Revolution #313, August 18, 2013 (revcom.us)

Voice of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA

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Revolution #313 August 18, 2013

Summer’s Still Here and the Time Is Right for...
Building the Movement for Revolution

August 18, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

As the summer opened, Revolution published an important editorial, “A Summer of Big Challenges and Intense Struggle.” Big challenges and intense struggle indeed! The world and this country have seen unexpected and momentous changes since that editorial was published. And everywhere that struggle, turmoil, and jolts in the everyday functioning of this global system of oppression break out, the big question is objectively posed: does the world need to be this way? The ruling classes of the world decree the answer is yes. In reality, the answer is hell, no! But in order for people to see and act on that, they have to know how the world could be, and what it will take to change things.


Promoting the film BA Speaks: Revolution–Nothing Less!, New York City, February 2013.

The key dynamic factor in this mix: going out with BA Everywhere. Because of Bob Avakian (BA) and the work he has done over several decades, there is a new synthesis of communism that has been brought forward—there really is a viable vision and strategy for a radically new, and much better, society and world, and there is the crucial leadership that is needed to carry forward the struggle toward that goal. Getting BA’s vision and project into all corners of society makes it possible for people to identify and get into the “big questions” concerning the direction of society and the world, and to be inspired to fight for fundamental change and the emancipation of humanity.

As the summer closes, millions in this country are still seething with anger and outrage over the travesty of the killer of Trayvon Martin walking free. The prisoners’ hunger strike against the torture of long-term solitary confinement enters its second month, and the prisoners face brutal retaliation from State of California authorities. The Abortion Rights Freedom Ride is taking on the attacks on the right to abortion in state after state.

And look at the world as a whole. In Egypt, in the wake of the military coup, millions have been drawn into struggle over what a revolution really is, and what kind of society people want to live in. The courageous revelations of NSA surveillance by Edward Snowden—that the U.S. government spies not only on every person in this country but billions throughout the world—have called into question why there is such ubiquitous monitoring of people across the planet and the nature of the system and those who rule over it. Look at the quickening pace of natural disasters, aggravated by capitalism’s insanely heedless destruction of the environment, that compels millions to question what is happening in the world. A case in point: 300 tons of radioactive water is being dumped out of Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant into the Pacific Ocean every day.

In all these realms of struggle and controversy, the big question is posed: what are people to make of these events... and what will be their response? There is a need and the potential at times like these for a dramatic change in how people see and interact with the world. But the reality of this system, and the need for revolution, nothing less, has to be taken to people, and people need to be struggled with to take this up—in their thinking and actions. These last weeks of summer are a time to step up efforts to influence and change the thinking of people all over society. This is a time to build and to join in struggle and resistance to all these outrages. And most important, this is a time to build the movement for revolution and accumulate forces for revolution.

As the Revolutionary Communist Party’s “On the Strategy for Revolution” says: “For those who have hungered for, who have dreamed of, a whole different world, without the madness and torment of what this system brings every day...those who have dared to hope that such a world could be possible...and even those who, up to now, would like to see this, but have accepted that this could never happen...there is a place and a role, a need and a means, for thousands now and ultimately millions to contribute to building this movement for revolution, in many different ways, big and small—with ideas and with practical involvement, with support, and with questions and criticisms. Get together with our Party, learn more about this movement and become a part of it as you learn, acting in unity with others in this country, and throughout the world, aiming for the very challenging but tremendously inspiring and liberating—and, yes, possible—goal of emancipating all of humanity through revolution and advancing to a communist world, free of exploitation and oppression.”

Key Fronts in Building a Movement for Revolution

Near the beginning of BA’s epic speech, REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS!, he repeatedly poses the question around the murder of Black and Latino youths by the police: how long must this go on? And this question continues to sound a deep chord, as one outrage after another goes on: the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s murderer; the murder of Oscar Grant by the transit police in Oakland, as shown in the important movie Fruitvale Station; and just this week the dismissal of all charges against the cop who killed Ramarley Graham in his own home in the Bronx, NY, as well as the police Taser murder of Israel Hernández-Llach, an 18-year-old graffiti artist in Miami—after which the police reportedly high-fived one another! The pain and anger and questioning in the wake of these outrages is still very close to the surface and people are open to hearing (and reading) a compelling analysis linking all this to the system we live under and to the need for revolution. People are often ready to act in response to these outrages; and they are ready to come closer to and get with the movement for revolution.


Support for California Prisoners' Hunger Strike against the
torture of solitary confinement, Los Angeles, August 1, 2013.

At the same time, there is the crucially important—and heroic—prisoners’ hunger strike against the torture of long-term solitary confinement, focused right now in California, which requires a leap in support from “the outside”—from those who day to day suffer from the New Jim Crow to professionals, academics, and artists to students and others who are now learning of the atrocities committed in their name. Here the key link is bringing what is posted at revcom.us and in this current issue of Revolution to broad swaths of people across society. Take note, in particular, of the message from the Los Angeles Branch of the RCP, USA, “What Is Actually Revealed by the California Prisoners Hunger Strike?” and the article in this issue from BA, “More on Choices... and Radical Changes.” These pieces speak to the questions holding back people on the outside from standing with the prisoners. The ways must be and can be found—on the basis of engaging with what is being said in these articles—to bring more people into motion in support of these prisoners. And we call on the prisoners themselves to spread Revolution within the walls of the dungeons as well.


The Abortion Rights Freedom Ride, Chicago, August 2013.

The Abortion Rights Freedom Ride is now heading into its home stretch—through the South and into Mississippi. This ride is taking up an uncompromising fight for abortion rights straight up in the face of those who would deny women these rights. Forced motherhood is female enslavement. And revolutionaries need to maximize the impact on all of society of this path-breaking Freedom Ride. People everywhere can read and hear about what they are doing, and spread the news of this pathbreaking Freedom Ride by going to revcom.us and the StopPatriarchy.org blog.

This summer is witnessing a movement across the country of people who are protesting the destruction of the environment—with a focus on stopping the Keystone Pipeline which, if approved, would increase by 830,000 barrels a day the flow of tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada, to the U.S. Gulf Coast—causing great harm to the environment and posing even greater dangers if something goes wrong. As this movement unfolds, people need to be going out to where people are in struggle, joining with them, and bringing them both “State of Emergency! The Plunder of Our Planet, The Environmental Catastrophe & The Real Revolutionary Solution” (available as a printable pamphlet at revcom.us) and BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! We also encourage readers to broadly distribute “Four Points for Bill McKibben,” by Raymond Lotta.

Preparing Minds, and Organizing Forces, for Revolution—Nothing Less

Showings, on the spot, of at least the first hour of BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! Bob Avakian Live should bring out questions people have and an understanding of this society in a way that nothing else can—and get them into the journey that BA takes us on. Aim to show this film to large groups of people, wherever they congregate or wherever a crowd can be gathered. Show the film at community centers, libraries, and other venues. Organize weekly showings and discussions of the film’s chapters. Donations, on the spot and after a showing, give people a way to participate in making revolution. Invite people to join in and support the van tours in all the ways they can. During the first round of these tours, a number of people joined—becoming part of the tour must multiply. And don’t fail to organize showings after the tour leaves. These must be seeded and put in place, as well as finding the ways to continue to connect with people in the areas where the tour impacts.

When we get BA out everywhere, we expose people to the only real alternative to this capitalist-imperialist system—the vision and plan for a whole new structure of society that can enable people to do away with all oppressive institutions and ideas, and the exploitation at their root.

Two key documents for building the movement for revolution now: the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal), from the RCP, which brings BA’s new synthesis of communism to life in living color; and the RCP, USA’s “On the Strategy for Revolution,” which breaks down how revolution is possible in the USA.

And we need to take full advantage of important articles in Revolution that not only expose the nature of this system, but help people learn to understand and act on reality. In that vein, the article “Millions of People CAN Be Wrong: The Coup in Egypt Is Not a People’s Revolution” can play a particularly valuable role.

The website revcom.us is both the collective educator and the collective organizer for the movement for revolution. Get that URL—revcom.us—out everywhere, from social media to sidewalk chalking. In the next few weeks, new promotional materials will be up at the site. And sign people up, right now and in an ongoing way, as financial sustainers so revcom.us can continue to function, and the print edition—Revolution—can continue.

Write to revcom.us/Revolution at revolution.reports@yahoo.com. Tell us what you are learning, what questions you have and are wrestling with, what you are thinking, what you are doing. This is an important part of building the movement for revolution.

In short, these last few weeks of summer must be a time where we persevere in going very boldly into society on these key concentrations of social contradictions and making a major impact on how people are thinking, and what they are doing.

 


 

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Revolution #313 August 18, 2013

BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! Van Tours Hit the Streets

August 18, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

The BA Speaks: Revolution—Nothing Less! Van Tours hit the streets in New York and Chicago starting Monday, August 12, 2013; and then in Los Angeles and San Francisco the following week. Volunteers of all ages and different nationalities will be going out for a week, or for a day, in vans with striking revolutionary decorations, bringing to people that there is a way out of the madness and vicious brutality that this system and country rains down on the people here and around the world.

Van Tour, Oakland, California

The centerpiece of the tours will be showing the film BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! Bob Avakian Live, a daring and deep talk by the revolutionary leader Bob Avakian that pulls no punches. BA digs into the horrors people endure, the criminal nature of this system, the ways people are systematically lied to, miseducated, and offered false consolation and worse through religion—a talk that lays bare the source of the problems people face and, most important—-the solution—a vision of a whole new society organized in a radically new way aiming at the emancipation of all humanity. BA lays out a pathbreaking strategy to get to this new society through building a movement for revolution now.

Donation Box made by Supporter

Donation box made by a supporter. Special to Revolution

At a moment when the world is churning with big and serious questions, the Revolution—Nothing Less! Van Tours will be bringing serious, unprecedented answers. In the wake of the not guilty verdict in the trial of the murderer of Trayvon Martin there are millions of people wrestling with why does this country keep gunning down Black youth and locking up millions of Black and Latino people. At this moment, across the country, people are arguing about why it is that the basic right of a woman to be able to get an abortion, to be able to decide when and if she has a child, is being stripped away here and around the world. People are agonizing over why is the planet being destroyed while the powers that be do nothing. If you have a basic sense of right and wrong, you should ask: why is the Obama administration continuing to send remote control drones to kill people—including innocent children—across the globe? And why does his administration continue to spy on everyone in the U.S.? The question is posed: what kind of world is it where there is so much wealth and yet billions of people starve and die of easily preventable disease? And, the biggest, most fundamental question that needs to be grappled with is this: is there another way the world could be organized and is it possible? This is not often posed because for decades those who rule this society and dominate the media and the educational system have ruled it out of order and impossible. But that is not true. The BA Everywhere campaign and the summer van tours are breaking that silence.

Bob Avakian has developed a scientific methodology to go to work on the fundamental questions of problem and solution. He has forged answers and a road forward for humanity. Over the last several decades BA has worked to sum up the positive and negative experience of the communist revolution so far and, drawing from a broad range of human experience, BA has developed a new synthesis of communism that is a viable vision and strategy for a radically new, and much better, society and world, and provides the crucial leadership that is needed to carry forward the struggle toward that goal. (See more information on BA's new synthesis of communism.)

At this moment of great turmoil and questioning, when people are raising their heads with fresh eyes to see the harsh reality we live, bringing BA and what he has brought forward can shake up previously held assumptions—rupturing people out of thinking that there is no other way the world could be. Meeting BA through the van tours, having an opportunity to see BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! Bob Avakian Live or dig into a copy of BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian, the handbook for revolution for this time and place in history, opens up new possibilities—not just for the people met on the tour—but for the future of humanity and the planet. The tours need to have real impact everywhere they go. More, the Van Tours will give people a way to contribute to bringing this future into being through being a part of a multifaceted fundraising campaign so that everywhere people know about BA and the movement for revolution he leads. This is no small matter—it is the leading edge of putting revolution back on the agenda when it is so urgently needed.

If you have a conscience and can't stomach any longer the outrages of this society, if you want to contribute to bringing a new, far better world into being, if you are feeling that without really radical change that gets at the root of the problems people face then all the oppression will just go on and on, then this is the campaign for you.

It is not too late to volunteer for a day or two or longer, it is not too late to contribute food, housing, and funds to make the tour possible. It is time to make a difference and get involved. Contact Revolution Books or the BA Everywhere Committee in your area for ways to connect. And, follow the campaign on line at http://revcom.us/movement-for-revolution/BAE/.

 

Van Tours Dates and Info

New York: Monday, August 12- Sunday, August 18

New York BA Everywhere Committee: 347-835-8656 •  BAEverywhereNYC@yahoo.com
Revolution Books: 212-691-3345 • revbooksnyc@yahoo.com

Chicago: Monday August 12- Sunday August 18

Chicago BA Everywhere Committee: 312-860-8167 •  baeverywhereinchicago@gmail.com
Revolution Books - Chicago: 773-489-0930 • revbookschi@yahoo.com

Los Angeles: Friday, August 16—Friday, August 23

Launch event, Thursday, August 15 at Revolution Books; also food and donations collecting points in neighborhoods

Los Angeles BA Everywhere Committee: 213-304-9864 • baeverywhere_la1@yahoo.com
Revolution Books - Los Angeles, 323-463-3500 •  revolutionbooksla@gmail.com

San Francisco Bay Area: Sunday, August 18 - Saturday, August 24

San Francisco BA Everywhere: sfbaeverywhere@hotmail.com
Berkeley Revolution Books: 510-848-1196 • revolutionbooks@sbcglobal.net

 


 

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Revolution #313 August 18, 2013

Showing BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! at a Barbershop

August 18, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

From a reader:

Photo: Special to Revolution

A few days ago, a barber hosted a showing of BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! Bob Avakian Live in front of the barbershop he works in. Off the back of a pickup truck, we played the film in the early evening on a flat-screen TV. A couple of his friends gathered round to watch, while some others came around for parts of it. People inside the shops were listening.

The main crew who stayed to watch it were Black men in their 40s. As they watched, they responded out loud about the rampant police murders and blatant lies used to justify these murders. We started with a planned shorter clip, but they wanted to keep watching so we watched the first 35 minutes together and then stopped to talk. The initial response from two of the people was that Bob Avakian is speaking to what's real, that everything he said was true. One guy said, "What can I say—he just said it all." The discussion quickly turned to violence among the youth and how to deal with a situation where so many are caught up in gangs and it is so difficult for them to get out of it, including because of the older guys in the gang who tell them what to do and don't want to let them out of it. We talked about the violence of this system, how it operates and what it brings down on people and also how it shapes people's lives and choices.

Photo: Special to Revolution

They wrestled more with how to be able to affect the youth and we showed the 13-minute clip from the end of the first disc, "The Revolutionary Potential of Those Most Oppressed Requires Scientific Leadership." This had a big impact on them (and on a woman nearby who heard some of it and came back a short while later to buy BAsics). One had earlier said, "We are fighting the system and we are fighting the gangs," but after watching this he said, "People have to get into the fight [against this system] to be able to start changing themselves—that point I got from watching this." We talked with them about the prisoners' hunger strike to stop torture and Gregory Koger in Chicago—a young revolutionary who had been caught up in the street life, was tortured with solitary confinement for several years, became a revolutionary in those conditions through reading revolutionary literature, and now is being targeted by this system for becoming an emancipator of humanity. They were very moved by hearing about both of these things. We walked through the pages of Revolution newspaper and the men got a sense of what the movement for revolution looks like, how people are building this across the country in ways big and small, and how it is something they too are part of. They got a vision of this and of their role in connecting people up with BA, especially youth. Together we decided to do weekly screenings in front of those barbershops, with a larger screening when the van tour comes through. The barber is making a flier so they can get the word out broadly. We went through the vision, plan, and needs for the van tour and one of them said, "I'm glad you told us what's happening so now we know what we can do."

Photo: Special to Revolution

A few lessons from this experience: 1) we hadn't done an introduction to BA at the beginning; early in the film they started to break out in conversation instead of continuing to dig into what BA was saying, so we stopped the film and told them who he is, the leadership he's providing, and it made a very big difference in terms of how seriously they engaged; 2) through this engagement, and the discussion we had, they were able to connect into a different framework of the problem and solution and see a pathway for real change; 3) following what BA says about the role of Revolution newspaper in people seeing themselves in this movement for revolution and how what they do makes a difference, was very important in how we used the paper and the effect it had on them; and 4) people need to be given a way into building the movement for revolution, not just for a one-time thing and then get back to them later, but in a way that is sustained and taking up more responsibility so that we are actually accumulating forces for revolution.

 

 


 

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Revolution #313 August 18, 2013

Millions of People CAN Be Wrong: The Coup in Egypt Is Not a People's Revolution

August 2, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Editors' Note: A number of readers have responded and commented on our article "On the Coup in Egypt: Strengthening Imperialism, Not the People."

One Egyptian reader wrote:

Your article has it all wrong. This was not a coup as the U.S. media would make you believe. This was a truly popular action that encompassed essentially ALL Egyptians rising up all-at-once against the Muslim Brotherhood (MB). The Army simply joined in when they saw the massive and undeniable hatred the general population has for the MB. The Army stepped in when it became clear that the two sides would essentially tear each other to pieces and destroy Egypt in the process.

And that writer argued:

Your article is just parroting the same old disdain for the military complex (which normally I would agree with) BUT this time in Egypt, believe it or not this was a great and truly popular REVOLUTION against a growing Fascist and irresponsible mafia of men who use religion to manipulate the masses for their own personal and organizational gain. The MB never had the interests of the nation or the people (many of whom are minorities), at heart. They even admitted long ago that they would use "democracy" only once—to assume power—and that once in power, they would dismantle the very "democracy" that got them there.

And:

The irony in your coverage is that you actually play into the hands of the Imperialist game by completely ignoring the fact that this was the biggest political protest in the history of mankind (BBC quote) that had over 33 million people on the streets chanting for Morsi to LEAVE. In fact, you and your article have simply toed the line on the CNN line that it was a coup—effectively denying to the world that this was people power—not military power—that made them fall. The US media has never and will never empower the people that way—ironically neither does your article.

This reader's letter also argued that the U.S. was invested in the Muslim Brotherhood, and that "it was the people of Egypt that did it on their own—and would have done it on their own, with or without the Army."

Below is a response to these arguments, written by another reader to whom we forwarded the letter. We look forward to a continuing dialog and debate on the critical questions involved in understanding and acting on recent events in Egypt.

***

This Revolution article you refer to states the truth with regard to the actual reality of what is happening in Egypt. It does not skew things for any political ends; it does not further illusions, deceptions, and self-deceptions that seem so commonplace today. Recent events and revelations only further prove and reinforce that this was a coup by the military—"a sudden and decisive action in politics resulting in change of government illegally or by force." What is unfolding in Egypt is not a people's revolution.

Yes, to be crystal clear, Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood represent a reactionary force, oppressive to whole sections of people, especially women—and not operating out of any fundamentally liberating or even anti-imperialist framework. But does this justify the slaughter by the U.S.-backed military—and the liberal democratic secular forces it has unleashed in support of its actions?

NO!

What Millions of Egyptians Think Does Not Define Reality

There is a profoundly problematical—and wrong and harmful—underlying assumption and mode of thinking in this letter. The assumption and argument is that because the masses in their millions are acting, whatever they are doing must be righteous, just, and ultimately in their interests. Millions may think it is a popular revolution, but objective reality is that it was a coup, engineered by and serving the military, with the blessing of the U.S. ("Mother America"). Among the millions out in the streets, there were demonstrated assertions that the army is "with" the people, joining the people, as you state in your letter, "when they saw the massive and undeniable hatred the general population has for the MB [Muslim Brotherhood]."

This is a particular and concentrated form of populist epistemology (epistemology: the philosophy of what is truth, how do you get to it) that what people think defines reality. (This populist epistemology is an approach where truth is determined by what people think, that is, on public opinion. It does not apply science to understand objective reality in its underlying workings and dynamics; it does not challenge, refute, and transform people's false ideas and ways of thinking that are out of sync with objective reality; and therein ultimately leaves the world "as is").

Masses of people—including in their millions—can be, and in this case are, confused, misled, and profoundly wrong.

Behind the Coup

There were millions on the street unhappy with Morsi and chanting for him to leave, but who and what engineered it, organized and unleashed it, and to what ends?

Recent events and revelations demonstrate that the opposition—meaning those who were opposed to the Morsi Islamic fundamentalist regime and supported the Egyptian military—and the military were working together, with a convergence of interests, to unseat Morsi.

The Wall Street Journal reported: "In the months before the military ousted President Mohammed Morsi, Egypt's top generals met regularly with opposition leaders, often at the Navy Officers' Club nestled on the Nile. The message: If the opposition could put enough protestors in the streets, the military would step in—and forcibly remove the president.

"By June 30, millions of Egyptians took to the streets, calling for Morsi to go. Three days later, the military unseated him." (July 19, 2013)

I want to note that it is not the case that the U.S.—even with its influence over both the Brotherhood and the army—initiated, maneuvered, and controlled every step of the process. However, what has become increasingly clear is that the U.S. decisively stepped in at critical moments. For instance, the New York Times published an account indicating that in Morsi's last hours as the president, he was offered a deal via an Arab foreign minister, who was acting as emissary of Washington, to end the standoff with the country's top generals by effectively relinquishing power through accepting a new prime minister and cabinet that would take over all legislative powers. Reportedly, Morsi refused.

This was communicated by his top foreign policy advisor, Essam el-Haddad, who spoke with Anne Patterson, the U.S. ambassador, and Susan Rice, the U.S. national security advisor. According to the NY Times account, after the phone call el-Haddad reported, "'Mother just told us that we will stop playing in one hour' an [Morsi] aide texted an associate, playing on a sarcastic Egyptian expression for the country's Western patron, 'Mother America.'" (July 6, 2013)

The military takeover that unseated Morsi then began.

This flies in the face of the popular myth and mass self-deception on the nature of what happened—that the army merely stepped in to carry out and fulfill the people's spontaneously expressed will, and as expressed and concentrated in your statement that "The Army simply joined in when they saw the massive and undeniable hatred the general population has for the Muslim Brotherhood. The Army stepped in when it became clear that the two sides would essentially tear each other to pieces and destroy Egypt in the process."

What Does It Mean to Empower the People?

