is the corporatism, that is woven around the structure that embeds us in where we live. And I didn’t understand that. I didn’t understand that he would actually do the things that he’s done. I didn’t understand that he would go after whistleblowers the way that he has. I didn’t understand that he would clamp down. I didn’t understand how false his promises about Guantánamo were. I didn’t understand that he would do so little and as we’re now discovering empower so much because now there’s no even illusion, you can see that in the coverage this week after Snowden, you can see that the dominant tone, the dominant messaging that is coming up from the Mandarins, from the people who are carrying the dominant messaging is that this is the new normal. That was really the dangerous problem and it has never actually had this messaging before—the message is you gave up these rights a long time ago, you just didn’t understand that you did, now you understand it and it’s fucking over, the conversation was actually over in 2001, you just weren’t awake for that and now it’s over and that’s appalling...
If you’re aware of the possibility that your conversations and correspondences may be monitored it affects the way you communicate...We have a government that’s cloaked in secrecy. And as you can see by the whistleblowers and leakers that we so honor and owe a debt of gratitude to, information is carefully being guarded and let to sift out according to what message the Obama administration wants to send us.... I think it’s important when people say “I’m not doing anything wrong, I have nothing to worry about,” that you remind them that if we don’t exercise our hard fought First Amendment rights and Fourth Amendment protections that were designed to shield us from an overreaching government, and not the other way around, that our democracy is indeed very imperiled.
Kevin Gosztola [who is reporting from the Bradley Manning trial] told me last night that the trial is suspended for several weeks and it’s going very quickly. There is going to be a quick conviction and the rest of the summer will be spent working on sentencing. But the troubling part of that is that there are very few of the public at the trial and the prosecutors are saying “See anybody can come in but they just don’t care.” So I am going down to Fort Meade next week and I want to know who’s going with me?
Saying “I’ve nothing to hide” means giving up NOT only your right to privacy but even more importantly, giving up your right to dissent AND everybody else’s right to dissent—ever. The Fourth Amendment guarantees against “unreasonable search and seizure.” It requires the government to have “probable cause” for issuing warrants to search and seize persons and/or their possessions. As such it is the cornerstone of the Firstst Amendment. Why? Free speech and free assembly become impossible if authorities obliterate all privacy and know everything there is to know about everybody—who they associate with, who their friends and foes are, what they think, what they read and watch, how they spend their money, what they are afraid of, what they plan to do next, etc.
Revolution #308 June 30, 2013
June 17, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
On June 5, an article by Glenn Greenwald in the British newspaper the Guardian revealed that the FBI and the National Security Agency (NSA) used the PATRIOT Act to obtain a secret warrant ordering Verizon—one of the nation's largest phone networks—to turn over data on every single call that went through its system.
That was the tip of an iceberg. As new exposures came to light, the New York Times wrote: "There is every reason to believe the federal government has been collecting every bit of information about every American's phone calls except the words actually exchanged in those calls." As we post this, new revelations are coming to light. Leaked NSA documents state that data is collected "directly from the servers of these U.S. service providers: Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, Apple." Articles in the Guardian and the Washington Post have exposed that this includes people's search history as well as the content of emails, file transfers, and live chats.
And the Guardian reports that a hundred billion pieces of intelligence were collected from U.S. computer networks in one 30-day period ending in March this year from people in other countries around the world, and outrage is erupting in Europe and elsewhere.
The government has been straight-up lying about all this. On March 12, James Clapper, director of national intelligence, was asked at a Congressional hearing if the National Security Agency collects "any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans." His answer: "No sir." Then he added: "Not wittingly."
The exposures are based on revelations by Edward Snowden—a former CIA contractor who courageously came forward to blow the whistle on crimes committed by the U.S. government. He told Glenn Greenwald, "I really want the focus to be on these documents and the debate which I hope this will trigger among citizens around the globe about what kind of world we want to live in."
This developing scandal comes on the heels of recent exposures of persecution of government whistle-blowers and reporters. The U.S. government is viciously persecuting Bradley Manning for exposing U.S. war crimes. Obama is upholding his right to kill anyone anywhere on his say-so (supposedly mediated by assurances that this is OK because he's Barack Obama, not George W. Bush). The U.S. is torturing and force-feeding illegally detained men at Guantánamo. And there is a looming hunger strike against psychologically devastating long-term solitary confinement in California prisons.
The situation continues to unfold rapidly. Look to revcom.us for ongoing coverage and analysis. Here we present...
Historical examples of how the U.S. has used surveillance to carry out great crimes against the people.
A tomahawk missile being fired during a training mission. Photo: US Navy
Massacring Children & Enforcing Empire—The Current NSA Surveillance Around the World
After the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. launched what they called a "war on terror"—which in reality has been a war for greater empire that has brought massive death, suffering, and dislocation in Iraq, Afghanistan, and across the Middle East and Central Asia. This began under George W. Bush, and has continued—and in many ways escalated to new levels—under Obama.
As exposed in the book and movie Dirty Wars, the United States government maintains a Kill List of thousands of people around the world.
How do people get on this Kill List? While the U.S. continues to claim it does not listen to the actual content of the billions of phone conversations it tracks in the U.S., no such claims are made in relation to phone calls outside the U.S. A report by the PBS show Frontline revealed that the Kill List is compiled in part through surveillance around the world by 6,000 U.S. drones and by going through data on cell phones, hard drives, and thumb drives. Among the sources of data that put people on this list are "intercepts from the National Security Agency, whose interpreters and analysts have transformed voice files collected from sensors into English-language transcripts." [emphasis added, source: PBS: "Inside the CIA's 'Kill List'"]
This whole process of data collection is not benign surveillance—the Kill List is used to kill people. Among dozens of victims: 14 women and 21 children blown to bits in a tiny, desolate, impoverished village in Abyan Province, Yemen, on December 16, 2009 by Tomahawk U.S. cruise missiles. A witness described the carnage: "I mean, if somebody had a weak heart, I think he would collapse. You see goats and sheep all over, you see the heads of those who were killed here and there. You see their bodies, you see children. I mean some of them, they were not hit immediately, but by the fire, they were burned." He said body parts were strewn around the village and it was not possible to tell if the body parts "belong to animals or to human beings." Most of the victims he saw were women and children. "They were all children, old women..." Investigative journalists found nothing remotely resembling a supposed Al Qaeda training camp in the village that was given as the official reason for the attack. (Description from the book Dirty Wars: The World Is a Battlefield, by Jeremy Scahill.)
Now tell us again, and tell the grieving families of these children, about how "if you're not doing anything wrong, you don't have anything to fear" from massive NSA data collection around the world.
COINTELPRO/FBI Operations Against Martin Luther King, Jr.
In the late 1950s and early 1960s, the civil rights movement in the U.S. challenged blatant segregation against Black people—from "whites only" drinking fountains, to "Negroes need not apply" jobs, to separate and wildly unequal education. They challenged profound inequality that had been embedded in, and served as an economic and social pillar of this system since the founding of the USA in the form of slavery, and later Jim Crow. Black people, joined by others, were marching, demanding very basic and fundamental rights denied them—the right to vote, to equal education, to not be humiliated when trying to use public facilities.
In addition to violence and murder from local police and the KKK, the central repressive apparatus of this system, including the full capacity of the FBI, was unleashed against the movement with the aim of crushing and controlling it. A key focus was the movement's leaders, including Martin Luther King, Jr.
King insisted change had to come through non-violence on the part of those struggling for civil rights. He did not fundamentally oppose the nature of capitalism-imperialism and what it does to people in this country and around the world—he called for equality for Black people within that system. But even this was deemed unacceptable to powerful forces in the U.S. ruling class, and King was targeted. A 17,000-page FBI file details their surveillance and harassment of King. They tracked his flights and his associates. They tapped his phone and the phones of those around him. They gathered tapes of King's sexual activities, a tactic they had refined for controlling people through blackmail and destroying them through public scandal. FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover attempted to use their secret tapes to destroy King.
The FBI leaked rumors about King's sexual activity to the media and rival forces within the Civil Rights Movement. In one famous COINTELPRO operation, FBI agents sent King a tape with an anonymous letter suggesting that he commit suicide.
Members of the youth wing of the Indonesian Communist Party who were rounded up and taken to prison in Jakarta, October 30, 1965. (AP Photo)
CIA-Orchestrated Massacre of Hundreds of Thousands in Indonesia
In the aftermath of World War 2, and into the 1960s, powerful movements erupted in Asia, Africa, and Latin America to break the chains of colonial domination, including neocolonialism (imperialist domination through formally independent but lackey regimes). Socialist China was a powerful beacon for the oppressed, and the Vietnamese war for national liberation was challenging the ability of imperialism to enforce its order on the world. The U.S., as leader of the pack of imperialist oppressors, carried out invasions, coups, and massacres to crush this upsurge, including orchestrating the massacre of hundreds of thousands of communists and others in Indonesia in 1965.
In 1965, the U.S. had trained 4,000 officers in the Indonesian military, and the CIA had built networks of agents and informants in the trade unions and other organizations, where the Indonesian communists had a lot of influence. The names and addresses of communists and their suspected supporters were collected through this CIA network and handed to the Indonesian military as well as reactionary Islamic forces, which were given a green light to carry out massacres.
Time magazine wrote in December 1965: "The killings have been on such a scale that the disposal of the corpses has created a serious sanitation problem in East Java and Northern Sumatra where the humid air bears the reek of decaying flesh. Travelers from those areas tell of small rivers and streams that have been literally clogged with bodies."
COINTELPRO Targeting of the Black Panther Party
In the late 1960s and early '70s, a powerful struggle for Black liberation was a central part of the revolutionary upsurge that profoundly shook the U.S. and reverberated worldwide. People rebelled in hundreds of American cities, and the revolutionary stance of leaders like Malcolm X and groups like the Black Panther Party resonated with millions—including throughout society.
In this context, federal agencies led by the FBI created COINTELPRO, a "counterintelligence" program for collecting data on, harassing, sabotaging, jailing, and murdering radicals and revolutionaries. COINTELPRO aimed to destroy key leaders within the Black Liberation movement. One of main targets was the Black Panther Party.
Floor plan of Fred Hampton's flat that was used by the FBI and police to assassinate the influential leader of the Black Panther Party in Chicago in December 1969.
From a 1968 memo to FBI field offices from FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover: "recipient offices are instructed to submit imaginative and hard-hitting counterintelligence measures aimed at crippling the BPP [Black Panther Party]." And Hoover emphasized the purpose of this massive data mining was not connected to any legitimate attempts at "law enforcement." He wrote, "Purpose of counterintelligence action is to disrupt the BPP and it is immaterial whether facts exist to substantiate the charge." (FBI document, September 16, 1970, Director FBI to SAC's in Baltimore, Detroit, Los Angeles, New Haven, San Francisco, and Washington Field Office, available at the FBI reading room.)
FBI agents organized murderous armed assaults on Panther offices and leaders. They planted snitches in the party, framed Panther leaders, and carried out "disinformation" campaigns. These included forging letters and starting rumors to create splits in the Panthers and other organizations, and disunity between revolutionaries and other sympathetic forces.
FBI files documenting years of surveillance of Black Panther and revolutionary journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal ran to more than 600 pages. Mumia was watched by law enforcement from when he helped found the Philadelphia chapter of the Panthers when he was a teenager. Mumia has been in the penitentiary in Pennsylvania since 1981, when he was framed for the murder of a Philadelphia cop.
The FBI opened a file on Chicago Black Panther leader Fred Hampton in 1967. Over the next two years that file grew to twelve volumes and more than four thousand pages, including information gathered from tapping his mother's phone. The Chicago police and FBI used this information to plan and execute a raid that assassinated Fred Hampton in his sleep, as well as murdering fellow Black Panther Party member Mark Clark on December 4, 1969.
September 1, 2008—Cops pepper-spray protesters at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)
Political Persecution of the RNC 8
At the September 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota, war criminal John McCain and Christian fundamentalist fascist Sarah Palin were being selected as the Republican ticket for the presidential race. Many people, from many perspectives, correctly felt compelled to protest. Over the course of four days, thousands defied the armed clampdown to make known their opposition to U.S. wars, torture, and spying and the imperialist globalization that has brought suffering to a huge section of humanity and caused catastrophic environmental damage.
Were the rights of these people—who were not doing anything wrong—zealously protected from unreasonable repression by this system of wars, torture, imperialist globalization and environmental damage? Just the opposite. To suppress protests, the streets outside the convention were turned into a militarized zone with massive police mobilization. Over 800 people were arrested, and scores were brutalized by the police.
In fact, based on pervasive government surveillance, even before the protests started, law enforcement authorities carried out preemptive raids and arrests of activists and independent journalists. Among those arrested were the RNC 8, who were charged under a state version of the USA Patriot Act being applied for the first time to a political demonstration. They were charged with felony conspiracy to riot in furtherance of terrorism and felony conspiracy to commit criminal damage to property in furtherance of terrorism, along with two other felonies. They were in jail for the duration of the convention but held responsible for acts of protesters.
The criminal complaint against them drew heavily on so-called "reports from Confidential Reliable Informants"—reports filled with wild allegations that turned ordinary household items into "proof of criminal plans." In a news conference, authorities displayed a tire seized, claiming that "someone was going to burn the tire to hinder traffic." The complaint listed things like: "light bulbs (which can be filled with paint or other chemicals and thrown at the police)," "broken up cement blocks (which can be thrown at police and windows)," "unidentified yellow liquid," which police claim was urine to be thrown at police. The yellow liquid, RNC 8 supporters said, was sink water collected for recycling and environmental conservation.
1. As the scope of government surveillance is dragged into the light, those in power, starting with President Barack Obama, claim all this is to "help us prevent terrorist attacks." And Obama characterized the surveillance as "modest encroachments."
No. This is massive surveillance of all manner of activities of billions of people around the world. And it is driven not by concerns for the safety of Americans, much less anyone else.
The fundamental framework for understanding the scope and intensity of all this surveillance is concentrated in this statement by Bob Avakian:
"The essence of what exists in the U.S. is not democracy but capitalism-imperialism and political structures to enforce that capitalism-imperialism. What the U.S. spreads around the world is not democracy, but imperialism and political structures to enforce that imperialism."
This capitalist-imperialist system enslaves workers in its sweatshops in Bangladesh and its oil fields of Saudi Arabia. It has created a planet of slums and environmental devastation, its morality and culture have produced an epidemic of rape. And this system wages constant wars around the world against threats from rivals or smaller-scale reactionary forces, and brings down violent repression against legitimate protest and opposition to its crimes. That is why this state sees the vast majority of people on the planet—billions and billions of people—as potential threats, and maintains such intense and broad surveillance. And that is why the state apparatus—the dictatorship of the capitalist-imperialist class (the bourgeoisie)—does what it does to people.
All this surveillance is not just about monitoring everyone's thoughts and actions (horrific as that is), it is about CONTROLLING everyone's activity, communications, and thinking. It is about being able to bring the full power of the state down on them at a moment's notice. This system kills people—even U.S. citizens—simply on the president's say-so. It has "rendered" people to secret "black sites" around the world for horrific torture (and Obama has steadfastly refused to expose or prosecute those torturers and those who gave the orders). This is a system that locks up more of its population than any nation on earth—by a long shot.
For all their talk about democracy and rights, what has been revealed so far is activity that shreds basic rights supposedly guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution: The Fourth Amendment, which supposedly prohibits unreasonable or warrantless searches of people, property, and documents; and the First Amendment, which claims to guarantee freedom of speech and the press, and the right to protest—just for starters. As for promises in the Constitution that "No person... be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law"—that too is totally out the fucking window. So all this surveillance is not only immoral and illegitimate, it is unlawful to boot. The fact that there are so few in Congress who even intend to make a show of objecting to all this, and so many who have vented "righteous indignation" in attacking those who have made the leaks, further reveals that virtually everyone at the top levels of government actually takes for granted that this society really is—beneath all the promises of democracy for all—a dictatorship of the bourgeoisie over everyone else.
2. Throughout society, the question being posed around Edward Snowden is "hero or traitor?" Powerful figures in the ruling class, like Dianne Feinstein, chairman of the national intelligence committee, called Snowden's revelations "an act of treason." Such threats are ominous and must be opposed. But by any objective measure, and from the perspective of a morality that values lives and freedom, the facts speak for themselves:
Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the famous "Pentagon Papers," wrote in the Guardian: "In my estimation, there has not been in American history a more important leak than Edward Snowden's release of NSA material—and that definitely includes the Pentagon Papers 40 years ago" [when Ellsberg risked life in prison to leak documents that exposed U.S. government lies about the Vietnam War].
Snowden worked in the U.S. intelligence world for almost a decade and knows the risks he is taking. He told Guardian columnist Glenn Greenwald, "Yes, I could be rendered by the CIA. I could have people come after me." But he said, "I will be satisfied if the federation of secret law, unequal pardon and irresistible executive powers that rule the world that I love are revealed even for an instant."
Snowden told Greenwald he had "a very comfortable life" but "I'm willing to sacrifice all of that because I can't in good conscience allow the US government to destroy privacy, internet freedom and basic liberties for people around the world with this massive surveillance machine they're secretly building."
And he acted now because "You can't wait around for someone else to act."
3. Exposing great crimes is no crime! And now people need to demand that no charges be brought against Edward Snowden. There is a need for people to not let individuals like Snowden and Bradley Manning bear the brunt of this all alone, but rather to speak out, to protest, to resist what is unlawful and illegitimate authority.
Where people do protest, they should be supported; and those protests—not only against this, but against Guantánamo, torture, indefinite detention without trial, and the whole program of torture, outlined in the World Can't Wait ad, "Close Guantánamo Now." That ad is a very good place for people to speak out, sending this ad to everyone you can reach. But more needs to be done!
4. The forces of repression are powerful, but they are not all powerful. Yes they have massive repressive technology, but their power ultimately depends on people.
People like Bradley Manning, people like Edward Snowden—people who start out believing that America is trying to do good all over the world, and then find out the truth. This is an Achilles' heel of this system. In the '60s, the fact that thousands, then hundreds of thousands, and finally millions stood up against the Vietnam War (in which the U.S. killed between two million and four million Vietnamese people, according to the then Secretary of Defense) and said that THIS IS WRONG and condemned that war as immoral and as having utterly NO justification, had an impact on those who were charged with carrying out that criminal war. And many of those people felt compelled and able to refuse to carry out or be complicit in war crimes, even at great personal risk and sacrifice. And as time went on, all this impeded the ability of the government to continue that criminal policy and carry out those crimes.
5. There is another way society can be organized. The new synthesis of communism, brought forward by Bob Avakian, is a basis for a society that is moving to end all forms of oppression thoughout the world, and in that context not just allowing but protecting and promoting dissent.
This is brought to life in the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal), from the RCP (CNSRNA).
The Preamble to that Constitution explains:
"In contrast to the way in which the capitalist-imperialist state serves and enforces the interests of a small ruling group of exploiters, the New Socialist Republic in North America, with the continuing leadership of the Revolutionary Communist Party, bases itself on, and proceeds from, the fundamental interests of those most bitterly exploited and oppressed under the old system, and the masses of people broadly, and provides the means for them to play an increasingly widening role in the exercise of political power and the functioning of society in accordance with those interests–in order to carry forward the struggle to transform society, with the goal of uprooting and finally eliminating all oppressive and exploitative relations among human beings and the destructive antagonistic conflicts to which these relations give rise."
Read the whole document at revcom.us.
In that light, Article III of the CNSRNA, "Rights of the People and the Struggle to Uproot All Exploitation and Oppression" incorporates far greater rights for people than the U.S. Constitution, which represented a system that had at its foundation exploitation and oppression, including slavery and genocide of the Native peoples.
In keeping with the mission of the emancipation of all humanity, the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America says: "[T]he orientation of the government, and that promoted in society overall, must be to not only allow but to value dissent, as well as political, philosophical and in general intellectual and cultural ferment and diversity, and to promote and foster an atmosphere in which all this can flourish. This shall find expression and be embodied in government policy and action, as well as in the law, including that part of law and policy specifically intended to protect the legal and civil rights and liberties of the people in this Republic." And it goes on to flesh out specific rules for ensuring this.
This system is compelled by its nature to trample the rights it proclaims as it enforces misery and exploitation and a million crimes flowing from that. It has done so from the time it was founded through the genocide of the Native Americans and slavery (both sanctified in its Constitution), and it continues to do so with a vengeance around the world today.
As the workings of this system draw millions into questioning and resistance, and in the context of struggling side-by-side with all who refuse to accept this, there is a moment and a challenge to pose the REAL alternative to all this as concentrated in the CNSRNA.
Revolution #308 June 30, 2013
June 17, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Day after day new revelations about the surveillance by the U.S. government of the phone and Internet use of billions of people around the world, including every phone call made in the U.S. itself, come to the surface. And those in power, from Barack Obama on down, defend this illegitimate, immoral—and unlawful—shredding of basic rights that people are supposed to have. Daily, there is discussion and debate on TV and in print of what has been exposed and what stand people should take...
And let's be clear... this massive spying on the phone calls and Internet activity of billions of people around the world is being carried out by a ruling class in this country that sees the vast majority of humanity as a potential threat to their system of exploitation and oppression, and has proven over and over that it uses this kind of data to carry out terrible crimes. They collected data on Black Panther Party leader Fred Hampton's living situation to assassinate him in 1968. They used their data mining to target a remote, barren, mountainous village in Yemen for missile attacks on December 16, 2009, murdering dozens of innocent civilians, many of them children.
The more data these monsters have about people's personal lives, medical records, political activity and networks of friends and associates, the more horrific the crimes they can commit. They need to be stopped now through determined political protest and resistance, including by having the backs of heroes like Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden (see "Five Points of Orientation on the Revelations of Government Surveillance"), and journalists who have the courage and honesty to make sure the crimes that are being exposed are not covered over or whitewashed.
This is a moment when many people throughout society and around the world are compelled to think about and debate big questions: What drives such moves by the state? What kind of society do they want to live in? And this is a moment when people's thinking can go through dramatic changes. And this is a moment when people can feel compelled to act in different ways. At this moment, readers of Revolution newspaper need to be out among the people, in the midst of the debate and controversy. Leading and learning from the people...learning and leading as we go out among the people. Wherever there are manifestations of discontent, wherever people speak out, protest and resist, we need to be there bringing a revolutionary understanding and analysis to people, while uniting with their resistance. Revolution bookstores could call together forums and discussions of the Five Points of Orientation. Panels can be organized which draw together people with different points of view. And more.
Send in reports about going out around this—what kind of protest and resistance is going on, responses to the Five Points of Orientation, what you are learning, etc. And let us know of events around this that are being planned so we can post them on revcom.us. Send reports and notices to email@example.com.
* * * * *
Emergency Forum, be part of taking a stand at this decisive moment:
We Will Not Be Complicit...We DO NOT Consent!
No Government Spying on Whole Populations. Hands Off Snowden & Manning. Close Guantánamo NOW.
Featuring Prominent Voices of Conscience
Great Hall, Cooper Union, 7 E. 7th Street, New York City
Sponsored by World Can't Wait, co-sponsored by the Continuing Education Department, Cooper Union
Join, build, and march in the Gay Liberation Network's Bradley Manning contingent at the Gay Pride Parade.
Festival of Resistance
Join activists from diverse Boston and Massachusetts-based justice movements to express our outrage over the growing surveillance state. Whether we spend our time working to fight climate change or to stop the wars, we must unite with one voice to fight for our basic rights to speech and freedom. Be ready to march.
Revolution #308 June 30, 2013
June 20, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
The following was written by a contributor and is being posted in both English and Turkish:
A social uprising on a scale not seen in recent decades has burst into the open like spring thunder, rejecting the way things are and opposing the direction they are heading. It has rapidly spread across Turkey, bringing a massive number of protesters into the streets in more than seventy cities and towns all the way from Istanbul to Diyarbakir. And it has brought forward a whole lively chorus of international solidarity from four corners of the world.
Since the end of May an explosion of a political crisis of tremendous significance has seized the center stage, sharply polarizing the whole society, drawing millions into debate and exposing all the basic rotten and oppressive nature of the existing social order and its fundamental assumptions. One defiant young woman, in the heat of pitched battle with the police, proudly responded, "It is not about a few trees, this struggle is about our souls!", to a journalist inquiring about what motivated the relentless surge of the protests.
On the surface it was the brutal attack by the riot police and the authorities at 5 o'clock in the morning on the 31st of May to evict 50-100 people peacefully protesting the planned demolition of Istanbul's Taksim Gezi Park that sparked the whole social uprising. However from behind the thick fog of cr-gas and crippling shots of high pressure water cannons and concussion grenades of the first day engagements, it became clear that a new and fresh and determined force, a young generation of rebels has emerged, increasingly impatient with and intolerant of the existing political and social reality in Turkey.
The depth and scope of the rebel forces arrayed against the regime of the AKP (the Justice and Development Party), which has been ruling since 2002, reveals the sharp intensification of the contradictions. The young people from universities and the shantytowns, middle class people from all walks of life, artists and intellectuals are united with those who have been recently dislocated from the countryside, demanding the resignation of the prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, along with the people who are outraged with the systematic islamization of the state and the public space and growing imposition of Islamic values and traditions and unrelenting promotion of religion-based morals. At the center and in the front ranks of this rebellion stand women who are furious about the encroachments on their bodies, lives and freedoms and the restrictions of abortion, and the government dictats about how many children a "patriotic," "good mother" should have. People who are outraged about the state sponsored efforts to erode or reject scientific truths like Darwin's theory of evolution are also part of the protests. The sympathizers of revolutionary groups and organizations fight alongside the people who oppose the deterioration of the environment and those who demand real freedom of speech, a stop to internet censorship and the arrests of journalists for even mild truth telling or criticism. Hence the slogan "Tayyip Resign!" loudly echoes between battle lines and barricades in different cities, representing a deep loathing of the AKP regime.
The AKP came to power cultivating an image of the "underdog" and promising a "just economic order" and development. Now the truth of this is clear in all its ugliness: an orgy of speculation, profiteering, and cronyism, all done with the help of the state: huge construction projects such as Istanbul Canal (a new artificial Bosporus), the Third Bridge or yet another "the biggest mosque ever" and many others. Not only are these projects aimed at enriching a handful of "pious AKP entrepreneurs," they are also ecological disasters that waste water resources, provoke land erosion and destruction of irreplaceable historic archeological treasures. An out-of-control mosque building program is masquerading as urban planning.
People are fed up with the regime's increasingly bellicose and arrogant swaggering in the region. They are glorifying, whitewashing and instrumentalizing the heritage of the Ottoman Empire. Foreign affairs minister Davutoglu's pseudo academic thesis about the importance of the Turkish state's "strategic depth" for governing the region in cahoots with the real masters of the region—the U.S. and European imperialists—represents their predatory aims and over-sized appetite. The fueling of sectarian reactionary civil war in Syria amply manifests this. And now they are coming to a cynical agreement with some Kurdish nationalist forces in order to chase after the reactionary regional ambitions of the Turkish ruling class and to stomp on the legitimate aspirations of the Kurdish people in the process.
Despite the public posturing of the prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, with his dismissive tone laced with overt threats against the protesters, there are signs within his ruling party that a gnawing sense of being under siege is making itself felt. There is talk of breaking ranks with Erdogan's leadership in order to deal with the developing legitimacy crisis of the reign of the Islam-based traditionalist pro free-market AKP which has been in government for 11 years.
For the past three decades giant changes have been sweeping Turkey as part of the quickened pace of "globalization" in the world as a whole. During this period capitalist development has intensified in Turkey, which has meant new capitalists who want their share of the state power and their right to a "fair share" in the loot. This same process of development has also led to dislocation of millions of peasants and subsistence farmers, driven to bankruptcy and pushed into the shantytowns or to migrate abroad. This process of displacement and upheaval has been reflected in culture, ideas and morals. One strong tendency has been nostalgia for traditional values and morals such as seen in "Arabesque" music. Women have in massive numbers been brought out of the house and forced to feed their family as low wage laborers. Yet these same women are the victims of this Islamic and feudal ideology and the yearning for traditional values and lifestyle. The much vaunted modernization of Turkey has gone hand-in-hand with increasing occurrence of degradation and brutalization of women even including horrific honor killings. This is the bloody secret of the "pious entrepreneurship" model that symbolizes so much of the consciously cultivated posture of the AKP machinery.
The AKP came into existence and was propelled into power as an expression of these drives and contradictions toward, on the one hand, an increased "modern capitalist development" and, on the other hand, the promotion of traditional values and religious ideology—its "politics of piety." On the one hand, the AKP represents the unashamed defense and practice of "free market" capitalism and exploitation, working hand-in-hand with imperialism, yet their claim to power, their ideological cohesion and their appeal to a section of the people is increasingly rooted in religious ideology (Islam) and its nostalgic yearning for a traditional way of life that is being undercut by the very workings of the world capitalist system that the AKP is salivating over.
In the world today, and especially in the Middle East and North Africa, these two conflicting but interdependent drives are shaping political events and posing reactionary alternatives, contending with each other, and fueling reactionary violence and manipulation. Aggression in Iraq and Afghanistan, Somalia, the imperialist "war on terrorism," the ongoing confrontation with Islamic Republic of Iran, all of this is marked by this same dynamic. The so-called "Turkish Model" was touted, as recently as May 31, as an example of mitigating and harmonizing unbridled capitalist, imperialist fueled development with reactionary outmoded Islamic political regime. Many in the region and in Turkey believed that this gymnastic leg splits was the best possible option available. Three elections were won with this self-delusion and this model was being sold (or pushed down the throats) as the deadening, stifling final curtain of the Arab Spring.
The current explosion is the sudden surfacing of these insoluble contradictions.
The efforts to reconcile imperialist-fueled capitalist development and western bourgeois democracy with a "harmless" moderate dose of Islam cannot achieve its aims. Tayyip may not be Taliban or Bin Laden, but he too is both an agent and a product of these same two opposed tendencies that he cannot possibly control. And this is one of the reasons he is so uncontrollably arrogant in his speeches.
The other side of the same dream was that Turkey would go from being a feasting ground for foreign imperialism to taking a seat at the imperialists' own table: the hopes of joining the European Union. From the beginning of the Turkish Republic in 1923 the goal of reaching the level of the "West Civilization" has been the dream of all of the rulers in Turkey. The AKP promised to deliver what even Ataturk and the generals could not. Beyond and above the fact that this was self-delusional, why should the peoples of Turkey want to aspire to take part in the pillaging of others or be proud of being a "strategic partner" (actually cop and torturer) for world class marauders, to protect a system which puts billions of dollars in the hands of a handful while billions of people are degraded? Where international sex slave trade becomes a big industry, child labor persists and the environment sustains irreparable damage? Isn't the effort to resurrect the grandeur of the Ottoman Empire nothing but a dream of Turkey taking its coveted place in the world imperialist system?
The most important fruit of the social rebellion against AKP, its ideology, its heavy hand and its project of society is the emerging collective realization that a completely different, opposing society must be brought into being.
People in Taksim Square and increasing numbers around the country want to participate in determining the direction of the country. They want to make good use of their passions and their talents to contribute to create a better society. There is a growing sense of the need to be good caretakers of the planet and not sacrifice the earth for money grubbing. Women and men dream of a society where patriarchy, the oppression and degradation of women can be overcome through struggle. Where one nation no longer lords it over others. People yearn for genuine cooperation and community and to get out from under the dog-eat-dog competition and indifference characteristic of the capitalist and imperialist world.
All of what people are fighting for and in fact much, much more is possible in Turkey and in the whole world. It is possible through a communist revolution. As "The Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have, A Message, And A Call, From The Revolutionary Communist Party, USA" put it:
"Communism [is] a world where people work and struggle for the common good....Where everyone contributes whatever they can to society and gets back what they need to live a life worthy of human beings... Where there are no more divisions among people in which some rule over and oppress others, robbing them not only of the means to a decent life but also of knowledge and a means for really understanding, and acting to change, the world."
Without this vision, without a determined struggle to emancipate humanity from the life devouring social divisions and antagonisms, people's hopes and dreams for a different world, without exploitation and oppression, cannot be realized.
The conditions necessary to reach communism exist in the world today. Extremely advanced productive capacity exists and links together people all over the globe. But under the existing social system, this very capacity can only be used for the accumulation of ever greater private capital. And the greatest resource of all—the masses of people themselves—are held back from contributing to solving the needs of every one. Not only are unemployed workers and displaced farmers left idle, even those who have had the chance to gain important knowledge and skills are not allowed to use them in the service of the people. The condition and the oppression of women, of the half of human society, is a striking manifestation of the imprisonment of humanity.
The fundamental reason that society goes on and on this way is that the small minority who benefits from the existing setup, the exploiting classes, have the control of the state—the government, the army, the police, the bureaucracy. And the economic and political domination also is reflected in the ideas, culture, ethos, etc. which draw on systems, past and present, of exploitation and oppression and contribute to keeping the people enslaved.
So there has to be a revolution, a real revolution, if society is going to be transformed. By this we mean the overthrow and dismantlement of the existing state and its replacement by a radically new political power, a socialist state, in which the exploited in alliance with the middle class and professionals govern society with the leadership of a visionary vanguard party.
Such a socialist society could only exist as a "base area" for revolution in the region and the world.
Most importantly, a socialist society would be a transition from the society of today toward the future communist world. It could only exist if it is a lively, colorful society full of debate, struggle and experimentation. A society that would be a joy to live in.
But for the possibility and desire of revolution to actually lead to a successful revolution there has to be a revolution in theory and ideology. There has to be a section of people who consciously take up the revolutionary theory and the responsibility to lead the masses in seizing power and embarking on the process of transforming society. This is the importance of the New Synthesis of Bob Avakian: a re-envisioning and reinvigorating of communist revolution. He scientifically examines the history of proletarian revolution and contemporary society, and the new knowledge emerging from different fields of human activity. The result is a Marxism that is more scientifically grounded, more emancipatory and makes the revolutionary transformation of society more desirable and even more feasible.
In broad strokes it is possible to see two major features of immediate revolutionary transformation that need to be at the heart and center of any genuine revolutionary programme. First, there is the whole spider web of connections to the world imperialist system that keep Turkey and similar societies economically, politically and culturally entrapped and dependent. A real revolution can not just try to tinker with these chains, or even worse, try to figure out how to somehow "use" this or that connection to the imperialist world system as some kind of leverage or advantage. The modern imperialist-centered tourism industry in Turkey, to take one clear example (or petroleum involving other countries in the region) is a major chain on the people and the whole society and most definitely not a potential vehicle for "national liberation."
The second immediate objective of the revolution is unleashing a whole process of social transformation which will sweep away the reactionary, patriarchal and backward social relations which continue to weigh so heavily on the masses of people and the whole society.
The fact of the matter is that these two major objectives can only be achieved through genuine, revolutionary, socialism.
The events at Avenue Bourgiba, Tahrir Square and now in Taksim Square and Gezi Park electrified the world, not only as focal points of resistance, but also as "free zones" full of lively debate over the direction of the movement and society as a whole. The daring to criticize anything and anyone that was felt to be standing in the way. Under the reactionary rule this kind of activity was met with police charges, thugs on camel back, television blackouts, and secret informers. In the socialist society of the future this kind of ferment will not only be "tolerated," it must be welcomed and fostered by the leaders of the society and its revolutionary institutions. Protest and mass upheaval, a spirit of daring to think, to re-evaluate, to criticize, will exist on a scale never seen in history and involve the masses of people normally "locked out" of intellectual and political life as well as the intellectuals and artists who will continue to have a crucial role to play in the conditions of the new society. The state power will protect the rights of the people to carry out these kinds of struggles. To be clear, opposition to socialism can be expressed as long as these opponents do not try to actually overthrow the system by illegal means.
Avakian's vision of socialism is one where controversy, dissent, struggle over right and wrong, and mass debate are woven into the fabric of the society, not the exception. Resources (publications, television stations, meeting halls and so forth) must be made available so that these rights are real and meaningful, unlike the bourgeois democracy where money, connections and ownership empties "free speech" of most of its meaning. This orientation is not a pious wish to be cast aside at the first difficulty. In the future socialist societies there will certainly be vicious enemies at home and abroad that will do everything to bring back the reactionary system, but all-too-often the realities of such enemies and the need to combat them has been seen as a reason to resort to heavy-handed methods and to not rely on and bring forward the masses of people.
The new socialist societies of the 21st century must be marked by an unprecedented expansion of individual rights throughout the population. The state itself will be qualitatively different from currently existing states in that it will be a result of the revolution of the masses, but this will not change the fact that there will still be contradictions between the state and the people as long as it is still necessary to have a state at all. The democracy that will exist and the guarantee of individual rights will be part of the struggle to keep the social transformation moving forward and will create more favorable conditions for the advance of the revolution.
Take, for example, the important question of the fight for a scientific world outlook and opposition to religious outlooks that weigh heavily on the thinking of the masses. In basically all of countries in the region including Turkey and across the globe as well, whether by law or just the weight of family and tradition, the media, and sometimes thugs, people are not encouraged to explore and debate alternative outlooks, and those who don't believe are often cowed into silence. There must be a strict separation between religion and the state. The educational system must treat religion according to the same scientific standard used to examine all other social phenomena. There will be no state-imposed official ideology, including the ideology of communism.
A radically different socialist society will handle the discussion over religion much differently. We know that for a long time there will be people who reject the scientific world view of communism and cling to religion. Freedom of religion will be respected and no one will be pressured to pretend to be something they are not. On the other hand, the communists will not back away from the struggle over religion and world outlook more generally, because it will be impossible to achieve a communist society until people look at the world as it actually is and on that basis transform it. This struggle in the sphere of thinking between believers and revolutionary communists can be a real and exciting "school" through which millions can participate, learn and transform.
Many people say, the communist revolution has been tried and it was a failure in the Soviet Union and Mao's China. It is true that these socialist revolutions were ultimately defeated, but to call these revolutions "tyranny" or a "nightmare" is a vile slander. It is worth considering who it is that most considers these socialist states a disaster: the very representatives of the same exploiting classes that were overthrown by these revolutions! The actual fact is that these revolutions put power in the hands of the masses for the first time in history and dared to undertake and realize never before seen social transformations. It is not surprising that these initial efforts contained shortcomings and errors, some of which were serious in both implementation and conception.
Some people argue that the communist revolution may succeed in meeting the material needs of the people but at the unacceptable price of forfeiting freedom and individuality. But despite real errors, this is not a fair characterization of those societies. More importantly, today Avakian's new synthesis offers a different and more emancipatory way of understanding and leading the revolutionary transformation. In the light of this new understanding it is important to grasp that while revolution must have as its center the millions of downtrodden and oppressed, the goal of the proletarian revolution is not revenge, but the emancipation of all humanity.
The upsurge in Turkey is closely linked to the winds of hope and change that have been sweeping through the region and often called the Arab Spring. While this had been a most necessary breath of fresh air and unleashed great enthusiasm, even bringing the fall of some regimes, these movements have not yet led to real revolution.
The same conditions, the same fault lines and contradictions, can also, in the absence of a real revolutionary alternative, lead to horrors as well. Witness the bloodbath in Syria in which two reactionary sides are abusing and misusing the masses of people.
A great and tremendous moment is being played in the history of Turkey. It requires a real revolution in thinking as well, if the aspirations of the people are to be fulfilled. We have the great advantage that more rigorously scientific and revolutionary understanding exists in the new synthesis that can serve as a theoretical foundation for initiating and carrying through a new process of communist revolution.
At this moment it is crucial that a determined struggle must be waged so that the present movement continues to advance and forces the government to back down in the face of the people's just demands. The forces on the side of the people must strive to unite their ranks closely and solidly against this regime and the rulers of this system, while understanding clearly that the known reactionary forces and their political symbols such the blood-soaked flag of the Turkish state cannot possibly aid those who are fighting the police and the hated government of the same state. We cannot defeat our oppressors while holding up their flag or defending their outlook. What it stands for must be understood and it must be rejected.
It is a liberating feature of this movement that it has brought into the open many burning issues of the conditions of society and the world to debate and struggle and in doing so brought together a broad spectrum of people from all walks of life. It is vitally important to reach out and win over a lot more forces from broad sections of the people, including from among the proletarian and downtrodden social groups. The AKP and other reactionaries cannot be allowed to continue to fool and mislead many of them against this movement and the future it must be fighting for.
There are many who yearn for revolutionary change, many dream of revolution, again. And others are just beginning to realize why it is necessary. It is decisively important to debate, struggle over and clarify our thinking about how to make revolution and emancipate humanity. To draw correct lessons from past revolutions, to develop clear strategic conceptions about how to initiate and carry through revolution in today's world towards human emancipation worldwide is a task that cannot be put off or belittled. Old tired run-of-the-mill arguments for communism will no longer suffice. Engaging with Bob Avakian's new synthesis of communism is essential for all those who desire to arm themselves theoretically and politically to prepare the ground and the forces for the revolution that cries out to be made.
Step forward, Turkey and the whole world needs to be transformed through revolution!
Ishak Baran, June 15, 2013
Supporter of Bob Avakian's new synthesis of communism and a veteran participant of the Maoist movement in Turkey.
Distributed by the Revolutionary Communist Manifesto Group (Europe) firstname.lastname@example.org
Revolution #308 June 30, 2013
From A World to Win News Service
June 20, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
June 5, 2013. A World to Win News Service. "It started out about a park, but now it's about everything," someone tweeted in the middle of the night as protesters fought police in Istanbul's Taksim Square.
The events began on Monday morning May 28, when some 50 protesters stood in front of the bulldozers about to attack the trees in Gezi Park, adjacent to Taksim Square. In the following days, the park was occupied around the clock by youth in affinity with the global Occupy movement and others determined to save one of the city's last green spaces. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan had announced that the Ottoman military barracks that once stood on this site would be reconstructed to house a shopping center and condominiums, alongside a new mosque. The symbolic and provocative nature of his announcement became even more apparent when it came out that he had decided to rip up the trees now and bring in the architects later.
This project represented the intersection of Islamism and the most speculative and monopolistic aspects of Turkish capitalism under Erdogan. The purpose was to demolish a square centered on a monument to Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who transformed Turkey's shattered Ottoman Empire by founding a secular republic after World War I, and make developers and financiers linked to the prime minister's inner circle even more filthy rich.
At 5 am on Friday May 31, police attacked. They fired rounds of tear gas into tents with people sleeping in them, including children, sent in bulldozers to roll over everything and set fire to the encampment. Hundreds of protesters, journalists and passers-by were injured. An attempted sit-in was dispersed. Instead of putting an end to the protests, this assault made many thousands of people from all walks of life feel that they had to come to the rescue. Some people chanted, "Thanks, Tayyip, for the wake-up call."
Youth throwing stones and other objects fought back against police in pitched battles that lasted all day and all night. The next day, the police withdrew from the square and protesters closed off the entrances with high barricades built of cobblestones and appropriated police crowd control barriers, street signs and other items. Supporters left their cars and buses to block police access. Nearby apartment dwellers offered their facilities for protesters. The square was turned into a place for political debate, concerts and dancing, a lunch area for curious and supportive office workers, and home away from home for people who came for their first-ever political protest and never left. It acquired a first aid station and a library.
Many people didn't come with the intention of fighting but under attack did so anyway. There were jokes on the theme of "Gezi gazzi"—I couldn't help it, I was gassed (drunk), or I was tired but I got gassed up at Gezi.
They were high school and university students and teachers (the universities suspended final exams); artists, architects, city planners and other intellectuals (some of the very first demonstrators); doctors and lawyers (their associations defended the protesters, and many came to help them); slum youth and their parents, many of Kurdish origin; white collar workers and businesspeople; shopkeepers (often handing out lemons and milk to sooth eyes burned by tear gas and pepper gas); pushcart peddlers; and housewives of all backgrounds, including traditional peasant families, some covered, most not. A few days later the two public service union confederations called a two-day strike and their members joined the youth.
Heedless of the protest, the prime minister held the scheduled ceremony inaugurating the construction of a third bridge across the Bosphorus, a project designed to delight real estate and financial speculators and bring the final expulsion of the lower classes and nature itself from that part of the city. Speaking of the Gezi demonstrators, he said, "It doesn't matter what you do. We made a decision and we will follow through with that decision." The bridge, he announced, would be named Yavuz (the Great) Sultan Selim, after the sixteenth-century hereditary ruler who made the Ottoman Empire a caliphate (Islamic state), also infamous for the slaughter of members of the Alevi religious minority.
While the main TV channels were broadcasting beauty pageants and cooking shows and ignoring the news, the Twitter hashtag #Direngeziparki became the world's most popular, with 25 million people following it. Erdogan was to label Twitter and other social media "the worst menace to society."
Led by a commandeered construction vehicle originally brought in to demolish the park, youth attacked the Prime Minister's Istanbul offices. Tens of thousands of people from the part of the city on the other side of the Bosphorus confronted police and marched across a bridge normally closed to pedestrians to join the protests.
A late-night aerial video of the city shows lights blinking on and off in solidarity, in apartment buildings stretching far across the city, and everywhere there is the din of people beating pots and pans or banging spoons against street lamps, even in Bulgurlu, considered a stronghold of Erdogan's AKP governing party.
The offices of the governing party were set ablaze in Ankara and Izmir. Demonstrations and fighting with police also took place in Adana, Antalya and many dozens of other cities and towns, in as many as three quarters of Turkey's provinces.
In the clashes with the police, the assaults and counter-assaults, countless women were in the forefront of the fighting, relishing a chance to battle for what they see as a clash over what kind of world they will live in. There were women in sun dresses holding out their arms to mockingly gesture "Bring it on" to the riot police; women in thin tank tops, their hands wrapped in rags so that they could grab tear gas canisters; many young students in jeans, some wearing head-scarves and a few with Occupy face masks as well; and other women of all ages and classes.
Some women fought; some milled around like most people; some brought fresh bread and tea to keep everyone going; some went home and banged out the rhythm of chants in their neighborhoods. The police, who were spraying people in the face with streams of pepper gas and firing bone-breaking, flesh-penetrating baton rounds at close range, displayed a particularly violent hatred for women. Photos on the Web show one or another defiant woman caught in a crossfire of gas-loaded water cannons strong enough to cause serious injury.
Few women entered into this fray without an awareness of the special dangers, but perhaps their enthusiasm for symbolic and physical confrontation stems from a feeling that they are a central target of Erdogan's program. He tried to ban Caesarean section births and put restrictions on abortion, not so much in the name of religion but because, as he once opined on TV, "Turkish women" (meaning ethnic Turks, not the country's minorities) should have more babies. In the blatantly patriarchal climate Erdogan has helped foster, honor killings, long a plague in Turkey, have risen sharply, with little prosecution. This participation by women is not just an interesting and positive feature. It is one of the characteristics that is best about this movement.
Another of its characteristics is that it is an outpouring of opposition to the government by many tens of thousands of people, while the opposition political parties have not been playing a directing role. The focus is on the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Many protesters demand that he listen to the people. Others, from the first, called for his resignation and increasingly his head. But this is more of a massive convergence of diverse streams than a political coalition.
There is a general unease with Erdogan's recent speed-up of the Islamization of Turkey's society. Recently the world-renowned pianist Faisal Say was tried and convicted for a Tweet comparing the Moslem vision of heaven to a house of prostitution. A young couple got in trouble for kissing on the Istanbul metro. The sale of alcohol was limited, and Erdogan declared that only alcoholics touch it. This was understood as a slap at Ataturk, who made a political point of drinking as part of establishing a Westernized, non-religious state and society.
Angered by all this, in a residential neighborhood near Taksim Square a very elderly woman and the much younger woman from the countryside who cleans her apartment marched out of their apartment building arm in arm, bought some beer and sat down on a bus stop bench. They sipped a little and held their cans in the air so that the world could see their solidarity with the protesters who chanted, "Thanks for banning alcohol, now we've come to our senses." People also held mass kiss-ins.
Now in the streets there seems to be an enormous desire for unity. In a city torn by deadly football rivalries, there were marchers wearing the t-shirts of one team and the scarves of their bitter enemies. A widely-posted photo shows a trio of young men making the hand signs of the fascist Grey Wolves, the secular Kemalists and the leftists. There were gay rights banners and a few portraits of Ibrahim Kaypakayya (the founder of the Maoist movement). The main opposition party, the deflated CHP that considers itself Ataturk's heir, has not played much of a role so far. Many protesters voted for Erdogan and many people are sick of all the political parties. But the most common political symbols have been badges, banners and portraits of Ataturk. While Kurds as individuals are participating and there are occasional banners and chanting in support of the PKK and its leader Abdullah Ocalan, in general the question of the liberation of the Kurdish people has been lost in a sea of Turkish flags.
Some of the protesters are religious believers who feel that Erdogan is instrumentalizing their faith. Some are opposed to religious rule in general. Most seem to consider themselves secular. But this secularism itself covers contradictory trends. Kemalism (as Ataturk's ideology is called) has always been reactionary. His vision of the "unity" of Turkey has always meant oppression of the Kurds and other minorities who make up a large part of the population. When marchers in Istanbul chant, "We are Turks, not Arabs"—one of Ataturk's signature ideas, hitching Turkey to the Western powers instead of the Arab world—this kind of opposition to Islamism is poisoned with Turkish chauvinism and reactionary ambitions for regional domination as a willing junior partner to the Western imperialist powers.
While opposing a religious state, Ataturk's heirs repressed non-Sunni schools of Islam (such as the Alevis) and gave state support to the Sunni religious establishment. Although Ataturk banned the public wearing of head-scarves for women and promoted what are perceived as Western values in other ways, the Turkish state he founded has both relied on the traditional mould of patriarchy and promoted a more Westernized (and sometimes decadent) form.
In fact, the most fervent followers of Ataturk have been Turkey's generals, who kept their country under an iron heel for much of the late twentieth century with the blessing of the imperialist powers. The complaints emanating from Washington and other Western capitals about Erdogan's "authoritarian turn" have to be seen in that light. Ironically, some of the"leftist" parties now in the streets against Erdogan and going along with the Kemalists gave him their support or assent until now, with the excuse that "He saved us from the generals."
This kind of confused thinking is especially dangerous in a confusing situation. The political and class coalition around Erdogan is fraying, although not necessarily irreparably. As an informed observer explained it, Erdogan became prime minister with the support of the Tusiad, the association of Turkey's most powerful imperialist-dependent capitalists, the heads of holding companies that own big banks and monopolize industrial sectors such as textile, appliances and other export items and construction. At a time when globalization was forcing a restructuring of Turkey's ruling class and the traditional parties had become ineffectual, his task was to repair the power structure and broaden its social base by bringing in newly arising, traditional, Islamic-minded rural capitalists who like to call themselves the "Anatolian tigers" as a signal of their aspirations for wealth and power. He also appealed to the pious rural population and those coming into the cities.
Erdogan promoted himself as a tough guy from the slums of Kasimpasha, not far from Taksim. But his political success with sections of the ruling class was based on the fundamental promise not to radically change anything. His way of dealing with the urban poor was a reactionary populism based on a kind of cultural revenge against the "Tarabya," people from an opulent, secular Istanbul quarter. This was combined with "the Kurdish card," his long-term attempts to bring the PKK and Kurdish capitalists under his wing, simultaneously mitigating the "Kurdish problem" and acquiring an ally with influence among an important segment of the rural and urban poor.
However, the headlong economic development under his leadership has brought political changes. There is a question as to whether he still feels a need for the support of the lesser, "Anatolian" newly rich, and a feeling that his program is meant to favor the country's biggest financial forces and encourage the kind of "bubble" speculation that may take Turkey down the path of Greece. Many people at various levels are worried that Erdogan's policies regarding Syria will pull his country into a regional ethnic and religious civil war. It can be said with certainty that many people at the top are worried that he is endangering rather than solidifying the ruling coalition.
At the same time, his "urban development" policies represent the enrichment of a very tight circle of government-connected corporations and big-shots whose power (including over the media) is widely resented among other capitalists. "Urban renewal" has taken place at the expense of poor neighborhoods. Economic growth has brought an intensification of class polarization. In areas where the AKP once handed out bread it is now moving schools and other facilities to the suburbs and forcing people to move out, not by open force, but by persuading them to sign contracts for new housing in distant areas before their old homes are torn down. Often these contracts put people more than ever at the mercy of feudalistic obligations to powerful individuals. This is not so popular. It is also significant that the PKK has helped keep cities in the Kurdish east (like Diyarbakir) less turbulent than other areas so far.
Discontent with Erdogan's programmatic disregard for forces whose support or at least assent has been so crucial to his success is matched by outright alarm at his confrontational political style, as if Turkey's fate rested on him alone. His arrogance isn't without basis, since his ruling coalition might not be able to survive without him, but it might not be able to survive with him, either.
In addition to what is going on in the streets, there are other signs of cracks in the ruling class. Army units have failed to help the police in several incidents. The head of the judge's association issued a warning to Erdogan, implying that his political style is un-Islamic. The fact that five-star hotels have turned their lobbies into emergency medical facilities for demonstrators and even provided staff (in contrast to Starbucks, which closed its doors), is an interesting turn of events, but it may not be unrelated to such splits and a general feeling that a further slide toward an Islamic regime would be bad for business, not the least tourism.
Some forces are trying to sew things together again, with or without Erdogan. The move by Turkish Deputy PM Bulent Arinc to apologize to protesters may be a question of "good cop, bad cop." The Turkish stock exchange, which had dropped sharply, popped up again after this gesture. Trying to peel off some of the movement's segments, Arinc called the protests against the uprooting of the trees "just and legitimate" and condemned the "excessive force" by the police, but at the same time said that the movement had been taken over by "terrorist elements" and refused to call off the police, ban the use of tear gas or issue an amnesty for those arrested. He said that now the demonstrators were just looters ("capulcu"). This promoted a worldwide wave of all kinds of people posting videos of themselves on the Net, introducing themselves in serious or funny ways and declaring, "I am a capulcu."
Actually, there has been remarkably little looting and relatively little destruction, aside from tearing up pavements and urban fixtures to make barricades and gather projectiles to use against the police. On the contrary, the youth have been assiduously cleaning up the mess left by the fighting to demonstrate their political seriousness and perhaps recycle materials for future use.
The atmosphere is festive in Taksim and other places as people celebrate their victories, freely act out their life styles and project their visions of a future happy society. But it would be extremely dangerous to ignore the viciousness and strength of the state and the possibility that Erdogan will pursue "double or nothing" tactics to show that he and he alone can lead it.
Erdogan has said that because he received 51 percent of the votes in the last elections no one has the right to challenge him. He also said that demonstrations were occurring only in the biggest cities, and that the rest of the country supported him. He warned that he might not be able to keep his half of society at home much longer. Threatening not just repression but something more like a civil war, he declared, "Taksim Square cannot be an area where extremists are running wild. If this is about staging a protest, about a social movement, I would... gather 200,000 where they gather 20, and where they gather 100,000, I would gather a million party supporters. Let's not go down that road."
Two young men have been reported killed so far, by unknown persons, in Istanbul and Ankara, and some observers see this as the work of AKP militias. Civilians with knives have been reported to be joining police in beating and torturing demonstrators trapped in alleyways. In the southwestern city of Antalya, the AKP youth organization attacked demonstrators.
No matter what approach the state takes, the situation is very dangerous for the ruling class, because any retreat by the regime may embolden the people in the streets, while a refusal to make any concessions may further enrage them. At the same time, the extremely contradictory nature of the movement against Erdogan is both an advantage and a source of danger for those aspiring to radical social change, because it embraces very different ideas about what society should look like—for instance, whether the Turkey they want is one where minorities and women are dominated, and the whole country is dominated by imperialism.
The fact that cracks have appeared among Turkey's ruling classes and reactionaries is potentially a great advantage for those seeking radical change. But to the degree that people in this movement do not achieve some clarity about the need to oppose both Kemalism and Islamism, there is a danger that one or other of the various reactionary forces and not the people may benefit from this moment.
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 #308 June 30, 2013
June 30, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Starting with smaller protests against public transportation fare hikes in late June, the South American nation of Brazil rapidly became convulsed with massive, righteous protest. The upheaval is shaking Brazil on a scale and with intensity not seen in decades. More than a million protesters marched in the streets on June 20 in 100 cities throughout Brazil.
Brazil is a huge country of nearly 200 million people, touted as a model of "democratic" (that is–capitalist) development. The protests came seemingly out of nowhere, but more profoundly are a product of deep-seated outrages in every corner of Brazilian society.
People are outraged that tens of billions are being spent on luxurious venues and stadiums for the 2014 World Cup [soccer] and the 2016 Summer Olympics when there is a desperate need for schools, medical care, and basic services. A 26-year-old business student in the protests carried a sign that read, in English, "We won't have World Cup because the giant woke up."
A young tech support assistant in Rio de Janeiro told the New York Times, "They don't invest in education, they don't invest in infrastructure, and they keep putting makeup on the city to show to the world that we can host the World Cup and Olympics... We work four months of the year just to pay taxes and we get nothing in return."
People are protesting, and for now have forced rollbacks in many cities' increases in public transportation prices. Protesters are denouncing the endemic corruption among those in power, protesting onerous taxes and poor schools. And they are targeting mainstream media outlets while setting up alternative information distribution channels.
Another ongoing front of struggle has been resisting the eviction of some 170,000 residents of Brazil's infamous favelas (shantytowns) to make way for Olympic venues, and to present a whitewashed picture of the country to tourists.
And Brazil's "development" has led to the deforestation of huge sections of the Amazon rainforest, and a ferocious assault on the land, rights, and lives of indigenous peoples.
As has been the case whenever people challenge the interests and agenda of capitalism-imperialism, the state institutions that serve that system have responded with violence in cities around the country. In Brasília, the capital city, police shot pepper spray and tear gas to stop protesters from reaching Congress. In Rio de Janeiro, the police attacked protesters with tear gas and rubber bullets. Dozens were reported injured.
* * * * *
(For background on the emergence of Brazil as a global economic and political force, see "Shifts and Faultlines in the World Economy and Great Power Rivalry: What Is Happening and What It Might Mean" by Raymond Lotta at revcom.us).
Revolution #308 June 30, 2013
June 30, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
As spring drew to a close, there were get-togethers and outings to neighborhoods in various cities to start off the exciting and ambitious summer 2013 plans for BA Everywhere, a multifaceted fundraising campaign to project Bob Avakian—BA—his voice and his work way out into society, far beyond what it is today. (For more on the plans, see “Summer 2013 BA Everywhere Campaign: Making a Difference,” online at revcom.us.)