You talk glowingly of "empowering" the people. The more fundamental question is: millions "empowered" to do what? What are the interests being served by any particular "empowerment" of the people? Are they being empowered to consciously fight for the fundamental interests and liberation of the people—or serving and strengthening another reactionary pole?

It is also not true that "This was a truly popular action that encompassed essentially ALL Egyptians rising up all-at-once against the Muslim Brotherhood." What about the supporters of the Brotherhood—are they not Egyptians? What about those getting slaughtered by the Army now for opposing the coup—are they not Egyptians?

U.S. Interests and the Egyptian Military

The army concentrates the monopoly of legitimate armed force—and is the main pillar and enforcer of a reactionary and oppressive state. The Egyptian state is the guardian of property rights and an economic structure based on exploitation and subordination to imperialism. And while it is not the focus of my response to your letter, a critical element of that has been collaborating with Israel to violently oppress the Palestinian people—including helping enforce the horrific blockade of Gaza. The Egyptian military stands fundamentally opposed and antagonistic to the interests of the people. Try fighting for a genuinely emancipatory revolution which breaks free of imperialist and oppressive political, economic, and social relations—and this becomes sharply and dangerously clear.

There is an irony that while millions—including yourself—clearly see U.S. interests as fundamentally antithetical to the interests of the Egyptian people and masses of people around the world, somehow that does not apply to an Egyptian military that has historically been built up and funded by the U.S.—to the tune of more than $1 billion annually (which does not include secret aid), second only to Israel. As is becoming increasingly clear, the hand and control of the U.S.-backed military is being strengthened.

People are being unleashed for very reactionary ends—to strengthen a reactionary Egyptian military and to commit massacres against the supporters of the Brotherhood. Does stating this truth deny the millions of people "empowerment" or "agency," as some might put it? No, it reveals the underlying content of this agency, the content of this empowerment, who and what guiding framework and goals are objectively leading this—and brings into sharp relief the need for a radically different type of leadership, of conscious, revolutionary and communist, leadership that is guided by the method and goals of genuine emancipation.

What Is Needed

Which brings me to my final point.

What is needed is to bring forward another way—in opposition to the McWorld vs. Jihad dynamic that dominates much of the world now, including in Egypt. Calls for democracy merely channel back into one of these reactionary alternatives—and fundamentally do not and cannot escape the imperialist framework and relations which dominate Egypt.

Because of the work of Bob Avakian, that radically different alternative—in its re-envisioned socialism, and its overall method and approach to social reality and its transformation—does exist. In opposition to McWorld/Jihad, what is sorely needed is raising people's sights to this far better world that is necessary, desirable, and viable—and from that standpoint and framework for a new stage of communist revolution, people in Egypt engaging and wrangling with this, taking it up, and struggling through to forge leadership that in the midst of mass upheaval and upsurges can lead the millions on a conscious scientific basis to realize this through a genuine revolution—one that does not leave the reactionary state and army, exploitative economy, imperialist relations, and oppressive social relations intact, but that replaces them with a genuine socialist society, a new economy and political system with liberating social relations, all aiming for a communist world.

This is what is sorely needed. What we do not need is euphoria which fosters and chases after dangerous illusions.

 


 

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Revolution #313 August 18, 2013

Debating: "A Question Sharply Posed: Nat Turner or Thomas Jefferson?"

August 4, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

 

Some months ago, a reader of Revolution newspaper received the following comment from a professor to a piece by Bob Avakian, “A Question Sharply Posed: Nat Turner or Thomas Jefferson?”  We are reprinting here the comment and a reply to it.

 

Comment:

I seldom reply, am in the trenches as are you... but as you know, and I've spoken clearly, I have dedicated my life to battling oppression and working tirelessly as are we all against the machinery of globalization, unbridled capitalism and oppression everywhere.

In our world of Liberation Arts, we have been defining oppressive rhetoric as binaries—either/or.  George W. Bush used to tell us you're "either with us or with the terrorists."  Hideous.

My question for you is, how is Bob Avakian any different?  "You're either with Nat Turner, or with Thomas Jefferson"...really?

I choose option three: neither, completely, and both, partially.

Jefferson was a slave owner, that is indisputable.

Is that all he was?

Turner was a liberator.  Was that all he was?

Blessings for all the tireless work you do; once again, though, I find myself reminded again and again why I am not a fan of Bob Avakian.

 

Reply:

The problem with this is that in the actual world we live in—full of exploitation, mass immiseration, unnecessary suffering, and tremendous destruction of the natural environment—there is no “option three” and to attempt to find one will keep this world, with all these antagonistic divisions and institutionalized oppression, intact.

To illustrate how this is so, let's walk through an historical hypothesis.  Taking this professor’s logic, and putting yourself back into history: what would you have done if the slaves marched up to Monticello—the house on Jefferson’s plantation—saying they were going to burn it down and kill every white person inside?

Would you seek to forcibly prevent them from rising up until you could put certain conditions on their struggle?  Would you have pleaded with them to put their arms down and go back to the plantations and brutal working conditions until they promised their rebellion would contain no excesses?  Think what this would have meant.  On Southern plantations, including Jefferson’s famed Monticello, the whip was used with great brutality at any sign of disobedience, let alone rebellion.  Children as young as 10 years old were whipped for missing a day of hard labor in the nail factory which generated great wealth for Jefferson.  Can you imagine what the response would have been to outright rebellion?  This would have meant tremendous punishment and brutality to prevent the slaves from ever even considering this kind of rebellion again.  Power would have stayed in the hands of the slave masters, and it would have meant even harsher conditions for hundreds of men, women, and children destined to a life of heart-rending brutality, families broken apart, and backbreaking labor—from “can’t see in the morning til can’t see at night.”

Would you have argued that the slaves should not be so “binary,” that perhaps there was a way to negotiate, to find a third way between slaves and slave masters?  This would be like saying to the slaves to go back and remain slaves until I can convince your master to change his mind.  With Jefferson himself, there was actually more than one person who asked him to change his mind and give his slaves—the human beings he owned—their freedom.  But he refused.  In addition to the great amount of wealth his slaves and their labor yielded, he dreaded the reaction of his fellow slave owners, and the implications that setting his own slaves free would have on the institution of slavery.

But even more than that, you could not have put an end to the economic system of slavery—an essential foundation of this country—by changing all the minds of the slave masters who sat atop it.  It took a civil war to do that.  A civil war which dismantled the slave system, stripped the slave owners of their property and freed the hundreds of thousands of Black people held in slavery.  (And even then, not long after the slave system was officially ended, because of the needs of American capitalism at that time, many tens of thousands of Black people were held in new forms of slavery through the use of convict labor and the brutal sharecropping system.)

To go back to the historical question posed here, your only other option would have been to stand with the slaves in their righteous rebellion demanding to be slaves no more and then, in that context, struggle together with them about how to fight better, about who should and should not be the target of their rebellion and how to fight to win.

As can be seen by walking this through, if you attempted to attenuate or ameliorate the objective contradiction between slaves and slave masters, regardless of your intentions, you would have ended up siding with the slave master.  Or if you used secondary contradictions in how the slaves were fighting to justify standing aside, you would have been standing aside from and been witness to great atrocity that you could have had a role in preventing. 

So here we are, back to what objectively in the real world is the either/or question, “a fundamental dividing line,” as Avakian puts it: “Nat Turner or Thomas Jefferson?  Slave rebellion or slave master? Do you support the oppressed rising up against the oppressive system and seeking a radically different way, even with certain errors and excesses—or do you support the oppressors, and the leaders and guardians of an outmoded oppressive order, who may talk about ‘inalienable rights’ but bring down wanton brutality and very real terror, on masses of people, to enforce and perpetuate their system of oppression?”

The Viewpoint of the Class in the Middle

The aspirations of the professor to find this nonexistent third way represents the outlook of a class in society which finds itself between the oppressor and oppressed classes.  This is the petite bourgeoisie who is suppressed and ruled over by the big bourgeoisie and yet does not experience the conditions of exploitation of the proletariat—the class who works only so long as their labor enriches the ruling class, who own not just the wealth but the means to make wealth (the large-scale factories, farms, mines, oil wells, manufacturing, etc. the world over).  The petite bourgeoisie is squeezed in between—either trying to improve their position while being suppressed in certain ways by the big accumulators of capital or attempting to rein in particular excesses of capitalism without questioning the fundamental foundation of the whole capitalist system.  

To understand this more deeply, I’ll quote Marx. who speaks to this powerfully:

    “...one must not form the narrow-minded notion that the petite bourgeoisie, on principle, wishes to enforce an egoistic class interest. Rather, it believes that the special conditions of its emancipation are the general conditions within the frame of which alone modern society can be saved and the class struggle avoided. Just as little must one imagine that the democratic representatives are indeed all shopkeepers or enthusiastic champions of shopkeepers. According to their education and their individual position they may be as far apart as heaven from earth. What makes them representatives of the petite bourgeoisie is the fact that in their minds they do not get beyond the limits which the latter do not get beyond in life, that they are consequently driven, theoretically, to the same problems and solutions to which material interest and social position drive the latter practically. This is, in general, the relationship between the political and literary representatives of a class and the class they represent....

“But the democrat, because he represents the petite bourgeoisie, that is, a transition class, in which the interests of two classes are simultaneously mutually blunted, imagines himself elevated above class antagonism generally. The democrats concede that a privileged class confronts them, but they, along with all the rest of the nation, form the people. What they represent is the people’s rights; what interests them is the people’s interests. Accordingly, when a struggle is impending, they do not need to examine the interests and positions of the different classes.” (quoted from Marx in Bob Avakian’s Phony Communism Is Dead... Long Live Real Communism! second edition, pp. 209-10)

This is a complex quote and Avakian has broken this down and wrangled with the materialism and dialectics of this in a number of places.  I won’t attempt here to speak to the many layers that BA has drawn out of this important quote.  But in response to the professor, there are two points I want to highlight:

Finally, it should be clear through all this why the professor is “not a fan of Bob Avakian.”  Exactly because of what Bob Avakian is about and sharply challenges others to be about: confronting the sharp edges of this nightmare system and “a real, really radical and thorough revolution, aiming for the ultimate goal of communism throughout the world and the emancipation of all humanity as a whole from thousands of years of tradition's chains, exploitative and oppressive relations and outmoded ideas.” (from "BA: A Contended Question”)

The exploitation and brutality that this professor is dedicating his life to battling cannot be ended within the confines of this system or by shying away from the sharpness of the contradictions bound up with this system.  We need a revolution, and in fighting for that revolution, the question is sharply posed:

“Do you stand with this oppressive system, or with the struggle to overthrow and uproot it, and bring into being a radically different, emancipating system and way of life?” (emphasis added)

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/313/continuing-fallout-over-snowdens-revelations-en.html

Revolution #313 August 18, 2013

Continuing Fallout over Snowden’s Revelations

What Does It Show When...?

August 18, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

In a world marked by profound class divisions and social inequality, to talk about “democracy”—without talking about the class nature of that democracy and which class it serves—is meaningless, and worse. So long as society is divided into classes, there can be no “democracy for all”: one class or another will rule, and it will uphold and promote that kind of democracy which serves its interests and goals. The question is: which class will rule and whether its rule, and its system of democracy, will serve the continuation, or the eventual abolition, of class divisions and the corresponding relations of exploitation, oppression and inequality.

—BAsics 1:22

What does it show when this government hunts down Edward Snowden for the crime of courageously exposing its illegal and utterly illegitimate practice of secretly spying on literally billions of people? What does it show when it threatens every other government of the world to prevent them from offering asylum? What does it show when the top “justice” official of this government feels compelled to offer assurances that they will not torture or execute Snowden if he is turned over—an assurance that indicates something about the very deserved reputation of the U.S. around the world? And what good are such assurances when Bradley Manning—a soldier on trial for essentially revealing war crimes—was subject to relentless torture and, indeed, received charges (which he beat) that could have carried the death penalty?

What does it mean when each new day seems to bring a new revelation of the depth and breadth of this spying? What does it mean when, with each new revelation, a new government lie is revealed? When it turns out that any mention of “forbidden words” in an email between someone in the U.S. and someone overseas will prompt a computer program to analyze and log your email? And when, for all we know, this could be applied way more broadly than that? When two email providers feel forced to close down their businesses rather than cooperate with what would be illegal and illegitimate government intrusions into the privacy of their customers—but can’t even say exactly why they are doing it for fear of prosecution? When U.S. senators who oppose this spying regime are forced to resort to all kinds of circumlocution and hints to tell people that there is some really bad shit going on that still hasn’t come to the surface?

It shows and it means that on any serious issue, the democratic facade covers over the machinery of dictatorship. THIS is what dictatorship looks like—and this, indeed, is what democracy, including U.S. democracy, “looks like”—the exercise of repressive force and threat in the service of capitalism-imperialism, covered over with a thin democratic veneer. This must be recognized for what it is, and fought without illusions.

 

* Legal disclaimer: "Torture" here is defined as anything the United States does not do, and conversely anything the United States does, including waterboarding, forced feeding of hunger strikers through nasal tubes, long-term solitary confinement in U.S. prisons, and the barbaric atrocities at Abu Ghraib are, by definition, not torture, not withstanding any international laws or treaties the United States is party to or has refused to sign. Furthermore, "murder" here is also defined as anything the United States does not do, and again, anything the United States does, including the execution of innocent people, the killing of over 200 children in drone attacks, and the deaths of millions around the world through coups, repression and war, is not murder.

 

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/312/what-is-actually-revealed-in-the-california-prisoner-hunger-strike-en.html

Revolution #313 August 18, 2013

What Is Actually Revealed in the California Prisoners Hunger Strike?

Responding to Jeffrey Beard's Los Angeles Times Op-ed

from the Revolutionary Communist Party, LA Branch | August 7, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Four weeks ago, 30,000 people in prisons in California and surrounding states went on a hunger strike to protest their conditions, in particular in Security Housing Units (called SHU's). Currently, there are hundreds still going without food, they are losing weight, being sent to the hospital and one has even died since this began.

In the Los Angeles Times for Tuesday, August 6, 2013, Jeffrey Beard, head of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), argued that this hunger strike is not about protesting living conditions that constitute torture, but is instead prison gangs attempting to “restore their ability to terrorize fellow prisoners, prison staff and communities throughout California.” He went on to defend the conditions of those in the SHU and argued this was not solitary confinement and therefore, not torture. 

His Op-ed is as vicious as it is deceitful and it is very calculatedly designed to make millions of people who might support those risking their lives on the hunger strike instead see the hunger strikers as animals, criminals and gangsters with an inexplicable “agenda of violence” who deserve whatever punishment they get.  And it's aimed at putting the imprisoned millions, their family members and those who've experienced incarceration feel isolated, alienated and put on the defensive.

But we should also take note of the fact that Beard has been driven to write this because of the hundreds who have expressed their determination to continue this hunger strike and because of the broad support these prisoners have garnered, including from voices of prominence.  People are raising big questions about the nature of America's prison system, and are linking it up to broader questions in society.  This is why Beard felt compelled to go on the attack.  While we should refute these lies, we should also take heart and redouble our efforts to expose what this system is doing and to have these prisoners' backs.

In Beard's op-ed, he plays on consciously crafted public opinion about “irredeemable criminals” we should be glad are locked away.  But the deeper reality is that it is this system that is criminal and without legitimacy.  It is this system that is committing crimes against humanity, torturing tens of thousands of people within its own borders and turning generation after generation of Black and Latino youth into suspects before they have even grown their full height.  It locks people into conditions where they are set against each other, blames them for reacting in ways this system trains them to react and then condemns them further when they put their lives on the line to rise above this and assert their humanity.

WHY Is This Happening?

Why has this kind of systematic torture become a necessary part of their program of mass incarceration?

Mass incarceration is not, as Beard would have you believe, a response to the explosion of gang violence in the 1970s and 80s. Mass incarceration is about the social control of whole sections of people this system has no future for. It developed as both conscious policy and the spontaneous workings of a system built on white supremacy, the oppression of Black people and other oppressed nationalities.

Revolution newspaper has written extensively about how the development of mass incarceration is a product of the workings of the system of capitalism in the U.S.... How and why this system went from slavery to Jim Crow with the violent enforcement of racial codes, white supremacy and new forms of slavery through convict labor and sharecropping. And how this gave rise to the New Jim Crow—police brutality, murder, criminalization and mass incarceration, legalized forms of discrimination but this time under the guise of supposed color-blindness. To find out more, go to revcom.us

In talking about the situation that gave rise to this New Jim Crow, a special issue of Revolution newspaper, “From the Hellholes of Incarceration to a Future of Emancipation” walks it through this way:

“Factories producing goods were moved first from the inner cities to the suburbs and then to other countries—while the masses of Black people remained locked in those urban cores due to continued housing segregation and deprivation. Simultaneously, the inner cities were deprived of funds and allowed to become economic and cultural dead-zones. The drug trade and the gangs involved in that trade to a certain degree arose spontaneously—but they were also systematically manipulated and in some cases promoted to fill the economic and political void left in the ghettos and barrios by economic abandonment and counter-revolutionary suppression of the movement. That escalated in the 1980s, as the CIA orchestrated the funding of pro-U.S. Central American terrorists (the “Contras”) through the sale and distribution of drugs through gangs in the inner cities of the U.S. (See “The CIA/Crack Connection: RW Interview with Gary Webb,” at revcom.us, and Dark Alliance: The CIA, the Contras, and the Crack Cocaine Explosion, by Gary Webb).

“The rulers used all this, along with other attacks, to create a 'pariah class*' in the inner cities—that is, social outsiders for whom normal considerations and rights did not apply. And they in turn used the presence of that pariah class as an outlet and target for the resentments building up among a large section of white people, many of whom were also facing economic setback and instability, re-fitting and reinforcing the 'tool' of white racism for these times.” [*The concept of the targeting of Black people and Native Americans as a “pariah class,” dating back to the early days of the U.S., and the overall way in which white supremacy has served to blunt class-consciousness in the U.S. since then, has been drawn on and further developed by Bob Avakian in the important work, Communism and Jeffersonian Democracy.]

Millions of people's eyes were opened to the mass criminalization of generations of youth with the murder of Trayvon Martin—a 17 year old Black youth who was walking home from the store when he was murdered by George Zimmerman.  There is only one reason Zimmerman saw Trayvon Martin as a dangerous threat to begin with, only one reason he followed this young man wearing a hoodie through a rainy night-–because George Zimmerman has been trained to view all Black youth as criminals and suspects above all else. And once again, this has been backed up and legalized by the state.

Along with the changes in the development of capitalism described above, this mass incarceration plays a role of counter-insurgency against a whole people this system has and continues to forcibly oppress and whose system has developed and made great use of white supremacy as part of its social glue.

The 1960s were a time of revolutionary upheaval with a Black liberation struggle that rocked this system to its foundations. This came together with revolutionary movements around the world, a revolutionary culture, challenging of traditional gender roles and other oppressed people's rising up all over the world. These struggles impacted all of society, including inside the prisons. Thousands of people went from “criminal-minded to revolutionary-minded.” While some reforms were forced from this system, it was also met with brutal and bloody repression. Revolutionaries in prison, like George Jackson, who went through this transformation were murdered while others faced more prison time for their revolutionary activities. In 1971, during the Attica prison rebellion, at least 39 people were murdered (prisoners and prison guards) by state troopers and the national guard.

Black people across the country—including in prison—met the support of people all around the world. While these were revolutionary times, there was not a revolution, and once those movements ebbed and were crushed, this system has forcibly maintained the forms of oppression and exploitation that it is built on, if in different forms. In relation to Black people, and other oppressed nationalities, they've done this principally through mass repression, incarceration and criminalization. Actually, some of the first prisoners in maximum security prisons and SHUs (Security Housing Units) were political prisoners, revolutionaries who went through transformations in their outlook and became determined not to be fighting against each other, but to be fighting for a better world.

This kind of mass criminalization requires dehumanization and degradation, creating a situation where everyone—including those suffering from all this—see themselves as the ones to blame. Torture contributes to this mass dehumanization. 

Alan Goodman in Revolution newspaper concentrated the role and definition of torture: "Let's make it plain: torture is, literally and in essence, a crime against humanity. Like rape, it is a systematic attempt to violently degrade people and rob them of their very humanity. Any government which not only tolerates such things but which, from its highest offices, justifies and insists on them as 'instruments of policy'...  any government which does not, once this has been exposed, prosecute the perpetrators but instead provides them in advance with immunity...reveals itself as a system that requires such crimes, and such criminals, for its functioning. Any people that does not resist such crimes, and demand prosecution of the torturers and, even more so, those who formulated the policy at the highest levels, reveals themselves to be complicit in those crimes. And in passively allowing the humanity of others to be degraded and attacked, they lose their own." ("The Torture Memos ...  And the Need for Justice," Revolution, May 17, 2009)

We intend to get into this further in this statement but, before we do, we need to speak to and unravel some of Beard's lies.

The SHU's Are Solitary Confinement, Solitary Confinement Is Torture

Despite their claims of being the home of freedom and democracy, America has been exposed as a state that enforces and condones torture.  This is a source of increasing illegitimacy in the eyes of millions and millions around the world.

Think about what was exposed in pictures from Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq where soldiers were photographing themselves with prisoners in poses of sexual degradation and violence. This was standard operating procedure, and the soldiers felt perfectly comfortable bragging about this and sharing these pictures with friends back home. Think about what's been exposed about Guantanamo where prisoners on hunger strike to demand an end to their torturous conditions are being further tortured through brutal force feeding. [To get an understanding of how intolerable this is, watch the video from rapper Yasiin Bey (Mos Def) where he undergoes the process of force feeding and can only withstand a couple minutes of what is normally a two hour procedure which happens twice a day.] Think about what it tells you that Attorney General Holder had to pre-emptively promise Russia that the U.S. wouldn't kill or torture Edward Snowden if they sent him back to the U.S.  (Snowden is a heroic whistleblower who has exposed the U.S.’ massive spying program and sought asylum in Russia.)

This torture was and is official U.S. policy, but given how the U.S. sends its armies to maraud all around the world in the name of democracy and human rights, it goes a long way to undermine the legitimacy of the U.S. around the world to be seen that way.

So what about Beard's claim that the SHU's are not solitary confinement and are therefore not torture? This is a bald-faced lie.