In New York City, more than $270 was raised in two days toward a very large poster with Bob Avakian’s BAsics 1:13 quote on it that could be held up by people—a “human billboard”—outside the courthouse in Sanford, Florida, for the opening of the trial of George Zimmerman, the racist vigilante who killed Trayvon Martin. When the trial opened and jury selection began on June 10, revolutionaries were there to demand justice for Trayvon and to speak out against the whole system behind Trayvon’s murder—and the big poster with BAsics 1:13 was seen in news coverage around the country. A few days later, someone with more resources pledged to donate $3 for every $1 raised in Harlem on Saturday, June 15. This challenge was taken out to the people, and with the matching funds, more than $1,150 was raised in that one day. (See fuller report online at revcom.us, “Grasping the ‘moment’ to have a national and international impact with Bob Avakian’s message: ‘No more...’—BAsics 1:13.”) At a June 16 barbecue/picnic in Harlem, there was swirling discussion in English and Spanish—among people already active as well those new to the movement for revolution—about BA and the summer plans for fundraising.
In Oakland, California, people gathered in a vintage-car and art gallery showroom in the middle of the city’s art scene. Several people made pledges to raise hundreds of dollars for BA Everywhere. Tickets sold at the door and donations in response to the fund pitch amounted to more than $600. A group of people reported on their fundraising projects which brought in more than $900 through picnics, penny jar collections, tamale sales, and a flea market.
On a weekend in Houston, people got together for a celebratory BA Everywhere luncheon on Saturday; small teams then went out to various parts of the city to get word out about BA and the movement for revolution; and then on Sunday, there was an evening of music and art.
The following are excerpts from a report from readers on a fundraising picnic in South Central Los Angeles. (See the fuller report online at revcom.us, “BA Everywhere Picnic in South Central: Building Community and Raising Funds.”)
In a South Central park this past Saturday, amidst the trees and grass, the playing children, and the intense soccer players, some new buds of the movement for revolution started peeking out. Through a fundraising picnic for BA Everywhere, individuals who have been checking out and/or getting involved in the movement for revolution in different ways and on different levels began to forge community in doing this—sharing food and laughs and big questions of changing the world with a fascinating mix of people interacting. About 40 people came through at one time or another, almost half were from the immediate neighborhood, and after covering some of the costs of doing the picnic, we raised $140 for the BA Everywhere campaign.
The picnic was organized by a small committee of people from the neighborhood and other parts of South Central who were taking new responsibility, together with experienced revolutionaries. One of the women in the committee talked about why she decided to do this: “It’s the first philosophy that I’ve run across that’s being extremely honest, straightforward, and has to see a vision of a formula of how we can come up out of under this oppressive system. As we can observe around us every day, the system that we have is not working. I would say there’s probably a very high percentage at the top and then millions upon billions of people are left in poverty. The earth is being practically desecrated, children are being killed, and no one seems to want to do anything about it. We want to change the world to a better system, a better government, and what way to do it than from the ground up through revolution. So this is why I’m with Bob Avakian’s... party.”
People from the picnic committee met people from the citywide Revolution Club and worked to get the canopies up and the food organized. At the beginning, people were a little shy, but as they worked and ate and talked and played together, some of the barriers broke down. One high school student who had been to a neighborhood showing of the film BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! and liked it but also has been conflicted because of controversy at school and unsure feelings of being involved with atheists and white people, arrived at the picnic early on, but said he didn’t want to meet anyone because he didn’t think he would be able to relate to people there. By the time he left, after talking with some people and playing basketball with a talented ball player from the Revolution Club, he made a point of going up to one of the organizers to say, “Everyone here is really nice.”
Some of the youth who came had been part of wearing and distributing stickers saying, “We are all Trayvon! The whole damn system is guilty!” Students from two different high schools in the area said they had run into revolutionaries before in front of their schools. Several Black skaters from the nearby skate park joined in the picnic. The diversity of the picnic, the different nationalities, ages, and backgrounds hanging out together without conflict or degrading bullshit was a big part of its attractiveness.
A short program halfway through opened with one of the young boys with a beautiful voice singing Miley Cyrus’ “The Climb,” as he shyly held onto his friends for moral support, and receiving resounding applause. The revolutionary emcee welcomed everyone and said a few words about Bob Avakian and the BA Everywhere campaign, putting the campaign and this fundraising picnic in the context of the editorial in Revolution newspaper about a summer of big challenges and intense struggle. She brought up a couple of members of the Revolution Club who read quotes from BAsics they had picked out, then went on to say a little more about Fight the Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution. She encouraged everyone there to find out what Bob Avakian is about by watching a portion of his talk, BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! in the canopy set up for that purpose.
There were at least two different showings of that same clip to different groups of people during the picnic, and each resulted in very engaged discussions afterwards. In one discussion some of the skater youth were wrestling with questions of what kind of world is possible and what is true, including questions of religion and science. A young college student spoke very passionately, saying that what he likes about Bob Avakian is that he’s not just complaining, he has solutions and a movement behind him.
Revolution #308 June 30, 2013
June 30, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
There are big plans for this summer and beyond for BA Everywhere—the campaign to raise big money so that people in all corners of society can get the word about Bob Avakian and the revolutionary vision and works he's brought forward. Check out the Revolution editorial "A Summer of Big Challenges and Intense Struggle," which points to the crucial, dynamic role of BA Everywhere in the whole movement for revolution in raising sights to the actual, viable SOLUTION to the horrors people around the world face.
Right now, the key initiative to launching the Summer 2013 BA Everywhere Campaign is the online fundraising effort on the crowdfunding platform indiegogo.com, which went live on June 20. The aim of the Indiegogo campaign is to raise $20,000—much-needed seed money for even bigger fundraising efforts through the summer and into fall and winter. This money must be raised by July 15, 11:59 p.m. Online crowd fundraising depends on connecting with people. Reach out to everyone you know and make plans to go to lots of new places and people and involve them in donating and reaching out to others.
So Spread The Word:
Revolution #308 June 30, 2013
June 30, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
In a South Central park this past Saturday, amidst the trees and grass, the playing children and the intense soccer players, some new buds of the movement for revolution started peeking out. Through a fundraising picnic for BA Everywhere, individuals who have been checking out and/or getting involved in the movement for revolution in different ways and on different levels began to forge community in doing this—sharing food and laughs and big questions of changing the world, with a fascinating mix of people interacting. This scene was attractive, drawing in youth and others who wanted to find out what this was all about, including several people who had encountered this movement before in various forms and places throughout the neighborhood and now took the opportunity to learn more about it. About 40 people came through at one time or another, almost half were from the immediate neighborhood, and after covering some of the costs of doing the picnic, we raised $140 for the BA Everywhere campaign.
The picnic was organized by a small committee of some people from the neighborhood and other parts of South Central who were taking new responsibility, together with experienced revolutionaries. A member of the Revolution Club South Central, who had never written a flyer before, put a lot of thought into writing something that, as he put it, would be powerful and show people there is something they can do to change things. People in the committee worked together to reserve the park, going to stores to ask for donations of food and money, as well as inviting friends and getting flyers out, cooking food, and borrowing a grill from a neighbor.
One of the women in the committee talked about why she decided to do this: "It's the first philosophy that I've run across that's being extremely honest, straightforward and has to see a vision of a formula of how we can come up out from under this oppressive system. As we can observe around us every day, the system that we have is not working. I would say there's probably a very high percentage at the top and then millions upon billions of people are left in poverty. The earth is being practically desecrated, children are being killed and no one seems to want to do anything about it. We want to change the world to a better system, a better government, and what way to do it than from the ground up through revolution. So this is why I'm with Bob Avakian's... party."
From the beginning of the picnic, everyone pitched in to get it together. People from the picnic committee met people from the citywide Revolution Club and worked to get the canopies up and the food organized. A couple of younger youth who hang out in the park and not too long ago were part of making a banner to defend Noche Diaz, were looking forward to the picnic and jumped in right away to help make signs and set up tables. Some asked if they could help set up instead of paying for food because they didn't have any money. One 11-year-old said he had brought his money for the picnic and when the donation bucket came around later, proudly added his donation. The food was great: homemade potato salad made with potatoes picked up from a food bank... delicious chili that took hours to make... pupusas filled with meat and beans... and burgers grilled as people stood around the grill talking.
At the beginning, people were a little shy, but as they worked and ate and talked and played together, some of the barriers broke down. A high school student who had been to a neighborhood showing of the film BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! and liked it but also has been conflicted because of controversy at school and unsure feelings of being involved with atheists and white people, arrived at the picnic early on, but said he didn't want to meet anyone because he didn't think he would be able to relate to people there. By the time he left, after talking with some people and playing basketball with a talented ball player from the Revolution Club, he made a point of going up to one of the organizers to say, "Everyone here is really nice." A woman who had been part of organizing the picnic was happy to meet and talk with Joe Veale (a comrade who has been in the Revolutionary Communist Party since the 1970s and was a member of the Black Panther Party in the 1960s), and she was very pleased that the picnic was attracting youth in the park who came by to seriously engage what this was about, including watching and discussing a portion of the film.
Some of the youth who came by had seen the march to demand justice for Trayvon Martin on Crenshaw Blvd. Monday and were enthusiastic about it. Some had been part of wearing and distributing stickers saying, "We are all Trayvon! The whole damn system is guilty!" Students from two different high schools in the area said they had run into revolutionaries before in front of their schools—and what they know is this is about changing the world. Several Black skaters from the nearby skate park joined in the picnic. Some of them were upset because of a recent incident in the park where some of their white skater friends were beaten up by members of a nearby Black gang—in an area where there is often tension and animosity between Black and Latino people. The diversity of the picnic, the different nationalities, ages, and backgrounds hanging out together without conflict or degrading bullshit was a big part of its attractiveness.
There was a short program halfway through that opened with one of the young boys with a beautiful voice singing Miley Cyrus' "The Climb," as he shyly held onto his friends for moral support, and receiving resounding applause. The revolutionary emceeing welcomed everyone and said a few words about Bob Avakian and the BA Everywhere campaign, putting the campaign and this fundraising picnic in the context of the editorial in Revolution newspaper about a summer of big challenges and intense struggle. She brought up a couple members of the Revolution Club who read quotes from BAsics they had picked out, then went on to say a little more about Fight the Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution. In particular she spoke to the recent march for justice for Trayvon and how significant it was, and then went on to talk about the revolution we need and how BA concentrates this revolution—which is also why he is so controversial, speaking specifically to the incident at the Trayvon rally where narrow nationalists disrupted speakers on stage and attempted (unsuccessfully) to derail the whole protest. She encouraged everyone there to find out what Bob Avakian is about by watching portions of his talk, BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! in the canopy set up for that purpose. The program ended with a call from the Stop Mass Incarceration Network to get organized into the network and be part of planning out and taking part in the National Days of Solidarity to support the prisoners' hunger strike to stop torture in U.S. prisons.
When the program ended, many people did come over to watch a clip of the film, the first 18 minutes. There were at least two different showings of that clip to different groups of people during the picnic, and each resulted in very engaged discussions afterwards. In one discussion some of the skater youth were wrestling with questions of what kind of world is possible and what is true, including questions of religion and science. A young college student spoke very passionately in telling them that what he likes about Bob Avakian is that he's not just complaining, he has solutions and a movement behind him.
Revolution #308 June 30, 2013
On the Situation of Youth and BA Everywhere Fundraising:
June 30, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
From a reader:
I received a phone call this morning informing me that a 15-year-old, you guessed it, Black youth was killed by the Chicago police. I began watching news coverage of the shooting on TV and reading various accounts of what happened in the local media. According to them—and this has been corroborated by people living in the neighborhood—the police were called into the area after reports of gunfire. According to the police they saw a man running with a gun. They ordered the person to stop. Their spokesperson, Pat Camden, who's made this same statement hundreds of times, went on to say that the suspect turned and pointed a gun at officers. That's when these officers opened fire, hitting the suspect multiple times and killing him.
The killing of 15-year-old Michael Westley by these cops happened in the context of what has been described as a spike in violent crime in the city over the weekend—30 people wounded, 7 killed. Some community leaders and clergy people are on the airwaves saying that the police are doing all they can to curb the violence and that we need the community, the parents, the teachers and clergymen to step up. Blaming everyone for this madness but this system and its enforcers (the police).
Heading over to the area where this shooting took place, I began to think about a recent graduation I attended of several alternative schools. I was very moved and brought to tears after hearing student after student tell their stories and the struggles they went through just to be able to graduate. I remember one young woman telling the young men how proud she was of them and that she knows how hard it is for them to just survive and still they had made it there that day. One of the administrators echoed that sentiment later in the program by saying three students had been killed in the week leading up to graduation and several others over the course of the year. She also spoke about the young women who had kids while still in school, and while she didn't go through this herself she said she knew how hard it must have been to get up in the middle of the night to tend to their child and still make it to school the next day.
I was surprised to see that about 70 percent of the young women were accepted into junior colleges here in the city and other parts of the country and only about 3 to 5 percent of the young men. What was even more disturbing than the low percentage of the young men going to college was the large number of them who had already joined one or another branch of the armed forces. For many of these young men this is what they were going to do with their lives after finishing school. In both these incidents—the tragic death of a 15-year-old Black youth and what seemed to be a joyous graduation—I found myself reflecting on the message and call, "The Revolution We Need, The Leadership We Have."
"Look at what this system is doing to youth right here in the USA. For millions in the inner cities, if they are not killed at an early age, their likely future is prison (nearly 1 in 8 young Black men is incarcerated, the prisons are overflowing with Blacks and Latinos, and this country has the highest rate of incarceration of women in the world). This system has robbed so many youth of the chance for a decent life and has got far too many living, dying and killing for nothing—nothing good—nothing more than messing up people and murdering each other on the streets of the cities here...or joining the military, being trained to be murderers on a mass scale, massacring people in countries across the globe. A system which offers millions and millions of youth no greater purpose, no better fate, than crime and punishment, or to become a mindless killing machine for the system itself—that alone is reason enough to sweep this system from the face of the earth!"
And that's exactly what this movement for revolution is setting out to do. It is exactly what the BA Everywhere campaign is all about—sweeping this system (that causes so much hardship and misery not just here but all around the world) from the face of the earth.
I remember being told by my parents if I didn't straighten up and fly right I would be dead or in jail before I was 21, and there was some truth to what they were saying. You either conformed to the status quo or you pay the piper.
I, like so many other youth of that time, was very fortunate there was another alternative to all the negative shit youth were drawn to back then—not that much different than a lot of the shit the youth are caught up into today. All the mano a mano crap, making a quick buck at other people's expense and degrading women and self—the whole nine yards. All that bullshit we were caught up in was being challenged both by the civil rights movement and even more so by the emerging movement for revolution that developed during the '60s. Thousands of youth like myself from the ghettos to the barrios, from high schools to major colleges, became part of this revolutionary movement. For many of us there was/is nothing more liberating that we could do with our lives, and in the process of fighting back against this system we came to understand through a lot of struggle that there is something that is worth living for, worth dying for, worth struggling to bring into being. A communist world.
In BAsics 3:17 BA makes the following point:
People say: "You mean to tell me that these youth running around selling drugs and killing each other, and caught up in all kinds of other stuff, can be a backbone of this revolutionary state power in the future?" Yes—but not as they are now, and not without struggle. They weren't always selling drugs and killing each other and the rest of it—and they don't have to be into all that in the future. Ask yourself: how does it happen that you go from beautiful children to supposedly "irredeemable monsters" in a few years? It's because of the system, and what it does to people—not because of "unchanging and unchangeable human nature."
Compare these two futures for the youth: the one that this system offers, a life of misery and brutality, versus them becoming leaders of the revolution, transforming the world while transforming themselves. The leading edge of this movement for revolution is the BA Everywhere campaign—a fundraising campaign to raise big bucks to get Bob Avakian—BA—his voice and work way out there in society, far beyond what it is today. I want people who have donated, who are thinking about donating, and those who decided not to, to think about this: Imagine if the youth in the neighborhood where this 15-year-old youth was killed and thousands of others like it across the city and country were into BA's new synthesis of communism, reading BAsics and watching his DVD BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS!, wrangling over national oppression, women's oppression, the destruction of the environment, and endless wars—where these horrors stem from and what can be done about them. Imagine when these military recruiters come into our schools recruiting our kids to defend and expand its empire the youth in these schools greet them with BAsics 1:3: "The essence of what exists in the U.S. is not democracy but capitalism-imperialism and political structures to enforce that capitalism-imperialism. What the U.S. spreads around the world is not democracy, but imperialism and political structures to enforce that imperialism."
Imagine youth caught up in all this madness, imagine if they were imbued with the truth: This is not the best of all possible worlds and we don't have to live this way, and the youth and others were acting on that truth. Imagine that. We are setting out to change the world. In order to do this we need money. Your money is an important part of making this happen. Donate now.
Revolution #308 June 30, 2013
June 17, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
As the trial of George Zimmerman for the murder of Trayvon Martin began on June 10, these words of Bob Avakian, emblazoned on a "human billboard" in Sanford, Florida were already drawing attention:
No more generations of our youth, here and all around the world, whose life is over, whose fate has been sealed, who have been condemned to an early death or a life of misery and brutality, whom the system has destined for oppression and oblivion even before they are born. I say no more of that. (BAsics 1:13)
In order to do this starting as the trial opened, money had to be raised—and fast. Over $150 was raised in four hours on Saturday on the street in Harlem and another $120 was raised at Harlem churches on Sunday.
Our agitation touched people deeply and we challenged people to donate—and more boldly up front calling on people to make larger donations than we have done in the past, to really making a difference.
There was a deep sense of anger around what happened to Trayvon and a deep connection people felt with this quote when they read it. An older Black woman pulling a cart behind her was overheard saying, "They better not let that racist walk free! They gonna see something if they do!" This sentiment was echoed in Spanish with great indignation: "¡NO! ¡No podemos permitir eso! [We can't let that happen.]" One man spoke of a volcano of anger. On various occasions people related the police murders, like of Ramarley Graham, in response to the points around the genocidal atmosphere against Black people being created. A woman who lives in the projects and who has the book BAsics by BA said that she had recently been out protesting against stop-and-frisk and was very disturbed by the moves to criminalize Trayvon. "There's got to be protest around this!" A neighbor of hers has the DVD of BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS!, and they are making plans to get a group together to show it. People took stacks of flyers and cards of BAsics 1:13 to get out in their buildings, their schools, and their churches. One middle-aged woman said, "My pastor supported the last National Hoodie Day and he should promote this!" One young woman said she would be taking over the microphone at a party that night to make an announcement. Young people promised to post the "National Hoodie Day" on Facebook.
But to actually raise the kind of money we needed to raise that weekend, and more to start to make the kind of breakthrough we need around fundraising among the basic people for BA Everywhere, we had to break with tendencies to "aim low." It took a while, but we increasingly began to start off asking for $5 or $10 donations—and a number of people indeed responded by giving us $5 or $10 donations, while others found their own level.
There is the challenge now to really follow up with all those who made a significant contribution, to build wave upon wave.
Then, on Saturday, June 15—people were back on the streets of Harlem, building on what had been learned and what had been accomplished. But this time, a challenge had been made: a person with more financial resources pledged to donate $3 for every $1 raised in Harlem on Saturday. This was important on many levels. We took this challenge out to the people, aiming to raise $250. Indeed, we exceeded our goals, raising $288 in Harlem on Saturday—which when combined with the 3-to-1 matching funds has meant a total of $1,153 for the campaign to get BA Everywhere in one day. We hope this experience will inspire others to make similar matching pledges and for people in Harlem or other areas of the oppressed to meet those challenges.
BAsics 1:13 was touching people deeply and many people, young and old, including basic masses, folks who have seen us and known us for a long time and many we just met, felt compelled to donate 5 and 10 dollars to get this statement everywhere. People were glad to contribute when they heard that it was on the human billboard in Sanford and that more money was needed for another group of volunteers to go to Sanford to, as we put it in our flyer: "get it seen in a big way, going up in the face of those who hate what this quote says and represents, and into the hearts of many thousands who have hopes and dreams of a radically different world where there is truly 'No More of That.'"
The matching challenge had a positive impact, with some giving who would not have given otherwise, and others giving increasing the amount that they donated.
Where we fell down was not challenging and working with people we knew to go beyond donating to actually raising funds from others themselves, with the BAE raffle an important gateway/means for doing that in a form very familiar to people.
Raising this money in Harlem and already seeing the effect that putting BA's message out to a national and international audience, as we saw with this "human billboard," gave us our first taste this summer of the power and importance of the BA Everywhere campaign so that Bob Avakian's analysis of the source of the problems in the world and even more the solution to them, is out there so that thousands, even millions are debating and examining them. That has been very important. But a taste is not a whole meal. So with that in mind, we also broadly invited people to the BA Everywhere Barbecue and Picnic to kick off the whole summer of "Taking BA Everywhere, Raising Funds and Making a Difference" on Sunday the 16th, which we will report on very soon.
Revolution #308 June 30, 2013
June 30, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Inside Fort Meade, a U.S. military base near Baltimore that houses the headquarters of the National Security Agency (NSA), Bradley Manning is undergoing a court martial in front of a military judge. Manning is the Army private who made available to WikiLeaks in 2010 a huge trove of classified information about U.S. war crimes and torture. (See "High Stakes in the Cruel and Unjust Trial of Bradley Manning".)
Bradley Manning has supporters around the U.S. and the world who recognize him as a hero. But in the fourth week of his trial the prosecutor targeted those attending it because the public seats in the courtroom are not filled every day.
So as Debra Sweet from World Can't Wait told Revolution: "It's time to get our bodies in that courtroom and manifest support for this brave, principled man who acted to expose the government's crimes. And it's time to get many more people to know about and to support Bradley Manning because, as he said, 'I believed that if the general public, especially the American public, had access to the information contained within the [Iraq and Afghan War Logs] this could spark a domestic debate on the role of the military and our foreign policy in general as well as it related to Iraq and Afghanistan.'" www.bradleymanning.org/learn-more/in-his-own-words
David Coombs, Bradley's attorney, recently told supporters: "When I'm in the courtroom, I stand up and I look to my right and I see the United States government, the United States government with all of its resources, all of its personnel. I see them standing against me and Brad, and I have to admit to you that can be rather intimidating and I was intimidated, especially when the President of the United States says, 'Your client broke the law.' Especially, when Congress members say, 'Your client deserves the death penalty.' I want to tell you, though, today as I stand here, I'm no longer intimidated. I am not intimidated because when I stand up, I know I'm not standing alone. I know I'm not alone because I turn around and I see the support behind me. I see members here today in the audience that are there every time we have a court hearing. I see, what now I'm going to affectionately call the 'truth battalion,' those who wear... a black shirt, it has the word 'truth' on it and they're behind me."
See "5 reasons to attend Army whistleblower Bradley Manning's trial" at bradleymanning.org.
World Can't Wait has put out a call to mobilize and step up support for Bradley Manning:
The following excerpts are taken from an interview by Revolution on June 21 with Kevin Gosztola, who has been attending the trial of Bradley Manning.
Revolution: Let me go back to something; you said he already pled guilty, we’re well into the fourth week of the trial. Why is the government going ahead with this trial despite the guilty plea from Bradley Manning? What have they been out to establish through this hearing?
Kevin Gosztola: The trial of Bradley Manning is much more than holding Bradley Manning responsible for doing something that the military will say is clearly outlined in rules, that you’re not to disclose classified information without proper authorization; they’ll tell you that’s what this case is about, a soldier that did that. They’ll tell you that this is about a person whose acts ended up aiding the enemies of the United States or advantaging a foreign nation, giving them information that they could use to their advantage against the United States. That’s not really what this is about; what this is about is the Obama administration and the United States government, the National Security State, wanting to control information. It’s not about just holding someone responsible for a crime; otherwise you could just put him in prison for five, ten, fifteen years. There’s no reason to zealously pursue him unless you need to send a message to all other people in the military, all other people in government with these kinds of cases. Bradley Manning is one of eight people now who’ve been charged under the Espionage Act as leakers. The Espionage Act was never intended to criminalize leaks. Though it was always used to go after dissidents and dissenters when it was passed in 1917, that law had actually not been used against government employees or even military officers until you had Daniel Ellsberg charged under the Espionage Act when he blew the whistle and provided the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times.
The Obama administration has taken a massive step forward in using the Justice Department to come down on individuals, just recently Edward Snowden being charged with the Espionage Act violation. Bradley Manning’s case is a part of making it clear to everyone that the United States government isn’t about to allow government employees to come forward and bring out any information that they think is in the public interest or any information that they think reveals corruption or wrongdoing. The broader issue here is that there are people in government who recognize that there are too many secrets, and that the government is classifying an incredible amount of material. This information, if it was public, could be helpful in court cases; there are torture victims whose cases are thrown out because they can’t argue, the government invokes state secrets privilege. There are people who go to court and say they think they’re having their phones tapped by the NSA, but they’re not allowed to challenge warrantless wiretapping laws because they can’t prove with the secret information that they’re being spied upon. The classified information of not knowing how surveillance works, that throws it out.
I’m just giving the bigger picture here of what the context is of this trial. There’s an incredible task before these prosecutors. They’re not just there prosecuting Bradley Manning, they’re there to convict Manning, they’re there also to put together a stepping stone for the Obama Justice Department, so it can move on to Julian Assange, editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks, and the wider WikiLeaks organization/staffers. If you pay attention to what [Julian Assange’s] lawyers, Michael Ratner and Jennifer Robinson, are saying as they monitor the Bradley Manning trial, it’s very clear they’re concerned about what is being said. Julian Assange has been a key focus of the prosecutors. They very much want to get the judge to accept that Manning was communicating with Julian Assange personally, although they have not presented actual proof. They’ve shown that there’s a chat, a user address called “press association,” and that address is associated with WikiLeaks, and perhaps Julian Assange used the address, but they have not been able to prove that Julian Assange was the person who was sending messages from that address.
Revolution: You talk about how people have really come to cherish what Bradley Manning represents; he’s a very courageous individual, on the basis of really deep convictions you were alluding to a while ago, who has exposed these crimes and has suffered severely already; he’s been in prison over three years, I think, tortured, he’s been in solitary confinement for nine months. How aware is he? Does he know about the activities that took place at Fort Meade, at the beginning of the trial, and throughout the world during the course of it? I’m just wondering how he’s doing; does he get encouragement from these developments?
Gosztola: From what I know, Bradley Manning is well aware that he has many supporters; he’s aware that people from around the world are demonstrating in support of him in rallies. He’s aware because his lawyer, David Coombs, really one of the only people that he can confide in (he has to rely on him quite a bit to know about what is going on)... I assume he gets to watch some news, so he might be aware of some of the events developing. I imagine, I wonder if he identifies with Edward Snowden, being that this person is quite similar to Bradley Manning, in my opinion. I see them as really being from the same kind of demographic of people, of tech people who believe in this sort of thing of the goodness of technology, even though they were working for institutions like the CIA and the NSA that don’t do what, things that I think are good for the world, of these people actually believing that the country could be different, and trying to do good things from inside the belly of the beast. So I think when I’ve seen him in court, he’s been intelligent, articulate. There hasn’t been any sense that he is afraid or that he’s not willing to show confidence and take responsibility for the act of conscience or civil disobedience that he engaged in, however you want to regard his act, and it seems quite clear that at this point I think it’s fair to say that it’s clear that he’s come to accept whatever future that he has before him.
I think having all these tens, hundreds of thousands of supporters around the world, also having officials in governments around the world. We can’t just limit the group that supports him to citizens; there are actual officials and people in human rights groups around the world that support Bradley Manning. We have to think of this... one of the things the government may not realize, and I’ll leave you this as a final thought: One of the things that the U. S. government may not realize is, by putting Manning in prison for life, for “aiding the enemy”—should they choose to do that, they are actually alienating multiple governments around the world. They are insuring that he will be the most famous political prisoner in the world for at least the next two, three decades, possibly, and that there will be regular meetings with diplomats where Manning will be a recurring topic, where they have to confront whether it’s possible he’ll be pardoned or released some time soon. And they’ll have to deal with the fact that individuals who think that the information he provided started debates that were important, gave us information that our government was keeping secret from us that we should have known about, like torture, like war crimes, corruption, diplomatic scandals that should not have been kept under the rug. We’ve got United States diplomats spying on United Nations people, collecting their biometric data, and doing all kinds of heinous stuff. I mean it’s just obviously we all don’t think this is the kind of government we want to live under. People like Barack Obama and the next president after him will have to confront people from all around the world, making their lives miserable with constant questions about when are you going to set Bradley Manning free.
Revolution #308 June 30, 2013
June 30, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
"We came out to bring a delegation to show that people down here who are facing this aren't fighting this alone."
Noche Diaz speaking with press outside the Seminole County Justice Center on the opening day of George Zimmerman's trial for the killing of Trayvon Martin.
"A Summer of Big Challenges and Intense Struggle," an article recently published in Revolution newspaper, stated bluntly: "As spring turns to summer, the situation in the world, and in this country, is very intense. There is potential for eruptions 'in the routine,' of one kind or another." Indeed, there is... but where will this potential lead—will it lead to the descent of millions of people's hope or enable people to see the possibility of a far better world—the stakes are high.
Right now—YOU—can make a BIG difference!
YOU can help expose this system and its endless crimes.
YOU can help open people's eyes to a radical alternative and give people a living sense of the growing movement for revolution and the leadership that makes this possible.
YOU can begin to chip away at the isolation this system enforces on people—creating a link between people from all walks of life who are working for revolution.
DONATE to maintain the presence of revcom.us in Sanford, Florida
If you are a regular reader of Revolution, you have probably read some of the stories, analysis, and updates from Revolution newspaper reporters in Sanford during the opening of George Zimmerman's trial for the murder of Trayvon Martin. Now, turn on your television or pick up a mainstream newspaper—juxtapose the coverage and analysis between Revolution and the mainstream-bourgeois, even the so-called liberal, press. Now decide which speaks to you—and more importantly—to the interests of humanity.
In their press: Where are the voices of the people? Where is the political and historical analysis (besides the bullshit) of the case and the stakes for Black and Latino youth? Where is there mention of the countless police murders or the epidemic in the United States of mass incarceration of 2.4 million people, mostly Black and Latino... while Zimmerman walks out the backdoor of the police station the night he shot Trayvon... where's the thoughtful discussion on that? There isn't any! You will not find any of this in their press—you will find this in Revolution newspaper.
After returning home from the opening of the trial, one of the reporters described the impact of the Revolution delegation: "All eyes are on Sanford right now. As of yet, there are not any other political organizations calling for a visible demand of justice for Trayvon; we are the only one. Our delegation developed some strong connections with people; we listened to stories about generations of racism and bigotry, as well as proud stories of resistance. You can sense something quietly brewing. There is still a lot of work to be done in Sanford—the role of revolutionaries being there is crucial."
Will this system that rampages around the world bringing slavery, suffering, and death have its way—imposing its verdict that the life of a young Black man is worth nothing? Or will there be a different verdict—in the court, which represents justice for Trayvon—and in society, over whether this system and those it controls can have an open season on our youth?
If you value the role Revolution newspaper plays in this struggle—organizing and educating while giving guidance on the practical and political struggles around the trial—drawing the connections between the daily horrors of life exacerbated by the system of capitalism-imperialism—all the while cutting through the cynicism and giving millions a scientific basis for hope... if you value all of this...
DONATE NOW! Support, maintain, and build the presence of revcom.us in Sanford, Florida.
Revolution #308 June 30, 2013
We Are All Trayvon, and We Need to Take That Message to The Streets!
by Carl Dix | June 30, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
"We have achieved what we set out to do. All we wanted from the beginning was to see this case in court. Now that Zimmerman is going on trial, people need to sit back and let the court do its job." This statement was made by Benjamin Crump, a lawyer representing Trayvon Martin's parents. Similar statements have been made by people close to the case, like the Reverend Al Sharpton, among others. Statements like this are wrong and dangerous.
To say this is to ignore the brutal oppression this system has historically enforced on Black people. It misses what is concentrated in this case and what moved so many people to take to the streets in outrage all across the country declaring, "We Are All Trayvon!" Statements like this could also end up killing any chance at getting justice in this case.
Tell me when letting the system work has brought justice for Black people? Under slavery Black people were property, worked like plow horses from can't see in the morning till can't see at night. They were subjected to whipping and other forms of brutality for any real or imagined transgression. Any man who could get the OK from the plantation owner could rape enslaved Black women at will. When a slave named Dred Scott got a case against slavery into the courts, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Black people had no rights that whites had to respect. This was the system working!
From the time Black people were dragged to these shores in chains, there were some 250 documented slave revolts. Around the U.S., a broad-based abolitionist movement campaigned against slavery. Eventually, it took the Civil War, in which Black people—including former slaves—fought and died in great numbers, to end formal slavery in the South. But only a decade after slavery was abolished, Black people were subjected to slavery by another name. Black people who had done nothing wrong could be arrested, convicted in court, and sentenced to chain gangs or to work in mines, factories, or on plantations in conditions that were often worse than slavery. They had no way to challenge these horrific injustices. This was the system continuing to work!
Between the end of the Civil War and 1960, nearly 3,500 Black people were lynched in this country. Most of the victims of this lynch mob terror weren't even suspected of having committed any crimes. Official records of lynchings show that often Black people got lynched because a racist mob couldn't find the Black person they wanted to lynch. These records also list cases of people being lynched because they were considered too uppity or because whites were jealous of their success. No white people were ever convicted for any of these lynchings! By law and by custom (Jim Crow), Black people were not even allowed to bring charges against a white person or to testify against a white person in court. Again, this was the system working the way it always worked! And again, this only changed as a result of the heroic sacrifice of people in the civil rights and Black liberation struggles, along with problems the U.S. empire was encountering as people around the world correctly associated "U.S. democracy" with segregation, white racism, and the KKK and police beating and murdering civil rights protesters.
But because the system was not overthrown, today there is a new Jim Crow. Today police who patrol the ghettos and barrios like occupying armies inflict brutality and even murder on Black and Latino communities across the country. The Stolen Lives Project of the October 22nd Coalition to Stop Police Brutality documented that in the 1990s alone, police and other law enforcement agents killed more than 2,000 people. Most of the people killed were young and Black or Latino. And most of them were unarmed and not involved in criminal activity when they were killed. Yet killer cops are almost never punished when they brutalize and kill innocent and unarmed people. The few times police are put on trial for brutalizing or murdering people, they almost always get off because prosecutors forget how to prosecute and judges bend over backwards to let them off. Again this is the system working the way it has always worked!
Anyone who says we can expect justice for Trayvon Martin by letting the system work, either doesn't know how this system has historically inflicted injustice on Black people or hopes those who hear them don't know this history.
You can figure out what the system working means just by looking at the murder of Trayvon Martin. The cops come across George Zimmerman, a vigilante wannabe cop, standing over Trayvon's dead body holding the gun he has just used to kill him. The cops walk Zimmerman into and out of the police station, letting him walk free. They drug-test Trayvon's dead body—yes the body of the victim—but don't do any such tests on the killer! This was the system working: the same damn way it has always worked.
Zimmerman is on trial because people refused to allow the system to work the way it always has. Black and Latino youth spearheaded this, and they were joined by people of different nationalities and from different backgrounds. The youth stepped out because they knew the sting of being criminalized by this society, forced to go thru their lives with a bull's-eye on their backs. They stood up and said NO MORE! Others joined them because they didn't want to live in a world where people were brutalized and murdered simply because of the color of their skin.
It will take revolution—nothing less—to end this horrible outrage, and all the other outrages this system brings down on people around the world—the wars for empire, the violence against women, the ravaging of the planet and more. And right now it will take mass determined resistance to have a real shot at justice in this case and to stop the way our youth are treated like they're guilty until proven innocent, if they can survive to prove their innocence.
The only reason Zimmerman is on trial for murdering Trayvon is because people took to the streets declaring, "We Are All Trayvon!" It didn't happen because the system started working in this case.
If we now sit back and let the system work, the system is likely to work the way it always has, the way it has already worked in this case. It is likely to let Zimmerman walk free again. And there are signs this is in motion. The news is reporting that the jury in the case of Trayvon Martin's killer is all white except for one juror (whose nationality has not been identified). Among them, a white woman who reportedly questioned why Trayvon was getting candy at night (he was killed shortly after 7 pm!). This woman should have been taken off the jury because she was obviously prejudiced. When that didn't happen, the prosecution tried to use one of their allowed challenges to remove her, but the judge overruled this and kept her on the jury. Meanwhile, another juror was taken off the jury because her pastor had written in support of Trayvon Martin.
So we cannot let the system "work" the way it always has, and the way it is working now. If Zimmerman walks, it would amount to a great injustice in its own right, and a declaration of open season on Black youth. We cannot let this go down in silence, which means people need to continue and step up political protest demanding justice—right now, not after the system "works" again the way it always does.
Revolution #308 June 30, 2013
by Marie Levin | June 30, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Note from Revolution/revcom.us: Marie Levin's brother Ronnie Dewberry (Sitawa Jamaa) is a prisoner being held in isolation in the Security Housing Unit (SHU) at Pelican Bay State Prison in California. The prisoners in the Pelican Bay SHU have declared that they will begin a hunger strike/work stoppage on July 8 until the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) signs a legally binding agreement to meet the prisoners' demands against long-term isolation and other oppressive conditions at Pelican Bay and other prisons. This piece originally appeared in the SF Bayview (sfbayview.com) and is being posted here with permission.
I am the youngest sister of Ronnie Dewberry (Sitawa Jamaa). Ronnie has been held in the Security Housing Unit (SHU) at Pelican Bay State Prison since 1990. That is truly cruel and unusual punishment.
When I heard about the inhumane conditions in the SHU, I broke down crying uncontrollably. Ronnie lives in a cramped, windowless cell for at least 22.5 hours a day. He is let out of the cell only to exercise alone in a concrete enclosure and to shower three times weekly.
He is allowed no phone calls, and they only receive one package per year. His food is often cold and rotten.
Ronnie has chronic stomach problems, swollen thyroid glands and a severe Vitamin D deficiency. He also suffers from high blood pressure and has at times been denied his medication.
He says that being in the SHU feels like psychological torture. This is traumatizing knowing that a loved one is suffering and there's nothing you can do about it. Ronnie and I are 10 months apart, and we were very close growing up.
At first, he was in prison near our family and we were able to visit regularly. I was able to visit him regularly. Since he was transferred to Pelican Bay in 1990, I have seen him only five times. The drive is almost eight hours in a car in travel ... very expensive.
There is so much time between visits that each time Ronnie looks much older. After the long, costly trip, we are only permitted to visit for one hour through a piece of glass. I have not been able to hug my brother in over two decades.
My mother has had several strokes and is now paralyzed, speaks with difficulty and suffers from dementia. She longs to see her only son but she is no longer able to make the long and difficult trip.
Though Ronnie is eligible for parole, he will not be paroled while he is in the SHU. I fear our mother will pass away before she and Ronnie can see each other again.
In 2001, our oldest sibling, Carol, suffered kidney failure and Ronnie set about trying to donate a kidney for her. He was able to get tested and found out that he was a compatible donor. But the prison would not allow him to make the donation.
For years, Ronnie fought for permission to save his sister. Carol died in 2010 in a pool of blood, bleeding out after a dialysis treatment. She was 59 years old.
I am very grateful for this lawsuit and for all of the support that has been given to Pelican Bay prisoners since the hunger strike. The movement to end these barbaric conditions has lifted Ronnie's spirits as well. For the first time in a very long time, I felt hopeful that Ronnie's situation might change for the better.
Marie Levin, sister of Sitawa N. Jamaa (Ronnie N. Dewberry), made these remarks during a telephone press briefing May 31 on the class action lawsuit against prolonged solitary confinement at California's Pelican Bay prison. For more information on the lawsuit, see "Lawsuit Challenges Solitary Confinement at California Prison" by the Center for Constitutional Rights.
Revolution #308 June 30, 2013
From The Michael Slate Show:
June 20, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
This is a transcript of a November 2012 interview on The Michael Slate Show (KPFK FM Los Angeles) with Dr. Terry Kupers, psychiatrist and expert on the psychological effects of prison conditions, including isolated confinement in supermaximum security units. He has pointed to a shocking increase in suicides among California prisoners subjected to solitary confinement in so-called Security Housing Units (SHUs). Dr. Kupers is Institute Professor at The Wright Institute and Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association.
Michael Slate: What are you talking about there when you say solitary confinement pushes many prisoners to suicide?
Terry Kupers: It's really sort of the tip of the iceberg. What we've got is an imprisonment binge in this country. We've got almost two-and-a-half million people in prison. And they have not been able to build prisons fast enough, and building prisons isn't the solution, but what we get is a lot of crowding. Crowding causes an increase in violence, an increase in psychosis, an increase in suicide. And as a false solution, what I call a historic wrong turn in the '80s, when the population was already five times what it had been in the '70s, they started building entire prison units dedicated to solitary confinement. And these became known as "Supermax" prisons, in California, at Pelican Bay or Corcoran, or Tehachapi in Southern California.
Pelican Bay State Prison
So what happens is that people spend 24 hours a day in their cell by themselves with nothing to do. They have no activities. And they have very limited visits. That kind of conditions, considered torture in the international community and by the human rights groups, causes psychiatric symptoms. And one of the most serious, or the one that becomes public the easiest, is when someone actually kills themself. And we have an epidemic of suicide in the prisons. It's more than twice as frequent as it is in the community.
But in any prison system, and this includes California's Department of Corrections, 50 percent of the actual completed suicides, where someone dies, occur among the 6 or 7 percent of the population who are in solitary confinement. So it seems to me that makes it clear that solitary confinement plays a large part in causing suicide. And then we get this memo from the Director of the Bureau of Prisons, which is the federal prison system, to all of the inmates, telling them not to kill themselves, instead of, for instance, dealing with the conditions that cause people to kill themselves.
Slate: Just incredible and repulsive. I tell you. Terry, you once wrote that three months, just three months, giving people a sense of the impact of solitary confinement on prisoners' mental health, and the fact that this could roll over into suicide easily, you said that three months of solitary confinement can in fact mean lasting emotional damage. Let's talk about that a little.
Kupers: Yes, it's actually very impressive. I'm an expert witness in class action lawsuits, and I give psychiatric testimony, both about the mental health damage and about the conditions that cause damage. Solitary confinement—crowding is one such condition which causes psychiatric damage—but solitary confinement definitely causes a long list of symptoms, including anxiety, paranoia, problems thinking, problems with memory. And one of the main symptoms is despair. That what happens is, people in solitary confinement with no one to talk to and nothing meaningful to do, just lose all hope for the future. And they just think they're going to be in solitary until they die, and they make the choice that they'd just rather die now.
So they attempt suicide. The mental health care for people who attempt suicide is terrible. They're put in an observation cell typically, which is just a cell with a transparent side to it so everybody can see them. They're in there naked. And they're left there until essentially they cry "Uncle," and say, "I'm not suicidal any more. Take me back to my cell." Then they're taken back to their cell and unfortunately a large number of them do kill themselves.
Slate: You know, you just have to ask that question about what kind of system is this that would rely on this, this barbaric torture, as their means of rehabilitation. Clearly it's not rehabilitation. And actually one of the things that you said in an article that I read, that you wrote a couple of years ago, continuing along this line, you said that this solitary actually breaks prisoners down and practically guarantees that they will never function normally in society again. That's a pretty heavy statement.
Kupers: Well, and it's true. I mean, watch any of the rates that we measure: the recidivism rate—when people get out of prison they're most likely to go back, do a crime and go back to prison—or the parole violation rate. Both of those rates have been climbing precipitously in California over recent decades. And in the same period of time, what we've done is turned away from rehabilitation, even though the California Department of Corrections is called, "corrections and rehabilitation," very little rehabilitation goes on.
The Supermax prison sort of typifies the anti-rehabilitation concentration. It's just punishment. The worse and worse punishments, the more that people break down under the awful conditions. So a large proportion of the prisoners—6% to 8% of prisoners are in solitary right now, but actually most prisoners rotate through solitary and they'll do months or years in solitary sometime in their prison term. And then that makes them less capable of functioning, either in a program inside prison, like a rehabilitation program, if they're lucky enough to find one, and in the community when they get out. So that basically what's happening is our system is breaking people so that they'll never function again. This is especially the case with people with mental illness, which society has been kind of shunting into prisons for decades.
Slate: One of the things you make a point about in another article—you make a point about the direct connection between the increase in mentally ill people in prisons and jails, and the fact that there's more mentally ill people in prisons and jails than in psychiatric hospitals today, and you talk about the relationship between that and solitary and suicide. Let's talk about that a little bit. The system creates madness in prison, and exacerbates madness that already exists.
Kupers: You know, Michael, we have been disappearing people with mental illness. What's going on in the community, if you look around, there's very little in the way of public mental health services. In the '60s, with President Kennedy, we had the Community Health Centers Act, and there were public clinics where people who didn't have a lot of affluence could go and get treatment for their serious mental illness.
Over the decades since that time, the funding for public mental health, like all social safety net programs, has been diminishing, as has support for housing, low income housing and such. And what that's done is left people with serious mental illness, who tend to be the lowest income bracket, it's left them without services, without a place to live. A lot of them become homeless, and then for one reason or another, sometimes laws the city makes against panhandling or something, they get thrown into jail, and then eventually find their way into prison.
So what society has done is disappeared the population of people—those with low income who are suffering from serious mental illness—inside the prisons. And then the attitude is, "Lock 'em up and throw away the key." No one really pays attention to what happens to them in there. And I think people conveniently think, "Well, probably they're getting mental health care in prison." Well they're not. The budget for mental health care in prison is as bad or worse than it is in the community proportionately. And so they're getting very little care. And selectively, they get thrown into solitary confinement, because they don't quite know how to behave in such a way that you get on the good side of the guards. The guards don't know what to do with them, because they're a little unusual, and sometimes bizarre. So the guards end up punishing them, which is all they know how to do. They put them in solitary confinement. And in solitary confinement—there's very good research about this, or very frightening research—their mental illness get worse, and they're more prone to suicide.
Slate: Just amazing. I keep saying that because the more you talk, and the more I uncovered in reading your material—people need to investigate this and actually start giving a damn about what the hell is happening behind these prison walls. And one of the things, Terry, you talked about, and this really struck me because the movie The Snake Pit always stuck in my mind. And it seemed to be a point where people's social consciousness began to develop, or at least develop some consciousness of the horrors that were going on in supposed mental health hospitals. You talk about the conditions that prisoners are facing in jail now is actually worse than the kind of situation that was described in that movie The Snake Pit
Kupers: Well, yes, we've actually reproduced the conditions The Snake Pit was about. Erving Goffman was a sociologist, a sociologist of deviance in the '50s and '60s, and wrote a book called Asylums, which a lot of us sort of grew up on. In that book he describes a young man who is taken by his parents to a hospital because they think that he's crazy. He complains he's not crazy and he gets louder and louder protesting that he's sane. They take him to the emergency room and a psychiatrist hears him protesting and says, "Well, you're absolutely right. He must be crazy to be protesting so loud," and locks him up in the hospital.
The kid then gets increasingly inappropriate and angry and throws a chair through a window and they lock him up in a little solitary seclusion room. They take away his clothes and all writing materials. And in that seclusion room he starts smearing feces on the wall. And what Goffman says is that if you look at that, we are progressively taking away every human method of communicating from this young man. We're not listening to his protests. And he's becoming more and more extreme in his attempts to communicate.
Well that's exactly what's going on in the prisons today. And in these solitary confinement units, we have prisoners, grown men, smearing feces on the wall. And they're naked. They have nothing in the cell with them and they're left there for months alone. And the staff then say, "Well, they're manipulating to get out of solitary." They're being driven crazy by the conditions.
Slate: The excuse that's always given to the public in general is that, "Look, you don't understand. We are dealing with the worst of the worst. You want us to stop solitary confinement? This is simply punishment. This is simply behavior control. This is simply preventing the worst of the worst from unleashing massive amounts of violence in the prisons." What do you say to that?
Kupers: Well, we should have a longer discussion about that. It's absolutely false, and research is showing that. I was involved in a class action lawsuit the ACLU brought in Mississippi, where there was a Supermax prison at Parchman, Mississippi State Penitentiary: a thousand cells of solitary confinement. And in the course of the lawsuit, the Department of Corrections in Mississippi agreed with the ACLU and our experts that they had too many people locked up in solitary and they agreed to let them go. So they let 800 prisoners of the thousand that were in solitary confinement—released them into the general population.
Now, according to the logic that you just put forward, that is, that solitary confinement is necessary because they take care of the worst of the worst, one would think that if you released them out of solitary, the violence rate would go up, not just in that prison, but elsewhere in the system. In fact, the violence rate went way down, precipitously, when they released those individuals from solitary, in the entire prison system. And the individuals that were released received very few disciplinary infractions.
That's just one piece of evidence. There are many disproving the idea that this decreases violence. It actually increases violence, and not only at the time that people are put in solitary, but afterward, because eventually you have to let them out. And say a person has an eight-year sentence to prison. If they spend the entire eight years in solitary, at the end of the eight years, they're supposed to be released because the court only sentenced them to eight years,. Now they're coming out of prison having no social interactions, just angry exchanges with guards, and absolutely no meaningful activities for eight years. How well are they going to do out in the community, and how safe is the community going to be?
Slate: Exactly. I kept thinking about this. I read your piece about Mississippi and I thought that was extremely important, and that was one of the reasons I wanted to get into this question. And I kept thinking too, here we're talking about the prisoners unleashing violence. If you think in California—remember the way they set up the gladiator bouts between prisoners? And the intense violence that's unleashed on the prisoners by the guards themselves, including setting up things where people were actually encouraged to kill each other for sport. To me this is the kind of thing when you talk about that and then—and I have one more quick question. You kept mentioning that mental health doesn't exist in prison. What is the state? Let's just give people—we talked about all these horrors—what is the state of mental health care available to prisoners today?
Kupers: Well, there's a fallacy in public thinking about this, and that is that we think we have mental health services in prisons that we don't have in the community. The truth is, the mental health item in the corrections budget—corrections budgets tend to stay flat. That is, while everything else, including education and roads is being cut, the budget for corrections in the state budget process tends to stay flat. But actually what's happening is that the guards' salaries and the administrators salaries are going up, and the construction costs are going up, but if you check the item for mental health services within the corrections budget, it keep going down, approximately like it does in the community.
So there's less and less mental health services. And what you get in solitary frequently is a psychiatrist who's working very few hours. He's got hundreds of patients who are in a cell by themselves. He walks around to the front of the cell and says to the prisoner, "How are you doing? Are you hearing voices? Are you still feeling suicidal?" In prison there's a huge stigma about being weak or having a mental illness, so the prisoner is not going to admit to a psychiatrist standing at his cell door, "Yes, I'm hearing voices." So he's just going to nod him away. He's going to say, "Go away. I'm fine."
And so what happens is a prisoner essentially gets no care. The psychiatrist is coming to see if he needs to change his medication. The prisoner is refusing to talk to him because he'll be badly stigmatized and probably beaten or killed by other prisoners because he has a mental illness. So nothing happens in the way of mental health care. And that's approximately average.
Revolution #308 June 30, 2013
June 17, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
The situation for undocumented immigrants in the USA today is hellish. Infants carried across deserts and mountains by their mothers; young people trying to improve their lives and those of their families by coming to the U.S. and working hard at backbreaking jobs at minimum wage or less—until they are caught up in an immigration raid and deported, their families torn apart; others dying horrible deaths when the water runs out as they try to cross the vast deserts, or while packed into suffocating trucks.
To the capitalist-imperialist system, these immigrants—driven here by the workings of imperialism as it destroys economies and wreaks havoc on lives around the world—are nothing but objects to be mercilessly exploited.
Right now there is "debate" in Congress over an "immigration reform" bill. On careful examination, this "reform" has nothing to do with reforming the oppressive situation confronting immigrants but does have everything to do with further ramping up the brutal militarization of the U.S./Mexico border and instituting highly repressive attacks on and registration of millions of immigrants in this country, in order to better control and exploit this segment of the population—all under the guise of extending a "path to citizenship."
Compare the whole orientation and approach to immigrants in this system to Article II, Section H in the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal) from the RCP, "Immigrants, Citizenship and Asylum."
H. Immigrants, Citizenship and Asylum.
1. Throughout its history and its development into an imperialist power, the United States of America depended on the exploitation, often in extreme conditions, of generations of immigrants, numbering in the many millions, who were driven to the USA as a result of oppression, poverty, war and upheaval. These immigrants–including those from Europe who came to the USA during the latter part of the 19th and the first part of the 20th century, or at least several generations of them–were also subjected to discrimination and demeaning treatment, although after a period of time many of these immigrant groups were integrated into the larger “white European” population in the USA and, on the basis of expansion and conquest by U.S. imperialism, and the spoils acquired in this way, many were able to rise from the ranks of the working class and poorer sections of the population and become a part of the “American middle class,” with a more or less privileged position in relation to especially the lower and more exploited sections of the proletariat and the masses of Black and Latino people and others concentrated, and forcibly contained, within the decaying and repressive confines of the inner cities of late imperial America. At the same time, and in a heightening way through the end of the 20th and the first part of the 21st century, as a result of the domination and plunder carried out by U.S. imperialism throughout most of the Third World in particular, and the devastation and massive dislocation that resulted from and accompanied this, great numbers of immigrants from Mexico and elsewhere in Latin America, as well as other parts of the Third World, were driven to the U.S., many of whom were not able to secure legal entry and consequently were forced to live in the shadows and remain vulnerable to extreme exploitation as well as to discrimination and to violence and terror carried out by the state and by mobs encouraged by reactionary policies, actions and statements of the government and government officials. And the ruling forces of the imperialist USA seized on this situation to further tighten control over, and unleash more terror against, these immigrants and to subject many of them to even more extreme exploitation, while whipping up a xenophobic and fascist anti-immigrant atmosphere.
The defeat and dismantling of the imperialist USA and its machinery of violent destruction and repression has radically changed this situation. In this revolutionary struggle, and its victory, large numbers of immigrants, as well as masses of Black people and other oppressed nationalities within the former imperialist USA, played a crucial role, and they can and must continue to play a vital part in the continuing transformation of society, and the world as a whole, as part of the backbone of the New Socialist Republic in North America.
2. At the time of the establishment of the New Socialist Republic in North America, all those residing within the territory of this Republic–with the exception of those who played a leading role in opposing the revolution which brought about the establishment of this Republic, and/or who may have been found guilty of war crimes and/or other crimes against humanity–shall have been accorded citizenship in this Republic, with the rights and responsibilities of citizens, in accordance with this Constitution. And, from that time forward, all those born within the territory of the New Socialist Republic in North America, as well as all those, wherever they are born, who have at least one parent who is a citizen of this Republic, shall be citizens of this Republic.
3. The orientation of the New Socialist Republic in North America is to welcome immigrants from all over the world who have a sincere desire to contribute to the goals and objectives of this Republic, as set forth in this Constitution and in laws and policies which are established and enacted in accordance with this Constitution. From the time of the establishment of the New Socialist Republic in North America, anyone residing outside of the territory of this Republic who wishes to enter its territory, and any such person wishing to become a citizen, or a permanent resident, of this Republic, must follow the relevant laws and procedures which have been established on the basis of this Constitution. Anyone who applies for asylum in this Republic and, through the relevant procedures that have been established for this purpose, is found to have been persecuted, or to have a well-founded fear of persecution, on account of having taken part in just struggles against imperialist and reactionary states or other reactionary forces, or on account of scientific, artistic, or other pursuits which have brought them into conflict with reactionary powers and institutions, shall be afforded asylum in the New Socialist Republic in North America, so long as they pledge to act in compliance with the Constitution of this Republic, and do act accordingly. Provided that they do not engage in any serious violation of the laws of this Republic, people granted asylum have the right to remain within the territory of this Republic for as long as they choose to do so, and shall be accorded the same rights as citizens, with the exception that, so long as they have not become citizens, they may not vote in elections or be elected or appointed to public office. They shall have the right, after a certain period, determined by law, to become citizens of this Republic, with the same rights and responsibilities as all other citizens. The citizenship process, as well as review of the asylum status of all those granted asylum, shall be carried out in accordance with the laws and procedures established for these purposes.
4. Anyone who is discovered to have entered the territory of this Republic without following the relevant laws and procedures, shall be detained and provided with a timely hearing, conducted by the government institution with the relevant responsibility, to determine the reasons for their presence within this Republic. In connection with this process, such persons may apply for asylum or seek residency on some other basis, and these requests will be considered in the light of the basic orientation and principles set forth here. If, however, evidence emerges which would indicate that the person, or persons, in question have entered the territory of this Republic not only by means that are in violation of its laws, but also with the intent to further violate the law in an effort to carry out sabotage or otherwise do harm to this Republic and its people, then criminal proceedings shall be instituted against such a person, or persons, in accordance with laws and legal procedures established on the basis of this Constitution.
Revolution #308 June 30, 2013
June 30, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
The U.S. is increasing its intervention in Syria. The Obama administration recently announced it will begin arming some forces fighting against the current Syrian government of Bashir al Assad. The U.S. says it is getting more deeply involved in the war in Syria for humanitarian reasons—to help the Syrian people, stop the killing and prevent the use of chemical weapons. These are lies—and the basic facts about the results of U.S. interventions over the last 12 years, since September 11, 2001, prove it—and show beyond any doubt that U.S. actions are motivated by imperialism, not humanitarianism, and bring nothing but horrors for the people.
The U.S. attacked Afghanistan on October 6, 2001, and then invaded and occupied the country. They called it "Operation Enduring Freedom." In reality, it's been "operation enduring nightmare for the Afghan people." This war is still going on—the longest in U.S. history. U.S. bombs, missiles and bullets have killed thousands of Afghani men, women and children. Night raids, special operations, covert assassinations, extrajudicial killings, drone strikes, the use of military contractors, massive detentions and torture, and all-around terror are embedded in the nature of this imperialist occupation. From 2009-2012 alone, nearly 30,000 non-combatants were killed or wounded—10 times the number killed on 9/11. From 2004-2013, 2,000 to 3,000 have been assassinated by U.S. drones in Pakistan. Tens of thousands have died or suffer due to displacement, starvation, disease, exposure, lack of medical treatment, and crime resulting from the war. After nearly 12 years of U.S. occupation, Afghanistan remains one of the most bitterly impoverished countries on earth, with life expectancy of 49 years. Less than half the people have access to clean drinking water.
The U.S. crimes have strengthened reactionary Islamic fundamentalism in Afghanistan—as they have in Iraq, Libya, Syria and across the region. The situation of women is worse thanks to military assaults, malnutrition and lack of health care, and putting into power reactionary Islamist warlords who enforce extreme anti-women practices in every realm of life. One activist says, "Women are 'free' to beg in the streets under the cover of the burqa; they are 'free' to resort to prostitution to feed their families; they are 'free' to commit self-immolation as the only way out of the cycle of humiliation, destitution, and despair."