Over 10,000 prisoners are now in one form or another of solitary confinement in California alone, some for decades. According to the United Nations, solitary confinement is defined as any regime where an inmate is held in isolation from others (except guards) for at least twenty-two hours a day.  At Pelican Bay in northern California, prisoners are locked into 11 by 7 foot cells 22½ hours every day.  At other SHU's in the state, the cement boxes are all about the same size.  Prisoners sleep on a concrete slab of cement.  Food is often rotten and barely edible; clocks, playing cards, and chessboards are banned.  Prisoners spend 1 hour a day outside, alone, in a 16 by 25 foot concrete box with only a small patch of sky visible.  Prison staff and prisoners call this the “dog run.” 

There is no meaningful human physical contact.  All personal visits are separated by a barrier.  Personal visits are also restricted due to the long distance family members have to travel to these prisons in far flung areas throughout the state.  Often, even contact with medical, mental, or other staff takes place behind barriers. 

These are conditions intended to break people and are recognized by people all around the world, including medical and psychiatric professionals, as one of the cruelest forms of torture. Sandra Schank, a staff psychiatrist at Mule Creek Prison said, “It’s a standard psychiatric concept, if you put people in isolation, they will go insane...” One of the most telling statistics of the psychological impact of solitary confinement is that half of the prisoners who commit suicide are those in isolation units, like the SHU, while they only make up 5% of the prison population.

The sentence in the SHUs are not given through due process, but a relatively arbitrary decision of prison officials. People are “validated” into the SHU's through claims of gang association. But this association can be determined by the artwork on your walls, having a picture taken with someone who is claimed to be a gang member or even what books you read (revolutionary literature is on the list of official gang literature). And it is incredibly difficult to get out of the SHU. One prisoner wrote to Revolution newspaper, “There are three ways out of the SHU, parole, debrief or die.” Debriefing is a process where you snitch on others which lands them in the SHU. One prisoner described this as a vicious cycle where people end up getting put in by people desperate to get out. These are some of the things being protested through this hunger strike.

This is the reality. The painful and brutal, inhumane reality. This is well documented and is the lived experience of many tens of thousands of people whose voices we never hear, whose experiences we never learn from, whose lives we are told don't count.

WHY Is This Happening?

Mass incarceration is not, as Beard would have you believe, a response to the explosion of gang violence in the 1970s and 80s. Mass incarceration is about the social control of whole sections of people this system has no future for. It developed as both conscious policy and the spontaneous workings of a system built on white supremacy, the oppression of Black people and other oppressed nationalities.

Revolution newspaper has written extensively about how the development of mass incarceration is a product of the workings of the system, of capitalism in the U.S.... How and why this system went from slavery to Jim Crow with the violent enforcement of racial codes, white supremacy and new forms of slavery through convict labor and sharecropping. And how this gave rise to the New Jim Crow—police brutality, murder, criminalization and mass incarceration, legalized forms of discrimination but this time under the guise of supposed color-blindness. To get into this more deeply, go to revcom.us.

What Is Actually Revealed by the Prisoners on Hunger Strike?

To back up his argument, Beard quotes a prisoner saying about the hunger strike that “The objective was to get into the general population, or mainline, and start running our street regiments again.” He quotes another that “We knew we could tap big time support through this tactic, but we weren't trying to improve the conditions in the SHU; we were trying to get out of the SHU to further our gang agenda on the mainline.”

But Beard does not quote anything from those who initiated the hunger strike. He did not quote or even cite the concrete demands put forward by those who initiated the hunger strike. He did not quote any of the very moving letters from prisoners themselves about how they may die in this fight but are determined to end this for future generations to come. (It is also almost never the case that the media  are allowed to interview prisoners in the SHU except those who have agreed to debrief or snitch on other prisoners, so it is not surprising that they would say things to defend their actions instead of speaking to the more overall reality.)

Here are the words of just one prisoner: “A hunger strike is not taken lightly by us, we are not suicidal, rather we hope to save lives. We may not be able to save our lives. But we have come to identify our existence in SHU as a conveyor belt leading into an oven of inferno. And we may indeed be strapped onto this conveyor belt with no way out as we have continued for years to watch our comrades fall into the abyss of the oven in psychosis, suicide or other chronic illness. And we may not be able to stop our ride from dropping us into the abyss but we will stop this conveyor belt for future generations to come. Today this ride stops!”

A number of prisoners have drawn connections between what they're suffering and what prisoners in Guantánamo are suffering. One prisoner writes from Pelican Bay, “We sit here in windowless cells and held in solitary but we have begun to learn more about what is taking place and a couple of men have even begun to hunger strike in solidarity with Guantánamo because what we have realized is that the thing that links Pelican Bay SHU with Guantánamo is we share the same torturer.”

The fact that Beard decries “gang control” in prison is complete and utter hypocrisy. Anyone who knows anything about the basic functioning of prison knows they rely on and further enforce gang divisions as a form of brutal control. From the moment you enter prison, you are slotted by nationality or where you're from. You get told where you will eat, sleep and exercise. You get told when your visiting days will be and when you can use the phone based on these racial divisions.  And the prison guards foment conflict based on these divisions. In the late 90s it was exposed that in the Corcoran SHU they were organizing “gladiator days” where prisoners from different gangs were put into the exercise pen and told to fight each other, with armed prison guards watching and betting on the outcome. They foment and enforce these divisions and then set people up to go at each other.

Ever further, ask yourself this: if the prison authorities are so worried about prison gangs and the division among the prisoners, why wouldn't they celebrate the inspiring Agreement to End Hostilities released by a multinational group of prisoners in Pelican Bay's SHU which called for an end to all hostilities between different nationalities within California’s prisons and jails? Instead, they are claiming this is part of an attempt for further gang control.

Think about what this means: for decades people have fought to maintain their sanity in conditions that regularly make people insane. In the scramble to survive, people have held onto meaningless divisions among people, finding refuge in “your kind alone,” finding a foothold in the desire to be top dog in a dog-eat-dog situation. The whole setup in prison serves to foster and enforce the ways and thinking bound up with people being played against each other.

In the face of all this, first tens of thousands of people inside and now hundreds have said NO. NO! They will stand together against this criminal torture, they will foster unity and not divisions among people, they will risk their lives for this. In the words of a prisoner the day after the hunger strike began, “We just started tha hunger strike, was surprised so many people was on board. Asians, Blacks, whites, Hispanic. It's a beautiful thing.”

How has this system responded? More repression and criminalization.

 

There are three major things revealed in this hunger strike:

First, it reveals the complete bankruptcy of a system that has no future for generations of Black and Latino youth except confining them into inner cities without hope of employment, flooding these neighborhoods with drugs, setting people against each other, pumping out a culture and morality whose sole purpose is to hammer home the need to “get rich or die trying” in a capitalist system where that can only be done at the expense of others just like you. Then blames these youth and incarcerates them in huge numbers when they act in the ways this system has confined, shaped and set them up to act. Warehousing hundreds of thousands of people in prison and torturing them, and threatening them with torture once they are inside. And when they fight to lift their heads and come together to step out of this: further brutality and criminalization. This oppression is built into the nature of this system and it needs to be done in and done away with through revolution at the earliest possible time.

Second, it reveals the liberatory potential of the people who would be the backbone of this revolution. The potential of those this system has cast off and cast down. In the most dehumanizing of conditions, these prisoners are determined to assert their humanity. To stand up and fight, literally putting their lives on the line, not just to stop the torture they are suffering under but to stop this for others and for future generations. What is shown here is the potential for transformation on an even greater scale to step out of the conditions and dog-eat-dog mentality of this system, to lift their heads, come together in unity and for a whole better way.

What we see—in living color—is, in beginning ways, the process and potential that is spoken to by Bob Avakian, the Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party in BAsics 3:16:

An Appeal to Those the System Has Cast Off

Here I am speaking not only to prisoners but to those whose life is lived on the desperate edge, whether or not they find some work; to those without work or even homes; to all those the system and its enforcers treat as so much human waste material.

Raise your sights above the degradation and madness, the muck and demoralization, above the individual battle to survive and to “be somebody” on the terms of the imperialists—of fouler, more monstrous criminals than mythology has ever invented or jails ever held. Become a part of the human saviors of humanity: the gravediggers of this system and the bearers of the future communist society.

This is not just talk or an attempt to make poetry here: there are great tasks to be fulfilled, great struggles to be carried out, and yes great sacrifices to be made to accomplish all this. But there is a world to save—and to win—and in that process those the system has counted as nothing can count for a great deal. They represent a great reserve force that must become an active force for the proletarian revolution.

This brings us to the third and final point: the need to get busy in the movement for revolution now to make all this possible. This system needs to be swept aside, its repressive apparatus—including its armies, prisons and police which are wielded against the people through torture and brutality—needs to be dismantled by a revolutionary people in their millions when conditions come into being to make that possible. For revolution to be consciously worked at today, and for revolution to have a real chance of winning, it requires leadership. There is such a leadership in Bob Avakian and the Party he leads, the Revolutionary Communist Party. But there is also much work to do.

The Revolutionary Communist Party has a strategy for revolution, which everyone with a burning hunger for a different world needs to find out about. Get into it, support this Party and spread the work of Bob Avakian. Be part of fighting the power, and transforming the people, for revolution.

If you want to live in a world where the energy and creativity of the millions locked behind steel cages can truly flourish... where there are no more antagonistic social divisions that twist all human relations today... where people work and struggle together for the common good... where everyone contributes whatever they can to society and gets back what they need to live a life worthy of human beings... be part of the movement for revolution to make this real.

Be part of thousands today who are influencing millions toward revolution... who are challenging and changing the way people are seeing things, and preparing those millions to make revolution, when the conditions emerge to do so.

Demand an end to torture in U.S. prisons. Have the prisoner's backs!

Fight the Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution!

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/293/ba-more-on-choices-en.html

Revolution #313 August 18, 2013

More on Choices...And Radical Changes

by Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA

January 28, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Introductory note: These are comments by BA that were part of a discussion with people that went deeply into the questions of why people oppressed under this system often get caught up in things like crime, who and what is fundamentally to blame for this, and what is the way forward out of this situation. Comments from people in the discussion are in double brackets.

 

BA: I know by what was reported to me, and I hope I’m not out of line here. [laughs] But I know, for example, over the informal discussion, there was some question from people about what I was just saying, like whether it’s true that it’s the system’s fault that people get into crime or whether it’s people making bad choices. I know that this has come up so I spoke to that some but if people have something they want to throw in about that, either disagree with what I’m saying or ask more about that, it would be good. I know, for example you [...] brought this up, right? That people make these bad choices, am I right about that?

[[“Yeah, like, murderers, that’s they choice, it’s not the system to kill somebody. But they go out and kill somebody just to get a hit, or get anything. The system don’t tell them to do that, that’s by choice. Then they get caught up and they go to jail, stuff like that. And I’m like, I don’t get it how people say it’s the system.”]]

BA: Okay, I think that’s a good question, I think it’s a question that a lot of people have, even if they don’t like the system.

Look, I think you’re right that obviously people do make a choice, in the more narrow sense people do decide to do something or not to do it. It’s not like, in most cases at least, somebody literally puts a gun to their head, says you have to go out and rob somebody, you have to go out and rape somebody, you have to go out and kill somebody. That’s true.

But the point is the reason why we say that it’s the system in a more basic sense is because, both in terms of the conditions people find themselves in that aren’t of their own choosing, and in terms of the ideas that are out there in society that influence people, those things are not things that people thought up all on their own, those are things that come from something bigger than people—namely from the system.

In other words, the idea that you should get yours, and get over on other people, is an idea that has a lot of influence on people. But it is not just something people thought of on their own, that is the culture that we get from the popular... the TV programs, the music, all the things that are promoted encourage people to think in that kind of way.

Now if you are a stockbroker, and you work on Wall Street in New York, you do that by high level swindling and manipulating the stock market to get more money for yourself, or just undercutting other people in billion-dollar deals. And very rarely do you get caught for doing that and sent to prison for doing that. It’s not even always illegal what those people do, they just engage in a lot of high financial speculation and manipulation to make a lot of money off the misery of people who are being exploited to create that wealth in the first place. But that’s the mentality: make as much money as you can, get over on other people any way you can.

But if you are in a position to be a stockbroker then you can do it in a big-time way and you’re called a role model. [appreciative laughter] You’re held up as what people should try to be like.

But if you are on the street and you don’t have any way, you don’t have a background in knowing all about the stock market and everything else, but you have the same kind of thinking that’s been instilled in and influences your mind, then you’re going to go out and rob somebody because that’s the thing that you can do, or you can sell them drugs.

[[Because they can get away with it?]]

BA: Not because they can get away with it, but because that’s what is available to you, if you have the way of thinking that the idea is to get as much as you can get by getting over on other people. You can’t become a big-time stock trader if you don’t have the background to do that. They’re not going to let you just walk up in there and start manipulating stocks, right? [laughter] But you can rob somebody on the street.

[[Yeah, I’m understanding what you are saying now.]]

BA: Okay, so you can rob somebody, right? Now am I saying it is right to rob somebody? Absolutely not. But what I’m saying is if you’re influenced by the way that the culture and all the popular stuff on TV and the music and everything tells you you ought to be trying to get rich and get over on other people. If you get influenced by that and you say that’s the way the game is played, so I’m going to do my thing in it, right, then you are going to do what you can do. If you can’t be a stockbroker... if you can’t be some other person, a banker, who loans money to somebody to buy a house knowing that they can’t pay back the loan, and then forecloses on the house and sells it again, does the same thing again and again... If you can’t make your money that way, but you got the idea in your mind from the whole culture out there that the thing to do is to get over on other people, and get money any way you can, then you’ll do what you can do, which is to stick up somebody, or to sell some drugs, or to pimp out a woman and beat her down when she tries to get out of it, and so on.

Now did you make a choice to do that? Yes, you did. But why?

First of all, where did the ideas come from that told you that that was the kind of thing you should do? You didn’t just wake up one day and have those ideas. Those ideas are coming at you from every direction in the society.

Second of all, why did you have the choice of sticking up somebody instead of being a banker loaning people money? Because you came up in a certain situation that wasn’t of your own choosing. You were born into a certain situation that you were faced with from the moment you slipped out of your mother’s womb. That’s what’s the conditions that you were in. And if you are of a certain color or a certain situation, you are going to have a very hard time getting out of that. Yeah, you could become a rapper, or you could become a basketball player, but they never tell us—but think about it—how many people who are really good at rapping, or how many people who are really good, let’s say, high school basketball players, make it into the big time? One out of a thousand? One out of ten thousand, probably more likely, one out of one hundred thousand, maybe? Not very many people can get out of those situations by going into hip-hop or going into basketball or football or whatever.

So, there you are, and you didn’t choose these circumstances you’re in but you have got this influence of  “okay I gotta get over,” so you do what you can. You can hear people say that, “I gotta do what I gotta do, I gotta do what I can do.” Because they have been poisoned with the ideology—in other words, the way of thinking—of the system and so they do what is available to them to do.

Now, is that bad? Of course it is. It’s bad for the people. It’s bad for the person who does it. And it’s bad for the kind of world we want. And it’s bad for the revolution we need to get to the kind of world we want. So do we have to struggle with people about that? Of course.

But if we don’t give them a sense of a larger thing that this could be all about. If we don’t give them the sense that the world could be a whole different way, and that their circumstances could be a whole different way, that they could be actually using their creativity and their daring and other things to help make a revolution to get to a whole different kind of society where people like them and many, many others could be actually using their abilities to make a better society, then it’s very likely they are going to fall back into what they know how to do.

So this is the way we talk about it’s the system’s fault. It is not that the system literally put a gun in their hand, but it put the idea in their head of what life should be all about, and it put them in conditions where taking a gun in their hand makes a certain amount of sense, if you’re going from the idea of what the system tells you you ought to be going from.

So it’s not that this is a way of “excusing” what people do. It’s not that it’s all right to do it. It’s not like we’re saying “Oh well, you didn’t have any choice.” You know, it wasn’t your fault, in the sense that you couldn’t have done anything else. Yeah, they could do something else, but not as long as you are under the rule and playing by the rules of this system. You are not very likely to find a better choice for millions and millions of people. 

That’s what I meant by saying that this conservative writer said that if you’re in that situation, it makes sense to go into crime, it makes more sense than trying to get a job at McDonald’s.

Now, we need a different society where it doesn’t make sense for people to go into crime and rip other people off. Either the people on the very top—we need to get rid of all that. But also the people on the bottom who get caught up in all of this. We need to change all that so we don’t have people on the top and people on the bottom like this anymore.

So that’s why I say it’s the system, not in the sense that the people don’t have any responsibility, but in the sense that they’re being influenced and their way of thinking is being shaped by a system that then leaves them almost no other options once it’s convinced them through its culture and everything that this is the way that you have to try to live.

You do find people saying, “You know, I’ve got a wife and kids,” or “I got a family I gotta support,” or “I have my mama,” or “I have my kids and what am I going to do out here?” So we need to have a whole different world where that isn’t the situation that people are in.

Does that make any sense?

[[yes]]

BA: But???

 [[no but...]]

 BA: I am just saying, is there something I am missing with this? Is there something I’m skipping over that is part of the picture that we need to think about?

I don’t want to go on and on with this, but I do think maybe if we come across as saying in a kind of a simple-minded way “it’s the system” as if people are just machines that don’t have any mind of their own, then that would be wrong. If the way I’m presenting it is falling into that then that’s a mistake on my part, it is not that kind of crude over-simple thing. But it’s more the way I was trying to describe it, in terms of how people are influenced, and then how that influence causes them to act within the choices that they’re given, the very limited choices by the way the system works and the position it’s put them in.  

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/313/from-the-abortion-rights-freedom-ride-rally-in-fargo-north-dakota-en.html

Revolution #313 August 18, 2013

From the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride Rally in Fargo, North Dakota

August 18, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

 

The following are excerpts from these speakers at the rally in Fargo:

Sunsara Taylor:

We have to rally forth an uncompromising movement of thousands, tens of thousands, and soon millions, that actually defeats this war on women and changes the way people feel—that's how history has been changed in the past, it's the masses of people who make history. 

Abortion Rights Freedom Riders outside Operation Rescue in Wichita, next stop after Fargo.

Get connected and spread this in your community, on Facebook, on Twitter, through the Internet and in other ways, so that we stay connected and there's a growing force that is a beginning of turning the tide and changing, a national counteroffensive uncompromising about women's lives and women's liberation and relying on ourselves and building this movement that can change the course of history.

So I'll end, as I did last night, with a quote from the call for the World Can't Wait movement where it says: "History is full of examples where people who had right on their side fought against tremendous odds and were victorious. And it is also full of examples of people passively hoping to wait it out only to get swallowed up by a horror beyond what they ever imagined. The future is unwritten. WHICH ONE WE GET IS UP TO US.

***

A young undergraduate student at University of North Dakota:

This is what we're here to do today—to de-stigmatize abortion because it is an essential part of every woman's life to have control over her reproductive rights. My mother has had an abortion. My mother is a part of the one in three and I am proud of her for doing so.  

***

A young woman:

There's been enough generations of women who've had to fight for this right, who've had to see this. And with my generation we've seen this crazy assault, we've seen the murder of doctors, we've seen the bombing of clinics, and we've been denied real sex education and we have heard nobody say the word ABORTION. That's ridiculous! [Crowd yells "Abortion!"]

***

Another woman: 

The anti-abortion movement has never been about life. It has never been about protecting babies, despite what this or that individual who relates or identifies with that movement believes about when life begins, the core and the essence and the objective effect of this movement has always been about controlling women. If you go and you ask any of these so-called pro-life organizations what they think about sex education and what they think about birth control, you'll find that they have ranks after ranks of lobbyists that are attacking those same rights, they're attacking a scientific understanding of reality altogether on every front. They uphold the literal interpretation of the Bible that says that women should stay silent. And we won't stay silent!  [cheers]

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/313/a-fetus-cannot-feel-pain-en.html

Revolution #313 August 18, 2013

A Fetus Cannot Feel Pain, but a Woman Denied the Right to Abortion Suffers Intolerable Pain

August 18, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

On June 18, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill banning abortions after 20 weeks. Rather than accurately titling the bill the “Enslave Women in Forced Childbirth Against Their Will Act,” the perpetrators of this law called it the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.” The act is not law—now—having passed only the House. But it is yet another step towards legitimizing and enforcing, forced motherhood. Right now, 41 states ban or restrict the right to abortion after a certain point in pregnancy and eight states already have laws on the books that ban abortions after 20 weeks.

Anti-abortion forces invoke lies to justify forcing women to have children against their will. Todd Akin, while in Congress, claimed victims of what he called “legitimate rape” rarely become pregnant. Of course that is completely untrue. Under President Bush, the U.S. government altered the National Cancer Institute website to suggest that abortion might cause breast cancer, when all credible medical bodies have concluded that this is not true. And, in another lie, sponsors of this bill claim, in the words of U.S. Representative Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) “the baby [sic] responds the same way you and I respond to pain, by recoiling.”

The article “What Is an Abortion and Why Women Must Have the Right to Choose: Life Cannot and Should Not Always Be Preserved,” (January 23, 2005), by A.S.K., goes deeply into why, scientifically speaking, a fetus is not a baby. Read it here.

The overwhelming body of the scientific literature finds that fetuses do not even begin to develop the brain connections that will be needed to feel pain at 20 weeks. But even after that point, fetuses do not respond to anything “the same way you and I” do. Pain—in any meaningful sense of the word—is not simply a reflexive nervous reaction. Pain involves sensory, cognitive, and emotional dimensions that are only associated with a conscious, living person, not a fetus.

You want to talk about real pain? A woman denied the right to abortion for any reason, who is forced to bring a pregnancy to term and bear a child against her will, endures intolerable pain—physical, psychological, emotional, and is forced into a form of slavery.

And at any stage of pregnancy, there is a basic moral question—a question of right and wrong—of whether the rights of a fetus will trump the rights of a woman. In the article “What Is an Abortion and Why Women Must Have the Right to Choose: Life Cannot and Should Not Always Be Preserved,” (January 23, 2005) A.S.K. writes:

“If a woman doesn’t want to continue a pregnancy all the way (for whatever reason), she should have the freedom to end it, safely and easily. This is for the greater good—for the health and overall well-being of that woman, whose life we should value and cherish more than that of a partially formed fetus. And for the greater good of humanity. After all, isn’t it in the greater interests of all of humanity that women not be slaves?

“The ‘right-to-life’ people don’t see it that way at all. They have made it crystal clear that to them the life of the fetus is more important and has more value than the life of the woman in whose uterus it is. From a social point of view, these people who want to forcibly take away a woman’s right to abortion are nothing but vicious, rabid dogs.”

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/313/what-is-it-going-to-take-to-actually-stop-this-war-on-women-en.html

Revolution #313 August 18, 2013

What Is It Actually Going to Take to Stop This War on Women?

August 18, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

The following is a speech from a member of a Revolution Club at the August 3 rally for Abortion on Demand and Without Apology in Fargo, North Dakota, as part of the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride.

So as we have been out here on this Abortion Rights Freedom Ride, some people have said, "Abortion is controversial enough, why you gotta bring in revolution and communism?"

And the question we have to pose back to people is, "Well, what is it actually going to take to stop this war on women, and ultimately bring to an end all the horrors of the system under which we live, that system being capitalism-imperialism?"

This country was founded on genocide of the native peoples and the enslavement of Black people. It has always been might equals right and, as far as the first European settlers were concerned, right meant Christianity, patriarchy, and white supremacy.

When you get right down to it, none of these things have fundamentally changed. As people began to raise their sights in the 1960s, all of these things were deeply challenged, and this system was recognized for its illegitimacy. Black people, Puerto Ricans, and native peoples were no longer going to accept criminalization, police brutality, and basic rights being stripped away as a routine way of life. Queer people were no longer going to accept the confines of gender and the idea that their lifestyle was not worthy of respect or compassion. And women were no longer going to accept their predetermined role in society as docile wives and breeders. They were no longer going to accept having to risk their lives in order to control their reproduction.

Revolution was in the air. At the time, China was in the middle of a revolution and groups in the U.S. such as the Black Panthers looked to this for inspiration and insight on how to make revolution in the U.S.

And so we are here today, 40+ years later, and we are still fighting because the movements of the '60s and '70s did not go far enough. Revolution was not made and we are now facing the backlash. Don't get me wrong, incredible gains were made during this time, consciousness was raised, and this system was rocked to its core. So much so that the state felt it necessary to step in, take out leaders, and then blame the people for all the chaos that followed. The push for a return to tradition and further criminalization of oppressed nationalities ensued, and so today we see it in the manifestation of the war on drugs, mass incarceration, and the fight to control women's reproduction.

When you really look at what is happening here and all over the world, that the stakes have never been higher, it is easy to understand why people need to be out fighting for what is right. But all too often, people get demoralized by what they are told about revolution and do not believe it could actually happen in a country like this.

But people don't realize, that there is a party that was forged during this revolutionary time in the '60s that never gave up on revolution and that created a strategy of how we could actually make a revolution in this country, because it IS going to take a revolution and nothing less to end the horrors that this system creates and perpetuates. People who are serious about ending the horrific oppression of people here and all over the world need to get into this and can do so by digging into the work of the Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, Bob Avakian, who has worked tirelessly over the past 40+ years on developing this new synthesis of communism, because he has looked at past revolutions, analyzed their gains and their shortcomings, and developed a strategy that could work today, even in a country like this.

I am a part of the Revolution Club, which is carrying out the strategy of Fight the Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution, and this Abortion Rights Freedom Ride is part of that as well, because this system, cannot do without the oppression of women; it is why we are in the situation we are in today, and it is why it is going to take a revolution and nothing less to bring this to an end.

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/movement-for-revolution/stop-patriarchy/a/312/still-crazy-abortion-rights-freedom-ride-en.html

Revolution #313 August 18, 2013

From the StopPatriarchy blog:

Still Crazy After All These Years: How I Got Off the Couch and Onto the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride

By an Abortion Rights Freedom Rider from Minnesota | August 6, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

That, of course, is the title of a 1975 Paul Simon song.  One reviewer claims this song describes the “impotent rage” that many men and women feel as they get older. They watch the world pass by, are unhappy with the state of affairs but feel too detached or maybe too powerless to really care.

Four in the morning,
Crapped out, yawning
Longing my life away
I’ll never worry
Why should I?
It’s all going to fade.

I could very much be living in this Paul Simon song. I am more than middle aged, have been comfortably active in local and state issues, and have done my share of community work. Now it is someone else’s turn. I’m old; it is time for the kids to care. Yes, there are important issues that demand my attention but I vote and I give some money to good causes. Yes I am angry about the injustice that I see in the world but what can I really do anyhow? I am the definition of “impotent rage.”

But now I have been on the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride (ARFR) for four days and I have a lot more to say about our ability to shake the apathy and to change our world.

These riders, from the west to the east, are truly inspiring.  Men, women, older, younger: they are spending their time and committing their lives to struggle and change. This is not change in the way that I have imagined it in the past. It is a real change that must happen if we are to see lasting equality and justice.

This ride was organized to highlight the state of emergency that surrounds the issue of abortion. The new laws being passed in state after state suggest a chilling reality. Ninety-seven percent of rural counties have no abortion providers; five states have only one operating abortion clinic; and eight abortion providers have been killed. Unless people speak up and fight back, women will see their rights systematically stripped away. We will go to sleep in 2013 but wake up in 1953.

But this assault on abortion rights is just part of a larger assault on women, and that, in turn, is part of an even larger assault on the people of this country. We can no longer sit back and wait for the political leaders to guide us out of the darkness. We cannot sit by hoping that some candidate or some party will be able to change the direction of this decline. I cannot sit at home watching the “good” news channel, railing against the “bad” news channel, and let my rage stay silent. I cannot wait for someone else to fight the battle for me. I have to get off the couch and get on the bus.

I was raised to be a good Democrat and I have held tight to the belief that the Democrats will one day defeat the evil Republicans. I have made excuses for years as Democrats give ground on human rights issues. I have been loyal to Democratic candidates who say they are going to fight for change but not just yet....maybe next month or next session or during their next term. I started this ride because I want to stop the assault on women. I continue on this ride because I realize that the fight must come from the people. I cannot wait any longer for change to come through the political system. The old saying goes “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.” Why should I vote over and over and expect that maybe the next time things will be different?

Riding across the upper Midwest with a growing group of riders is, indeed, a trip. There are constant conversations about lodging, food, and logistics. I haven’t been “communal” for a long time but it is coming back to me. Working for a cause and living with a group is indeed still crazy after all these years. But at least I am giving voice to my anger. No longer impotent rage, I am at the beginning of an important journey. If you are on the couch reading this, please give voice to your outrage. You are not alone and it is not too late.

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/313/united-states-of-amnesia-and-the-1965-massacre-in-indonesia-en.html

Revolution #313 August 18, 2013

The United States of Amnesia & the 1965 Massacre in Indonesia

August 18, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

A.O. Scott’s July 18 New York Times review of The Act of Killing provides a telling example of how people in the U.S. are injected with a daily dose of amnesia-inducing lies, cover-ups, and distortions that blind them to the real history and nature of this country.

The Act of Killing (a newly released independent film) exposes some of the horrors that took place in the period of massacres of at least 500,000 and possibly a million or even more communists in Indonesia in 1965 and 1966. During that time, so many communists and others were slaughtered and dumped in rivers that rivers in parts of Indonesia were clogged with dead bodies.

For background on the making of the film, see the July 19 interview with the director, Joshua Oppenheimer, at Democracy Now! (“The Act of Killing”: New Film Shows U.S.-Backed Indonesian Death Squad Leaders Re-enacting Massacres.)

For more on the massacres in Indonesia see “Indonesia: U.S. Role in 1965 Massacres: Confessions from the U.S. State Department,” (August 26, 2001) at revcom.us.

This orgy of sadistic bloodshed was set in motion and overall orchestrated by the United States. In 1965, the U.S., through the CIA and the Indonesian army, overthrew the nationalist coalition government led by Sukarno (in which the Communist Party of Indonesia played a prominent role.1 The coup brought to power a fascist military junta headed by General Suharto.

The CIA and U.S. embassy personnel provided the Indonesian military with names of communists, union leaders, intellectuals, and others to be killed. The more than two million members of the Indonesian Communist Party were, in the words of one of the perpetrators of the massacres, “exterminated.” U.S. embassy officials crossed names of communists and others off the lists they provided to the Indonesian army as they were killed. A former State Department official said of his role, “I may have blood on my hands, but sometimes that’s a good thing.”

And yet, nowhere in his movie review does A.O. Scott acknowledge that the perpetrators of the massacres were orchestrated by the United States. It’s not possible that someone like Scott, let alone his editors, could be oblivious to that fact. The New York Times itself obliquely acknowledged this at the time and since—writing in 1990, for example, that leading up to the massacres, “[T]here is no question that a list of names was provided to the Indonesians” by a U.S. embassy officer. And the Times acknowledged that the political section chief at the embassy told an interviewer “We knew where the names were going.’’ (July 12, 1990)

So even viewers who see the film or hear about it and are appalled by what they learn about one of the most bloody, sadistic, genocidal massacres in human history, can come away from their morning New York Times injected with a dose of amnesia that covers up the fact that their government was behind these crimes.

 

* The Communist Party of Indonesia (PKI) held and promoted dangerously harmful illusions about the nature of democratic forms of capitalist dictatorship and the possibility of achieving socialism without a revolution. However, in the context of a global clash between imperialism and oppressed people rising up around the world and confronting socialist China, U.S. imperialism and its Indonesian underlings saw the PKI as an intolerable threat. [back]

 

Editors’ note: Readers are encouraged to print copies of this article and pass them out at showings of The Act of Killing, and to correspond on your experiences.

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/313/united-states-of-amnesia-forgetting-how-IMF-ruined-agriculture-in-Jamaica-en.html

Revolution #313 August 18, 2013

United States of Amnesia:
“Forgetting” How the IMF Ruined Agriculture in Jamaica

August 18, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

The August 3 issue of the New York Times ran an article titled “As Cost of Importing Food Soars, Jamaica Turns to the Earth.” As the article notes, Jamaica and the other island nations in the Caribbean are located in one of “the world’s most fertile regions.” But Jamaica imports most of its food, and the cost of imports has doubled in the past decade—leading to a severe food crisis as Jamaica is increasingly unable to afford the cost of imports to meet the food needs of the people. In response, the governments in Jamaica and other countries in the region are promoting local small-scale farming.

The Times article reveals a part of something real going on, but it’s like looking at a large painting in a dark room with a flashlight focused on a small part of the picture. The Times “forgets” to pose and get into the larger question of why Jamaica is in the situation it is today. Why is it that Jamaica, despite the fertility of its land, must import most of its food?

It doesn’t take some long, complicated investigation to find the basic answer. It’s readily available—for example, in the film Life and Debt, which came out in 2001 and is widely available online. As the film compellingly shows, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, and the Inter-American Development Bank—international financial institutions controlled by the U.S. and its imperialist allies—directly caused the ruin of Jamaica’s agriculture.

Through the 1970s and ’80s, the Jamaican government signed on to billions of dollars in loans from those institutions. One of the many onerous conditions of this debt was that Jamaica drastically lower the tariffs on imports, including imported agricultural products. This led to a flood of imported food into Jamaica—everything from potatoes, vegetables, and fruit to meat and milk. Produced by agribusinesses in the U.S. and other countries, often with government subsidies, the imports were cheaper than locally produced food. Jamaican farmers were not able to compete, and many were forced out of agriculture altogether. One scene in Life and Debt shows a dairy operator, who had been in business for several generations, throwing away thousands of gallons of unsold milk obtained from local cows, because they could no longer compete with imported milk powder.

Haiti is another country mentioned in the Times piece. But once again, historical amnesia sets in—the Times neglects to even mention that most of the food eaten by the Haitian people used to be domestically grown, until Haiti also got pulled into the IMF debt trap. As one of the conditions for IMF loans in the 1980s, Haiti reduced tariffs that protected Haitian rice and other products from imports. Haitian farmers could not compete with imported rice, including those from U.S. rice growers who receive government subsidies. Before long, local rice production collapsed in Haiti, and thousands of farmers were forced to move to the cities to search for work. The U.S. also insisted that Haitian peasants do away with their huge and valuable pig population, due to some threat to the U.S. pig population, and this had a devastating impact on the people in Haiti.

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/313/killer-police-still-running-rampant-en.html

Revolution #313 August 18, 2013

Killer Police Still Running Rampant...
We Cannot and Must Not Let This Outrage Continue!

August 18, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

These are just three of many recent stories of people murdered by the police in U.S. cities.

Ramarley Graham, Bronx, New York

Ramarley Graham

In February 2012, 18-year-old Ramarley Graham was killed by a cop who followed him into his home, pursued him to the bathroom, and shot him as his grandmother and a six-year-old brother watched in horror. After angry protests, a grand jury indicted the killer cop, Richard Haste, for manslaughter. But the judge threw out the indictment for procedural errors by the prosecutor during the grand jury hearing.

Now, adding outrage upon outrage upon outrage, a second grand jury has refused to indict Haste on any charges. Haste’s lawyer said, “I think the grand jury found there were many opportunities for Ramarley Graham to end the situation with no violence and no shooting, and he did not avail himself of those opportunities.” This is the same perverse genocidal logic behind the acquittal of George Zimmerman for the murder of Trayvon Martin: when a Black youth is confronted by a cop (or a racist vigilante), the onus is on the youth to show why he shouldn’t be shot down right then and there. And if the pig or vigilante says they shot a Black youth because of a perceived “threat,” then that is reason enough to justify the killing.

***

Hans Kevin Arellano, Santa Ana, California

Hans Kevin Arellano

On July 30, 22-year-old Hans Kevin Arellano was killed by a cop in the Southern California city of Santa Ana. A video taken by a bystander and aired on local TV shows the cop arriving at the shopping mall and getting out of the patrol car, gun drawn. The cop orders Arellano, who is in a juice shop, to get on the ground. Arellano, unarmed, starts to exit the shop. Just a few seconds later, a shot is heard, and Arellano, hit in the chest, collapses to the ground.

The Santa Ana police chief said that the police were called to the scene because of a report of “criminal activity”—and that Arellano was a “convicted burglar” and was “combative.” The video shows no physical confrontation between Arellano and the cop. So having a previous record and being verbally “combative” are grounds for being shot down by police acting as judge, jury, and executioner?!

***

Israel Hernández-Llach, Miami, Florida

Israel Hernández-Llach

Israel Hernández-Llach was an 18-year-old award-winning artist—a sculptor, painter, photographer, and graffiti artist whose work, according to one account, was “inspired by his home country of Colombia and his adopted city, Miami.” On August 2, Hernández-Llach was spray-painting an abandoned building when he was chased down by cops, who Tasered him in the chest. One of his friends who was at the scene said five cops chased Hernández, who weighed less than 140 pounds, and then shoved him against a wall. The friend then saw the young man on the ground, with the cops standing around Hernández, exchanging high-fives. Hernández was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The police chief claimed that “The officers were forced to use the Taser to avoid a physical incident.” A whole posse of pigs chase down a youth for a “crime” that would’ve resulted at most in a citation. The pigs catch the youth and shoot him with a Taser gun, resulting in his death—and then claim that somehow this skinny youth represented a physical “threat” that justified the Tasering that ended in yet another young life brutally stolen, all his dreams and aspirations cruelly shattered.

We must STOP this intolerable outrage of police murder after murder of our youth!

 

Editor's note: Tyisha Miller was a 19-year-old African-American woman shot dead by Riverside, California police in 1998. Miller had been passed out in her car, resulting from a seizure, when police claimed that she suddenly awoke and had a gun; they fired 23 times at her, hitting her at least 12 times, and murdering her. Bob Avakian addressed this.

 
If you can't handle this situation differently than this, then get the fuck out of the way. Not only out of the way of this situation, but get off the earth. Get out of the way of the masses of people. Because, you know, we could have handled this situation any number of ways that would have resulted in a much better outcome. And frankly, if we had state power and we were faced with a similar situation, we would sooner have one of our own people's police killed than go wantonly murder one of the masses. That's what you're supposed to do if you're actually trying to be a servant of the people. You go there and you put your own life on the line, rather than just wantonly murder one of the people. Fuck all this "serve and protect" bullshit! If they were there to serve and protect, they would have found any way but the way they did it to handle this scene. They could have and would have found a solution that was much better than this. This is the way the proletariat, when it's been in power has handled—and would again handle—this kind of thing, valuing the lives of the masses of people. As opposed to the bourgeoisie in power, where the role of their police is to terrorize the masses, including wantonly murdering them, murdering them without provocation, without necessity, because exactly the more arbitrary the terror is, the more broadly it affects the masses. And that's one of the reasons why they like to engage in, and have as one of their main functions to engage in, wanton and arbitrary terror against the masses of people.

BAsics 2:16

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/313/US-mass-incarceration-levels-decline-toward-world-average-in-a-hundred-years-en.html

Revolution #313 August 18, 2013

U.S. Mass Incarceration Levels Decline Towards World Average... In a Hundred Years

By Name | August 18, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

On July 25, a New York Times headline read, “U.S. Prison Populations Decline, Reflecting New Approach to Crime.” The article asserts there is “a shift away from an almost four-decade policy of mass imprisonment.” It claims experts say this is a “sea change” in America’s approach to criminal punishment. And it quotes a ruling class criminology expert saying, “This is the beginning of the end of mass incarceration.” All this because the federal government announced that the number of inmates in state and federal prisons decreased by 1.7 percent, to an estimated 1,571,013 in 2012 from 1,598,783 in 2011.

The U.S. imprisons six times as many people as any other country, compared to its population. And that doesn’t begin to tell the story, since incarceration rates for African-Americans and many section of Latino people are six times the rate of other people.

Of all the oppressive regimes on the planet earth, none come close to the United States in locking up their populace. But, at the current rate of reported decline in prison population*, assuming other countries continue locking people up at the same rate they do now, the U.S. incarceration rate should decline to average world levels in just a little over one hundred years.

Such is what qualifies as a “sea change” in America’s approach to criminal punishment according to the most influential liberal ruling class mouthpiece, the New York Times.

 

* The reported rate of decline is for federal prisons, here we are applying that rate of decline to the rest of the prison population.

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/312/oakland-domain-awareness-center-heavy-duty-leap-in-repressive-police-surveillance-powers-en.html

Revolution #313 August 18, 2013

Oakland's Domain Awareness Center:
Heavy-Duty Leap in Repressive Police Surveillance Powers

August 8, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

From a reader:

In the midst of growing outrage in this country regarding the NSA spying scandal and the outrageous guilty verdict against Bradley Manning who courageously exposed the murderous hand of U.S. capitalism-imperialism, there are some heavy-duty moves in the realm of surveillance taking place in Oakland, California that I thought readers of Revolution should know about.

On July 30, to shouts of "Shame! Shame!"—the Oakland city Council unanimously approved moving forward with a surveillance project reminiscent of the novel 1984, linking surveillance cameras, license plate readers (which already are mounted in all Oakland Police Department vehicles), Twitter feeds, alarm notifications and other data. This Big Brother system, known as the Domain Awareness Center, will be jointly operated by the Oakland Police Department (OPD) and the Port of Oakland, and fully funded through grants from the federal government. It will be one of the most advanced surveillance system functioning in a single city.

Originally conceived and funded by the Department of Homeland Security as a project to protect the Port of Oakland from "terrorist attacks," it has grown into a full-scale effort to give the Oakland Police Department added power to surveil, harass and suppress the people. It is being billed as an important tool to fight crime, but it will surely be used to suppress political protest. Anyone familiar with coverage in Revolution knows that Oakland is one of the cities in the country with the most active protest movements, as well as an important center of the budding movement for revolution. It should come as no surprise that former NYPD Chief Bratton, well known for going after the people in New York City, including introducing the now notorious Stop and Frisk program, has his fingerprints are all over the further expansion of the surveillance center.

Not surprisingly, the Domain Awareness Center has no guidelines to protect privacy or to limit the retention of data collected, but claims have been made that they are a work in progress and quite "complex."

The Center for Investigative Reporting* reported last month, "As planned, the center would integrate computer dispatch systems for the Oakland police and fire departments, gunshot detection, microphones and license-plate readers. It includes use of crime mapping software and stationary video cameras, private alarm detection programs, Twitter feeds, news feeds and other alerts for increased 'situational awareness' and 'more effective incident response,' according to (Oakland's information technology manager Ahsan Baig, who briefed the City Council's Public Safety Committee this month.

"Key to the operation is a geographic information system map with overlaid points that represent cameras, license-plate readers, sensors and other infrastructure that feeds into the central network. Multiple camera feeds, sensor indicators and maps can be viewed simultaneously on-screen alongside alerts from other government agencies. Alarms, crime reports and trends in offenses are accessible through a 'Crime View' portal."

The contract for building this system is expected to go to the company that has designed it, Science Applications International Corp., which also builds drones and computer networks. There is already talk of expanding the scope of the Domain Awareness Center to include feeds from the 135 surveillance cameras installed at the Oakland Coliseum and arena.

Outrage at the plan forced the city council to postpone voting on adoption of the plan at a mid-July meeting. The ACLU and Electronic Frontier Foundation spoke in opposition to the plan at the July 16 meeting and the San Francisco Chronicle reported that dozens of speakers at the July 30 meeting exposed the proposed plan as turning Oakland into a police state.

The Chronicle quoted one youth as saying, "The Domain Awareness Center is the guard tower which will watch over every person in the city of Oakland. The program is an attempt to criminalize and imprison all people who live in and pass through Oakland."

 

 * "Oakland surveillance center progresses amid debate on privacy, data collection," by Ali Winston, contributor, Center for Investigative Reporting, July 18, 2013 [back]

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/313/roundtable-discussion-of-some-of-abortion-rights-freedom-riders-en.html

Revolution #313 August 18, 2013

From a roundtable discussion of some of the Abortion Rights Freedom Riders

August 18, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Abortion Rights Freedom Riders at fake clinic in Wichita, Kansas

Rider: We drove, the west caravan, from you know, Wyoming to Montana. Montana is a huge state. So is Wyoming. Wyoming has one abortion clinic left in the whole state. And we’re driving hundreds and hundreds of miles, and spending hundreds and hundreds of dollars on gas. And we could afford it because we were able to raise the money to do this, from people donating who think that abortion is an essential right. And it just smacked us in the face in a very real way, that a woman in this area who needs an abortion has to cover hundreds of miles and spend hundreds of dollars. We went to an abortion clinic in Montana, the Mountain Country Women’s Clinic, and even though there are a couple of abortion clinics in Montana, this is the only one that provides a payment plan. So you’re going to spend all that money, cover all that ground, and then you’re going to get to a clinic, where you have to pay a thousand dollars up front! Unless you go to this one, in the giant state of Montana. This is the part of the whole situation that’s confronting women.