U.S. Marines pass bodies of Iraqi civilians killed in the U.S. assault on Fallujah, 2004. Photo: AP
The U.S. invaded Iraq on March 19-20, 2003 and then occupied the country until December 2011. President George W. Bush said the U.S. went to war to liberate Iraq and "free its people." In fact this war and occupation resulted in over 120,000 Iraqis killed directly in combat, and between 600,000 and 1.4 million directly and indirectly due to the destruction and disruption of water, power, healthcare systems and food production. It's estimated 4.2 million have been injured and another 4.5 million driven from their homes. The U.S. actions have fueled reactionary religious fundamentalism. It empowered a tyrannical Shi'ite Islamist regime and encouraged its ethnic cleansing and murder of thousands of Sunnis during the 2006-2008 civil war. Today torture, illegal detentions and executions are widely carried out by the Iraqi government the U.S. backs. Women's legal status is worse now than under Saddam Hussein. Iraq's secular constitution has now been replaced with one based on reactionary Sharia law with separate, unequal laws for women. Women's rights advocates report "a spike in 'honor killings,' forced veiling, and a growing tolerance for beating women into subordination," and that "violence against women has also been systematic...orchestrated by some of the very forces that the U.S. boosted to power."
Over the past decade, the U.S. and Israel have escalated their military threats against Iran and imposed harsher and harsher sanctions. They claim sanctions are a peaceful, or diplomatic, alternative to war. This is a lie: sanctions are a form of war against an entire population—a real weapon of mass destruction that is already imposing enormous suffering and death on the Iranian people—literally murdering babies and other vulnerable sections of the populations. And sanctions are part of the arsenal of imperialist aggression—bullying and weakening an adversary and preparing for a possible war.
Sanctions have crippled Iran's ability to pay for urgently needed imports—including medicines—and halted many shipments. In addition, many drugs and needed chemicals for making medicines are being embargoed. "Hundreds of thousands of Iranians with serious illnesses have been put at imminent risk by the unintended consequences of international sanctions, which have led to dire shortages of life-saving medicines such as chemotherapy drugs for cancer and bloodclotting agents for hemophiliacs," Guardian UK reports. The head of Iran's Hemophilia Society said, "This is a blatant hostage-taking of the most vulnerable people by countries which claim they care about human rights." The director general of Iran's largest pharmaceutical firm said, "There are patients for whom a medicine is the difference between life and death."
The Obama administration knows sanctions are impacting the people—including helpless babies. In fact, they've admitted that the whole point of sanctions is to cause suffering and discontent among Iran's population, in order to pressure or collapse the Islamic Republic: "The Obama administration sees economic sanctions against Iran as building public discontent that will help compel the government to abandon an alleged nuclear weapons program, according to a senior U.S. intelligence official," the Washington Post reported.
Syrian refugees line up for water at Za'atari Camp in northern Jordan. Photo: IRINnews.org
The U.S. increased its military, political, and diplomatic intervention in Syria in the fall of 2011, months after the March 2011 Syrian uprising began. It called for Assad to leave; its allies armed the Syrian opposition; it has imposed international pressure and sanctions on Syria. What has this intervention by the U.S. and its allies accomplished so far? It's helped fuel and prolong a horrific, reactionary slaughter. Nearly 100,000 Syrians have been killed, one million more driven from the country, and another four million driven from their homes inside Syria. According to human rights agencies, both sides in the conflict—including the forces the U.S. is seeking to cohere and shape into a new regime—have carried out kidnapping, torture, and summary assassinations of their opponents and civilians. Tens of thousands in Syria have died, and hundreds of thousands have been displaced.
The current situation is a humanitarian crisis on top of already existing humanitarian crises. Tens of thousands of people who fled Iraq during and in the aftermath of the U.S. invasion and occupation ended up seeking refuge in Syria. Today they are being forced to flee again, back to Iraq, where they face conditions the UN describes as "high rates of unemployment, dismal basic services and ongoing sectarian strife." What little possessions they fled Iraq with have been lost, and they are being pushed back out of Syria traumatized, desperate, broke, and homeless.
What does the U.S. decision to directly arm some anti-Assad forces have to do with alleviating this humanitarian nightmare? Nothing. So why should anyone expect this, or further imperialist involvement, would do anything other than more of the same—fueling a slaughter?
U.S. wars and interventions have led to hundreds, thousands, or even millions of deaths, and many more millions have had their lives shattered. This basic fact is systematically covered up, ignored and lied about by the imperialist media. In NO instance were people better off after U.S. intervention than before. In NO instance did U.S. intervention—or outright invasions—lead to a more just or more liberated society than before the U.S. took action. In NO instance was the U.S. even aiming for that; all its actions have been motived by imperialism—the domination and control of regions for global exploitation.
Revolution #308 June 30, 2013
Check it out
June 30, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
From a reader:
I wanted to pull your readers' coats, as they used to say, to the new book Black against Empire: The History and Politics of the Black Panther Party, by Joshua Bloom and Waldo E. Martin Jr. This book gives the best historical account of the Black Panther Party that I've read. The authors draw from many different memoirs written of the period, but they rely on the historical record—the newspapers and leaflets put out by the Party itself and others. They rigorously reconstruct the events of the time, the development of the Panthers' line and policy in relation to those events, the activity of other forces (friendly, not-so-friendly and antagonistic), the impact that the Panthers in turn had on society and why, how they handled the counterattack by the state, and other important dimensions as well. They also advance some interesting and provocative analyses of all that; I didn't agree with everything they said, but I was provoked to think more deeply on the whole experience of the Black Panther Party and the ongoing significance of that experience to revolution today.
I felt compelled after reading this to go back to Bob Avakian's memoir, From Ike to Mao and Beyond: My Journey from Mainstream America to Revolutionary Communist. In particular, I went back to Chapters 5 through 11, which get into the same period covered by Bloom and Martin. Through the memoir, I saw things from the point of view of someone who was coming into things still with one foot in college and thinking about a career, but who, in significant part through working closely with the Panthers, becomes a revolutionary and then a communist, and then continues to forge forward on this road as differences develop with the BPP. Each book has been kind of reverberating off the other in my mind, as I've been thinking about the deep lessons of that period. But I was also struck, as I went back into the memoir, with how BA addressed big questions in his own development that I know are facing the newer generation revolutionaries now coming forward: what you're going to do with your life... family... relationships... risk... responsibility... sacrifice... culture... and other ones besides.
So I would really recommend both these works to anyone grappling with the question of actually making revolution in the U.S., and especially to the youth. I might also recommend taking another look at the DVD Revolution: Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About, in the questions and answers at the end, where BA addresses a question on Huey Newton. I reviewed this too, after reading Black against Empire, and this also sheds very meaningful light on that whole experience and has significant relevance to meeting the challenges posed by the current situation and actually advancing toward revolution.
Revolution #308 June 30, 2013
June 17, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
From a reader:
I want to ask every reader of this paper to go see, as soon as you can, the movie Dirty Wars, by Jeremy Scahill and David Riker. It is a highly relevant, courageous, and very well-done movie exposing the real crimes behind the so-called “war on terror”—and yes, I know that Obama doesn’t call it that any more... but if you want to know the reality of the way that he has taken forward what Bush began, if you want to know the scale and scope of it and then how it plays out and what it looks like and feels like on the ground, then you MUST see this film. If you want to see how “the dots” are connected from the surveillance that is now so controversial—and that government spokespeople blandly assure you is for “your safety” and “aimed at the ‘bad guys’”—you must see this. You may think you know all that, but believe me—you don’t know it like this, on this level. And if you are one of those still all-too-many who don’t want to know that... then you REALLY need to see this.
This movie comes at an important time. Truths are being forced into the national consciousness. But what will be done with that truth—what impact will it have—will it lead to further exposures and serious opposition—will those telling the truth be silenced, or worse? These questions are far from settled.
I could not help while watching this movie but think of Bob Avakian’s point how imperialism on the one hand and Islamic fundamentalism on the other “reinforce each other, even while opposing each other.” You see before your eyes this ugly dynamic going on. Nor could I forget the important subsequent point to that, that “at the same time we have to be clear about which of these ‘historically outmodeds’ has done the greater damage and poses the greater threat to humanity: It is the historically outmoded ruling strata of the imperialist system, and in particular the U.S. imperialists.” [BAsics, 1:28, pp. 20-21] And I was also spurred by this to review “Unresolved Contradictions, Driving Forces For Revolution” by BA—and found the whole first part (“Once More on the Coming Civil War...and Repolarization for Revolution,”) very illuminating and the first section in particular (“Breaking Out of a Deadly Dynamic”) very relevant.
There are other important positive elements to this movie. It is well-done artistically—including the very haunting original music from the Kronos Quartet. There are things to learn about conflicts among the ruling forces themselves and there are aspects of Scahill’s method that are thought-provoking. But the basic point is this: there are truths here that need to be learned and popularized.
Revolution #308 June 30, 2013
June 30, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
In speaking to the situation facing Black and Latino people in the U.S.—the mass incarceration and school-to-prison pipeline, the criminalization and demonization of a whole generation of youth, the overt or just-below-the-surface racism prevalent in society, etc.—Carl Dix of the Revolutionary Communist Party has said what is taking place is a slow genocide that could quickly turn into a fast genocide. This regular feature highlights aspects of this slow genocide.
The genocidal reality for all Black people was brutally brought home in May 2010 when Detroit police raided a house in the middle of the night and killed Aiyana Stanley-Jones, who was sleeping on the couch with her grandmother. Aiyana was seven years old when her life was so suddenly and horribly stolen. The police first fired a flash-bang grenade from outside the house, severely burning Aiyana. The cops then fired into the house, murdering her in cold blood. The police claimed they were looking for a "suspect"—but that person lived in a separate flat above where Aiyana and her family lived.
And now, three years later, there is outrage upon outrage—on June 16, a judge declared a mistrial in the trial of the only cop to be charged in the case. The cop, who claims that he "accidentally" fired his gun, was charged not with murder but with involuntary manslaughter. No other cop involved in the raid or any responsible officials have even been charged.
As Mertilla Jones said soon after the police murder of Aiyana: "I seen the light leave outta her eyes. I knew she was dead. She had blood coming out of her mouth. Lord Jesus, I ain't never seen nothing like that in my life. My 7-year-old grandbaby—my beautiful, beautiful gorgeous granddaughter. My goodness, what type of people?! ... what type of people?! You can't trust the police. You can't trust Detroit police."
* * * * *
Listen to a couple of former cops talk about Trayvon Martin, the 17-year-old Black youth killed by racist vigilante George Zimmerman—and think about what this shows about how cops view oppressed youth in general:
On June 11, 2013, former New York City police detective Harry Houck wrote in a FoxNews.com chat: "Listen, Trayvon Martin would be alive today if he didn't have a street attitude. That's the bottom line."
Mark Fuhrman, the infamous former LAPD detective who was exposed as a racist during the O.J. Simpson trial, is now a commentator on Fox News. During a June 10 discussion on Fox News, Fuhrman called Trayvon Martin a "dead suspect." He said, "It's not a direct evidence case, it's kind of a super-circumstantial case. There's really no eyewitnesses, there's no forensic evidence, there's the statements of George Zimmerman and a dead victim or dead suspect, however or which side you're on, you're going to describe Trayvon Martin. But that's the circumstance."
* * * * *
Sebastien De La Cruz, an 11-year-old Mexican-American, sang the national anthem at Game 3 of the NBA finals on June 12, 2013, dressed in a mariachi suit. This touched off a massive onslaught of racist tweets, including those that called him a "wetback" and "illegal."
* * * * *
An African-American woman is four times as likely to die in childbirth as a white woman. Statistics show that 32 percent of Black women do not receive prenatal care, care that can increase the chances of a woman having a healthy baby and a safer delivery. The death rate for Black women from breast cancer is 41percent higher than that of white women. Many African-American women do not have access to medical care that may detect the disease at an earlier stage when chances for successful treatment are greater.
Revolution #308 June 30, 2013
Revolution Interview with Sunsara Taylor
June 16, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Revolution: StopPatriarchy.org has called for a summer of actions to fight for abortion on demand and without apology. Would you sketch out for us the developing plans around this call?
Sunsara Taylor: First of all, to understand why we're doing this, we have to confront the fact that abortion rights in this country right now are in an absolute state of emergency. There is an all-sided, many-fronted assault on women's right to abortion and even birth control. There are the violence, terror, and threats against abortion providers. There is the avalanche of legal restrictions. The last two years have seen record restrictions on abortion access, and this year has already seen 278 new restrictions introduced around the country. Abortion has been marginalized and stigmatized within medicine, taken out of most primary care; it's not taught in medical schools unless students fight for it. Ninety-seven percent of rural counties don't have an abortion provider. Eight doctors and employees of clinics have been murdered! Roe v. Wade is being aggressively undermined in the courts and in the court of public opinion. And abortion has become more stigmatized than ever before. One in three women has had an abortion, and you can hardly find a single woman in public life or, for most people, in their actual day-to-day life of people that they know that has admitted to them that they had an abortion. Most people go years and years—men especially, "I never knew anybody who had an abortion," and they just have no idea: it's their mother, their sister, their cousin, people that they're working with.
We are on track to a situation where women will lose this right. And let's be very clear up front: taking away this right, forcing women to have children they don't want, is a form of enslavement.
Go to indiegogo.com/projects/abortion-rights-freedom-ride to donate to the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride.
This summer, from July 24-August 25, after "send-off rallies in New York City and San Francisco, caravans will travel from both coasts, rallying and gathering support along the way, arriving in North Dakota before August 1 when new laws are set to shut down the last abortion clinic in the state. Then, down to Wichita where those who courageously re-opened the clinic of Dr. George Tiller following his assassination by an anti-abortion gunman are facing serious, and escalating threat. On to Jackson, Mississippi where a temporary court injunction is the only thing keeping the last remaining clinic in the state open. All along the way, we'll protest and confront the anti-abortion woman-haters, erect visual displays that tell the truth about abortion and birth control, collect and amplify women's abortion stories in order to break the silence, defend the clinics and providers most under attack, and meet with people to build lasting organization to DEFEAT the whole war on women."
For more information: www.stoppatriarchy.org
So, in this context, we are launching this Abortion Rights Freedom Ride with kick-off rallies in San Francisco and New York on July 23, bringing together hundreds and thousands of people to stand up and send off these Freedom Riders, who will caravan from both sides of the country, making stops and rallying support along the way, to converge at our first big stop in North Dakota in late July.
On August 1, several laws are set to go into effect in North Dakota. One is a fetal heartbeat law that will ban abortion once a heartbeat is detected in a fetus through a vaginal ultrasound—at about six weeks when most women don't even know they're pregnant. So it's a really extreme and outrageous law. There's a lot of expectation that the law will not stand—it's utterly unconstitutional. But it indicates the ferocity and the intentionality of the anti-abortion movement, the fact that it passed at all should be a wake-up call.
The more immediately dangerous law set to go into effect will require abortion providers in the state to have hospital admitting privileges. Now, North Dakota has only one clinic in the entire state, in Fargo, and the doctors there have to fly in from out of state, because abortion providers have to put their lives on the line and there's not that many who are willing to go through all that. So they will not be able to get those admitting privileges and this, if not overturned, would make North Dakota the first abortion-free state. So we will be standing with the clinic and others who have been fighting this—but also protesting the women-haters and legislature and churches behind it. We will hold a big ceremony and award some of these fascists the "Forced Motherhood Is Female Enslavement" Award, which will take the form of a big bloody coat-hanger. (Wire coat-hangers are what many women used to try to induce their own abortions when it was illegal, and a great many women died from doing that.)
Through August, we'll then go down to South Dakota, which also has only one abortion clinic. We'll go through Nebraska where Dr. LeRoy Carhart has been viciously targeted; Wichita, Kansas, where Dr. George Tiller was assassinated, and where for several years Julie Burkhart has fought very hard to reopen the clinic and recently has; and she's under death threats; she's under legal threat; she's under incredible pressure; and so we want to go there and support her and the clinic and also confront these fascists who are doing the kind of things that get people murdered. Then we'll cut through Arkansas, another state that recently passed a fetal heartbeat abortion ban and has only one abortion clinic. And we will end in Jackson, Mississippi, which was at the heart of the civil rights movement and has the only abortion clinic left in Mississippi, a state that has incredible rates of impoverishment, especially among Black women who have almost no access to abortion in large parts of that state and the region.
It's a month-long tour with two major elements: we're both confronting the Christian fascists and exposing them for the woman-haters they are. And we're rallying support and drawing forward our side—the people who want to preserve this right but who have been atomized and put on the moral and political defensive, who have not seen either the need or the possibility to stand up as a collective force, in mass resistance to defeat this war on women. So we're going to come from both coasts and travel down the heart of the country. And then call on people to converge with us along the way, especially in Mississippi.
Revolution: So the caravans from the two coasts would be starting...
Taylor: July 24. The send-off rallies will be on the 23rd and then the next day they hit the road.
Revolution: There was an inspiring letter from a prisoner recently in Revolution and on revcom.us ("Defending the Right to Abortion, and Transforming the People for Revolution") in which the brother recounted struggling hard with a fellow prisoner who opposed abortion. What's the importance of everyone—in particular men, but all kinds of people—taking up the fight for the right to abortion?
Taylor: To put it very simply, if women, half of humanity, are not free, then no one is free. That's just a reality. But to get into it a little more deeply, this attack on abortion is not incidental. It's very bound up with the way women have been treated for millennia—ever since the very first emergence of class divisions and of exploitation and oppression, of private property and the state, ever since human beings thousands of years ago went from living in more or less egalitarian hunter-gatherer societies. It's very important to note that the oppression of women by men is NOT owing to "human nature." In fact, for tens of thousands of years, human beings lived without organized forms of oppression and divisions, including without the oppression of women by men. But when private property and the state and class divisions emerged, women's role got fundamentally transformed. Women became the property of men and breeders of children, breeders of new lines of inheritance of either the haves or the have-nots, the ruling class or the exploited. Controlling women's virginity before marriage and their sexuality from then on, making sure they only had sex with their husbands, was essential not only to the particular men who wanted to hand their property down to their children and not someone else's—but actually this control over women became very essential to maintaining and organizing class societies as a whole. This is as true, even if different in its forms and appearance, today in this capitalist- imperialist-dominated world as it was in feudal or slave societies.
If you drill down to the root of what gives rise to any form of oppression—whether it is the gruesome history of oppression of Black people in this country and the way that continues today with one very sharp concentration of this being the literal mass incarceration that amounts to a slow genocide, you know, with one out of every eight Black males in their 20s in jail or prison; whether it be the wars of domination and plunder that are driven by the engine of imperialist conquest; whether it be the destruction of the environment on a massive scale—you'll see that it comes from a common root and a common system. And that this system also requires and gives rise to the oppression of women. You cannot shatter that system, you cannot overthrow that system, you can't make revolution to get rid of that system, without taking up the fight for the liberation of women. A big part of what Bob Avakian has fought for in one of the dimensions of the new synthesis of communism that he has forged over decades is that if you understand this deeply and scientifically, you actually grasp that unleashing the fury of women, unleashing the pent-up fury at thousands of years of being treated as chattel, abused, degraded, violated, raped, ridiculed, demeaned and diminished in a million ways—unleashing the fury against that is not only a powerful and potent and necessary force for the liberation of women, but it is a driving force in making revolution as a whole.
This is why something BA has emphasized—both now in the struggle to prepare for and, with the emergence of a revolutionary crisis, to seize state power, and in the context of the new revolutionary society that is working to dig up the remnants of oppression and exploitation and advance towards genuine communism, that is, human emancipation—is extremely important. And in some inspiring ways, this was given expression in that letter from a prisoner you referenced. BA says:
In many ways, and particularly for men, the woman question, and whether you seek to completely abolish or to preserve the existing property and social relations and corresponding ideology that enslave women (or maybe "just a little bit" of them) is a touchstone question among the oppressed themselves. It is a dividing line between "wanting in" and really "wanting out": between fighting to end all oppression and exploitation—and the very divisions of society into classes—and seeking in the final analysis to get your part in this.
That's the heart of the matter, and it's a challenge to men—and it's a challenge to all people who dream of and yearn for and want to fight for an end to exploitation and oppression in any form, that you have to make this your fight. It's also spoken to very powerfully in BA's new talk, BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! where he makes very clear the only people who should fear the unleashed fury of women and who should not be out there fighting to help foster this and joining in with it are people who want to preserve this oppressive and destructive order.
Revolution: You emphasized the urgent need for people to take action around the question of abortion, people from different viewpoints who see the importance of acting. At the same time, as a revolutionary communist, you're putting forward an analysis of where women's oppression comes from, and the need for revolution, nothing less, to actually get at the root of it. So talk about how these things interrelate.
Taylor: Well, I think for a whole host of reasons the conditions women face are increasingly violent and degrading and horrific all around the world. And then there are all the other oppressive things I spoke about earlier like the destruction of the environment, the mass incarceration of oppressed people here, unjust wars and even things like the really gross and revolting culture that has everyone so alienated and degraded and really unhappy—all of this, and many more things that would take us a long time to talk about. It really is a reality that this world is a horror—and it doesn't have to be this way. It is not because of human nature, it is because of the nature of the system. And we need a revolution. We need a revolution as urgently as possible. To get rid of this, and to bring about a whole different world. That's possible, and that's needed. People need to be getting into that and fighting for it, very firmly. And putting BA out there—this is the BA Everywhere Campaign, raising a lot of money to promote BA Everywhere—letting people know that there's a viable, radical alternative to this world, a real new synthesis of revolution and communism, that there's a leadership for this revolution and a strategy. All this needs to be going on. And as people step forward to fight around these different faultlines, around mass incarceration and around the degradation and enslavement of women, around all of these things, that's going to be favorable for hastening the transformation of people in a revolutionary direction and the repolarization in society in a revolutionary direction. So it's very important for those of us who are coming from recognizing the need for revolution to really appreciate that this is a moment when a lot needs to be put on the line to bring people forward in mass struggle against these outrages, in combination with the all-around work that we're doing as revolutionaries, including around BA around this newspaper, Revolution, and revcom.us, getting them out everywhere.
But at the same time, you don't have to be coming from that perspective to recognize that there is a state of emergency facing women. Each and every one one of us who refuses to see women reduced to the status of slaves needs to be in this fight right now. And you should support this Freedom Ride: donate, send a message of support to the clinics for us to deliver, join us for a leg of the tour, spread it on social media. There is no good reason not to stand up and fight against this. What is at stake is literally the future and the lives of the half of humanity that is born female. This is what we are all responsible for.
To learn more about and connect up with the Summer 2013 Abortion on Demand and Without Apology Freedom Ride, go online to StopPatriarchy.org.
Keep up with the news and analysis around this struggle at revcom.us.
And as we're doing this, as we're standing shoulder to shoulder, we should be debating. People should want to be debating and getting into and trying to understand it. And actually people will be more open to it, the more they fight back, the more the big questions do open up to people. Why does this keep happening? Why are we in 2013 fighting a battle over birth control, over abortion? Why are these fights being refought? Where is this coming from? How can it be ended? And we want to be in there putting forward very clearly where this is coming from, and what it will ultimately take, what kind of revolution is ultimately needed. But also learning from other people, where they're coming from, and standing shoulder to shoulder with them. And as people get into this—BA has put it very powerfully in the "Invitation" that he put out, where he says, act on what you know to be an outrage, continue to fight against those things which drove you into political struggle at the beginning. As you do this, there's a responsibility of people to really come to understand how to really end this and to explore and to learn what different people are saying and what's actually true about that. And if you as you investigate this, as you're standing up and fighting with us, you come to understand the source of the problem is the system and the solution we need is communist revolution, don't turn away from that because it challenges your assumptions or takes you out of your comfort zone, follow that wherever because the fate and future of humanity is what's at stake, and fighting our way out of this. And understanding that, you should pursue it. There's a back and forth between standing up and fighting and getting into those bigger questions. And we are eager to lead and to learn in that whole process and both parts of that process.
Anybody and everybody who really does not want to see women reduced to the status of slaves needs to stand up and fight right now. And you need to join with this Freedom Ride. Donate towards it. Send a message of support with us to the clinics that we'll be traveling to. Join us for a leg of the tour—in North Dakota, or Wichita, or Mississippi. Sign the statement I mentioned at StopPatriarchy.org/abortionondemandstatement and send it to everyone you know, asking them to do the same. Get that to authors, musicians, and other prominent people for their signatures. Raise money for this effort. Reach out to people you know in the places we are traveling through—Fargo, Bismarck, Minneapolis, Jackson, Little Rock, Nebraska, Cleveland... check StopPatriarchy.org for the full list—to help with housing and reaching out locally. There are many different ways to help and there's no excuse for not standing up and fighting with this. It does not have to be that these Christian fascists and patriarchs and these women-haters slam women backwards. But it will happen if we don't fight. So everybody has to join this fight. We all must take responsibility for STOPPING THIS—that is the measure we are all responsible to.
Revolution: What would it mean if this assault on abortion is allowed to win—so that abortion is not just increasingly difficult or even impossible for growing numbers of women, but actually outlawed altogether?
Taylor: It has to be understood deeply that being forced to have children you don't want—it means you have to give up everything you're planning. You have to foreclose your dreams and ambitions. That's your life. If you choose to have a child and are in a position to raise it in a way that you feel is right, that can be a beautiful thing. But to be forced to have a child is to essentially be told that all you are is a breeder. And to live in a society that denies that right, means that mostly young girls will be coming up not even having those larger dreams and ambitions. Because in the eyes of society, it will be very clear that they are not regarded as full human beings. Bob Avakian [BA], in his talk Revolution: Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About, put this very powerfully. He said, and I'm paraphrasing: Denying women the right to abortion is like rape. It is the forcible control of women, of their bodies, of their lives, of everything about them, by a male supremacist, male-dominated society.
It's worth it to look at El Salvador, which is a vision of where we are headed if we don't stop this. Abortion there is illegal in all circumstances and women are jailed for having abortions or even miscarriages deemed "suspicious" by the state, and doctors and nurses are required to turn in women who are suspected of aborting fetuses, and if they don't those doctors and nurses will be sent to prison.
Young people don't remember when abortion was illegal. And it's very important that people who do remember help young people understand what it was like, but also all of us must understand that if this right is taken away again, it's going to be even worse than that, because of the ideological assault, because of the level of surveillance and criminalization... it's going to be worse than before Roe v. Wade.
The other thing that's very important is: people who've had abortions more recently also need to tell those stories. On the tour we'll be collecting and amplifying these stories as part of destigmatizing abortion.
Revolution: You've sketched a picture of this very dangerous emergency situation threatening the right to abortion. Yet there's not a commensurate movement of tens and hundreds of thousands and millions of people taking to the streets to stop this. Can you speak to this?
Taylor: Well, I think there's three major things involved.
First, there's just tremendous ignorance. Even most people who sense that things are getting bad, who maybe are sending extra donations to Planned Parenthood or whatever because they see it is losing its funding (which must be opposed!), don't really understand how bad it is. And this ignorance of the actual situation is owing fundamentally to the next two factors.
The second thing is that we've been living through several decades of reactionary assault overall and revenge against the advances made by women in the 60s and 70s in particular.
Let's not forget that the idea that women are full human beings is very new, historically speaking. Millions of people fought heroically for this—millions did so in the context of the great revolutionary struggles of the last century in the Soviet Union and China, even as they had shortcomings in how they went at this they brought about radical and liberating changes for women as well as people as a whole. In the 1960s and '70s in this country there were very powerful revolutionary upsurges of the 1960s overall and the women's liberation movement was a very important element of that. But the revolutions in the Soviet Union and later in China were defeated and reversed. And revolution in this country was never made. So, the advances that were won could not be sustained and this system set about—both through its spontaneous functioning as well as through its conscious policy—to take revenge against the people for daring to have risen up. This has included a very conscious and extremely vicious revenge against women for having dared to challenge thousands of years of traditions chains.
This is not a "backlash" because people "went too far." This is revenge, precisely because people didn't go far enough and the capitalist-imperialist system that has patriarchy and male-domination woven into its fabric and its functioning remained intact.
And in the face of the ebbing of the radical upsurges and a vicious wave of counter-revolution, the most radical and even revolutionary streams of the women's liberation movement got isolated and also ran up against big challenges they weren't able to fully navigate. At the same time, the streams which had always been more bourgeois in their orientation (that is, more aimed at fighting for women to be equally included at every level—including the top levels of politics, finance, and military—of this system of exploitation and oppression) were absorbed pretty wholesale into the Democratic Party. And through all this, the Democratic Party (or the various forces whose leadership has been closely wedded to the Democratic Party like NARAL or Planned Parenthood) came to be seen as the only "real" outlet for those concerned about women's oppressed status. This is a deadly illusion and a deadly trap—and this has had a tremendously demobilizing and disorienting effect on several generations now.
I mean, the Christian fascist assault that's been unleashed really got going under Reagan, and it went to new levels under Bush the Second, and a lot of the new attacks have been driven by these totally outlandish lunatic Republican fascists. But this, fundamentally, has never been simply a "Republican war on women." It is the system's war on women—and the Democrats, while having real differences with it, and real opposition to some elements of it—have continuously conceded more and more ground to this assault. I mean, who would have thought even 10 years ago we would be fighting over birth control! And the Democratic Party leadership has really led in demobilizing the people who support abortion, putting them on the political and moral defensive. Hillary Clinton called abortion "tragic." Bill Clinton said it should be "safe, legal, and rare," implying that there's something wrong with it. And then you have Obama, who has over and over sought "common ground" with fascists and religious fanatics. Plus, he seems to have a real personal jones against Plan B contraception (often called the morning-after pill). The FDA approved it for over-the-counter distribution, but then Obama's head of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius overruled that. That over-ruling was challenged in court, but then the Obama administration challenged it back. So, people have lost the sense of the need—and the possibility—of relying on ourselves and waging fierce mass political struggle to defeat this war on women—which is the ONLY way it can be defeated.