Then, when we drove from Fargo to Wichita. Hundreds of miles, and there were stretches of many, many, many miles where you don’t even see a billboard for a concert, you don’t see a billboard for an event... you don’t even see a billboard for a fucking McDonald’s, you see EVERY billboard, it’s got a BABY on it and it says: “Abortion, the choice that kills,” or “Abortion stops a beating heart,” or “I’m a child, not a choice” with the word “choice” all bold and red and shit.

These are areas in which people are born, grow up, get married, and die in the same community, in the same environment of isolation, where the terms around this debate of what abortion is, what a woman is, and what a woman is even capable of, are completely defined by very real limitations like geography and money, but also these ideological constraints in which you never even hear a voice that says that you can be anything more than a mother, or that abortion can be anything other than murder.

Outside fake clinic in Wichita.

Another Rider: Here in Wichita, and we’ve been here for several days now, we talked to a woman yesterday, in front of a crisis pregnancy center—those are FAKE CLINICS where they tell these outrageous lies to women, about the risks of abortion, they try to convince women who have been raped to have their rapist’s child... really, they cover over all sorts of scientific information about sex and sex education, they’re really, really coming from the dark ages. And so women that are in these crisis pregnancies go to these centers, and then they’re lied to in this way. So we’re standing out in front, with our banner that says “Forced Motherhood is Female Enslavement” and talking to one of the people who has been very helpful to us here, and has gone out with us here in Wichita. And she’s talking about how big of a problem teenage pregnancy is, and that women who get pregnant, who find themselves in these situations, find it more acceptable to go out and get into a fist fight with another woman that they know will hit them, punch them, and try to basically have a miscarriage by getting into a fist fight. Another woman she knows, she doesn’t know if this woman had an abortion, or what happened, but she was pregnant and then she supposedly fell down a flight of stairs, and then was not pregnant. This, this is the framework in which people are living in. Another group of our Freedom Ride went to the mall and they talked to people there, and you know there was sort of this understanding that came about through this particular excursion that it’s not OK for a 14-year old woman, she’s not ready to have a baby and become a mother, but a 16-year old is!

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/313/california-prison-authorities-issue-bogus-justification-for-censorship-of-Revolution-newspaper-en.html

Revolution #313 August 18, 2013

California Prison Authorities Issue Bogus Justification for Censorship of Revolution Newspaper

August 18, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Revolution newspaper reported last May that Pelican Bay State Prison (PBSP) was barring the May 1, 2013 issue (#302) of Revolution newspaper from a number of subscribers at PBSP. This was reported by prisoners to the Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund (PRLF) which raises the funds to provide prisoners with subscriptions to Revolution newspaper. (See "Censorship Alert! Revolution Withheld from Prisoners in Pelican Bay Prison, CA ".)

PBSP officials violated California prison rules by not informing the publisher within 15 days of this act of censorship. Now, three months later, in what appears to be a response to a letter from the PRLF's lawyers demanding that PBSP stop its censorship of Revolution newspaper, the authorities finally sent the required official notification. The notice includes the following reason for censoring issue #302: "...Allowing inmates to retain materials inciting participation in a mass disturbance is a serious threat to the safety and security of this institution."

These allegations made by prison authorities are clearly as outrageous as they are bogus.

Revolution newspaper was covering, and continues to cover the courageous and inspiring stand prisoners in solitary confinement in California are taking in calling for a hunger strike to end the inhumane conditions they face. And it does so from the larger context of exposing a whole system of exploitation and oppression. Think about the logic of the official justification of censorship—hundreds of mainstream and other news sources are covering the hunger strike and prison conditions from different perspectives ... Can prison authorities be allowed to ONLY permit prisoners to read news coverage that does not expose and challenge their lies, and censor anything else on the basis that it is "inciting participation in a mass disturbance"? The logic of this is chilling and illegal.

One page cited as the cause for that censorship of issue #302 reprinted the Agreement to End Hostilities, a "mutual agreement between all racial groups" signed by 14 prisoners in the Pelican Bay SHU that says in part, "Therefore, beginning on October 10, 2012, all hostilities between our racial groups... in SHU, Ad-Seg, General Population, and County Jails, will officially cease. This means that from this date on, all racial group hostilities need to be at an end... and if personal issues arise between individuals, people need to do all they can to exhaust all diplomatic means to settle such disputes; do not allow personal, individual issues to escalate into racial group issues!!"

This is historic and genuinely newsworthy. It is revealing that the prison authorities find the call for an end to any racial hostilities in the prison to be creating or inciting a "mass disturbance." One must ask, a disturbance of what? (For a full discussion of these issues please see "What is Actually Revealed in the California Prisoners Hunger Strike? Responding to Jeffrey Beard's Los Angeles Times Op-ed").

As the attorneys representing the PRLF made clear in a letter to PBSP prison officials, current legal standards make PBSP's grounds for censorship of Revolution newspaper unconstitutional, "In this way, simple news coverage about prison conditions cannot be deemed a plan to disrupt the order or the security of a prison facility. In fact, the Supreme Court has found that 'the conditions in this Nation's prisons are a matter that is both newsworthy and of great public importance.' Pell v. Procunier, 417 U.S. 817 n.7 (1974). Similarly, the presentation of ideas that some may find controversial does not constitute a plan to breach the security of an institution. McCabe v. Arave, 827 F.2d 634 (9th Cir. 1987)..."

Recently a second letter from PBSP authorities was sent to the publishers of Revolution newspaper regarding barring issue #308 from the prison. This notice cites two of the same causes for censorship as issue #302: "Contraband" and "Disturbing or Offensive Correspondence," and further states "Unauthorized correspondence between inmates." What exactly is alleged to constitute this is unspecified. The page of Revolution cited has two articles, "Statement from Pelican Bay Prisoners: We have to put our lives on the line to force CDCR to do what's right" written by leaders of the hunger strike and a statement calling for people to sign the "End Censorship of Revolution Newspaper at California's Pelican Bay State Prison."

Again, both of these are without question news stories being covered by many news outlets. Covering the hunger strike and the prisoners' reasons for it in their own words can NOT be allowed to be construed as "unauthorized correspondence between inmates"—otherwise prisoners would not be allowed access to news that had prisoners as the news source! Ask yourself, how is it that Jeffrey Beard, head of the California Department of Corrections can write an op-ed piece in the Los Angeles Times and quote unnamed prisoners who serve his efforts to discredit the hunger strike and that issue of the LA Times NOT be banned from California prisons for "unauthorized correspondence between inmates?" Again, can prison authorities ONLY allow news coverage into prison that does not expose and challenge their lies, and rule that anything else as a violation of prison regulations?

While Pelican Bay authorities have been compelled to give official notice regarding censorship of two issues of Revolution, it isn't clear how many issues of Revolution have been or continue to be censored. Since the hunger strike began over four weeks ago, some prisoners have been moved to even more horrendous isolation, rolled up mattresses put at the bottom of their cell doors so that they can't even hear each other talk; strikers have been moved to different prisons; a number have been in and out of medical facilities, both inside and out of the prison system; and mail is delivered two to three weeks late in many cases, if at all.

These official letters about the censorship of Revolution from PBSP authorities are further evidence that the censorship is really about trying to isolate, demoralize and further torture these prisoners through denying them revolutionary sustenance, including news of growing support beyond the prison walls for their efforts to stop the criminal and unimaginably horrible conditions of long-term solitary confinement to which they have been subjected.

The struggle to end the censorship of Revolution newspaper in Pelican Bay State Prison must be stepped up. Go to www.prlf.org to sign the Statement regarding issue #302, and write to Warden Greg Lewis, Pelican Bay State Prison, P.O. Box 7000, Crescent City, CA 95531-7000, to demand the end of all censorship of Revolution newspaper.

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/312/awtwns-from-hiroshima-and-nagasaki-to-today-en.html

Revolution #313 August 18, 2013

From A World to Win News Service

From Hiroshima and Nagasaki to Today: Reporting American Crimes Against Humanity

August 7, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

July 29, 2013. A World to Win News Service. Sixty-eight years ago, on August 6, 1945, the United States committed the worst terrorist bombing ever—the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.

On August 9, another American A-bomb destroyed the Japanese city of Nagasaki. The two blasts were each the equivalent of tens of thousands of tons of dynamite. The heat reached 1,000 degrees Celsius [1,832 degrees Fahrenheit]. The explosions and the radiation cloud they created killed more than 200,000 people, either immediately or over the next few months. Many years of suffering from cancer and other ills caused by radiation poisoning lay ahead for the survivors and their children.

The destruction of these two cities was not the first time major urban centers had been destroyed, but the scale of killing was unlike anything the world had ever seen before. No one else, before or since, has ever used nuclear weapons.

The U.S. unleashed the nuclear era in the closing days of the Second World War. Germany had already surrendered. Japan's economy had been destroyed and its capital firebombed into ashes; its military had been dealt decisive defeats. Many historians—although not all—believe that Japan would have surrendered without the atomic bombing. The purpose of the bombing was not just to make sure that the U.S. and its allies won the war, but even more, to make sure that the U.S. and the U.S. alone would benefit from Japan's surrender. In Washington at that time, "There was a belief that dropping the bomb could accelerate the end of the war in ways that would greatly strengthen the American strategic position in Asia," U.S. historian and sociology professor Mark Selden told a conference organized in London by Greenpeace to mark the 60th anniversary in 2005.

America was determined not to let the Soviet Union [Union of Soviet Socialist Republics] prevent it from stepping into Japan's shoes as the top colonial power in Asia. The USSR was still a socialist country then. It had been allied with the U.S. during the war against Germany and Japan, but even before the war was over the U.S. was baring its teeth to the USSR and setting out to dominate much of the world.

The bombing of these two cities is as relevant today as it has ever been, although the world has changed a great deal.

The U.S. is still brandishing its weapons of mass destruction to forcibly reshape the world according to its imperialist interests. At a time when U.S. President Barack Obama and other representatives of those interests try to further and justify their criminal enterprise with fake outrage about chemical weapons in Syria and threats to use atomic weapons to stop Iran's nuclear program, the world's people need to remember the U.S.'s heartless bombing of civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki to pursue those same interests.

Further, the struggle between those who perpetuate and defend such crimes and those who oppose and expose them is even sharper today.

After the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the American authorities denied the reports about radiation sickness. The first Western journalist on the scene, the progressive Australian Wilfred Burchett, wrote, "In Hiroshima, 30 days after the first atomic bomb destroyed the city and shook the world, people are still dying, mysteriously and horribly—people who were uninjured in the cataclysm from an unknown something which I can only describe as an atomic plague. Hiroshima does not look like a bombed city. It looks as if a monster steamroller had passed over it and squashed it out of existence. I write these facts as dispassionately as I can in the hope that they will act as a warning to the world." The American occupation authorities confiscated his camera but failed to stop his telex. When the article appeared, the U.S. accused Burchett of simply mouthing false Japanese propaganda. Burchett later went on to report on the war in Vietnam from the viewpoint of the liberation forces.

U.S. military censors were more successful in killing the articles written by the first American journalist to reach Nagasaki after the bombing. George Weller, who considered himself very patriotic, initially wrote in praise of the atomic bomb as if it were simply a more powerful kind of explosive. His early articles show great skepticism about the existence of "disease x," as radiation sickness was called at first, but he later saw unmistakable evidence that convinced him otherwise. Only after Weller's death were these pieces finally published, by Japan's Mainichi Newspapers in 2005.

The New York Times reporter in Hiroshima, on whose dispatches much of the world relied, parroted the official lies. He denied the existence of radiation sickness and downplayed the seriousness and special nature of the devastation caused by atomic weapons—which the U.S. government was then considering using on the USSR. Later it turned out that this journalist, who won the Pulitzer Prize for his work, was on the Pentagon payroll. A Yale Global Online article by Mark Selden calls this an early example "of what we now call embedded journalism."

It is worth noting that almost sixty years later, American and British authorities and their media mouthpieces, including the New York Times, used the same kind of deception in connection with the war against Iraq, first about that country's non-existent weapons of mass destruction and later to conceal the death and devastation caused by the invasion and occupation. The Times also led the pack of the government's media dogs in trying to discredit Bradley Manning, the U.S. soldier who leaked secret military footage of an American helicopter crew deliberately murdering Iraqi civilians, including children.

The video Collateral Damage brought Manning severe punishment in a military brig even before his current trial, where he faces life in prison. It also enraged the Obama government and its partners against Julian Assange, whose WikiLeaks organization distributed these materials. The Obama government, currently at war against truth-teller Edward Snowden, would almost undoubtedly have done everything it could to silence and punish those who spoiled American attempts to cover up the consequences of the atomic bombing of Japan and threatened to ruin the U.S.'s "good guy" image attained through hypocrisy, secrecy and coercion.

***

From John Hersey's Hiroshima

July 29, 2013. A World to Win News Service. (Reprinted from the August 1, 2005 AWTWNS.) The American novelist and journalist John Hersey arrived in Hiroshima after the August 6, 1945 bombing, and returned again the following year to conduct interviews.

John Hersey chronicled the Hiroshima bombing through the eyes of six people he interviewed for the New Yorker. Called "the most famous magazine article ever published," it is still readily available today in book form—a book that helped open the eyes of several generations. The following excerpts from his Hiroshima focus on the accounts told by two of those survivors.

At exactly 8:15 am, on August 6, 1945, Japanese time, at the moment when the atomic bomb flashed above Hiroshima, Toshiko Sasaki, a clerk in the personnel department of the East Asia Tin Works, had just sat down at her place in the plant office and was turning her head to speak to the girl at the next desk.

At that same moment, Dr. Masakazu Fujii was settling down cross-legged to read his newspaper on the porch of his private hospital, overhanging one of the seven deltaic rivers which divide Hiroshima. Hatsuyo Nakamura, a tailor's widow, stood by the window of her kitchen, watching a neighbour tearing down his house because it lay in the path of an air-raid-defense fire lane. Father Wilhelm Kleinsorge, a German priest of the Society of Jesus, reclined in his underwear on a cot on the top floor of his order's three-story mission house, reading a Jesuit magazine. Dr. Terufumi Sasaki, a young member of the surgical staff of the city's large, modern Red Cross Hospital (no relation to Miss Sasaki), walked along one of the hospital corridors with a blood specimen in his hand. And the Reverend Kiyoshi Tanimoto, pastor of the Hiroshima Methodist Church, paused at the door of a rich man's house in Koi, the city's western suburb, and prepared to unload a handcart full of things he had evacuated from town in fear of the massive B-29 raid which everyone expected Hiroshima to suffer.

A hundred thousand people were killed by the atomic bomb, and these six were among the survivors. Later, they wondered why they lived when so many others died. Each of them counted many small items of chance or volition—a step taken in time, a decision to go indoors, catching one streetcar instead of the next—that spared him. And afterwards each knew that, in the act of survival, he had lived a dozen lives and had seen more death than he ever thought he would see.

At the time, none of them knew anything. Then a tremendous flash of light cut across the sky. Reverend Tanimoto has a distinct recollection that it travelled from east to west, from the city toward the hills. It seemed a sheet of sun. Both he and his friend Mr. Matsuo reacted in terror—they had time to react for they were 3,500 yards, or two miles, from the centre of the explosion. Matsuo dashed up the front steps into the house and dived among the bedrolls and buried himself there. Reverend Tanimoto took four or five steps and threw himself between two big rocks in the garden. He bellied up hard against one of them. As his face was against the stone, he did not see what happened. He felt a sudden pressure, and then splinters and pieces of board and fragments of tile fell on him. He heard no roar. (Almost no one in Hiroshima recalls hearing any noise of the bomb.)

When he dared, Reverend Tanimoto raised his head and saw that the rich man's house had collapsed. He thought a bomb had fallen directly on it. Such clouds of dust had risen that there was a sort of twilight around. In panic, not thinking for the moment of Matsuo under the ruins, he dashed out into the street. In the street, the first thing he saw was a squad of soldiers who had been burrowing into the hillside opposite, making one of the thousands of dugouts in which the Japanese apparently intended to resist invasion, hill by hill, life for life. The soldiers were coming out of the hole, where they should have been safe, and blood was running from their heads, chests, and backs. They were silent and dazed. Under what seemed to be a local dust cloud, the day grew darker and darker.

Hatsuyo Nakamura had not had an easy time. Her husband, Isawa, had gone into the army just after the youngest of her three children, Myeko, was born, and she had heard nothing from or of him for a long time, until, on March 5, 1942, she received a seven-word telegram: "Isawa died an honorable death at Singapore." Isawa had been a not particularly prosperous tailor, and his only capital was a Sankoku sewing machine. After his death, Nakamura got out the machine and began to take in piecework herself, and since then had supported the children, but poorly, by sewing.

As Nakamura stood in her kitchen watching her neighbour, everything flashed whiter than any white she had ever seen. She did not notice what happened to the man next door; the reflex of a mother set her in motion toward her children. She had taken a single step (the house was 1,350 yards, or three-quarters of a mile, from the centre of the explosion) when something picked her up and she seemed to fly into the next room over the raised sleeping platform, pursued by parts of her house.

Timbers fell around her as she landed, and a shower of tiles pummeled her; everything became dark, for she was buried. The debris did not cover her deeply. She rose up and freed herself. She heard a child cry, "Mother, help me!" and saw Myeko, the five-year-old, buried up to her breast and unable to move. As Nakamura started frantically to claw her way toward the child, she could see or hear nothing of her other children...

From the mound, Reverend Tanimoto saw an astonishing panorama. Not just a patch of Koi, as he had expected, but as much of Hiroshima as he could see through the clouded air was giving off a thick, dreadful miasma. Clumps of smoke, near and far, had begun to push up through the general dust. He wondered how such extensive damage could have been dealt out of a silent sky; even a few planes far up would have been audible.

Houses nearby were burning, and when huge drops of water the size of marbles began to fall, he half-thought that they must be coming from the hoses of firemen fighting the blazes. (They were actually drops of condensed moisture falling from the turbulent tower of dust, heat and fission fragments that had already risen miles into the sky above Hiroshima.) Reverend Tanimoto thought of his wife and baby, his church, his home, his parishioners, all of them down in that awful murk. Once more he began to run in fear—toward the city.

Hatsuyo Nakamura, the tailor's widow, having struggled up from under the ruins of her house after the explosion, and seeing Myeko, the youngest of her three children, buried breast-deep and unable to move, crawled across the debris, hauled at timbers and flung tiles aside, in a hurried effort to free the child. Then, from what seemed to be caverns far below, she heard two small voices crying, "Tasukete! Tasukete! Help! Help!"

She called the names of her 10-year-old son and eight-year-old daughter: "Toshio! Yaeko!" The voices from below answered.

Nakamura abandoned Myeko, who at least could breathe, and in a frenzy made the wreckage fly above the crying voices. The children had been sleeping nearly 10 feet apart, but now their voices seemed to come from the same place. Toshio, the boy, apparently had some freedom to move, because she could feel him undermining the pile of wood and tiles as she worked from above. At last she saw his head, and she hastily pulled him out by it. A mosquito net was wound intricately, as if it had been carefully wrapped, around his feet. He said he had been blown right across the room and had been on top of his sister Yaeko under the wreckage. She now said, from underneath, that she could not move, because there was something on her legs. With a bit more digging, Nakamura cleared a hole above the child and began to pull her arm. "Itai! It hurts!" Yaeko cried. Nakamura shouted, "There's no time now to say whether it hurts or not," and yanked her whimpering daughter up. Then she freed Myeko. The children were filthy and bruised, but none of them had a single cut or scratch.

Nakamura took the children out into the street. They had nothing on but underpants, and, although the day was very hot, she worried rather confusedly about their being cold, so she went back into the wreckage and burrowed underneath and found a bundle of clothes she had packed for an emergency, and she dressed them in pants, blouses, shoes, padded cotton air-raid helmets called bokuzuki, and even, irrationally, overcoats. The children were silent, except for the five-year-old, Myeko, who kept asking questions: "Why is it night already? Why did our house fall down? What happened?"

Nakamura, who did not know what had happened, looked around and saw through the darkness that all the houses in her neighborhood had collapsed. The house next door, which its owner had been tearing down to make way for a fire lane, was now very thoroughly, if crudely, torn down; its owner, who had been sacrificing his home for the community's safety, lay dead...

After crossing Koi Bridge and Kannon Bridge, having run the whole way, Reverend Tanimoto saw, as he approached the centre, that all the houses had been crushed and many were afire. So impressed was he by this time by the extent of the damage that he ran north two miles to Gion, a suburb in the foothills. At Gion, he bore toward the right bank of the main river, the Ota, and ran down it until he reached fire again. Near a large Shinto shrine, he came to more fire, and as he turned left to get around it, he met, by incredible luck, his wife. She was carrying their infant daughter. Reverend Tanimoto was now so emotionally worn out that nothing could surprise him. He did not embrace his wife; he simply said, "Oh, you are safe." She told him that she had been buried under the parsonage with the baby in her arms. The wreckage had pressed down on her, and the baby had cried. She saw a chink of light and, by reaching up with a hand, she worked the hole bigger, bit by bit. After about half an hour, she heard the crackling noise of wood burning. At last, the opening was big enough for her to push the baby out, and afterward she crawled out herself. She said she was now going out to Ushida. Tanimoto said he wanted to see his church and take care of the people of his neighborhood association. They parted as casually—as bewildered—as they had met.

All day, people poured into Asano Park. Hatsuyo Nakamura and her children were among the first to arrive, and they settled in the bamboo grove near the river. They all felt terribly thirsty, and they drank from the river. At once they were nauseated and began vomiting, and they retched the whole day. Others were also nauseated; they all thought (probably because of the strong odor of ionization, an "electric smell" given off by the bomb's fission) that they were sick from a gas the Americans had dropped. When Father Kleinsorge and the other priests came into the park, the Nakamuras were all sick and prostrate. A woman named Iwasaki, who lived in the neighborhood of the mission and who was sitting near the Nakamuras, got up and asked the priests if she should stay where she was or go with them. Father Kleinsorge said, "I hardly know where the safest place is." She stayed there, and later in the day, though she had no visible wounds or burns, she died.

When Reverend Tanimoto, with his basin still in his hand, reached the park, it was very crowded, and to distinguish the living from the dead was not easy, for most of the people lay still, with their eyes open. To Father Kleinsorge, the silence in the grove by the river, where hundreds of gruesomely wounded suffered together, was one of the most dreadful phenomena of his whole experience. No one wept, much less screamed in pain; no one complained; not even the children cried; very few people even spoke. And when Father Kleinsorge gave water to some whose faces had been almost blotted out by flash burns, they took their share and then raised themselves a little and bowed to him in thanks...

As she dressed on the morning of August 20, in the home of her sister-in-law in Kabe, not far from Nagatsuka, Nakamura, who had suffered no cuts or burns at all, though she had been rather nauseated, began fixing her hair and noticed, after one stroke, that her comb carried with it a whole handful of hair; the second time, the same thing happened, so she stopped combing at once. But in the next three or four days, her hair kept falling out of its own accord, until she was quite bald. She began living indoors, practically in hiding. On August 26, both she and her younger daughter, Myeko, woke up feeling extremely weak and tired, and they stayed on their bedrolls. Her son and other daughter, who had shared every experience with her during and after the bombing, felt fine. At about the same time, Tanimoto fell suddenly ill with a general malaise, weariness, and feverishness. These four did not realize it, but they were coming down with the strange, capricious disease which came to be known as radiation sickness...

A year after the bomb was dropped, Toshiko Sasaki was a cripple; Hatsuyou Nakamura was destitute; Father Kleinsorge was back in hospital; Dr. Sasaki was incapable of the work he once could do; Dr. Fujii had lost the 30-room hospital it took him many years to acquire, and had no prospects of rebuilding it. Reverend Tanimoto's church had been ruined and he no longer had his exceptional vitality. The lives of these six people, who were among the luckiest in Hiroshima, would never be the same...

It would be impossible to say what horrors were embedded in the minds of the children who lived through the day of the bombing in Hiroshima. On the surface, their recollections, months after the disaster, were of an exhilarating adventure. Toshio Nakamura, who was 10 at the time of the bombing, was soon able to talk freely, even gaily, about the experience, and a few weeks before the anniversary he wrote the following matter-of-fact essay for his teacher at Noboricho primary school: "The day before the bomb, I went for a swim. In the morning, I was eating peanuts. I saw a light. I was knocked to little sister's sleeping place. When we were saved, I could only see as far as the tram. My mother and I started to pack our things. The neighbors were walking around burned and bleeding. Hetaya-san told me to run away with her. I said I wanted to wait for my mother. We went to the park. A whirlwind came. At night a gas tank burned and I saw the reflection in the river. We stayed in the park on night. Next day I went to Taiko bridge and met my girl friends Kikuki and Murakami. They were looking for their mothers. But Kikuki's mother was wounded and Murakami's mother, alas was dead."

 

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.

 


 

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Revolution #313 August 18, 2013

Observations from the Field

August 18, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

From a reader:

The Field Museum in Chicago has an exhibit called “Evolving Planet.” The idea of a group going together arose last spring when debate over religion burst out hot and heavy at the time of the premiere of the new film BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! between some members of the Revolution Club and friends and acquaintances who attended the film.

Last spring, there was agreement that it would be a good idea and fun, but then the communists were too busy with pressing political tasks to make this a real priority. However, when we asked ourselves whether HOW people think and whether it was important to overcome the fact that people have been deprived (or blinded by religion), then the excursion to the exhibit on evolution at the Field was not to be missed.

"Knowing What's Real and Why It Matters" is the subtitle of Ardea Skybreak's book, The Science of Evolution and the Myth of Creationism, which explains, "Everyone needs to understand the basic facts of evolution as well as the essentials of the scientific method... when people are deprived of a scientific approach to reality as a whole, they are robbed of both a full appreciation of the beauty and richness of the natural world and the means to understand the dynamics of change not only in nature but in human society as well."

We assembled communists, Revolution Club members, family and friends... strollers carried the toddlers, sharp-looking young teens hung in there too.

This exhibit is widely considered one of the best in the world... an amazing tour of 4.5 billion years from the planet's birth before there was any life on it, the first single-cell forms of life from 3.5 billion years ago, and through periods when all life was in the oceans and the land mass was all one continent... down through five waves of mass extinctions when human precursors made it through to the other side and continued to evolve (like the slug-looking first vertebrate—the chordata family, and Tiktaalik, the transitional stumpy-legged fish walking out of the water 375 million years ago (see the Revolution interview with its discoverer, Neil Shubin: "Neil Shubin: The Quest to Uncover the History of Life on Earth"), or the 65-million-year-old ancestor to most mammals—an insect-eating-squirrel-size-furry-tailed creature scampering amid dinosaurs in the exhibit). Then there was Lucy, a model made from the famous, nearly complete skeleton of a hominid who lived about 3.5 million years ago. Lucy is unquestionably a bipedal (two-legged, upright) hominid but also clearly not a modern human... her brain is much smaller than our own.

There is something about walking through 4.5 billion years in a few short hours to convey that there is nothing in the world that has been permanent and that change is constant and on-going and astonishing. Sadly at the end there is a sign that says basically "since 8 a.m. this morning this many species have become extinct" and the digital read-out says in bright red numbers 31! The display explains that the rate of extinction used to be one species every four years. It posed sharply for us that the system of capitalism-imperialism could destroy the planet and is already doing so at a mind-boggling and criminal pace.

Before, during and after there were thoughtful questions. How do you know that the fossils are real and not a hoax? How can scientists tell for sure how old fossils are? Has anyone been able to disprove evolution? How did Darwin discover this? What is the difference between natural selection and artificial selection? If we are all one human race, why and how do people have different hair types and skin colors? This question came up on the ride home—What does this mean about races and are there races?

There is a questioning that goes on when the deeper reality is revealed—this was the beginning of a process of serious questioning and a willingness/desire to go back and dig into it further on the part of some in the group. Skybreak's book will be very important in this process. The questioning was expressed by one person who took a serious approach to the exhibit: "If all this that I have seen today and started to think about and understand is true—then it shakes up everything I have been taught to believe my whole life." There was both a discomfort and a desire to go there at the same time.

We had brought several copies of Ardea Skybreak's book with us to the exhibit and on a break some in our group looked over the pages on "origin myths" which is very helpful to understand that creation myths are common among a range of cultures and religions as humans tried to explain the world around them before anything was scientifically understood but that are clearly not true. The beautiful color photo section of this book stands by itself as a great introduction to the science of evolution and debunking the arguments promoted by the creationists.

For instance, this color photo section was studied by a Revolution Club member after the museum visit and prompted further wonder and reflection. A particular favorite is the photo series of early, intermediate, and late stage embryos of the following: snake, chicken, possum, cat, bat, and human. One person showed another family member who had not attended the trip to The Field museum, pointing out how similar all the embryos appeared including even the gill slits indicating shared ancestry and descent with modification. There was more marveling at the length of time of the existence of the planet, how it took a billion years for even the first life forms—and how it was not static and fully formed and we could see life evolving and—this based on actual evidence—like the fish that had legs—a transitional species.

It is worth reflecting on the role that this book played when it ran a series in the Revolutionary Worker (former name of Revolution newspaper) back in 2002 as a very important pathway in enabling prisoners to make the leap to becoming revolutionary communists based on basic scientific methodology and to struggle with others over religious worldviews. The Field museum exhibit is great, but this book gives a very deep grounding in the theory of evolution and the scientific method. Are we continuing to make full use of this wonderful tool including with those from among the oppressed who have been locked out of all this and some of whom have a real hunger to have a chance to learn about it?

As one prisoner wrote:

"I need your help with this debate that is raging over here... a few brothers and myself are taking religion head on... Check what this prison chaplain does, he brings two boxes of this book called Darwinism Under the Microscope... brothers are reading passages of this book during this debate and all this book is doing is attempting to discredit the science of evolution.

I read a few passages out of The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin in this debate, however, I know brothers are finding The Origins of Species book hard to grasp—so this is why I'm asking you to send me the complete series of the "Science of Evolution" cause Ardea Skybreak breaks it all down in a way that I know brothers will be able to grasp to the fullest.

A lot of these bible bangers who have been misled think this debate is about 'winning or losing.' I tell them this debate is about struggling for truth...."

 


 

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Revolution #313 August 18, 2013

Genocidal Realities

August 18, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

This capitalist system in the U.S. has no future for millions of Black and Latino youth—that is, no "viable" way to exploit them. In this situation, a "New Jim Crow" has arisen, featuring a drumbeat of demonization, a relentless school-to-prison pipeline, pervasive police harassment and brutality, and massive systematic incarceration of Black and Latino people. This New Jim Crow has a logic: the logic of genocide, which is the extermination of a whole people. Carl Dix of the Revolutionary Communist Party and of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network, has described what we have now as a slow genocide that could turn into a fast genocide. Stigmatization... containment... extermination. This has happened before. And this must be STOPPED. The following is a regular feature showing just some of what goes on week-in, week-out in this offensive by the system.

* * * * *

The Case of Duane Buck

It's 2013—more than 50 years since the end of Jim Crow. But a man in America can be executed because he is Black.

In 1997, Duane Buck was convicted of murdering two people in Harris County, Texas. The jury then had to decide whether to sentence Buck to life in prison or the death penalty.

To give a death sentence in Texas, there has to be evidence the person will pose a danger in the future. And the prosecutor had a psychologist testify that race made Buck more likely to be violent in the future. The prosecutor asked the psychologist, "You have determined that the sex factor, that a male is more violent than a female because that's just the way it is, and that the race factor, black, increases the future dangerousness for various complicated reasons; is that correct?"

The psychologist answered, "Yes." The jury accepted the prosecutor's recommendation. And Duane Buck was sentenced to death.

A new study reveals that between 1992 and 1999, when this trial took place, the Harris County District Attorney's office was over three times more likely to seek the death penalty against African-American defendants than against white defendants; and Harris County juries were more than twice as likely to impose death sentences on African-American defendants. (University of Maryland professor Ray Paternoster)

In September 2011, Duane Buck was scheduled to be executed. Buck had already eaten his "last meal" when he was granted a last-minute reprieve by the U.S. Supreme Court. Over 50,000 people from Texas and around the country have signed a petition calling on Texas officials to grant Buck a new sentencing hearing. Meanwhile, Duane Buck remains on death row.

 

To readers: Send submissions and suggestions for this feature to revolution.reports@yahoo.com.

 


 

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Revolution #313 August 18, 2013

Los Angeles Press Conference Challenges California Prison Head's Disinformation and Lies Targeting the Prisoners' Hunger Strike

August 18, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

August 7—At 10 am today, on Day 31 of the California prisoners' hunger strike to stop torture and solitary confinement, a determined group of ministers, family members with loved ones in the California Security Housing Units (SHUs), revolutionaries and activists challenged at a press conference the vicious lies of the State of California and the head of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), Jeffrey Beard, contained in Beard's op-ed in the August 6 Los Angeles Times. (See "What Is Actually Revealed in the California Prisoners Hunger Strike?")

The press conference, held in front of the Los Angeles Times building, included the Rev. Frank Wulf, pastor of United University Church; the Rev. Gary Williams of Hamilton United Methodist Church (UMC); families whose sons are in the SHU on hunger strike at Pelican Bay State Prison, including Bertha Nava, Lupe Reynoso, and Marie Martin; Keith James of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network and Revolution Books in LA; and several other speakers. Media included Press TV, and phone interviews were conducted with WBAI radio, New York, and KPFK Pacifica radio, Los Angeles. Media spinning off the press conference includes a "California Report" on KQED in Northern California and an "up close and personal" television news story with family members on Telemundo Nacional.

Protest in front of the CDCR in Sacramento, July 26, 2013

Protest in front of the CDCR in Sacramento, July 26, 2013.

Following are statements that were sent to the press conference from California State Assembly member Tom Ammino, law professor Marjorie Cohn, filmmaker/activist Eugene Jarecki, and from a number of prisoners' family members outraged at the lies of CDCR Secretary Jeffrey Beard. Participants at the press conference felt it critically important to go on record calling out and exposing Beard's op-ed for its lies and thus felt this press conference right on time.

* * * * *

From the Rev. Frank Wulf
Pastor, United University Church, Los Angeles

Thank you all for being here, and certainly those of you who have loved ones in the prisons we keep our thoughts and prayers with them and with you and we know that your hearts are broken at this time, and more hearts need to be broken around this state. The good news is that Jeffrey Beard wouldn't be out telling his lies if the truth wasn't getting out. The officials who are involved in these kinds of activities are starting to feel desperate because people are beginning to realize what really is happening in California's prisons. Especially in places like Pelican Bay and Corcoran, where solitary confinement is still practiced and where the SHUs [Security Housing Units] continue to be a major part of this policy of trying to keep people under control, which is simply what it is.

Jesus, the person that we serve in the Christian Church, told us to treat everybody with humanity and everybody with respect. It shouldn't matter whether a person has been accused of doing something horrible or has been accused of doing something wrong ... you have to treat everyone with respect. This society is not going to get better by simply vilifying people; it's not going to get better by torturing people; all it's going to do is make our society worse and worse and worse.

It's all part of a policy of mass incarceration which Michelle Alexander [author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness] has told us about. It's a continuation of that policy... of maintaining control of the minority populations of this country; and we've got to say no to it. We have to say no to it now. And we have to say no to it in the context of this hunger strike. This just simply cannot go on. The policy of mass incarceration is torture; it is an effort to destroy a whole community.... We have to say that we stand in support of the prison strikers; we have to stand against this torture policy of the State of California, and indeed the whole United States. Thank you.

 

From Bertha Nava
Son in Pelican Bay State Prison SHU

My name is Bertha Nava; my son is in Pelican Bay. He hasn't been there [in the SHU] very long. About six months ago he got a two-year sentence in the SHU for a small piece of [razor] blade, which he used when he sewed. And now he's been written up for a "115" and given another six months in the SHU, just for doing the hunger strike. For standing up for what he believes in; to try to find a better way of life in there, he was given an additional six months.

It's an additional six months of not being able to touch him; we won't be able to hug him; all we can do is talk to him through the glass; and no phone. This is his daughter Jennifer; she misses her dad. She wants to hug her dad; to kiss him. She says "I want my daddy to kiss me.... I want to hug him." But we won't be able to do that for 2½ years.

 

From the Rev. Gary Williams, Hamilton UMC

I'm here to lend my support against this awful, awful torture of our Black and brown brothers, and sisters, in the prison system. We're focused on California, but again, as Pastor Wulf said, this is a nationwide epidemic. Our folks are being denied their human rights. Every person in the world deserves to have—we all are made in the image of the God that I serve; that's my belief. I believe that this country that claims to be a country of liberty; that claims to be a country against torture in the world; we torture our own people. The head of the Department of Rehabilitation denies the fact that there is torture. There's no rehabilitation in prison. There's nothing going on in prison except for violence and frustration because of they way they're being treated. It denies children their parents; it denies our community opportunity for growth; as in putting families back together. So I just stand here with you today. My prayers are with your families

 

From Keith James, Stop Mass Incarceration Network and Revolution Books, LA

BEARD'S LIES vs. THE FACTS ABOUT THE PRISONERS' HUNGER STRIKE:

California Prison Head Beard's "A Gang Power Play" Op-ed Is a CDCR Power Play to Dehumanize Hunger Strikers and Justify Torture.

Today, CDCR Secretary Jeffrey Beard published a vicious, lie-filled op-ed piece in the Los Angeles Times titled, "Hunger strike in California prisons is a gang power play."

Beard's "opinion" piece consists of one lie after another—so many that whole books could and should be written refuting them. Beard's key lies:

The prisoners' hunger strike is a just struggle for basic rights and humanity. It should be supported.

 

From Marjorie Cohn
Professor of Law at Thomas Jefferson School of Law

CDCR Secretary Beard claims that life in California's Security Housing Units or SHUs "is not solitary confinement."

But it's precisely that. Nearly 4,000 prisoners are held in SHUs in California. Many "have been held for years in solitary confinement, which can amount to torture," according to Marjorie Cohn, editor of The United States and Torture: Interrogation, Incarceration, and Abuse.

"Inmates in the SHU are confined to their cells for 22½ hours a day, mostly for administrative convenience. They are released for only one hour to walk in a small area with high walls. The cells in the SHU are eight feet by 10 feet with no windows. Fluorescent lights are often kept on 24 hours per day.

"Solitary confinement can lead to hallucinations, catatonia and even suicide, particularly in mentally ill prisoners," Cohn said. It is considered torture, as journalist Lance Tapley explains in his chapter on American Supermax prisons in Cohn's book.

 

From Tom Ammiano
Member, California State Assembly

"I have read Secretary Beard's claims in the Los Angeles Times and I have visited the SHU. On the one hand, the CDCR told me its isolation policies have put a stranglehold on gang leaders' control. On the other hand, now they say gang leaders are calling the shots in the hunger strike despite their isolation. Which is it? They told us everyone in the SHU was a validated gang member, but when they reviewed cases, they cleared scores of prisoners of gang affiliation. We find it difficult to take CDCR's claims about the hunger strike at face value. It would be easier to know if prison media access policies were better, as would have been the case under my bill vetoed by the governor last year. Even so, one thing is clear: the isolation policies are of dubious benefit and they are an international embarrassment. I realize these prisoners have been convicted of terrible things, but I don't have to believe everything they say to know that we must change our correctional practices. Taxpayers should not be funding indefinite isolation that is condemned in other countries as a human rights abuse."

Assembly member Ammiano will appear with Stop Mass Incarceration Network and other organizations on Wednesday, August 14, on the steps of the State Capitol, with a SHU replica, to give California citizens a dramatic simulation of what it is like to live in a SHU cell in the California prison system.

 

From Eugene Jarecki
Filmmaker and Activist

"It is a sad time in America. Wherever we look, we see apathy where vigilance is needed, acquiescence where an alert and engaged citizenry is the last best hope for this nation to remain even remotely true to the principles articulated in her Constitution and Declaration of Independence. We see villains and charlatans enthroned, and worst of all we see heroes vilified. We see the government and a willing media malign and denigrate heroic and courageous whistleblowers, who shine the vital light of truth into the darkness of our corrupted national soul. And now, we see the least powerful among us—the least of our brothers as the Bible teaches—those warehoused and denigrated in our nation's gulag system of industrialized mass incarceration standing up for themselves and, indeed, for the rest of us. They more than anyone else in this weary land—despite the injustice and bleak cynicism of their incarceration, seem to have somehow retained—more than you and me—a conviction to see the better angels in our nature win out over the lesser. It is they who, by starving themselves, intend to show us the emaciation of our national character. And it is they who send a message that not even a corrupt government and compliant media can silence—that voluntary starvation is a fate better than that provided them by the grotesque calculus that has led this nation, in one of its darkest hours, to put profit—political and economic—ahead of people, of the American people themselves. As Eugene Debs taught us, 'while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.' Today, we must poignantly modify that refrain, 'while there is a soul in prison who would sooner take his life than cave to the harrowing oppression of a predatory system, I am participating in that system with my silence and with my next meal eaten as a free man.' It is time for the State of California to recognize the deep validity and extraordinary courage of those who are putting this issue where it belongs, at the top of our national discourse. It is indeed a day for California to find a place on the side of the angels and not look back from a future time when it missed a chance to move to the right side of history. I send today my deepest respect and love to those striking in this extraordinary demonstration. And I send my wishes to the people of California to find the compassion in their hearts to recognize the heroism of their fellow incarcerated citizens."

Eugene Jarecki is an American author and a drama and documentary filmmaker whose highly acclaimed work includes The House I Live In, winner of the Grand Jury Prize for Documentary at the Sundance Film Festival.

* * * * *

The following are statements of outrage received by Stop Mass Incarceration Network by families with loved ones incarcerated in the CA prison system

From Karen King Modjeski

As the wife of a man who has spent over 10 years in solitary confinement, I am appalled and disgusted by Dr. Beard's inflammatory statements. His lies are meant to fuel the fire of hate that already burns inside many Californians who are uneducated about the torturous conditions inside CDC's Security Housing Units. Dr. Beard made a blanket statement that "brutal murderers should not be glorified." This implies that all inmates in the SHUs in California are murderers. This is far from the truth. My husband has never taken a life. He is being held in solitary for Aztec art that was found in his cell. Apparently in California, it's a crime to be proud of your heritage.

Dr. Beard, do not speak on behalf of our loved one or us. You should not be concerned about the toll the hunger strike is taking on us. You should be concerned about the years, even decades of confinement in isolation has taken on these men. Many of these men have rehabilitated themselves and should be given the opportunity to return to the General Population immediately. Dr. Beard, the SHUs in California are not country clubs; they are torture chambers. I challenge you to spend a week in a cell in the SHU at Pelican Bay. Then give us your comments without bias.

 

From Yvonne Navarretre-Becerra

Jeffery Beard, your outright blatant lies have angered me so deeply. You claim that this is a gang tactic? If this was indeed true, wouldn't there then be thousands more still striking? They are participating in this hunger strike for their human rights. Because CDCR has been getting away with this illegal practice for way too long. Why would they be willing to die for any other reason? Remember you are receiving or making up the information you have received from inmates that have lied in order to be released from SHU. Why now should they be believed? Not only have you been misinformed from these inmates but also from the administrators as well. My son was validated as a gang associate for having three pieces of paper, an address, a birthday card, and a writing on Aztec Culture. Which is Far from a rules violation.

(18 October 2011—A United Nations expert on torture today called on all countries to ban the solitary confinement of prisoners except in very exceptional circumstances and for as short a time as possible, with an absolute prohibition in the case of juveniles and people with mental disabilities. Mr. Méndez called solitary confinement a "harsh measure which is contrary to rehabilitation, the aim of the penitentiary system.")

Jeffery Beard I used to have the utmost respect for the men and women of the police force. Within the last 18 years my respect has diminished, for what I have had to endure and watch in silence. While my son at the age of seventeen was beaten by an adult officer while being held in LA County Jail to these last Seven years watching my son behind a glass partition be held there for bogus reasons. I know you are making these claims because the world is now watching you and don't want to be viewed in a bad light. It's time to come to the table and negotiate and in good faith. There is always a way to reach common grounds.

Don't let one more person die then need be, please come to the table before that happens.