Third, and this flows from what I was just describing, there have been major setbacks in terms of the political and ideological and moral and scientific understanding of people around abortion. It is positive and liberating for women to be able to choose abortion. It is utterly immoral, illegitimate, and vicious and cruel and women-hating to force women to have children that they don't want. But, there's a lot of defensiveness around this and a big tendency for pro-choice people to focus on things like "Oh, what about a woman who's raped?" or "What about a woman whose life is in danger? Shouldn't we have an exception for her?" Of course women like that should be able to get abortions, and the fact that a lot of the restrictions don't make exceptions for rape or for incest or for the life of the woman—this just exposes how vicious and hate-filled the anti-abortion movement is. But at the core, the truth has to be told: this fight is about the status and role of women in society. It's NOT about babies. Fetuses have the potential to become people, but they are a subordinate part of a woman's body and they don't have a separate biological existence or a separate social existence. But that woman is a human being. Fetuses don't have rights. Fetuses are not people. Women are human beings.
That's why our lead slogan on our statement and this Freedom Ride is: Abortion on Demand and Without Apology. A number of people have told us, "You can't say that in North Dakota. I personally agree with you. But it won't get over in North Dakota. (Or in South Dakota, or Midwest, Mississippi, whatever.)" But we've seen that there's a section of people, and I believe that there's many thousands, probably many tens of thousands of people, for whom right now, when they hear this, they're like, "Yes, that's right."
The idea is not that you're going to move millions of people overnight on this. You're going to speak to millions of people. But we're going to mobilize those people who have the most anger and the most clarity, and we're going to give them the ideological and moral certitude, and the scientific grounding. And also we're going to fight in a way that models refusing to accept any of this degradation, shame, enslavement, or oppression of women in any form. And we are going to lead those thousands of people to step forward and fight around this with us. And that's going to have a huge effect on them, as well as a huge effect on changing how millions more are seeing this.
So, I think these three things come together.
But what's not so visible to people is that if there is political leadership and clarity and a force that is daring to fight against it and put something on the line to stop this; there's millions and millions of people who can, and who really must, be brought forward to defeat this war on women. Those of us doing this Freedom Ride are prepared and determined to be that force and bring forward and lead those millions.
Revolution: As you have been out there building for this Abortion Rights Freedom Ride, what kinds of responses have you been getting?
Taylor: We've just begun. And we've gotten a very positive response from a number of people who have spent decades on the front lines of this fight around abortion rights and providing services. We've been in touch with a number of very courageous abortion providers who have been giving us quite a bit of insight and helping make connections in the areas we'll be traveling through. Also, David Gunn, Jr., the son of David Gunn who was the first abortion doctor to be assassinated, recently wrote a very powerful piece about why, from his own experience and perspective, he is supporting this freedom ride called "I Won't Back Down."
Then, the day we put it up online, Sikivu Hutchinson who does two Black free-thinking, feminist blogs, signed and posted the statement we put out ("Abortion on Demand & Without Apology for Every Woman in Every State: The Reversal of Abortion and Birth Control Rights Must Stop Now!"), as did PZ Myers who has the most popular science blog in the world.
Within 24 hours, over 350 more people signed. And a very significant thing is that many left comments that picked up on the most uncompromising parts of the statement like, "Women are not incubators," and "Forced motherhood is female enslavement," or "Abortion on demand and without apology." Some said straight up, "Thank you for finally putting this out so clearly and sharply!" This is a very powerful, if still beginning, indication that there are people out there who want to see this fascist shit called out, and who have been waiting for something like this. We want to publish this statement in North Dakota when we're there.
The statement calls out the state of emergency. It also clarifies the moral high ground on this question. It says very bluntly that yes, the country is divided over the question of abortion. And that makes sense, because abortion really concentrates how you view women. Are women fundamentally incubators and breeders of children, or are women full human beings? If they're full human beings, they have the right to decide for themselves when and whether they have children. Forcing women to have children against their will is a form of enslavement. So the statement cuts through that.
The fight around abortion has never been about babies. The whole anti-abortion movement is set on restoring a whole view of women that has been around for thousands of years, with the cult of virginity up until marriage that then gets morphed into the cult of motherhood and obedience to the husband. If you need proof of this, just look at the fact that they all [anti-abortion movement] oppose birth control.
The leaders of this movement are rooted in the Bible where woman (Eve) is blamed for the so-called "original sin" of tempting Adam out of the Garden of Eden. According to this myth of the Bible, everything bad that has ever happened to human beings since then is because of this—it is all Eve's (woman's) fault. And the only way women can redeem themselves for this supposedly "great crime" is to obey their husbands and to bear children. It says it right in the Bible, in Timothy 2:13-15. So this is why they are so opposed to women having access to abortion, and it's also why they all oppose birth control. Their real goal is to slam women back into a Dark Ages role.
Revolution: The war on women involves other aspects, in particular the whole culture of pornography, which keeps on getting more cruel, violent, and degrading toward women. So how do these different elements relate?
Taylor: We have identified a real state of emergency around abortion rights, and that is the leading edge of what StopPatriarchy is initiating this summer, and uniting people very broadly to fight against that. At the same time, it's important to pull back the lens and look at what this is part of. Anywhere you look on the globe, the question of the role and status of women is assuming ever more acute expression. Women are straining to enter into realms that have been for centuries and millennia closed off to women, in the workforce, education, public life. politics, and the media. At the same time, everywhere on the globe there's an intensifying of violence and degradation against women that's being unleashed. Look at the epidemic of gang rape in India and Brazil and really all over the world; or the Islamic fundamentalism that is growing in huge parts of the world, with the shrouding of women, the imprisoning of women in the homes, the raping, the honor killings of women; or look at the way that women's advance fought for in the '60s and '70s has been turned back. The sexual revolution, for instance, in this country had a very positive overall thrust to it—women casting off the shame around their sexuality, asserting for the first time in thousands of years that their sexuality was not something to be owned by men but to be experienced by women themselves on their terms and in ways that were mutually pleasurable and mutually respectful, whether with men or women or whatever. But then it and the whole movement of the times didn't go as far as it needed to go. We didn't have a revolution and this system remained intact. And so those movements ebbed, and the system really did set to work, consciously as well as spontaneously through its workings, to turn that sexual freedom into further commodification of women's bodies and the more open and vicious and mainstreaming of sexualized degradation and patriarchal male-dominated terms. So you have the mainstreaming of very cruel and violent and humiliating and degrading pornography. And this goes along with the trade in women as chattel, as sex slaves in the sex industry all over the world in the millions and millions.
And these are not just surface phenomena; these things are driven by very profound shifts taking place in the world: mass migrations caused by imperialist penetration ever more deeply into the Third World, the growth of huge slums, the ravages of war, technological developments, as well as the struggles of people in many different ways. All these very huge changes have both undermined many traditional forms of life and many traditional forms of patriarchy, while at the same time produced immense suffering and insecurity which, in turn, has contributed significantly towards what really can only be called a revenge—a hate-filled, violent, and dehumanizing revenge—against women.
So StopPatriarchy is addressing the way this is sharpening up in this country and makes the sharp point: there really is no fundamental difference between reducing women to breeders, to objects just for turning out babies, and reducing women to sex objects to be plundered and humiliated and used and abused for the sexual titillation of men. That's all part of a package of a real revenge against women. We're fighting all of that. And precisely because of how profound these shifts are and how many people are being profoundly affected by them, we see the basis for millions and millions of people to be led to stand up and fight against all this. So, that is where StopPatriarchy is coming from, even as right now we are taking responsibility for bringing together broad forces, including some who maybe don't fully agree with us on pornography, for example, to stand up right now against these growing assaults on abortion rights.
Revolution: I wonder if you could speak specifically to the claim that is made that abortion clinics target women of color—Black and Latino women, in particular—and that abortion among Black and Latino women is a form of genocide?
Taylor: So, yeah, in the anti-abortion movement there has been a campaign over several decades, but really intensifying over the last couple of years, to equate abortion among Black people and Latinos as a form of self-genocide. There have been billboards put up all over the country that say, "The most dangerous place for a Black youth is in its mother's womb." They are seizing on the fact that Black and Latino women have higher rates of abortion than white women to accuse Black and Latino women of carrying out genocide against their babies. This is one of the most vicious and hateful campaigns.
First of all it's a lie. A Black woman, a Latino woman, any woman who chooses to terminate a pregnancy is not killing a baby. That's just a fact: fetuses are NOT babies. Fetuses of Black women are NOT Black babies. Fetuses of Latino women are not Latino babies. All those fetuses are subordinate parts of the woman's body. And when a woman voluntarily undergoes an abortion, that is just her making a decision over her own reproduction and her life as a whole. Her right to do this is a positive thing. And the anti-abortion movement is against sex education and against birth control, so they don't really get any right to fucking speak about this. Even more fundamentally, I don't care how many abortions a woman gets or how often it goes on among any particular section of women, if women don't have the right to determine for themselves when and whether they will have children, they are not free. And if women are not free, then no one is free—and this applies to oppressed peoples as well, if Black women are enslaved to their reproduction, if they are reduced to breeders and forced to have children against their wills, then there is no way that Black people as a whole can get free. So I reject the whole notion that there is something negative about women getting abortions—at whatever rate—when they feel they need them. If there are social conditions of life that compel a woman to terminate a pregnancy when she would have wanted to bring it to full term, those conditions and the source of them need to be fought, but that is very different than forcing them to reproduce! Women's role is not to "make babies"—it is to "hold up half the sky" (as they used to say in revolutionary China) to join together with men to rise up against all the many forms of oppression and exploitation, to be just as involved in learning about and fighting to change the whole world, and to be treated with respect and equality by men in this whole process and in every realm.
Having said that, we do have to come back to the fact that this is America. There is not only a whole history of the most horrific and brutal oppression of Black people and Latinos and Native Americans and other oppressed peoples right here within these borders (and this goes along with the subjugation of whole nations and peoples by the U.S. around the world), this oppression continues and is intensifying today. One of the forms this has taken is the coercive sterilization of oppressed women. There is a whole history of Puerto Rican women, Black women, Native American women, and other oppressed-nationality women within this country being coerced or outright forced into undergoing sterilization. Sometimes a woman would be in labor without insurance and the hospital would only deliver her baby if she signed papers agreeing to be sterilized. Sometimes women were told they would lose their welfare benefits if they didn't undergo sterilization. A lot of times women weren't even told anything. At one point, not all that long ago, something like 20-30 percent of all women of child-bearing age among these oppressed groupings had been sterilized. Now, that is a form of the system preventing a whole section of people from being able to reproduce. That is racist; frankly it's genocidal. But that is very, very different—it is a world apart—from women among the oppressed deciding for themselves which pregnancies to carry to term and which ones they do not want to continue.
And today one of the main forms this oppression is taking—speaking of genocide—is the actual genocide of mass incarceration, criminalization, caste-like segregation of the formerly incarcerated, and rampant police terror, brutality and murder. In response to the lie that has been blasted on that billboard I just mentioned, you want to know where the most dangerous place for a Black youth is? For Ramarley Graham, it was walking into his own home when police decided to chase after him and shoot him dead in front of his grandmother and his little brother. For Trayvon Martin, it was walking home from the corner store while wearing a hoodie. For Aiyana Stanley-Jones, it was sleeping on the couch with her grandmother when the police shot through the door and killed her at seven years old. Every 40 hours the police murder a Black person in this country. And then there are the gang-injunctions and stop-and-frisk and the whole cradle-to-prison pipeline—that is what is stealing the future of our Black and brown youth.
These fascists who put up these billboards and make these claims, they never talk about any of this—and because they don't, they are actually covering for the real genocide that is going on, directing oppressed people's attention away from the system and towards further blaming and shaming the very women hit hardest in many ways by this system. And then all this blame and shame against Black and Latino women is used as a bludgeon to further strip all women of the right to abortion.
So, this kind of shit really must not be tolerated—and the influence of this ideological poison (especially its influence among sections of Black and Latino masses of people) has to be fought and turned around.
Revolution: Are there any final words you want to leave people with, coming back to what is immediately posed as you and others get ready for this Abortion Rights Freedom Ride?
Taylor: Returning to the whole, it really is a very urgent situation that women are facing and it is not going to just go away on its own. Bob Avakian put it very scientifically a number of years ago when he said that the question and role of the oppression of women is posing itself more and more acutely and it is inconceivable that it will be resolved on anything other than very radical terms. What is yet to be determined is whether that will be a radically reactionary resolution—and we can see the dimensions of that being hammered into place around us—or in radical revolutionary terms, which is also very possible but will require tremendous courage and conviction and scientific leadership and struggle and sacrifice to bring into being. And how this gets resolved has very high stakes for—and will interpenetrate with—the struggle to put an end to all other forms of oppression and exploitation. What happens around this, which way this gets resolved, is not scripted. In a very real way, how this unfolds, what resolution we get—really, what kind of future generations of women and young girls are going to come up into—depends on what we do.
So what is posed for us very acutely right now is the need to step out there and take on and beat back this fascist assault on women with the aim of changing how millions in this country are viewing this critical issue. We need to unite with and lead many, many others coming from many different perspectives to do this—from getting out there in the streets with us, to telling their abortion story, to going down to the local clinic to escort, to sending money to support those who are going on the Freedom Ride, to offering legal support, to many, many other ways. And any and all of us who understand the pressing need to fight for the full equality and liberation of women need in the course of this to build up the organization and influence of the movement to End Pornography and Patriarchy: The Enslavement and Degradation of Women as it takes on the entire war on women, including with its focus on pornography and the sale of women's bodies as well. And, at the same time as all of this—and fundamentally this will strengthen the basis to do what I was just speaking about and it is the only way any of this will ultimately contribute to the emancipation of humanity as a whole—getting into it with people and revealing how all these horrors flow from this system of capitalism-imperialism and the kind of revolution we need, and the leadership we have, to put an end to this system and all the nightmares it brings for humanity once and for all.
Revolution #308 June 30, 2013
Abortion Rights Freedom Ride!
By K.T. | June 30, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
I was 11 years old the first time I heard the word "abortion." Ruth, a young woman very close to me, had found out she was pregnant while trapped in an abusive relationship, working two jobs, and taking a full course load at a community college. She stayed with a friend because she did not have a place of her own to live in. This woman got an abortion and it seemed to be the end of the world for everybody but her. People tried to explain to me that Ruth made a "terrible mistake." My heart raced with fear when they told me what to expect upon seeing her again. "She might die," they warned, reminding me that she would be eternally distraught and especially prone to suicide. "Could you imagine killing your own child?" they prodded. When I finally gathered the courage to see what I expected to be an emotionally drained and unrecognizable woman on her death bed, I was greeted by the same Ruth I had known for so long, smiling with a book positioned close to her face, like always. She explained why she chose to get an abortion and it made a lot of sense to me. At 11 years old the only part about this situation that confused me was why people were treating her with such disdain. The abortion saved her future and I understood that. She got kicked out of the place where she was staying, but she finished school with honors.
The next time I heard the word "abortion" was in the eighth grade, when I was 13 years old. We had an afternoon debate class where we struggled over several pressing social issues, including abortion. There were prepared sheets we had to study and argue from. I chose to represent the "pro-choice" side, with Ruth in my mind. "What if your mom aborted you?" I was teased. The sheet laid out the position I was to hold, defend, and convince my classmates of. I was arguing for abortion before viability because of circumstances like poverty, rape, incest, fetal abnormalities, or danger to the life of the woman. The notion that abortions should be available simply because a woman does not want to bear a child was completely absent from that debate. I just assumed that abortions were extraordinarily rare, that Ruth was one of the few women that had to get one and I began to hope I would never be in that same situation.
When I started high school, I learned that Ruth's was not an isolated incident. Through reading "This Common Secret" by Dr. Susan Wicklund, I discovered that 1 in 3 American women have an abortion by the time they reach the age of 45. That meant to me that the women in my life were keeping an important experience from me that should never be a secret. That meant to me that the woman who kicked Ruth out for "killing her baby," may have made the same choice in her life. And that made it very clear that abortion was not something you were expected to talk about.
While my freshman health book claimed abstinence was one of three "healthy lifestyle factors," alongside staying sober and exercising regularly, Dr. Tiller was assassinated in his own church. While I was unapologetically approached with lies about abortion and bloody photographs, access was strangled where it is needed most, in poor and rural counties. Today 97% of rural counties have no abortion provider. While Planned Parenthood dropped "pro-choice" for "it's complicated" and NARAL took the word "abortion" out of their name, the most restrictive anti-abortion legislation has been taking over at the state level. There are 5 states with only one clinic left: North Dakota, South Dakota, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Kansas. THIS IS A STATE OF EMERGENCY!
Stop Patriarchy is organizing an Abortion Rights Freedom Ride. These bi-coastal caravans will converge in all 5 states with just one clinic left through a month-long series of protests and education against the anti-abortion women haters and defense of the clinics and providers most under attack while telling the truth about abortion and birth control. I am 17 years old now and I am going on the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride because when I hear the anti-choice movement brag about my generation being "pro-life," I cringe. We are a generation that has been lied to and kept in the dark about the real truth of abortion and what it means to oppose it. I am riding to build a "liberation generation" in defense of abortion on demand and without apology, for every woman, in every state, to secure safety and freedom in the futures of girls everywhere.
I am spending three weeks of my summer on the road for abortion rights because the women in North Dakota and South Dakota have heartbeats that matter, the women in Mississippi and Arkansas and Kansas have futures they deserve a say in, and the future of women all across this nation depend on what ALL of us do to counter these attacks before it is too late. Denying women the right to abortion takes away their right to life. I do not have memories of a time when abortion was illegal but I have heard the horror stories of what this meant and I do know that before Roe v. Wade legalized abortion in the United States in 1973, 8,000 women died each year from unsafe abortion procedures. Today, around the world, 47,000 women die each year from complications of unsafe abortions. If you believe that women should have control over their own bodies and futures, you need to join this freedom ride; you need to fund this freedom ride. We need 10s of 1000s of dollars for this bi-coastal caravan to get on the road and change the terms in society.
There is nothing more important I could do with the last month of my summer. I'm asking everyone reading this to please donate and help make this possible.
Revolution #308 June 30, 2013
From The World Can't Wait:
June 30, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
For his courageous and principled action in revealing vast, unlawful surveillance by the United States, we defend Edward Snowden and call on others to join us in opposing the U.S. government's plans to gain custody of him, try him, and imprison him on espionage charges.
We join a large section of the U.S. population—and billions worldwide—in outrage at the unconstitutional, illegitimate surveillance of whole populations by the U.S. that has been covered up and lied about for years.
It is absurd that Snowden faces criminal charges while the U.S. government is caught red-handed breaking its own laws; while it flaunts international law by the use of targeted killing and indefinite detention, and refuses to investigate, much less prosecute, those responsible for the crimes of aggressive war and torture exposed by Bradley Manning, now on trial in another unjust U.S. prosecution.
Edward Snowden came forward on June 10 to claim responsibility for leaking National Security Agency documents that show that the U.S. government "targets the communications of everyone," a practice which he warned is going to "get worse with the next generation and the next generation who extend the capabilities of this sort of architecture of oppression."
Snowden's revelations show that the Obama administration and the NSA consistently lied about the scale of surveillance and how both the meta-data and the full contents of all electronic communications, both domestic and foreign, are being scooped up and stored, some for immediate use in real time and the rest for subsequent use by the current White House administration and all subsequent administrations. He revealed the scope of U.S. government electronic surveillance against whole populations, the ease with which agents can access actual content of such communication, and the lack of safeguards for individual privacy.
The architects of this vast surveillance system have been vacuuming up all electronic communications from people, and from governments across the planet, allies and rivals alike. They've been holding it all secretly, denying time and again that they have been doing it when asked by reporters and by Congress. These same people now have the audacity to charge Snowden with crimes "with intent or reason to believe that the information is to be used to the injury of the United States, or to the advantage of any foreign nation."
Imagine a person working in the government who becomes aware of towering criminal practices by that government. He or she steps forward at grave personal risk to expose those crimes to the public. The full weight of said government is brought down on the whistleblower, accusing the truthteller of espionage and endangering the people.
When this happens in a country not allied with the United States, Washington's message is that such exposure proves that [country] is authoritarian and outrageously repressive toward its citizens, and that "we" would never commit crimes on that scale, because "we" are a country of laws, the home of freedom and democracy, due process and innocence until proven guilty; not a country of spying, outrageous intimidation, secret courts, and torture.
The U.S. has indicted Snowden on three felony charges. He is the seventh person charged by the Obama administration's war on whistleblowers, under the 1917 Espionage Act, for "unauthorized communication of national defense information" and "willful communication of classified communications intelligence information to an unauthorized person," and also with theft of government property. Each charge carries 10 years in prison—potentially life in prison if there are multiple counts of each.
Snowden said recently in response to a question about U.S. government efforts to suppress and eliminate him: "All I can say right now is the U.S. Government is not going to be able to cover this up by jailing or murdering me. Truth is coming, and it cannot be stopped."
Which will it be? The continued persecution of truthtellers by Official Liars or the truth made plain to the world and the sweeping away of these truly obscene actions by the United States?
Revolution #308 June 30, 2013
Statement from Pelican Bay Prisoners:
June 30, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
The following statement was issued on June 20 by prisoners being held in isolation at Security Housing Unit (SHU) at the Pelican Bay State Prison (PBSP) in California. CDCR is the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. For background, see "Emergency Call! Join Us in Stopping Torture in U.S. Prisons!" at revcom.us.
The principal prisoner representatives from the PBSP SHU Short Corridor Collective Human Rights Movement does hereby present public notice that our nonviolent peaceful protest of our subjection to decades of indefinite state-sanctioned torture, via long term solitary confinement will resume on July 8, 2013, consisting of a hunger strike/work stoppage of indefinite duration until CDCR signs a legally binding agreement meeting our demands, the heart of which mandates an end to long-term solitary confinement (as well as additional major reforms). Our decision does not come lightly. For the past (2) years we've patiently kept an open dialogue with state officials, attempting to hold them to their promise to implement meaningful reforms, responsive to our demands. For the past seven months we have repeatedly pointed out CDCR's failure to honor their word—and we have explained in detail the ways in which they've acted in bad faith and what they need to do to avoid the resumption of our protest action.
On June 19, 2013, we participated in a mediation session ordered by the Judge in our class action lawsuit, which unfortunately did not result in CDCR officials agreeing to settle the case on acceptable terms. While the mediation process will likely continue, it is clear to us that we must be prepared to renew our political non-violent protest on July 8 to stop torture in the SHUs and Ad-Segs [Administrative Segregation ] of CDCR.
Thus we are presently out of alternative options for achieving the long overdue reform to this system and, specifically, an end to state-sanctioned torture, and now we have to put our lives on the line via indefinite hunger strike to force CDCR to do what's right.
We are certain that we will prevail.... the only questions being: How many will die starvation-related deaths before state officials sign the agreement?
The world is watching!
Onward in Struggle and Solidarity.
Ronald Dewberry, aka Sitawa
Revolution #308 June 30, 2013
June 17, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
A special feature of Revolution to acquaint our readers with the views of significant figures in art, theater, music and literature, science, sports and politics. The views expressed by those we interview are, of course, their own; and they are not responsible for the views published elsewhere in our paper.
The exposures that have come out since the first week of June, first reported by investigative journalist Glenn Greenwald, have brought to light large-scale spying by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) on the phone and Internet activity of billions of people in this country and around the world. This is a dangerous and ominous assault by the U.S. government against people's basic rights, aimed at monitoring and controlling everyone's thinking, communications, and activity. (See "Five Basic Points of Orientation on the Revelations of Government Surveillance" at revcom.us.)
In this light, Revolution talked to Shayana Kadidal, senior managing attorney for the Guantánamo Global Justice Initiative at the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) in New York City, to learn more about this massive surveillance by the U.S. government. Among the cases Kadidal has been involved in at CCR are legal challenges to the NSA's warrantless surveillance program.
In this interview, Kadidal links the current revelations of the huge spying going on under Obama to the government surveillance exposed during the George W. Bush years, and to the PATRIOT Act, the law passed in the wake of the 9/11 attacks that vastly expanded the government's repressive powers. In particular, he points to Section 215 of that law, which allowed the government to obtain all kinds of records of people's activity—including books borrowed from libraries, with the libraries prohibited from even notifying their patrons that they are being spied on. Section 215 is now being used as the "legal" basis for some of the vast spying being carried out.
Revolution: Would you give us a picture of what has emerged, since the current exposures first began recently, about the vast spying by the U.S. government on phone calls and on Internet activity?
Shayana Kadidal: The first set of stories indicated something that we had heard of in general in the past, as far back as May 2006, which is that the government is building a huge database of basically all the calling records from all the major phone companies in the United States. So, the story included an order from the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (FISA) court mandating that Verizon Business, basically the old MCI, turn over all calling records of its customers—who called you, and who you called, when those calls happened, and if there's cell phone location data, and all that kind of thing. Turn that all to the government for a three-month period.
Now, when it came out, people were thinking, a three-month period, maybe this was triggered by the Boston bomb attacks that happened only 10 days before. But that didn't make much sense, because the investigation was over after 10 days and this was a three-month warrant and wasn't in any way narrowed down to things that were linked to Boston. Eventually [Senator] Dianne Feinstein confirmed this was just a renewal order—every 90 days they get the same order, going back all the way seven years now to 2006. So it basically is the same program that USA Today reported on in '06. And USA Today reported they were getting this from a whole bunch of other phone companies as well.
So pretty much we know now that the government has a huge database of all phone records. They did get this court order under Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act—known often as the "Library Provision," because this was a provision that was very controversial when it was passed, not because it let the government do this kind of craziness but they could get people's library records—they could tell what books you've taken out.
It turns out they haven't used it very much for that. But they got an order that was much broader than what the statute seems to permit from some compliant FISA judges to let them do this program. A couple things about that: When Congress passed the PATRIOT Act, it wasn't exactly a great moment for civil liberties but they at least thought there was some level of accountability that was gonna come from the fact that these FISA judges were supposed to review the government's surveillance requests to make sure that they were relevant to ongoing investigation. And that the relevance requirement would at least mean that any order that got approved would be somewhat narrow. You know, not just all calls in, all calls out for a whole company, for a long period of time. So that was one measure of oversight, the FISA court, right? Which we know rubber-stamps most orders. It's staffed with judges hand picked by the Chief Justice, so either Roberts or Rehnquist picked all these folks. They operate in secret. They never publish any of their opinions. They've historically been a rubber stamp—they didn't reject a single one, I think, out of the first like 20 years of requests that the government gave them. I think five rejections out of first 19,000 orders or something like that. Not a lot of review there.
The other thing that was supposed to be an accountability mechanism was that at the end of the year, Congress was supposed to get a report on how many times this libraries provision had been used. But if they get one order that covers an entire 10-million-subscriber phone company, for every single call that anyone makes, it's gonna be very deceptive reporting. They could report at the end of the year, we had five orders, and that could cover 95 percent of the American phone-using public.
So all the accountability mechanisms failed, and already relatively broad surveillance authority passed in the PATRIOT Act was used much broader than it should have been used, in part because of these failures of the accountability mechanism.
Revolution: And what about the surveillance on people's Internet activity—the NSA's PRISM program?
Kadidal: Yes, but one more point, in terms of why anyone should care. Look, you can tell an awful lot about the content of communications by noticing the patterns of when they happen. So if an AP reporter phoned three people in the House of Representatives and the next day publishes an embarrassing story, revealing some embarrassing government secrets, it's not too hard for government to put together what that journalist was talking about on the phone with his sources, right? The metadata is almost more important than content there. Similarly, if some Congressperson, it turns out, was calling phone-sex lines repeatedly over the course of several years, that becomes sort of J. Edgar Hoover territory in terms of what the intelligence agencies would be able to blackmail that Congressperson with.
Revolution: This data is collected and stored. So they can go back over time.
Kadidal: Right. They certainly can. The administration's main defense on this has been that, well, they need another order to go back and search the database. [Speaking of the government,] "You guys can't tell from the document that was leaked, but there are a whole bunch of other rules that govern this program, it's been around for seven years, so the judges don't write it all out in orders. But in order to search this database there are different things that are required."
Is that plausible? It doesn't seem plausible on the basis of what's in the order. Would it be a plausible arrangement? These are the kind of things we need to investigate and figure out, right? The Congress needs to dig into it. The American public needs to demand answers to it. That's pretty much the phone thing in a nutshell.
One last thing about this. Because this went through PATRIOT Act 215, which requires a court order from this rubber-stamp court, a lot of people don't realize this, but in order to get your phone records, they don't need a warrant. All they need to issue is a subpoena. The Supreme Court decided in a case called Smith v. Maryland in 1979, that the numbers you dial are not protected in the same way the contents are. For the content they need a warrant from a judge. They need to be able for a domestic call to prove probable cause you're involved in some crime, that they need the wiretap in order to investigate. To get your phone records, all they need to do is to submit an affidavit that says they're interested in getting your phone calling records for purposes of some investigation. It's a very easy standard to hit. The government uses these subpoenas much more often than they use actual traditional warrants.