 

From Betty Bianca

When my husband was still practically a boy, he was originally arrested under false pretenses, charged with a crime not proven, used as pawn in the game of prosecutorial misconduct and given a life sentence when no one was harmed in the crime he was convicted.

He decided since he was a man of integrity, in spite of it all, if he couldn't be the best worker in a free world, he would be the best convict in YOUR world...

As a result, he has spent many years in the SHU.... He does not deny having come into prison has made him to be somewhat vicious, but he did not go in that way.

Now I am not sure how SHU is not torture, and by the grace of an ever benevolent God, I was able to meet him and teach him the ways of the heart, and he is no longer the man the institution molded him into, but has a tiny glimmer of hope of being a man in the free world someday. He still cannot hug his mama or me, and is forbidden to do so much as earn any amount of money, and we cannot afford correspondence school for him, which is the only way he can get any sort of education, because there is no program of that nature in the SHU. By the confines of the SHU he cannot do more to be a contributing member of society, and he is labeled as a killer because he is forced to live with them. His being in the SHU is the result of the institution's debriefing practice ... he was named and shamed without regard to facts or actions. According to you your own title 15 rule book, even killing a guard is punishable by only 5 years SHU, but a lying snitch or the wrong literature can put you there long past your sentence. Which, according to someone running the CACorrections Facebook page, is a crime... how many indeterminate SHU prisoners are held beyond their release date because the institution is breaking the law? I know it is a lot more than one!

There are no serial killers in the SHU, there are no rapists or child molesters in the SHU indeterminately. According to you your own title 15 rule book, even killing a guard is punishable by 5 years SHU. The only people in indeterminate SHU are people caught up in the drug wars and victims to the lies of system.

Why does mainstream society believe it is all serial killers and rapists in the SHU? WHO TOLD THEM THAT?

I agree with whomever said that Beard and Thornton need to spend a week in SHU and not pretend SHU, but real SHU without regard to who they are or the positions they hold... they need to enjoy it first hand and THEN come out and say it isn't torture....

 

From Angelique Topete

I would like to comment about Secretary Beard's outrageous excuse for the CDC justifying torturing our loved ones. Men that have families that can see the torture in their faces in their mental state and their abilities. No one has to tell us what CDC is doing we can see. And anyone else who chooses to justify what they are doing to these people (and they are people) need to sit with someone in the SHU and they will see it too. My husband spent 8 years in the tortuous Pelican Bay SHU and when he was released the terror of that place continued to not only take a toll on his life but in mine and our kids as well. He now sits on death row in the adjustment center where he will probably stay. Which is another version of solitary confinement. When he was in the SHU he never received write-ups to keep him there and was validated. As a gang member like all other inmates in the SHU by the PRISON. But had there been programs available to have him transition he probably stood a better chance in society. My close friend has been in the SHU 25 years. And he has possibly of parole but how can he stand a chance of paroling if in the SHU. They make it impossible to stand a chance in society and in prison. If the SHU was productive why are we fighting the CDC, the wardens? We would be fighting higher officials due to it being the law. But it isn't, so we aren't. The SHU is a huge part of our broken system . My husband was in the SHU and it did nothing positive for him or my family. He is a product of the SHU. Now I ask you this, would u rather someone who is caged up all day long come out into our society? Or someone who has programs available to help them be functioning in society?

 

From Mary Walker

As the media is saturated with propaganda of human rights violations around the world, we as a society, delude ourselves with the fantasy, of being defenders of human rights! We close our eyes to the hideous conditions, within the prison industry! Access to the internet, has allowed the world to see, who we really are! Endless solitary confinement, when monitored, by those who profit, from the prison industry, is criminal! We have become the enablers, if we continue to allow this, to go on!

 

From Pelican Bay State Prison ~ SHU Hunger Strike Supporters (Facebook page)

Since the review process began, CDCR has reviewed 382 individuals previously identified as members or associates of STGs and immediately released 215 of them to the general population. In other words, CDCR got it wrong more than half of the time in sending people to what one SHU prisoners describes as "nothing more than a torture chamber." These reviews have been halted since the beginning of the hunger strike.

 

From Paola Trevisan

My eyes were literally bugging out of my head at the impudent lies contained in Jeffrey Beard's statement. I wish I could calmly refute them all, but my disbelief that someone could spout so much falsehood is not letting me express myself with enough calm. My son is locked in a tomb. Everything he has, and it's very little, it's because I bought it for him at the inflated prizes dictated by the prison industrial complex, which seems to be the most thriving business in California today.

 

From Helen Vera

Mr. Beard has said that the "gang leaders" are running the hunger strike. By this does he mean to imply that CDCR has lost control of the prisons and they don't know how to control anything any more? My son is in the SHU at Pelican Bay. There he cannot get any sunlight or breathe fresh air. Mr. Beard has also stated that inmates can get and receive mail. Puhleeze....they get and receive it when custody decides they get it. He has also said the inmates have access to TV and radio. It's only true if their families or friends can afford it. Earn a degree? Inmates in SHUs do not have access to computers to take online courses. CDCR—the "R" is suppose to be for Rehabilitation but that is a joke, a BIG one! Inmates have no classes or vocational training of any kind! And as far as interaction with guards—how does one interact with someone who puts shackles on him? And CO's are not exactly known for being the most social of people, but that's a whole different story! I could go on and on but I don't have all night......suffice it to say that CDCR via Mr. Beard is lying with each and every memo it puts out regarding the hunger strike.

* * * * *

This was sent in as one of the comments to the shameless op-ed that Jeffrey Beard, secretary of the CDCR, wrote for the Los Angeles Times on the 30th day of the California prisoners' hunger strike:

Jeffrey Beard, in an op-ed piece in the LA Times, August 6, 2013: "There are SHUs at four prisons in California. At three of them—in Tehachapi, Corcoran and Folsom—there are outdoor-facing windows in the cells that allow for direct sunlight. At Pelican Bay, all SHU cells have skylights. In all of the facilities, inmates in the SHU have radios and color TVs with access to channels such as ESPN. They have weekly access to a law library and daily exercise time. Many have cellmates; they can earn degrees; they can send and receive letters; and their family and friends can visit them every weekend. SHU inmates receive the same meals and portions as general population inmates. This is not "solitary confinement," in that prisoners can have visitors and, in many cases, interaction with other inmates."

A response:

Dear Dr Beard,

I just want to note in response to your op-ed piece in the LA Times that of course there is no direct sunlight through a window. A person will not receive vital vitamin D through a window. Have you seen the concrete box that is called the "yard" in Pelican Bay State Prison SHU? How would you feel if your loved one or yourself had that as your outdoor experience for a year? For five years? 10 plus years? For 25 years?

The radios and very small TVs were bought by the families and friends of the inmates. Everyone knows that, even though it is their property, it is an incentive that you can apparently take away as a dictator. In the area where Pelican Bay SHU is, there are not many radio/TV stations at all.

Law Library has been denied some men in Corcoran-SHU for weeks. It is also treated as an incentive, but you of all people must know that the law should be accessible for all people, especially those you hold imprisoned.

There is no daily exercise. Sometimes the prisoners in Corcoran SHU cannot go out to their "dog cages"(that is their yard, Dr Beard!) because of "maintenance" (when finished, the yard is still closed for a few days after) or because staff does not give yard. If you were a prisoner and you knew your meager rights were taken from you, what would you do, Dr Beard?

Visits are always behind glass. How would you feel, what would your emotional state of mind be, if you could never touch / be in physical vicinity of your loved ones? You think that touching a fellow inmate replaces this? Bumping into your fellow inmate because you share a tiny cell the size of your parking lot, will be enough to claim they can have some kind of inter-human contact? When guards put shackles on you, do you think that counts as human contact? You as a psychologist should know better.

Did you know, Dr. Beard, that visits to the people held in the SHU are only one hour per week? If you live far away and cannot come every week, it is 2 hours for once.

Did you know, Dr. Beard, that often your visiting booths are fully booked and that the visitor have to wait another week to see their loved one? Or go back to their country and come back another year? Because the visitor was denied to book a visit, because your employees had to clear them on arrival so that they had no time to make the appointments 2 weeks in advance? Do you call that visits?

About degrees: how do prisoners pay for college money, Dr. Beard? How can they study without a computer? That you suddenly, just before the hunger strike started, changed the rules and are now willing to let SHU prisoners have typewriters (hopelessly backward, but anyway), is not helping a lot when prisoners want to study. What about building educational classrooms and having SHU prisoners go to school there? That would be really meaningful. Now you are just hoping to convince people who do not know about what it is like inside, that it is not that bad.

You also say: "they can send and receive letters." why is it that Corcoran SHU keeps letters behind for weeks before sending them out? Why is it that prisoners in the SHU receive letters that were written weeks ago? Why don't you have Jpay.com installed so that people can send a mail to our loved ones in prison, and that these are printed and handed to them? Just like in so many other states? In Ohio they even have the opportunity to send their handwritten or typed letter back via Jpay. I am not saying this will solve the issue of being in a concrete box for years, if not decades, but you say that it is all not that bad, and I resist that. Because it is extremely bad. Also in comparison to other places in your country.

How do you think prisoners can write letters if they have no jobs to earn money to pay for stamps? They can get indigent envelopes maybe, but they will gather debts and these are only one per week maybe. Do you think that is enough to keep in contact in a meaningful way with family and friends?

You want prisoners to be forgotten. You want them all to be shown as evil, no good for anything, right? You want some to get extra punishment that no court has given them, because that shows how tough it is inside California's prisons. But what about rehabilitating? The people inside the SHUs are also under the CDCR, and they also need to be rehabilitated. Do you really think that informing on others is morally right? You are not a pastor, or a reverend, but you do claim "correcting" and "rehabilitating" in the title of your organization.

Do you really think that criminal gangs will stop existing when you lock up conscious prisoners who are intelligent and who want the best for the community? Like all the conscious New Afrikan prisoners, calling them members of the "Black Guerilla Family"? Criminalizing political ideas? Is that your way of correcting?

Do you think they will bow down to your employees and your policy? And I do not even mention the people inside who have an innocence claim...

So what about SHU time for people who did a violent act, who could be held separately for a while until they too are calm and more redeemed?

So you believe that the hunger strike was organized by criminal gangsters? You should be relieved they show restraint and organize this peaceful protest at which 30,000 participated on day 1, instead of calling for violence. That is something we have not heard from your lips, Dr. Beard.

And also, your employees give "115" tickets out to those participating, saying this is seen as a "gang activity"! Dr Beard, do all the people outside joining on fasts for a day, are they also part of this "gang"? Those who wrote about the hunger strike, those who participated in support rallies, wrote cards of encouragement, tweeted and Facebooked about it?

Think about it, Dr. Beard, if this were a "Hollywood movie", who would be the heroes? Surely not the people who retaliate against peaceful protesters? Employees who do not follow up the instructions on what to do medically when a hunger strike starts? How can your organization, a professional, state-paid organization, even accept retaliation? Who is the only real gang, Dr. Beard? Who is fighting a war and setting up people against each other? Dividing and conquering as a strategy is a losing game, Dr Beard. This Human Rights Defense Action of the Collective Hunger Strike is a show of unity between all different people of all different races.

Dr. Beard: SHU is a punishment that (if given at all) should only be given for a short period of time to people who have used violence (not including mentally ill people who should not be held in a prison setting). Not for people who have for years on end not been able to go back to general population because they refuse to snitch. Listen to the demands of the prisoners! Your policies are killing people!

Finally: Dr. Beard, people who are being kept in your SHU's are never allowed to make one phone call.

After the 2011 hunger strikes, they were allowed to have one photo a year made. They were allowed one food package a year. Are you really going to make them, their families and friends, and the rest of society, suffer so that you can say that you are tough on crime and that you will not be told by the dying prisoners in your prison torture camps and by many people outside in their support, what you should have changed long ago?

Shame on you, Beard! If you do not negotiate now, may you be forced to resign!

CaliforniaPrisonWatch.org

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/313/elect-women-for-a-change-the-lies-of-a-woman-hating-system-en.html

Revolution #313 August 18, 2013

"Elect Women for a Change": The Lies of a Woman-Hating System

August 18, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

From a member of a Revolution Club who is on the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride

People across the country have been waking up to the extreme and hateful torrent of legislation and assaults on women and their rights. Time and time again, these concerns have been diverted into the tired trope that the solution to all this is to elect more women into office. Politicians, lobbyists, and reputable membership organizations such as NOW—the National Organization for Women—point to the unevenness in gender representation in the halls of power, and promote slogans like "Elect Women for a Change." This is a powerful misdirection, deadly in its deception, and paralyzing in its effects.

It is true that there are very few women in office—and it is also true that there is a vicious war on women. But while there is a correlation between these two things, it is not a relationship of cause and effect. It is definitely NOT true that electing more women up through the ranks of this system, organized as it is, will bring the change that is needed, or even serve to end the attacks on abortion rights.

This is a system that is organized in such a way that the material things that people need to survive (food, shelter, clothes) are produced by the majority of people, while the means to produce them, as well as the products that are produced, are owned and profited on by the very few. That very small group of people exploit the rest and, wielding the power of production and ownership, rest inside a whole framework of political processes, the enforcement of laws, and the use of prisons, police, and military force to protect that same dynamic and maintain their positions of power.

For as long as society has been divided into classes in this way and the material needs of (now billions) of people can only be met by working for and being exploited by the very small class of people who dominate the rest, patriarchy—that is, the systemic domination of women by men—has been essential. Since that time, the control of women and their ability to reproduce has been key in maintaining the continuity of this whole system of exploitation of the many by the few from one generation to the next.

Let us not forget that for many thousands of years, the idea of women as full participants in society was unthinkable. It did not occur to anyone for a very, very long time that women should rise above the position of slaves that breed more slaves for the ruling class, and ornaments that breed more kings to rule over them. The very aspirations of women themselves have only been raised by relatively recent changes in society at large. What is still to this day demanded of women is to conform to the roles of either sex object or breeder—or both at the same time. There is not a single political platform in the confines of official bourgeois politics that can directly challenge or fight to end this dynamic, because the end of the oppression of women requires an end to the continuity of the domination of one small group over the majority of humanity.

Neither women nor men who first and foremost represent this ruling class can represent the best interests of women everywhere. If the individual identity of any person meant that they have the best interest of that whole group in mind, there could be no Black president of the U.S. who bombs African countries and sits atop a system that is carrying out a slow genocide through mass incarceration of Black people and other oppressed peoples right here in the U.S. There could be no Sarah Palin, and no Michelle Bachmann, whose whole political platform rests on a Christian fascist program that includes, as one core element, the enslavement of women to forced motherhood. There could be no female CEOs of first-world corporations that capitalize off of the exploitation and commodification of female sweatshop workers in Cambodia, Vietnam, Bangladesh, and the list goes on. And, despite the widespread self-delusion of so many, there could be no Hillary Clinton who actually has carried out war crimes on an international scale with horrific reverberations for humanity as a whole and for the half of humanity that is female in particular. It was in fact the Clinton regime and Hillary herself that popularized the atrocious notion that abortion should be "Safe, Legal, and Rare," and that abortion is a "tragic choice," undercutting the essential, positive, and liberating nature of abortion rights for a whole generation of Americans.

More fundamentally, this system cannot and will not ever lead to the full liberation of women, regardless of the gender of the people in the seats of power. The question is not who sits in the seat, but what is the very foundation of those seats? Is this a system that allows for humanity to flourish? Is this even a system that allows, as it claims to, for all the decisions that either reinforce or challenge oppressive divisions (between "first" and "third" worlds, between white and Black people in this country, between the need to preserve the planet and the relentless drive for profit) to be left to the majority of people to decide? Of course not. This system relies on oppression, exploitation, and dehumanization to maintain its cohesion. This is a society that says, despite all the scientific advancements and understanding of the age, women should be forced to be mothers just because they happen to be pregnant!

The source of this whole war on women is definitively NOT the fact that there are so few women in political power; it is the deeply patriarchal and oppressive domination of women throughout society and the extremely vicious and aggressive and acute drive to intensify this enslavement of women that is the problem. Furthermore, the continuous attempts to divert people's genuine and righteous outrage over this current war on women into a preoccupation with getting more women into office, rooted in the lies that (1) the identity of who is in office is going to determine their positions and (2) as if anyone of any identity can fundamentally act in a way to bring about liberation of women within a system that is class-divided and structurally patriarchal, is to lead people AWAY from the real problem and the real solution. The real problem is that women cannot be free under this system and that there is a particularly acute drive right now to more viciously enslave women. The real solution is for all the way communist revolution to dig all this up and bring into being a whole new world. The real solution is a total overthrow of the illegitimate ruling class and the rise of a revolutionary state power, serving the interests of the masses of people to reorganize production, to promote a scientific understanding of reality, and to work relentlessly to eradicate all the twisted social relations and ideologies that have for far too long ruined the lives, poisoned the minds, and cut short the dreams of people around the world. This is the only real solution, and we can begin to realize it right now; right now, millions can and must unite and rise to the challenge of confronting this war on women and wage mass, broad, uncompromising resistance against all forms of female enslavement.

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/312/free-lynne-stewart-en.html

Revolution #313 August 18, 2013

Free Lynne Stewart!
Government's Vindictive Action Keeps Radical Lawyer, Ill with Cancer, in Prison

August 2, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

From a reader:

When U.S. District Judge John Koetl sentenced radical attorney Lynne Stewart to 10 years in prison in 2009, he said he was not giving her a "death sentence," even though she had been diagnosed with cancer in 2005 and her imprisonment would delay a planned surgery for 18 months. But, outrageously, Lynne is being left to die confined in a federal prison near Fort Worth, Texas, as cancer spreads through her body. (For background on her case, see "Free Lynne Stewart NOW!" online at revcom.us)

Supporters around the world, led by her husband Ralph Poynter and many of the political prisoners she defended in 40 years as a "people's lawyer," are fighting the vindictive, deadly action of the system to keep her in prison, demanding that she be released immediately to return to New York City.

A petition at change.org demanding her release has almost 25,000 signatures, and led, initially, to the Bureau of Prisons indicating they might endorse the prison warden's request that Lynne be released for treatment. Arrangements had been made to transfer her for treatment to a New York City hospital when, on June 24, the Federal Bureau of Prisons suddenly denied her emergency petition on the grounds that while she is seriously ill, they did not expect her to die in the next 18 months.

Lynnestewart.org reports that her "condition is deteriorating rapidly. Medical treatment to arrest the cancer that is metastasizing in her body has been halted because she is too weak to receive it. She remains in isolation, as her white blood cell count is so low that she is at risk for generalized infection." Her daughter, a physician, said, "Under the best circumstances, Lynne would be in a battle of the most serious consequences with dangerous odds. With cancer and cancer treatment, the complications can be as debilitating and as dangerous as the cancer itself."

Lynne's attorneys, Jill Shetlow and Robert Boyle, have gone back to the Bureau of Prisons with the latest medical opinion that her health has worsened in the last month, and also filed an emergency motion with Judge Koetl. On July 31, 75 supporters packed his courtroom. Shetlow wrote to Koetl that "Ms. Stewart is dying. Her condition is rapidly deteriorating," and asked him to expedite her release on grounds of compassion, so that she could return to spend her last months with her family. They argue that Koetl has the authority to order her immediate release.

Koetl—who originally sentenced Lynne Stewart to 28 months in prison, and revised the sentence upward when the Bush regime demanded it—asked why the attorneys were using their only chance for an emergency appeal now. They replied that she is terminally ill and does not wish to die in prison. He set a hearing for August 8 for oral argument, noting that he thought prisoners should have the right to see their medical records. He directed the government to explain why the Federal Bureau of Prisons was not providing access to the medical records on which its June 24 decision was made.

In the continuing government quest for revenge against Lynne, the U.S. Assistant District Attorney on the case said that he doesn't believe Koetl has jurisdiction on the matter, which should only be a Bureau of Prisons decision, and objected that there is no "formal appeal" for him to rule on. Meanwhile, in the prison, as the revcom.us article pointed out, "Stewart, who is hardly a flight risk, must wear 10 pounds of shackles on her wrists and ankles with connecting chains whenever she makes the trip to the prison physician. And in the prison hospital she is shackled wrist and ankle to the bed."

Lynne's motion to the judge pointed to systemic disregard of dying prisoners' rights. "The Bureau of Prisons has implemented its own interpretation and refused to notify the sentencing judge of objectively 'extraordinary and compelling circumstances,' including but not limited to imminent death, unless, in its own judgment, a motion should be granted. Between 2000 and 2008, on average, 21.3 motions were filed each year. In about 24% of those motions, the prisoner died before the district court ever had a chance to rule on the motion."

Last month, Lynne said that she was "disappointed but not devastated" by the Bureau of Prison's "barbaric decision" not to release her. She is using her limited energy and 10 phone minutes per day to keep people's attention on the whole system. "When I compare myself to other far worse off than I am—the Guantánamo and Pelican Bay prisoners, Marie Mason, Afia Siddiqui, Hugo Yogi Pinell, those under death Penalty like Kevin Cooper, the remaining Angola 2, Ruchell Magee and my fellow New Yorkers Jalil, Sekou, Herman, Seth, David, Abdul—let me stop before I choke up here... I know we MUST win my fight and the struggle for all other political prisoners to be freed. And then we must struggle for all to be free in this country."

On August 1, Lynne Stewart's supporters rallied in protest in New York City and San Francisco. A protest demanding her immediate release is set for Monday, August 12 at the White House (more information at www.lynnestewart.org).

 


New York City, July 31, 2013. Photo: Special to Revolution

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/312/outrageous-verdict-bradley-manning-faces-possible-life-in-prison-en.html

Revolution #313 August 18, 2013

Outrageous Verdict: Bradley Manning Faces Possible Life in Prison

August 2, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Bradley Manning is a hero. But this criminal system is now set to put him behind bars for the rest of his life.

While an intelligence analyst in the military, Manning leaked documents to WikiLeaks, exposing U.S. war crimes including the Collateral Murder video of a 2007 U.S. Apache helicopter attack where:

U.S. soldiers gun down 12 Iraqi civilians, including two Reuters journalists. A man with two children pulls up in a van and tries to save the wounded. He is shot and killed. The two children are severely wounded. A U.S. tank drives over one of the bodies, cutting the man in half. The U.S. soldiers in the helicopter are heard repeatedly requesting and being granted permission to open fire, and joking with each other about the dead and injured victims on the ground.

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.