So just to give you an example, it not only applies to phone records but to anything that's like that—kind of akin to the address written on the outside of a letter rather than the contents of the letter. And the theory of the Supreme Court was, well you're turning this information over to the phone company, a third party, in order for them to use it in routing your calls so you don't expect that it's going to be private. Plus it shows up on your billing records and that kind of thing, it's just not private in the same kind of way because it's turned over to a third party. So what else is turned over to a third party? Your banking records. Your credit information. Emails that you count on your ISPs to move around, right? They're only protected by an additional statute that Congress created after the Smith decision. What else? Documents in cloud storage. Certain types of chat. There are a whole slew of things people would assume they need a warrant to get, and yet they don't. So that's kind of an important point, I think.
Here you've got this ridiculously broad surveillance authority through a court order, but they don't even need that much. And obviously if they're just subpoenas to the phone companies, the only way that'll ever come out is if the phone companies tell, right? But phone companies are usually gagged from revealing that order. They were gagged with a 215 order, for instance. That's right in the text of the order, that they can only tell their own lawyers, that's the only outsiders they can tell, if the lawyers want to challenge it on behalf of the phone company. But they can't tell their customers whose records are being turned over.
In terms of the subpoenas, there are different rules. Some of them are called national security letters. There may be similar gag rules there. But the important point is that the telephone companies are in such a heavily regulated industry, and antitrust laws on the rates they can charge, in terms of taxation on certain types of services, bandwidth, that they have no incentive whatsoever to stand up to the government, they have even less than a typical corporation does.
Revolution: All this is outrageous enough—but then came the revelations about PRISM, the Internet spying by the NSA.
Kadidal: In terms of the PRISM thing. The crazy aspect of this seems to be, we know the government has some sort of hard-wiring into the systems of the phone companies. Now there were some indications of this from very far back. If you'll remember, Electronic Frontier Foundation brought a case in spring of 2006 that was based on some inside whistleblower type of documents they had gotten from a guy named Mark Klein who worked at AT&T. And Klein indicated that basically, in the San Francisco switching station where these huge fiber optic cables would come up from under the ocean and then network into the domestic network, the NSA had a special room inside AT&T's big switching facility on Folsom Street. And in that room they basically siphoned off one whole copy of everything that was coming off of these massive fiber optic cables that carry all these international communications. So basically they were sucking in everything, from right inside the phone company.
Given that, it shouldn't be that surprising that they seem to have some kind of hard-wired capacity to plug right into the systems of Google and Apple and Microsoft and whoever else, right?
Revolution: The companies say they have not given the government a "back door" to their systems.
Kadidal: The companies' CEOs and other spokesperson types have denied knowing this. But, look, the program itself is going to be classified. So the people who know about the technical details are going to be sort of the low-level tech managers who actually handle the implementation, and maybe some of the lawyers. They're not going to be the chief executives. Even if that guy or woman did have a security clearance, they're not going to be able to talk about it. So I don't know why anyone is surprised by these denials. It's probably just something that's coming out of ignorance more than anything else, which is again a consequence of the classification system.
So in terms of PRISM, further revelations from the government in defense of their position have basically said, look, this is just a technical system we have set up to implement surveillance under the FISA Amendment Act, the changes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in the summer of 2008. Key points there are that that Act was essentially passed basically to codify the NSA program that the New York Times revealed in 2005—this very sweeping, almost gather everything, anything the government wants with any minimal degree of suspicion without too much individualized intervention by the FISA court. And this is basically the same thing. You go to FISA court, and the court approves not a single warrant at a single target but a whole program of surveillance. You put in your criteria—this is roughly what we're going to look for. Could be as broad as "all calls to Israel" or "all calls back and forth to Venezuela" or whatever. And as long as it's aimed mostly at gathering the communications of foreigners, the court rubber-stamps it, and then they go off and implement it.
So this statute, unlike the phone thing—where the statute was read more broadly than it should have been, the court shouldn't have granted the order and Congress should have gotten better reporting—here, the statute itself was ludicrously broad. And who was a key player in getting it passed? Basically Senator Obama switched his vote on it, and that took surveillance completely out of the political arena. Obviously, he was preparing to finalize his presidential campaign in summer of 2008, and he didn't want this to be a disputed issue, I guess. But that really took a lot of the steam out of the movement that had built up when the NSA disclosures first happened in late 2005, because now it wasn't a political issue anymore between the parties.
Revolution: How much of all this surveillance that has now come out do you think is directed expressly at monitoring and even suppressing political dissent and opposition?
Kadidal: Well, there are plenty of political movements that are already regarded as quasi-"terrorist" by the government, right? So all sorts of activism relating to Gaza, relating to Cuba, relating to various revolutions in the Middle East over the last few years, are already on the government's radar. The question almost should be how much does the government even distinguish between terrorism and political activism. But then there's the chilling effect too. I mean, just knowing that the government has this database, and if they decide that your group is a threat in the future even if they don't believe that now, that they can pretty much figure out everything about your associational patterns, that's going to dissuade people from coming out and networking politically, right? So that in itself is a huge, huge problem. I might analogize it to the kind of, the efforts of various Confederacy states during the 1960s to get at the NAACP's membership lists.*
Revolution: What's come out so far already seems almost surreal in terms of how vast the surveillance is—but at the same time you get a sense that it may be just the tip of the iceberg. What's your thoughts on that?
Kadidal: Yeah, well, I don't think we've seen the end of Glenn Greenwald's reporting on this either. So hopefully there'll be a lot more. But part of that is the consequence of the fact that this agency, the NSA, we don't even probably know its budget breakdown. The top-line budget for the NSA and CIA is enormous—I think it's something like $40 billion for both of them. We know they have about 40,000 employees, so they're bigger than the CIA. We only know that because people have estimated from satellite photos of their parking lot. So there's very little knowledge about the capabilities that these folks are building. Very little oversight of that either, because everything about their budget and operation is completely off the public books. That in itself is a huge problem. There are reports—Wired magazine seems to run a story every month about the new facilities they're building, what they might be up to. But it comes to have a kind of a science fiction feel.
I think one of the great things about the phone records order [issued to Verizon] is that actually seeing the order really... as a lawyer it has an impact on you. You look at it, it looks like the boilerplate of a traditional warrant. But when you get to the point where they're supposed to make the specific description—you know, "this person talking on this line about this kind of criminal activity"—instead it just says, "Give us everything"... "Give us all phone records of foreigner calls"... and "all domestic calls." So from an emotional standpoint, just kind of realizing what it's all about, what's happening—having the actual document makes a great impact. It shows a little bit the value of even the most minimal form of transparency—you know, one order out of many, many, many.
* Note from Revolution: In the early 1960s, a number of former slave states—Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia—ordered the NAACP to turn over their membership rolls under various legal pretexts. Given the tight relationship between the state governments and police on one hand and groups like the KKK on the other, it was clear that surrendering the lists would subject members to harassment, economic retaliation, and even lynchings. The NAACP waged a legal fight against the orders, but the orders and the threat of huge fines for non-compliance virtually put a stop to the activity of the organization in these states for years. [back]
Revolution #308 June 30, 2013
From A World to Win News Service
June 26, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
June 15, 2013. A World to Win News Service. Following are edited excerpts from a June 2 statement by the Communist Party of Iran (Marxist-Leninist-Maoist). The full statement is available in English as well as Farsi on the website of Haghigat.
A popular slogan is Turkey is this: "Hey, lamp—it all started with a tree! Did you get it?"
The lamp is the symbol of the governing party (the AKP under the leadership of [Prime Minister] Erdogan), but during this party's decade-long reign it has been synonymous with stupidity and cultural backwardness. The word “tree” is an allusion to the great movement of the last few days started by a small number of environmental activists opposing the transformation of Gezi Park (located adjacent to Taksim Square in Istanbul) into a commercial center, but it is also a reference to Adam and Eve meant to ridicule the sexual taboos wrapped in rotten religious rituals by the AKP regime.
It is clear that the Erdogan regime is facing an important political crisis. In addition to the destruction of the environment and Taksim Square, much deeper factors have been involved in the formation of this political crisis. The-step-by-step implementation of Islamic measures, such as restrictions on caesarean births and abortion, forbidding alcohol consumption at certain hours, and kissing in public all have caused anger among the masses and provoked their outpouring on to the streets.
The Turkish regime wants to rally its Islamic social base and turn them into an ideological force, but by doing so it has isolated itself from a large section of the population. Turkey's involvement in the Syria crisis and its support for reactionary Islamic oppositions, and preparations for military adventures in the Middle East, and the project of turning Turkey into a so-called "21st-century Ottoman Empire" are factors that have expanded the scope of people's anger with the AKP regime.
Apart from ideological and political factors, the fragility of Turkey's economic development model is also feeding the current crisis. None of the AKP regime's economic policies have resulted in sustainable economic development. In the past 10 years, the world capitalist system has more deeply penetrated the Turkish economy than in any other period in its history.
The AKP regime is not only isolated among sections of people, but also, with the appearance of the effects of their adventurist regional foreign policy and doubts about the sustainability of their economic policies, discontent amongst bourgeois strata has also increased.
The sudden appearance of this anti-regime movement in Turkey is the most important event in the Middle East. This movement can destroy all the calculations made by the imperialists and regional reactionaries once again. The White House and the U.S. embassy in Turkey are following events closely and keeping in close contact with the Turkish prime minister and the country's other parliamentary parties.
The enemy's main policy is to marginalize the masses to the maximum degree so that they would have no voice in charting the path and determining the aims of this movement. The enemy knows that to achieve this, they have to stop the goals and expectations of the masses from going beyond electoral and parliamentary democracy, and channel this movement into the path of bartering among parties loyal to the state, such as the Republican People's Party (CHP) and other parliamentary parties. The prime minister's speeches, foreign policy statements by the U.S., and the discourse of the parliamentary parties in Turkey are all about "parliamentary democracy," "the ballot box," the need for negotiations between parliamentary parties, and so forth.
The media broadcast the news of the movement with images and speeches in line with the above policy. For example, the prime minister in his speeches emphasizes that "in a democracy protests must be conducted through parliament and voting." The mayor of Istanbul says this movement has proved that we have to "consult" people in doing anything. The official media basically report the slogans and flags of parliamentary parties, while the barricades and fighting with police, basically carried out by leftist activists and anti-regime revolutionary parties, with the participation of non-organized masses, get almost no coverage.
The Workers Party of Kurdistan (PKK) and its leader Abdullah Ocalan did not support this movement until June 2, despite the June 1 demonstration in the town of Amed (Diyarbakir, Kurdistan) with the slogan of "media, why are you keeping silent?"
None of the bourgeois parties can ignore this movement and its future. All of them, including the ruling party, are following a dual policy towards it: containing the aims, expectations, and demands of the movement and stopping it from turning into a movement with the aim of overthrowing the system, on the one hand, and on the other using it as a bargaining chip against each other for a bigger share of power and to further consolidate the state.
The states in the region are closely following events in Turkey. The Iranian foreign ministry issued a statement expressing the hope for a "peaceful resolution." There is no doubt that the Islamic Republic of Iran is happy to see the Turkish government dragged into a political crisis. But on the other hand, they know that a further radicalization and spreading of the movement, with no Islamic content but with a secular and left tendency, will no doubt affect the masses in Iran.
The Islamic regime in Egypt led by Mohamed Morsi is extremely worried, since it presented the AKP government as a model and is concerned about the fate of the "godfather" of moderate Islam in the Middle East and what effects developments in Turkey may have on the future of the other regimes in the region.
The reactionary opposition in Syria, engaged in heavy fighting with the Syrian army and Hezbollah from Lebanon, had put all their hopes on the Turkish regime's ability to persuade the NATO armies and the U.S. to launch a military intervention in Syria and finish off the Assad regime. Now even Erdogan knows that this rhetoric is a burst bubble, at least until he can restore political stability at home.
There is an intensely felt necessity that what started in the Middle East as the "Arab Spring" take a great leap in Turkey. In order for that to happen and qualitatively affect the mass protest movements throughout the Middle East and the world, a thorough critique of the dominant system in the Middle East is required: the nature of the states and the ruling political and social formations in these countries, including the nature of "electoral democracy"; the nature of the contradictions between Islamism and imperialism; and the importance of the expansion of religious patriarchy and the oppression of women through the integration of religion and the state in the reproduction of oppressive and exploitative formations dependent on the world capitalist system.
This question must be put forward: Why did Tahrir Square in Cairo turn into a square where women are raped? We have to ask: Why were the people's sacrifices in Egypt and Tunisia deposited into the accounts of Islamist parties?
Communist revolutionaries in Turkey must call for international solidarity with all oppressed nations in the Middle East, and the central point of this declaration should be that the peace negotiations between the Turkish and Kurdish bourgeoisies cannot lead to the liberation of the Kurdish people. They can only lead to the participation of Kurdish bourgeois-feudals in the ruling system, which can only mean a hell of oppression, religious patriarchy, the intensification of the oppression of women, and poverty for the majority of the masses.
This movement should pay particular attention to confronting the regime on the main points of its agenda: the destruction of revolutionary forces through pulling them into the parliamentary sewer, turning Turkey into a gendarme of U.S. imperialism and the European Union in the Middle East with the chauvinist slogans about the restoration of the Ottoman Empire; the integration of religion into the state, and the intensification of patriarchy and misogyny within the framework of further opening Turkey to capitalist globalization. It is impossible to confront this regime without addressing these questions.
The issue that this movement cannot afford to ignore is communism, the communist outlook, and program. Taking this outlook and program to the people in this movement is a huge challenge for the revolutionary communists, but without fearlessly putting forward this outlook and program, the particular struggle against this regime cannot be carried forward boldly.
The existence of various bourgeois parties in this movement is a source of illusions and lowering the goals, but on the other hand this situation can be used to expose the nature and program of other class forces. Lack of attention to the program and slogans of other parties under the pretext of preserving unity can only lead to the strengthening of the goals and programs of those parties among the masses of people.
This movement has brought a blast of fresh air to Turkey and all over the Middle East, but it also has very serious political limitations. Through small and large leaps it must overcome these limitations, and through those steps persist and develop. We have to understand that the limitations, although real, are conditional and relative and not absolute. These limitations can be transformed through conscious engagement. The tasks of the revolutionary communists are to constantly push at these limits and do their utmost to the maximum possible degree to transform them: through agitation and propaganda, slogans, the radicalization of general declarations, organizing discussions and debates at night over the nature of the parliamentary path, the possibility of radically changing society, the situation in the Middle East and internationalist duties, the importance of struggle against patriarchy and the integration of religion into the state, exposing the nature and prospects of "peace" between the Turkish state and the Kurdish movement, and so on.
Through this we can speed up the situation and be prepared for unexpected developments. A change in the existing position of a movement cannot be the result of the intervention of a vanguard force alone, but that intervention can be a determining factor in changing the movement's predominant framework. This intervention, combined with other factors, can affect the overall prospects for a movement, and lead to a qualitative change. But it is impossible to predict how the sum of these prospects would develop. In general, we have to follow what Lenin formulated: that communist consciousness, the communist outlook and methodology, cannot develop among the masses spontaneously.
It can be already said that there are two pathways for the current movement: either going deep into the swamp of the parliamentary stupidity propagated by the ruling party and other state-endorsed parties and the international and Turkish media, or building a movement for radically changing society. Building the second path is a task facing the left and communist youths in Turkey. Now the question is: What has to be done to build such a movement? How can communists take part in the current movement without tailing its spontaneity and shape the future through this?
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 #308 June 30, 2013
From A World to Win News Service
June 30, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Part of a protest at Taksim Square in Istanbul, Monday, June 3, 2013. Photo: AP
June 17, 2013. A World to Win News Service. The situation in Turkey has taken another turn. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has apparently adopted a "double or nothing" strategy of seeking to restore stability mainly by crushing resistance, escalating the political and ideological conflict, and bringing violence to a new level. At the same time, this resistance to the regime has struck a deep chord among the youth and throughout Turkey. It is not an everyday occurrence for any society to be so clearly split into two opposing camps.
The police have been gassing and beating demonstrators mercilessly since the beginning, but never was the nature of the state Ergodan leads as obvious as on the night of June 15. Tightly closed ranks of thousands of police with their shields tilted above their heads, lined up like phalanxes of ancient Roman soldiers, moved through Taksim Square in an attempt to end the weeks of protest by sheer force no matter what the cost.
Thousands of Turkish youths gather at Ankara's main Kizilay Square in the face of government attacks on them, June 1, 2013.
Photo: AP /Burhan Ozbilici
Most protesters were unprepared for the scope and viciousness of this assault. The attack was especially unexpected because even at his most menacing, Erdogan had given them until the next day before he said the security forces would clear them out. They retreated to adjacent Gezi Park, where they were able to stand up to water cannons, enormous clouds of gas, and clubbing for more hours than seemed possible.
The regime brought in police from all over the country. It sent in the gendarmes—a military formation not usually used in the streets—in an attempt to keep demonstrators from crossing over from the Asian side of the Bosphorus Strait and reaching Taksim Square. They failed to stop people on the bridge, but attacked them brutally when they reached the European side.
The authorities have also changed the composition of their chemical weapons, the hi-tech sprays and gases used against protesters, so that not only do eyes sting horribly but people vomit and their flesh sometimes shows the distinctive marks of chemical burns.
Yet while the regime now holds Taksim, many people still gather in the surrounding neighborhoods and elsewhere in Istanbul ready to confront whatever the regime uses against them.
At nine o'clock in the evening, people stop whatever they are doing and make noise for 15 minutes in solidarity with the movement and each other. This is particularly powerful in the neighborhoods around Taksim where many residents have come to support the youth against the police, but to some degree throughout Istanbul. People lean out of their apartment windows to bang on pots and pans, thump metal lampposts if they happen to be in the street, and even in cafes and restaurants stand up and bang their plates and glasses as loudly as possible.
Similar scenes are taking place in Ankara and Izmir, Turkey's second- and third-largest cities.
Erdogan successfully called huge rallies in Ankara and Istanbul. The event in Istanbul was meant to prove that his support is strong not just in Anatolian towns but among the urban population and commercial classes of the biggest city. Erdogan has tried to set his social base on fire with religion and a sense that he and they are victims of unnamed enemies, implicitly "the West" and Westernized people in Turkey. In an almost unbelievable outburst of Turkish chauvinism at its most blatantly racist, he resorted to telling his supporters that these enemies consider them uneducated "n*ggers".
His claims that the protesters in their multitudes are all "terrorists" or at least manipulated by "terrorists" have begun to fall flat. When he called for mothers to come to Gezi Park and get their children, hundreds of mothers came to form a protective ring around all the demonstrators. The association of lawyers held a demonstration to demand the release of their colleagues jailed for defending protesters, and the doctors' and dentists' association did the same to defend the medical personnel targeted by the police, beaten, and jailed for taking care of the wounded. Several trade union confederations have gone on strike to demand a halt to the police attacks.
This pushed Erdogan into yet more flaming hysteria against the protest movement, denouncing it as part of a conspiracy by the Western powers, Israel, and international financiers determined to deny Turkey its rightful place as a modern, Islamist regional powerhouse. (He also implies that they are working through the Kurds to dismember Turkey, although the Kurdish PKK is still trying to preserve its entente [agreement or understanding] with the governing AKP.)
As if Erdogan himself—as the latest in a line of leaders of the Turkish state going back to Ataturk and the civilian and military figures who followed the founder of the republic, along with the Turkish ruling class as a whole—has not sought Turkey's "rightful place" as a haven (and heaven) for foreign capital and as junior partner to the U.S. and European imperialists. As if Erdogan himself were not an expert in interfering in other countries' affairs, hand-in-hand with the U.S. (and Israel), from Iraq and the Republic of Georgia to Libya and Syria.
There is no need to imagine a foreign conspiracy to explain why his policies and his system have brought so many people to the streets against the way things are and are going in Turkey.
The regime has made efforts to peel off some of the older and more established middle class people who make up an important base of support for the movement in the streets, both by making promises (such as not to tear down Gezi Park without a court process and possibly a referendum) and threats (to consider any person found near Taksim Square a "member of a terrorist organization," a charge as potentially serious legally as it is ridiculous). Many people came to Taksim to celebrate, not to resist the police, and the unrestrained brutality against anyone in the street—as if every onlooker, doctor or lawyer, casual protester, football club supporter, and hardened street fighter were all "terrorists"—has given some people pause. But at the same time, this has been an important factor in a emergence and spreading of a disbelief in the regime's legitimacy.
Erdogan orchestrated the clearing of Taksim Square as a kind of opening act to his Istanbul rally. Both events were meant to signal that the regime has a strong social base, especially among those benighted by religion, and has far more violent power than many protesters imagined. But seeking to further divide society is a perilous operation with unpredictable consequences. Such resorting to open terror and the threats to bring in the army to crush unarmed political protesters, are not necessarily advantageous to the regime in the short or long run.
The core of this movement seems to be in more of a fighting mood than ever. Sometimes it is expressed in a solemn way, in mass pledges made to honor those killed by the police by never giving up. Sometimes it is in defiant jokes, like the chanting of "bring on the pepper gas" as night falls. "This is just the beginning," another chant goes, with an increasingly realistic assessment that what is beginning is going to be very dangerous and difficult.
Most important, there is a questioning, not only about what to do—important enough—but what to fight for, what kind of world we have and what kind we want. Serious thinking and serious actions.
Demonstrators remain defiant in the face of police spraying water cannon after government forces evicted activists from an Istanbul park, near Taksim Square in Istanbul, June 16, 2013. Photo: AP
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 #308 June 30, 2013
Kanye West Needs to Learn the Difference Between the Cry of Rebellion of the Slave (New or Old) and the Frustrated Rage of the Wannabe New Slave Master
by Sunsara Taylor and Carl Dix | June 27, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
In his new song, "New Slaves," Kanye West evokes the seismic brutality and grinding oppression inflicted on Black people since they were first dragged to these shores in slave chains. He indicts the cradle-to-prison pipeline that steals the lives of Black youth and rails against the cold, hard reality that no matter what one accomplishes, if one is Black they will continue to face dehumanizing and even life-threatening racism. Through this song, he declares himself in open rebellion against a racist industry that seeks to neuter and profit off his artistic talents and a broader society which has, as an expression of this very racism, repeatedly written off or dismissed Kanye's rants and anger as simply an outgrowth of "his oversized ego."
But where does Kanye take this? Unfortunately, instead of the cry of rebellion of the slave (new or old) who wants to not only get out of this madness himself but fight for a world where no one is oppressed, exploited, and degraded in this way, Kanye rages at the ways this ongoing oppression keeps him from being able to fully integrate himself into, and assume his place at the top of, the modern-day slave system.
This is expressed not only in the way Kanye constantly boasts of obscene wealth and conspicuous consumption in a world where so many suffer so endlessly (including those whose modern-day slave labor has produced all that material wealth). Even more, this comes through in Kanye's inability and/or unwillingness to envision a world that is not divided into oppressors and oppressed, exploiters and exploited, those on top and those on bottom. Encased within these terms, Kanye ends up making a principle—even an anthem—of fighting to be on top. As he puts it crudely in the chorus of "New Slaves": "I'd rather be a dick than a swallower."
Think about what this chorus is saying. That essentially this world is made up of two kinds of people. On the top are the "dicks," i.e., "real men" who get off on fucking over others. On the bottom are the "swallowers," i.e., women, as well as men who are being cast as women (the biggest insult that can be hurled at men today), who are viewed as nothing more than receptacles for some "dick's" semen. Kanye doesn't object to this dehumanizing division. Instead, he openly brags about and claims his place in it as a "dick."
And look at what actually goes on in this world where the half of humanity that is born female are treated as "swallowers."
Look at the way that women and girls are bombarded from a very young age—including by songs like this one—with the notion that their highest purpose in life is to be of sexual service to men. Look at the way men—trained in this same outlook from a very young age—routinely beat, rape, pimp, purchase, and otherwise insult and demean women on the street, in the homes, in the schools, in their relationships, and at workplaces. Look at the way women, if they actually have sex or even if they are sexually abused or raped, are considered "sluts" or "hos" and treated like soiled and unworthy garbage. Look at the millions of women and young girls throughout the world who are preyed upon and pimped out, drugged and beaten into submission, and sold as mere bodies to be violated and demeaned on the street or through the Internet. Look at the whole Christian fascist movement in this country that has assassinated abortion doctors and passed outrageous restrictions, all out of their desire to reduce women back to breeders of children and possessions of men. Look in the shelters and on the streets where poor and especially Black women have been evicted from public housing by the thousands, along with their children. Look at the desperate women who make up the bulk of the modern-day slave system of sweatshop exploitation all around the world.
Calling women "swallowers" accepts this enslavement and oppression. Bragging about being a "dick" celebrates being a wannabe slave master. Not only is this utterly unacceptable for how it views women, this kind of approach ultimately leads Kanye away from consistently challenging even the horrendous oppression of Black people he legitimately and powerfully indicts.
We see this very sharply in the closing verse of Kanye's song. Kanye rails against the way corporations have tried to control him and draws parallels to the private prison contractors making enormous profits off stealing the lives of Black youth. He calls out those who are sitting back in the Hamptons (one of the most elite and wealthy vacation spots) bragging about the wealth they made through this exploitation of Black people. But then, he rhymes, "Fuck you and your Hampton house, I'll fuck your Hampton spouse, Came on her Hampton blouse, And in her Hampton mouth." Here Kanye reduces his "rebellion" against the oppression and exploitation of Black people to a vision of revenge against this racist elite that has denied him full entry by defiling and degrading this elite's property, which is all that women in this view are deemed to be.
It is simply a fact that there is no fundamental difference between this view of women and the brutality and degradation and terror, imprisonment, and foreclosed futures of those who are born Black or Latino or other oppressed nationalities in this country. Indeed, the roots of both these forms of oppression are woven deep into the structures and culture of this capitalist-imperialist system and the struggle to end both these, and all other, forms of oppression are also bound together in the struggle to make real revolution to get rid of this system. How this is so is something that people need to get deeply into and a good place to start are the special issues of Revolution newspaper which deal in great depth with "The Oppression of Black People, the Crimes of this System, and the Revolution We Need" and "A Declaration: For Women's Liberation and the Emancipation of All Humanity."
Today's modern-day slaves do NOT need the cry of revenge and degradation flowing from the frustrated aspirations of the new wannabe slave master. Humanity desperately and urgently needs the deepest cry and act of rebellion of the slaves who are determined to free not only themselves but all of humanity. This is the fight for real, all-the-way communist revolution as it has been re-envisioned by Bob Avakian (BA). And we need art and culture which celebrates this genuine rebellion and the strivings for really breaking free of all this enslavement, degradation, and self-degradation.
All this drives home the tremendous truth and significance of BAsics 3:22, a statement made by BA many years ago, which Kanye West, oppressed people everywhere, and all those who yearn to get free must learn from today:
"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."
Revolution #308 June 30, 2013
June 27, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Campaign Site Updated Regularly
"Contribute to the BA Everywhere Summer Campaign to spread the liberating vision and framework for a radically different world developed by the revolutionary leader, Bob Avakian. At a time when people and the planet are in peril, when youth from Turkey to Brazil are raising their heads, imagine the difference it would make if people knew about and engaged a whole better way the world could be." –From the Indiegogo site for the BA Everywhere crowdfunding campaign
Go to the Indiegogo page right now. Forward it to everyone you know and contact them to donate now so that there are funds to launch the BA Everywhere Summer 2013 Campaign.
This campaign fills an enormous need of the people around the world rising in struggle, of all who are agonizing over the outrageous injustices of the world—bringing to them that there is a radically different way the world could be through revolution...bringing to them word about BA and his work...and involving many, many people in raising funds so that BA will indeed be known everywhere.
The financial goal of the Indiegogo campaign is to raise $20,000—the minimum funds needed for the summer plans. This full amount must be raised by July 15, 11:59 p.m. To be on track to accomplish this, $10,000 must be raised by Wednesday night, July 3, with plans to raise even more funds on July 4-8.
Also, on July 15, in a few cities around the country, BA Everywhere is launching one-week Revolution—Nothing Less! Van Tours. These tours will involve volunteers going out in decorated small vans with AV equipment to bring the BA Everywhere fundraising campaign, the film BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! Bob Avakian Live, and the book BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian out to people in the 'hoods, to middle class areas, to concerts and cultural events, and even to some resort areas. These Van Tours will serve to forge a core of people who are taking up the BA Everywhere campaign; to catapult the work begun over these few weeks to a new level; and to spread BA Everywhere to new strata of people—raising funds and bringing forward people every step of the way.
Right now, BA Everywhere Committees in different cities, and all who want to be a part of filling this great need:
Revolution #308 June 30, 2013
June 30, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
From a reader:
Texas governor Rick Perry, a straight up Christian fascist, recently called the Texas House of Representatives into a "special session" to enact Senate Bill 5, one of the most sweeping and restrictive anti-abortion bills in the country. SB5 is part of what Sunsara Taylor referred to in her recent interview with Revolution as an "avalanche of legal restrictions." As she noted, "The last two years have seen record restrictions on abortion access, and this year has already seen 278 new restrictions introduced around the country." Among its many other hateful measures, SB5 would have the devastating affect of reducing the number of Texas abortion providers from 42 to 5; leaving facilities in only the state's four largest counties. It would ban almost all abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, and would add unnecessary and even harmful requirements to how doctors prescribe and administer abortion-inducing drugs.
So when a number of pro-choice organizations in the state called for a "citizen's filibuster," for a critical mass of people to come to Austin and tell their stories—to run down the clock to prevent this legislation from being approved—it was like a dam burst open. Word spread rapidly on social media, and on Thursday, June 20, the Texas statehouse was flooded with hundreds of pissed-off, orange-clad, pro-choice women and men, ready to do battle.
Over 700 individuals signed up to testify against SB5. One after the other, for 12 hours straight, people got on the mike, citing personal experiences of how their lives were impacted positively when they had the option to terminate pregnancies, and negatively when they did not. At around midnight Representative Byron Cook moved to cut off the session, saying that the testimony was becoming "repetitive." As a testifier was escorted away from the podium by a state trooper, chants rose up: "Let her speak!" A woman testified, "Our words are not repetitive. Our government's attacks on our choice, on our bodies, is repetitive!" By early Friday morning, the House vote had been successfully blocked.
The session was to reconvene on Sunday, so a call went out again to mass on the Capitol. All day long people kept arriving, and by mid-afternoon, Planned Parenthood had distributed the last of their 1,000 orange "Stand With Texas Women" t-shirts. This time there was no testifying, but people came to witness the debate. The chambers were constantly full, and three lines of people spiraled around the massive rotunda balconies, waiting to get a seat. Hundreds once again stayed into the night. By Monday morning the Republicans called a vote, and the measure was passed in the House of Representatives. As Republicans applauded themselves, they were quickly drowned out by chants of "Shame, Shame, Shame!" which spilled out into the hallways as several people were escorted out by the pigs.
When I heard about what had happened on Thursday, I printed up a few hundred of StopPatriarchy.org's call for the Summer 2013 Abortion Rights Freedom Ride, and the Abortion on Demand & Without Apology statement, grabbed a bunch of Revolution newspapers, and drove over to Austin.
What I encountered was a breath of fresh air! Most of the protesters were women, and a lot of them were veterans of the movements of the 1960s and '70s, with a good section of young people in their twenties and early thirties. For many of them, this impending loss of the right to choose was like a wakeup call, an OMG! moment—like they had long watched the erosion of women's rights, but with the hope that the "democratic process" eventually would serve the will of the majority. And looking at the Republican lunatics as so ridiculous as to be unbelievable—until now. It was really hitting people upside the head: "This is really happening!" and they just HAD to do something. But no one had expected the outpouring that was taking place.
I felt in the middle of something historic—being right on the battleground—not just over the state vs. women, but reality vs. absurdity. Here we were listening to the anti's in power exposing their unbelievable ignorance and stupidity, like the Republican sponsor of SB5, Jodie Laubenberg, who argued that a proposed exemption for rape victims was unnecessary because "in the emergency room they have what's called rape kits, where a woman can get cleaned out." Stranger-than-fiction arguments abound: Texas Representative Michael Burgess advocated banning abortion at an even earlier stage of pregnancy, because of what he sees on sonograms: fetuses at 15 weeks masturbating: "If they're a male baby, they may have their hand between their legs. If they feel pleasure, why is it so hard to believe that they could feel pain?" I felt a sense of pride in the people who countered all that with determination and confidence, based on a foundation of science.
I was impressed especially with the youth. One college student who had testified on Thursday recounted to me her statement, a straightforward exposition that abortion is a simple medical procedure that she has a right to and will fight for. A young clinic escort said, "We really have to stop apologizing." And not just the youth: A white-haired woman exclaimed that she couldn't believe that we have to fight this battle all over again—that she thought we had resolved this in the '70s. When I said that the one thing we didn't do then was what still needs to be done—make revolution—she wanted to find out more about it, saying something like, "Communism—why not?"
I can't count all the people who thanked me for the statements. I distributed them on the lines and in the hallways, and when I was rushing to get them out in the chambers during a recess in the hearings, an older woman called out to me to take her card because she was excited about the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride and was thinking about participating in some way. Another pointed to "Forced motherhood is female enslavement," saying, "This is so true!" Many told me that they liked the slogan "Abortion on Demand and Without Apology." A woman in her thirties told me, "This is such a great idea—a way to 'cohese' people on a national level."
A group of women, as they were being let into the chambers, yelled out to me, "We'll be sure to send money!"
Some of those who lived through the freedom rides of the past were well aware of the danger posed to the riders. One man made a donation, sort of half-jokingly asking, "Are they gonna have bullet-proof windshields?" He and others expressed appreciation for the courage of this group of riders.
A lot of people said they would go online and sign the statement, but one man did so on the spot, with the comment: "If you were ever loved by a woman, as a man, you should show some type of support."
I got out a few issues of the paper as well as BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! cards. I found that as people are engaging this fight, they wanted to see what the ultimate solution might be.
UPDATE—On Wednesday morning, the Texas Tribune reported that SB5 had been "killed" by a marathon filibuster by Texas Senator Wendy Davis and by "an impassioned throng of protesters." Lt. Governor David Dewhurst (another Christian fascist) said his moves to prevent abortion had been sidetracked by an "unruly mob." And Governor Rick Perry is threatening to call another "special session" to push through the attacks on women concentrated in SB5.
The summer is heating up.
Revolution #308 June 30, 2013
A Message from Sunsara Taylor
June 26, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Below is a slightly edited version of a statement sent by Sunsara Taylor to the support rally held on June 26 for the courageous abortion doctor who has been flying into Wichita, Kansas, to provide abortions to women who need them. This doctor has been "outed" by fanatical anti-abortion forces who have targeted her where she lives and works, a pattern that contributed to the assassination of Dr. George Tiller in Wichita in 2009.
Today's protest against a courageous abortion doctor and counter-protest in support of her are not two sides facing off in a "morally complex" and "never-ending" debate over abortion.
No. Today in Chicago, last night in Texas, and all around this country, we stand at a crossroads. Two fundamentally opposed futures confront women—and society as a whole. Either women will be forced to have children against their will or women will have abortion on demand and without apology and be treated as full human beings. And one side or the other is going to win.
On one side we have Eric Scheidler,* Republican senators in Texas, and Christian fascists across the country. They do not care about life or about babies or women. One big clue that gives this away is the fact that they all oppose birth control. They downplay rape. They attack science. They shame women. They terrorize doctors. By demonizing and targeting this doctor where she lives and works, Eric Scheidler is knowingly creating conditions for her to be driven out or killed. This is exactly what they did to Dr. George Tiller—a monumental hero who was assassinated on May 31, 2009 in his own church. Without providers there is no choice. And without the ability to decide for themselves when and whether to have a child free of coercion, shame or stigma, women cannot be free. This future is about the enslavement of women.
Concentrating the other future are the heroic doctors who understand that without the ability to get safe abortions women end up trapped in abusive relationships, women are driven into poverty, women are forced to foreclose their other dreams and life plans, women are chained into a role that they didn't want simply because they have a uterus. But this doctor we are supporting today is not only a courageous abortion doctor like so many others—she is one who stepped up and literally filled Dr. George Tiller's shoes. She said, "I will go to Wichita. I will defy death and threat and hatred and terror. Women's lives matter that much." And she is a young doctor—a model to a new generation.
In this way, when she is targeted it is not only she that is targeted—and when we defend her, it is not only her we are defending. The woman-haters want to send a message, that if you step out you will be isolated, demonized, terrorized, hunted, and likely killed. We must send the opposite message. If you step out to serve women you will be appreciated, celebrated, and DEFENDED.
More fundamentally, you will be backed up by a growing force of women and men who are fighting to create a world where providing abortions no longer requires courage, where everyone accepts that women are full human beings.
Ultimately, this will take a revolution—a revolution that gets rid of the capitalist system that requires and reinforces the oppression of women, along with many other forms of oppression, from the destruction of the environment to the imperialist wars to the slow genocide of mass incarceration that disproportionately targets Blacks and Latinos and more. This revolution is possible—get into it through the pages of Revolution newspaper (revcom.us) and the works of Bob Avakian, the Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party.
Let's be clear: there is no liberation for anyone without the liberation of women. And this battle for the right to abortion will not go on forever. One side or the other is going to win and that resolution is getting closer every day and right now the wrong side is winning.
Because what we stand for is in humanity's interest, if we tell the truth we can move millions—but nothing less is required and there is no time to waste. This is why StopPatriarchy.org is with you here today and why we are organizing a major Abortion Rights Freedom Ride this summer—from July 23 through August 25—caravaning from both coasts and down the middle of the country from North Dakota all the way to Jackson, Mississippi. This ride will rally support for doctors, expose and protest the Christian fascists, clarify right and wrong, and demand that everyone take a stand.
Join in welcoming this Abortion Rights Freedom Ride when it arrives in Chicago the evening of Friday, July 26. On Saturday, July 27, join us as we deliver the Forced Motherhood is Female Enslavement Award to Eric Scheidler in the form of a giant bloody coat hanger, as we hold an abortion speakout to break the stigma on abortion, and as we honor those on the front lines providing abortions.
This Abortion Rights Freedom Ride is a major nationwide effort—connecting up the life-and-death skirmishes like the one last night in Texas, today in Chicago, and throughout the country—aimed at rousing the millions and turning the tide. I call on everyone here to donate to this Freedom Ride, to spread the word of it, to step up and join in making this truly powerful here in Chicago and all across the country. You can do all of this at StopPatriarchy.org. Winning it is going to require serious struggle. Join with me—the future is at stake.
* * * * *
To donate to the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride: www.indiegogo.com/projects/abortion-rights-freedom-ride
To get involved in Abortion Rights Freedom Ride: StopPatriarchy.org
To learn about real revolution: revcom.us
* * * * *
Sunsara Taylor writes for Revolution newspaper (revcom.us), is an initiator of the movement to End Pornography and Patriarchy: The Enslavement and Degradation of Women (StopPatriarchy.org), and sits on the Advisory Board of World Can't Wait.
* Scheidler is the head of the Pro-Life Action League, a Christian fascist organization [back]
Revolution #308 June 30, 2013
Prisoners Write On:
June 27, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
We greatly appreciate receiving these letters from prisoners and encourage prisoners to keep sending us correspondence. The views expressed by the writers of these letters are, of course, their own; and they are not responsible for the views published elsewhere in our paper.
In early June, Revolution issued a call to our readers in prisons to "draw on all you have learned about the world and your life experience" to express their thinking on the theme "What to the prisoner is your Fourth of July?" The call began with a quote from a 1852 statement by Frederick Douglass, a former slave and a leader in the struggle against slavery, titled "What to the American slave is your Fourth of July?" Here are some letters we have received so far in response to the call.
"What to the Prisoner Is Your Fourth of July?"
The Fourth of July...? Independence Day...? Yeah right, What on earth is that? Let's break bread on this subject and I'll tell you exactly what it is.
This system's Fourth of July, to me, is just business as usual. It is just another day of oppression, suppression, and repression within this belly of the beast. It's just another painful day of these redneck fascist pigs employing strategically designed tactics to keep us focused on the irrelevant issues that prevent us from uniting as a cohesive force to stand against their mental and physical brutality. This Fourth of July is just another day on the plantation for D.O.C. [Department of Corrections]—a poor mother will get an unfortunate call from the "chaplain," saying her child is dead; some cell extraction team will be running into a defenseless prisoner's cell five deep to violently remove him from his cell (but not before they shed blood and break a few bones); another prisoner will be tortured by being placed on strip (property restriction—nothing in a room except the prisoner, his boxers, concrete, and steel—that's it!) and then sprayed with huge cans of mace designed to burn the skin & eyes and suck out the oxygen supply in a room; and the list goes on and on.
One of the major contradictions I see within these walls of misery and despair are prisoners actually celebrating Independence Day!! How can a prisoner celebrate Independence Day?! Oh wait... hold on a minute... I get it now, they're celebrating being "-Dependence" of the Department of Corrections, lol!! As a grown man, I choose not to participate in calling our potentially revolutionary forces belittling names, but come on man!! It's time for my fellow prisoners to wake up and begin the process of learning what in the world is going on!! The continuous cycle of "business as usual" must be broken and shattered to incomprehensible pieces. The system that is routinely used against us is as old as the mythical concept of religion. But just like religion, the consequences of the systematic use of distractions and deceptions are so ingrained in the minds of the masses that they revel in being repressed!
On this Fourth of July, I believe we all need to struggle with at least one or two people on the sharp contradictions of this holiday. Let the injustices of this backwards system speak loudly as clear evidence that this present system must be wiped from the face of this earth. It is absolutely impossible to ignore the grievous damage done by this country to its own people and the human family worldwide.
This Fourth of July is a day of reflection and a time to honor all of our fellow prisoners who died within these walls. The prison agents of the state have free reign in how they choose who lives and who dies. Just because one of my fellow prisoners chooses to defend himself from an onslaught of violence from the prison agents, that means he must sip the deadly cocktail of army style boots against the skull, black gloved hands against unprotected flesh, MMA [Mixed Martial Arts, eds.] styled take down while he's restrained, or the cold steel of a prisoner's ice pick who has been commissioned to put in work.
Because most of my fellow prisoners' minds are wrapped around the wrong aspects of life, they fight and kill each other over the most fatuous of things and then blame it on the "principle of the matter." How many lives have been lost due to the asinine "principle of the matter"? Indeed, there are things that we must stand up for, but I've learned a very valuable lesson in dealing with people in general: we, those who are more intellectually enlightenedthink for those around us. Most people do not fully grasp the type of danger they place themselves in by doing idiotic things. So due to that fact, we must look past alot of their deeds based on their own ignorance and struggle with them to show and prove to them what's right. How many lives have been lost to the useless warfare against each other over government ran facilities and these wannabe hardcore prison agents? How many lives have to be lost before we decide to stand up together and say, "No More!"?
I absolutely love the stance my comrades-in-bars are taking out in Cali. I salute all of you revolutionary minded and disciplined men in respect, strength, and solidarity. You courageous men are the last of a dying breed in prison—peace to you all. This Fourth of July as we reflect on all of our fellow prisoners who died in this struggle, let us also reflect on what must be done to combat this deadly situation. Those deaths could have been prevented, things do not have to be this way.... The only foreseeable solution, wherein lies anyhope for change, is Revolution... Nothing Less!
The following is a piece of a letter written by Frederick Douglass to Gerrit Smith (the abolitionist) called, "No Progress Without Struggle! 1849." I believe this is a fitting close for this letter!
"Let me give you a word of the philosophy of reforms. The whole history of the progress of human liberty shows that all concessions, yet made to her august claims, have been born of earnest struggle. The conflict has been exiting, agitating, all-absorbing, and for the time being putting all other tumults to silence. It must do this or it does nothing. If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and never will."
... All power to the people, always and forever!
In Revolutionary Courage & Strength,
peace to all the comrades ready to ride!
You have requested that we submit something for the 4th of July. On the back is a poem that I just did for you and your cause. I am the author of the poem. Feel free to do whatever you choose to do with it. I hope that it helps your cause. Keep up the good work. And thank-you for the work you do for prisoners.
"A DAY TO FORGET" (NOT REMEMBER)_
A Celebration For A Country That Is Rooted In Violence,
The Truth About This Country Many Still Want To Hide It...
A Celebration For Some, A Nightmare For Others,
Memories Of What Was Done To Their Fathers And Mothers...
Never Before Recorded In The Pages Of History,
Kidnapped, Enslaved, And Beaten Is What Was Done To Me...
Segregated, Isolated, And Treated Unequal,
Locked Up For Minor Crimes, Over 2 Million People...
What To Me Is The 4th Of July?
When I Think Of All The Killings And All The Lost Lives...
Endless Wars, Drone Attacks, And Sexual Exploitation,
Poverty And Low Wages... Destroying A Generation...
What Is The 4th Of July To An American Prisoner?
A Day I Choose Not To Acknowledge Or Even Remember...
"Give Me Liberty Or Give Me Death," So Tired Of These Conditions,
Every Issue Of "REVOLUTION" Is Like My Declaration Of Independence.
The 4th Of July, A Day Of Sorrow And Regret,
A Day You Want To Remember, But For Me,
"A DAY TO FORGET" (NOT REMEMBER)
What to the Prisoner is Your Fourth of July?
I don't know what "Their" Fourth of July is to my fellow prisoners. But, to this prisoner and great-great-grandson of a slave (how can I call myself an African-American, when I don't see the same equality as other Americans?) "their" Fourth of July is a very blatant unapologetic lie!
"Their" Fourth of July shall remind me of the arrogance and ruthlessness they showed in forming this so-called Republic. As it shall remind me that "their" amber waves of grain was fertilized and irrigated with my ancestors' blood, sweat, and tears!
"Their" Fourth of July, shall remind me that when the "Founding Fathers" declared that all Men are created equal, that they're endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness: That they hold these truths to be self-evident; they were not thinking of my ancestors as Men, nor humans, for that matter!
"Their" Fourth of July, shall remind me that when Rev. Samuel Francis Smith penned, "My country, 'tis of thee, Sweet land of liberty," he was, definitely, not including my ancestors!
"Their" Fourth of July, shall remind me of the double standards, and different interpretations of the Laws for certain "caste" of individuals that live in America nowadays!
Now on this Fourth of July, as I sit in my High Security Cell, I shall feel the lashes on my back from long ago; the heartbreak of the families that were sent to different plantations. I shall feel the slave masters' violations of the slaves they raped; mentally, physically, and emotionally. I shall feel the grip of death, just as Ramarley Graham, David Sal Silva, Terry Laffitte, Trayvon Martin, and many others did at the hands of the "so-called good Americans." I shall feel the desperation, but, also, the determination of all the women who are fighting those who are trying to oppress and repress them!
So, as this Fourth of July reminds me that the more things change, the more they remain the same. I shall contemplate on the fact that I was born in America, but never truly treated as American. And wonder if I should take pride in being a bad, un-American person of color?
Oh, one more thing this Fourth of July shall remind me of—Revolution—nothing less!
In The Struggle!
"What To The Prisoner Is Your Fourth of July?"
To me it is a ready made plate of illusory freedom served to us that we are coerced into accepting.
The 4th of July is yet another facade of illegitimacy that the system perpetuates by alleging it is built of freedom and liberty for all. When is actually it is a capitalist machine of exploitation, assassination, control, imperialism and mass incarceration.
The 4th of July popping of fireworks sounds like a totalitarian hand slapping the face of a slave. While their celebrative clacking of champagne glasses sound like the clinking of our shackles and handcuffs closing around our lives.
So as I sit here in prison I think the 4th of July isn't so much a celebration "for us" as it is "of us"... of us being exploited, led to believe a huge fallacy and of our slow demise.
...I wanted to quickly answer the call made to prisoners in Revolution asking, "What to the Prisoner is Your Fourth of July?" The height of hypocrisy is on display every 4th of July and it's important for all to know that the birth of this nation is nothing to celebrate. To celebrate the 4th of July is to celebrate the freedom of white settlers to massacre indigenous people and steal their land further west. It means celebrating the freedom of slaveowners to expand the slave system beyond the thirteen colonies. It means celebrating the freedom of Manifest Destiny advocates to wage war and steal half of Mexico. And it means celebrating the freedom of capitalist-imperialists to viciously exploit and violently oppress people the world over ever since. Objectively, that is the freedom that is being celebrated. Across the country people will defy all logic and express their gratitude to soldiers for the sacrifices they make to protect "our freedom." It doesn't matter that these troops are actually waging imperialist wars in order to DENY freedom in the countries they bomb, invade, and occupy, or that the only real threat to our freedom is here in this country and is posed by our own government. I like to tell people that in order to be patriotic in this country you have to be either a white supremacist or completely ignorant of its history. For anyone who approaches a study of history and current events with an open mind, who honestly pursues the truth no matter where it will lead, Frederick Douglass's words will ring as true today as they did in 1852 and they "will say with me, that, for revolting barbarity and shameless hypocrisy, America reigns without a rival."
Thanks again to you, all the PRLF volunteers, and all your donors for the very important work that you do. You're changing lives that will help you change the world. Keep up the great work. I hope to hear from you soon.
i seen your call for thoughts on July 4th so i thought i would send you this short writing on thoughts i had on the subject, i hope they help in some small way...
The day of genocide unleashed on the oppressed that remains hanging around our necks like a heavy chain dripping in blood, this is the Amerikkkan holiday of July 4th.
A day that celebrates colonialism and its tentacles, that have sucked the life force of so many on this continent and around the world, from that first day of tragedy.
The oppressors holiday which seeks to uphold white supremacy through its jingoistic spirit and well heeled vestiges, candy coating exported horror and internal oppression is this Imperial cookout.
The tombs that hold the poor in cells, Padded in concrete see not the fireworks that sear societies hearts and minds with illusions of grandeur on this day of mourning.
Torture centers have captured thousands who continue to resist the colonizers holiday who are isolated until we surrender, until we become numb, until we expire or until we transform because of this day of Contact.
I stare at the off white wall in front of my torture cell and i listen to extreme silence, i look for a window or shaft of light and none exist and once more i grasp how foul is the Fourth of July to the prisoner.
Revolution #308 June 30, 2013
The Battle to Save Beatriz's Life:
June 27, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
The horror for women in countries where abortion has been criminalized in all circumstances has been forced into the light of day by the fight for the life of a woman in El Salvador, known only as "Beatriz." Her appeal to the country's Supreme Court to have a potentially life-saving abortion was denied on May 29. Beatriz suffers from lupus, a very serious, chronic immune disease, as well as kidney disease. Her illness was being aggravated by a five-month-old deformed fetus developing with only a brain stem and no brain, and virtually no chance of survival beyond a few days after birth.
As if mocking the humanity of this woman, the court's ruling stated that "the rights of the mother cannot be privileged over those" of the fetus.
A woman in El Salvador aborting a fetus faces eight years in jail; and some courts have added an additional 30 years by charging first-degree murder. Doctors performing abortions also face imprisonment. In a country of six million people, fewer than in Los Angeles County, 628 Salvadoran women have been imprisoned for abortion since 1998, when the total ban on abortion was made the law of the land. And nearly 60 pregnant women have died in El Salvador since 2012, many of whom could have been saved by therapeutic abortions, according to Salvadoran rights groups.
A battle raged for months in support of Beatriz by women's organizations and other groups within El Salvador, as well as internationally. Following the court's ruling protesters marched on the Supreme Court demanding a change in the ruling; and in the law. A woman representing a Salvadoran women's group fighting for changes in the abortion laws said; "This is a form of torture that she is going through." Beatriz's lawyer called the decision "misogynistic." He said, "Justice here does not respect the rights of women."
There was an international outcry as well, by women's organizations fighting against the criminalization of abortion; Amnesty International called the court's ruling "cruel and callous." The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in April called for the government of El Salvador to protect the "integrity and health" of Beatriz.
Apparently seeing no other way out, Beatriz' medical team performed a premature cesarean section of the 27-week-old fetus on June 3. The baby had an incomplete skull and brain and died within hours. Following the operation Beatriz was in stable condition, in intensive care.
Since 1998, El Salvador has banned abortion under any circumstances, including to save the life of the woman. The Catholic Church, from the Vatican down, has played an aggressive role, and exerted powerful leverage on national policy in instituting this and similar laws throughout Latin America. In El Salvador in particular, the archbishop compared abortion to the Nazi genocide, and enthusiastically backed the total ban. And the church worked fiercely against the appeal by Beatriz and her medical staff for her right to an abortion.
In El Salvador and in most of the countries of Central America—and many other Latin American countries as well—the ban on abortion, under any conditions whatsoever, is now in place. Abortion was legalized in Mexico City in 2008, but since then over half of the states have passed initiatives banning abortion completely. It's been estimated that between 2003 and 2008, the annual number of abortions in Latin America was between 4.1 million and 4.4 million; and from 1995 to 2008, 95 percent of those abortions were considered to be unsafe.
The World Health Organization estimates that worldwide, 42 million abortions are performed each year; nearly half of them are illegal and unsafe. And unsafe abortions are the cause of about 47,000 deaths each year, or 13 percent of all pregnancy-related deaths. In West Africa abortion is responsible for one-third of maternal deaths. And in sub-Saharan Africa unsafe abortions account for as much as 50 percent of maternal deaths.
In the world today, the conditions women face are increasingly violent and degrading and horrific. And one cornerstone of that violence against women is in the way in which the criminalization of abortion is being institutionalized around the world.
Revolution #308 June 30, 2013
June 27, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Dennis Loo, Ph.D., a sociologist and author of Globalization and the Demolition of Society, made this challenge to teachers and professors in response to the Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign to launch the BA Everywhere Summer 2013: Making a Difference, Changing the World! This campaign will fund spreading the liberating vision and framework for a radically different world developed by the revolutionary leader Bob Avakian. At a time when people and the planet are in peril, when youth from Turkey to Brazil are raising their heads, this campaign is filling a great need. Imagine the difference it would make if people knew about and engaged a whole better way the world could be.
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Dear Friends at BA Everywhere:
I am a Professor of Sociology and chose this field in part because I wanted to more deeply understand the world and help others understand the world in order to change it. I know that there are many in the academic community who go into their fields for similar reasons and who can and should be donating to this Indiegogo fund drive.
I am putting up a $500 challenge to other teachers and professors to match my donation.
Here is why I am donating. Let me know why you chose to match this.
When the RCP began several years ago to promote BA as the cutting edge of what they do I was skeptical. How can one person be that important? Then I began to read his new synthesis. For those of us who aren't "feeding at the trough" and who instead want to see a different world than the horrors being played out before our very eyes now, his work and his role are frankly indispensable. I certainly am a different person because of his influence and in particular his breakthroughs on questions like the role of a vanguard party relative to the question of truth and how a party, while critical, does not by definition have a monopoly over truth. This is inextricably tied in with his views about the "wrangling" nature of genuine communists and Marxism—real revolutionaries are not afraid of debate and contention but welcome it because it is through that process that truth comes to be known. If you're wrong or partially wrong, you will find out if you engage in debate and discussion and if you're principled. Nobody has a monopoly over truth but this attitude of being always willing to wrangle over questions and this recognition of the complexity of reality and life—this is something terribly precious! Whether you agree with communism and communists or not, this spirit can only be something that you must welcome and want to foster.
Dennis Loo, Ph.D.
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Will you meet Dr. Loo's challenge and answer his call? If you want to make a big difference in whether there is going to be the possibility of really radical change, then, this is the campaign for you. Donate $500—or, more—to help the Indiegogo campaign reach the goal of $20,000 by the July 15 deadline to fund the summer project of BA Everywhere. To donate, go to http://igg.me/at/BAEverywhere-Summer2013
Revolution #308 June 30, 2013
June 27, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
From a young woman volunteering with BA Everywhere
When I first learned of Bob Avakian, I attended a listening and discussion at Revolution Books of the radio interview done by Cornel West in October 2012. There I bought a copy of BAsics, which is always recommended as a good book to begin with and a book everyone should have.
Reading that book began a process of transformation, in the sense that things that were once cloudy or seemed complex and that I didn't have a very clear understanding of, suddenly became very clear. I knew of many of these injustices and that masses of people have been and are being oppressed and exploited by the system of capitalism. But this book was able to show me in a basic but very clear sense, the roots of all of this injustice, and how it is ingrained in the makings of this system and that as long as we are living within this system, there is no way to reform it that can eliminate the suffering of one group in order to satisfy another, such as the prospering of big companies at the expense of child labor in other countries. And that for one to get to the top another must suffer in this system. It is a system and a country that was founded and built on a slave system core and continues to operate today by exploiting and oppressing people around the world for gain.
As I read on, there were certain sections that I actually felt like clouds were moving aside and a sunny blue sky was emerging. Things just became so clear and understandable. It was like when at the eye doctor and looking through the lens and trying to read a bunch of blurry letters, and the doctor keeps changing the lens, and each time the lens changes, your vision becomes so much clearer, and suddenly you're able to see and read what's in front of you, whereas before it was just fuzzy and confusing and you knew it wasn't right. And it's an experience that I've had quite a few times since reading more works from Bob Avakian. Also from seeing the film, BA Speaks: Revolution—Nothing Less! Bob Avakian Live, and since then attending events at Revolution Books where we view segments of the film and have group discussions that really get into dissecting what is being said.
More people really need to start engaging with these big questions and learn more about Bob Avakian and the new synthesis of communism. His vision and strategy needs to get out in the world and people need to know that there is a way out of these horrors that so many are subjected to. There is a way where people can live fully enriching and enjoyable lives full of art and creativity, celebration and community, culture and education, and that they can all do this together without the suffering of others. Humanity as the whole world, not divided, and that this can all be done without the oppression, exploitation, abuse and starvation of others. That there is enough for all and that no one should be denied access to basic human necessities.
I am volunteering with the BA Everywhere National Committee this summer and I believe so strongly in the possibility of bringing this vision into being that I am beginning the transition to moving to New York City to become more involved in really taking BA Everywhere. This summer we have such big and exciting plans for really getting the name and the strategy out to the world and getting people talking, but we need everyone's contribution to make this happen. We need more volunteers who see the incredible importance that this will have just alone by getting people engaging and changing the discussions in society, but then by consistently growing and engaging and spreading further and further around the country and the world. If you are someone who knows there is injustice in this world and a great deal of suffering. If one person prospering off of many others blood, sweat and tears just doesn't sit right with you, than you need to learn about BA. Donate to this campaign, ask your friends and family to donate, share it on Twitter and your other social media sites, blog about it, let's get the world talking! Too many people don't know yet.
There are many other ways you can contribute by linking up with the committee through email at BAEverywhere@gmail.com or by visiting revcom.us Your donations are needed to really get this out in the world, to cultural scenes, neighborhoods, both ghettos & resorts, b-ball courts, bbq's, rooftop parties, block parties, music & film festivals, art shows and more! And the importance cannot even be measured. So I am calling on everyone to Donate now and contribute to bringing into being a Radically Different and Better Future for All of Humanity.