Bob Avakian,
Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA
BAsics 1:3

The U.S. goes around the world carrying out all kinds of horrendous war crimes that are kept secret, that the world never knows about.

But because of Bradley Manning, the world knows about this and other U.S. war crimes revealed in documents he leaked, including torture, the killings of civilians, and the abuse and bullying of other governments by the U.S.

And now the U.S. imperialist system, like an international godfather overseeing and protecting its hitmen, is doing everything it can to make sure Bradley Manning will never, ever be free.

On Tuesday, July 30, Manning was found guilty on 19 of the 21 charges he faced. A military court found him not guilty on the charge of "aiding the enemy," which carried a possible death sentence. But Manning still faces a possible sentence of up to 136 years in prison.

The sentencing phase of Bradley Manning's trial, which is expected to go for a couple of weeks, began immediately after the verdict was announced. Among other things, Manning was convicted of five violations of the Espionage Act of 1917, a law enacted to be used against spies. He was also convicted of theft charges, for publicly revealing materials such as the Collateral Murder video.

Other Recent Articles on Bradley Manning:

Manning Must Go Free!
U.S. Mass Murderers Convict Bradley Manning for Exposing Their War Crimes

by Carl Dix


Bradley Manning and U.S. War Crimes
The Injustices of a Criminal System


The Questions That Must Be Asked About Bradley Manning Case

This system that considers it "justice" to punish Bradley Manning for exposing U.S. war crimes is the same system that considers it "justice" to let a racist vigilante like George Zimmerman walk free after murdering Trayvon Martin.

This is the same system whose "justice system" has some 2.3 million people incarcerated, the majority Black and Latino, with 80,000 being tortured in solitary confinement.

This outrageous persecution of Bradley Manning is just one more exposure of the criminal and illegitimate nature of this system. It is an absolute outrage. And one more example of why it is that we need revolution and nothing less!

Vicious Prosecution of a Truth Teller

Michael Ratner, attorney for Julian Assange of WikiLeaks, attended closing arguments in the trial. Ratner said the government's prosecution and conviction of Manning is "one of greatest injustices of our decade." He told PBS, "You have the people engaged in some of the criminality he revealed not being investigated at all. Bradley Manning is a whistle-blower. He should not be prosecuted. The people who committed the crimes ought to be prosecuted."


Screenshots from the Collateral Murder video, one of the documents Bradley Manning is accused of leaking. The video shows American soldiers in an Apache helicopter in Baghdad, 2007, firing on and killing 12 Iraqi civilians.

The Center for Constitutional Rights said on Tuesday, "Manning's treatment, prosecution, and sentencing have one purpose: to silence potential whistleblowers and the media as well. One of the main targets has been our clients, WikiLeaks and Julian Assange, for publishing the leaks. Given the U.S. government's treatment of Manning, Assange should be granted asylum in his home country of Australia and given the protections all journalists and publishers deserve." Daniel Ellsberg, the most famous whistleblower alive, called the conviction of Manning on "absurd and onerous charges" a danger to press freedom.

World Can't Wait responded to Manning's conviction by saying, "The government's prosecution aimed to make an example of Manning, imprisoning him under harsh conditions, and charging him with 'aiding the enemy,' a capital offense, to intimidate others from standing up and speaking out against U.S. war crimes ...We are outraged that Manning was found guilty for reporting widespread, horrific crimes.  His action was honorable and correct, as opposed to the action of the U.S. government in committing, justifying and covering up crimes against a whole people..."

Obama has refused to even investigate, let alone prosecute, top officials of the Bush regime who blatantly carried out torture and other crimes under U.S. and international law. Meanwhile, Manning is one of seven people prosecuted by the Obama administration for leaking information to news media. And Obama has carried out more prosecutions of whistleblowers—those who leak or publicly come forward to expose various kinds of official crimes, corruption, and wrongdoing—than have occurred in all previous administrations combined.

"We Are All Bradley Manning"

Manning: "They dehumanized the individuals"

Bradley Manning accepted responsibility for many of the leaks and told the court, "I felt I had accomplished something that allowed me to have a clear conscience based upon what I had seen and read about and knew were happening in both Iraq and Afghanistan everyday."

Manning explained in court why he released classified files to Wikileaks: "I believed that if the general public ... had access to the information contained within the [Iraq and Afghan War Logs, two of the main files Manning sent to Wikileaks] it could spark a domestic debate on the role of the military and our foreign policy in general as it related to Iraq and Afghanistan."

In open court in February 2013, Manning conveyed his dismay at learning that his work as an intelligence analyst was aiding the U.S. and Iraqi governments in detaining authors who wrote scholarly critiques of the Iraqi president. As journalist Kevin Gosztola wrote, "Manning knew that if he continued to assist the police in identifying political opponents, innocent people would be jailed, likely tortured, and 'not seen again for a very long time, if ever.'"

Manning was even more shocked at the callousness of fellow soldiers who laughed about the deaths of Iraqis. Speaking of the Collateral Murder video, Manning said, "They [his fellow soldiers] dehumanized the individuals they were engaging and seemed to not value human life, and referred to them as quote 'dead bastards' unquote and congratulated each other on their ability to kill in large numbers."

He continued, "While saddened by ... lack of concern about human life, I was disturbed by the response of the discovery of injured children at the scene. In the video, you can see a bongo truck driving up to assist the wounded individual. In response the aerial weapons team crew assumes the individuals are a threat, they repeatedly request for authorization to fire on the bongo truck, and once granted they engage the vehicle at least six times.

"Shortly after the second engagement, a mechanized infantry unit arrives at the scene. Within minutes, the aerial weapons team crew learns that children were in the van and despite the injuries the crew exhibits no remorse. Instead, they downplay the significance of their actions, saying quote 'Well, it's their fault for bringing their kids into a battle' unquote."

Manning also spoke about how this very incident was reported on—and distorted beyond any relation to what actually happened—by David Finkel, a reporter for the Washington Post. Manning said he was "aghast" at Finkel's report. Manning told the court, "Reading his account, one would believe the engagement was somehow justified as 'payback' for an earlier attack that led to the death of a soldier."

On July 25, a full-page ad titled "We Are All Bradley Manning" appeared in the New York Times. It had hundreds of signatures. The ad pointed out some—by no means close to all—of the truths that had been brought into the light of day by the documents Bradley Manning released: "How Donald Rumsfeld and General Petraeus built their careers by supporting torture in Iraq; how deliberate civilian killings by U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan went unpunished, and that thousands of civilian casualties were never acknowledged; how most Guantánamo detainees were innocent."

And there have been many other efforts by Bradley Manning supporters, including marches in Bradley Manning contingents in gay rights parades, the hundreds who attended the trial, and 40 solidarity actions on July 27 around the world.

With arguments now underway over the sentencing of Bradley Manning, David Coombs, Manning's attorney, said he is not celebrating the verdict of not guilty on aiding the enemy, and that he will be arguing for the lightest sentence possible on the other convictions. The government is expected to go for the longest possible sentence. Manning was held unlawfully in the torture of solitary confinement for over ten months at the Quantico Marine base before worldwide protest got him into better conditions and the court will take 112 days off his sentence for "unlawful punishment." But he still faces the possibility of 136 years in prison—which is in effect, a life sentence.

World Can't Wait wrote supporters Tuesday:

"The only suitable response from people who care about humanity to the unjust conviction of Bradley Manning is to demand that Bradley Manning be released immediately for his time served, 3+ years, including 10 months in solitary confinement.

"He was right to blow the whistle on war crimes. We should follow his lead. During the time his sentence is being considered, we must make a concerted effort to make sure that hundreds of thousands see Collateral Murder, U.S. military footage of an Apache helicopter attack in Baghdad in 2007 which killed 12 Iraqi civilians. Government prosecutors claim this is 'propaganda'; Bradley thinks it must be used to show the truth.

"Distribute this video widely. Write Bradley Manning to let him know of your experiences taking this to out widely to people. Show him and the whole world, that people living in this country are blowing the whistle on war crimes and that We Are All Bradley Manning!"

World Can't Wait offers a DVD of the Collateral Murder and instructions for projecting it outdoors at its website worldcantwait.net

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/312/report-from-summer-heat-environmental-action-at-columbia-river-en.html

Revolution #313 August 18, 2013

Report from Summer Heat Environmental Action at Columbia River

August 8, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

From a reader:

From July to mid-August actions and protests are taking place as part of the “Summer Heat” campaign against fossil fuel extraction and shipment. The actions are being called by national, regional and local environmental groups—including 350.org, Rising Tide, Peaceful Uprising, Sierra Club, and tar sands action groups around the country. In Somerset, Massachusetts, 44 people were arrested on July 28 for blocking the Brayton coal-fired power plant. In Utah activists are engaged right now in actions to try to block the “first tar sands mine in the USA from ever breaking ground.” (For background on the danger to the environment represented by tar sands oil, see the revcom.us article “The Keystone XL Pipeline: An Urgent Danger to the Environment“)

Everywhere you turn there is a stepped-up race by capitalist interests to dig out, drill, ship and pipe new sources of oil, coal and gas—the very fossil fuels whose burning is advancing a global climate emergency that is spinning out of control. Disaster after disaster keep happening as a result of this madness—from Superstorm Sandy last year to the July 8 disaster at the small town of Lac-Mégantic, Quebec where a train loaded with oil from North Dakota crashed into the city center, incinerating dozens of buildings and killing 47 people. There is increased understanding among millions of the need to stop fossil fuel projects that are killing the planet’s ecosystems and people.

On July 27, revolutionaries from Seattle traveled to the action in Vancouver, Washington at the Columbia River across from Portland, Oregon. We wanted to be at this to join in and help build this critical resistance and to bring to the people that there is a viable way to go at dealing with the global environmental emergency—through revolution and the new synthesis of communism applied to this situation. We were hosted by friends in Portland who are interested in revolution and helping bring BA’s vision and strategy for revolution to Portland. A showing of the film BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! Bob Avakian Live was held in Portland the night before the Summer Heat action.

The Columbia River action was built by Portland Rising Tide and other groups.

A striking and important feature of the action was opposition to all development and shipping of fossil fuels. There are plans to build a new oil terminal at Vancouver that would receive oil from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota. There are other plans in different stages of development for building new oil, gas and coal terminals all along the West coast. There is widespread opposition to all of this. A speaker from Portland Rising Tide said all “fossil fuel infrastructure must be resisted. If they can’t ship it, they can’t extract it.” He noted that in the wake of powerful hurricanes like Sandy, “The climate crisis must be addressed. These terminals are not compatible with life on the planet.”

People came from all over Washington and Oregon—including a bus full of activists from Corvallis, Oregon, carloads from Bellingham, Washington, and others from Seattle, Portland, etc. There was a wide range of ages of people present—from kids and quite a few college students to older folks. Organizers say 800 people turned out.

We mixed it up very broadly with people there, distributing the special issue of Revolution on the environmental emergency and palm cards for BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! During the rally we unfurled a large banner saying, “No tar sands, no fracking, no coal! We need revolution to save the planet, www.revcom.us.”

I’d spoken with a guy earlier who was knowledgeable about alternative energy forms and was arguing society could easily switch to these if money was just put into it. We struggled with him that technology wasn’t the problem, that the climate crisis was happening because of the drives of the system of capitalism and that dealing with this would require a revolution. When the banner came out, he came up to me and asked if it was our banner, and I told him yes. He said, “You’re right, it will take a revolution to solve this.”

The revolutionaries had lots of discussion and struggle with people over what the problem is—the corporations and the fossil fuel industry, or the entire system of capitalism?—and over whether revolution is the answer, and also is it possible? There were a number of people who agreed that we needed revolution, although what they meant by revolution often differed from the real revolution we were advocating. Still, there were some who were definitely looking to find, engage with and hook up with a radical way to resist this crisis and to discuss and debate various more radical solutions. We fanned out throughout the crowd to try to get every person there a palm card for BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS!, telling people they needed to check out this DVD because this was about fighting for a fundamentally different world through revolution. Quite a few said, “We need revolution,” and the great majority of people, who had never heard about the film or BA, wanted a card. One fool said he didn’t need to know anything from BA because this was a cult. We challenged him on the spot to say what he knew about BA’s actual vision and strategy, and when he could only repeat the same shit, said loudly so everyone around could hear, “then you’re not serious about radically changing the world—here is a person who has brought forward a vision for and a way to get to a totally different world and you refuse to even engage it, you’re not serious.”

The Columbia River action was creative and fun. People jumped into around 100 kayaks and paddled out to the middle of the river to symbolize their intention to block fossil fuel shipments if they take place down river. The rest of us marched up to the walkway across the Interstate 5 bridge from Washington to Oregon. People were chanting, “If you build it, we will block it, if you ship it, we will stop it.” We stretched all across the bridge from almost one side to the other, holding our signs and banners along the bridge as well as to traffic whizzing by. Crews of people hooked up ropes to the bridge and suddenly three people rappelled off the bridge. After getting everything ready, the climbers unfurled a huge banner hanging under the bridge saying, “Coal, oil, gas, None shall pass.” There were some threats by the authorities to organizers that the climbers could be arrested, so people stayed on the bridge and made sure that after the banner had been out for some time, the climbers could get safely back and that the authorities wouldn’t know who they were. We did rounds of agitation over the bullhorn connecting the climate and environmental emergency to what the system did with the Zimmerman verdict, NSA (National Security Agency) spying, etc. and that we needed revolution and were building a movement for that. Some people joined in chants saying, “Climate emergency, We need revolution.”

Things are heating up on environmental resistance. Various groups are calling for a campaign of civil disobedience in the event of a finding this fall by the Obama administration that the Keystone XL pipeline that would ship tar sands oil from Alberta into the U.S. is in “the national interest.” Some of these same groups are also fostering a lot of illusions about Obama and the possibility of him siding with the environmental movement, and seeking to confine this struggle within the limits of the system as it is. It’s crucial given the tremendous stakes for humanity and ecosystems, as well as the potential for truly massive resistance around the environmental crisis, that revolutionaries find ways to relate to this resistance and fight to connect it to building a movement for revolution.

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/312/continuing-the-discussion-on-jolts-en.html

Revolution #313 August 18, 2013

Continuing the Discussion on "Jolts"

August 8, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

From a reader:

In continuing the discussion about the current situation and the responsibility of revolutionaries, I wanted to share some further thinking... Are we really appreciating the depth of the ways people have been hit by the Zimmerman verdict, and are we taking things as far as they go?

While this isn’t all staying at the same pitch, and while there are a whole range of interpenetrating contradictions breaking open throughout society, there is still a great deal to learn and apply about what has been posed in the two pieces: "There is a Jolt! What Is Our Responsibility Now?" and "More On 'Jolts.'"

In particular, I think it’s important to learn from the emphasis given to how are we acting on this in making LEAPS in accumulating forces for revolution. This isn’t going to happen by having general, good discussions with people. I feel there are way more people who can be drawn into and activated to be part of impacting and influencing society with revolution in so many ways right now. Are we still being too passive about this? Not enough recognizing a situation which is still roiling.

Many, many people are still very angry and have big concerns about the future of Black youth as well as Black people in general in the wake of the acquittal of Zimmerman. But many do not really know what to do with this anger. Some are reaching for the system’s answers—putting their hopes in call for federal intervention, focusing in on "Black-on-Black violence" as the problem (ending up in blaming themselves) and/or leaving things in god’s hands.

But for many, many people this isn’t closing the wound... there is still a deep, raw anger and people don’t know what to do. At the same time, this system is continuing to bring forward more horrors... a young Latino man murdered by the police in Santa Ana, CA... a 14-year-old Black youth murdered by the police in the Bronx, NY... hundreds of prisoners remain on hunger strike and the system is punishing these prisoners with more brutality and repression. (In this, we also need to be making the links to other outrages of this system—the prosecution of Bradley Manning, the war on women, waging a battle for science...)

This is an intense situation... people are unsettled and still not ready to let things die down.

But this will not go where it needs to—and can—if people don’t get more deeply into and understand the SOURCE of all this in this system, if broad numbers of people aren’t getting with and getting into the SOLUTION of revolution—as an immediate and urgent need, if they’re not finding out about the leadership for this revolution in Bob Avakian and the Party he leads and if they’re not becoming part of the movement for revolution that is being built right now. People who understand have to act in the ways commensurate and be working with people to themselves be acting in this way.

As a key part of this, we’ve been doing mass distribution of the Three Strikes poster as well as BAsics 1:13 (“No more generations of our youth, here and all around the world, whose life is over, whose fate has been sealed, who have been condemned to an early death or a life of misery and brutality, whom the system has destined for oppression and oblivion even before they are born. I say no more of that.”—from Bob Avakian) and getting out hundreds of copies of Revolution newspaper. Lots of people respond with a deep agreement but again, I don’t think we’re enough making the connection that THIS—along with themselves getting deeply into the substance of what this revolution is about, getting into BA’s work and spreading this—is a big part of what they can do. And how that is so.

I posed to a Black youth waiting for the bus in a shopping district who was reading the Three Strikes poster, “What do you think about the Zimmerman verdict?” and he looked at me and said, “What do you think I think about that!?” So I said, “Okay, so what do you think we should do about this?” He paused and said, “Wow, that’s a really good question but I really don’t know.” He looked at the poster and then I opened up to the centerfold of the current issue of Revolution and he read BAsics 1:13. He said very emphatically, “That’s what I say: NO MORE. Exactly! I say NO MORE too!” I answered that this is why we are out here building a movement for revolution—to make real that “no more.” And right now, here’s how you can act on your emphatic agreement with that and got into the fact that we have printed up tens of thousands of these posters. We talked about what difference it would make to have these posters up in the thousands around this city. This would radically and drastically change the terms of the discussion and debate and for all those who feel as he does—angry but not sure what to do about this. It would let people know there are others like them who aren’t ready to let this die down, it will help people understand what this is a part of—the whole history of the oppression of Black people under this system, it will introduce people to the leadership they have for the revolution we need in BA and the Party he leads AND it will move people to say: “That’s it for this system. Three strikes, you’re out!” He immediately said, “I want to get that paper and I will take these posters and get them up.” He also wanted a handful of the BAsics 1:13 palm cards to get out. His bus was coming so he gave me a couple of dollars, I told him to get back with us and let us know where he got materials out, what the responses are as well as his thoughts after reading the paper and how he sees his role in all this.

This kind of thing has been happening with dozens of people but should be happening with hundreds. But we have to be putting this to people—and working through with them what difference this can make NOW.

Finally, there is a great deal more appreciation and openness to Revolution newspaper, people watching parts of BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! and the presence of the revolutionaries in a lot of different places. One way we’ve been working at further cohering this—in addition to what’s in last week’s issue of Revolution newspaper about getting into BA, contributing funds, chalking messages from Revolution, etc.—is them taking small stacks of Revolution newspaper and getting them to people they know. Really working at this systematically can be part of the big leap required in accumulating forces for revolution and forging networks of distribution around Revolution newspaper.

Again, learning from the openness and appreciation for what we’re stepping out with right now is important, but still not sufficient and we really can’t leave it at that. People need leadership and need to know now not just what they can do—being part of impacting society with this message and raising funds to make that possible—but why: what difference this kind of mass effort can make right now in ending this and all the other horrors this system rains down on people.

We have to be hearing people right now in the deep ways they’re wrangling with the situation, we need to be very open and helping them find the range of ways they can be part of this movement for revolution and be challenging them to do so.

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/313/Carl-Dix-stop-and-frisk-is-immoral-and-illegitimate-dont-mend-it-end-it-en.html

Revolution #313 August 18, 2013

Stop-and-Frisk Is Immoral and Illegitimate—
Don’t Mend It. End It!

by Carl Dix | Updated August 13, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

After weeks of testimony by victims of New York City’s Stop-and-Frisk who filed the federal lawsuit, Floyd v. City of New York, the judge who heard the case issued a ruling on August 12. That ruling found that the city of New York “adopted a policy of indirect racial profiling.” And that the “city’s highest officials have turned a blind eye to the evidence that officers are conducting stops in a racially discriminatory manner.” It found that “Blacks are likely targeted for stops based on a lesser degree of objectively founded suspicion than whites.” And the judge ruled that the pretexts used by police to stop Black and Latino people were unjustified: “The outline of a commonly carried object such as a wallet or cell phone does not justify a stop or frisk, nor does feeling such an object during a frisk justify a search.”

The judge’s ruling cites the “human toll of unconstitutional stops,” noting that some of the plaintiffs testified that their encounters with the police left them feeling that they did not belong in certain areas of the city. And it characterized each stop as “a demeaning and humiliating experience.”

All this vindicates what millions know to be true.

But the ruling doesn’t end stop-and-frisk. The standard for police stopping and frisking people had long been that they needed to have “probable cause” to think that the person had been or was about to be involved in criminal activity. In the 1980’s, the US Supreme Court lowered this standard to “reasonable suspicion” that criminal activity had occurred or was about to occur. The judge’s ruling states, “To be very clear, I am not ordering an end to the practice of stop-and-frisk." What this court ruling does is designate an outside attorney to monitor the Police department, along with other policies like community meetings—to solicit public input on how to reform stop-and-frisk.

Three points on all this:

First of all, let’s tell the truth: stop-and-frisk is nothing but apartheid—nothing but a practice that singles out one group of people (Black and brown-skinned people) for illegal and illegitimate repressive practices solely for the color of their skin. People knew this before the suit, and the suit performed the valuable service of making this absolutely undeniable. It came out that 100,000’s of people were stopped and frisked by the NYPD every year. More than 85 percent of them were Black or Latino, AND more than 90 percent of them were doing absolutely nothing wrong. Yet they ended up being subjected to humiliation, harassment, brutality, arrest and sometimes worse under Stop and Frisk. Why set up a process to reform a policy this fucked up instead of just getting rid of it?

Further Stop-and-Frisk is just one practice in a whole set of policies—the New Jim Crow, for short—that were developed to criminalize Black and Latino youth on a massive and indeed genocidal scale, at a time when this capitalist system could no longer profitably exploit them in the same way that they had been and when that system therefore had no real future for millions and tens of millions of these youth, and thus wanted and needed to keep these millions and tens of millions of  people in check—penned in, locked up, and killed off.

Second, the main reason that this suit was allowed into court and given the coverage that it had was that there are forces among the powers-that-be that are seriously worried about how practices like this make America look—both “at home” and to other countries. Here is a system that claims to be the most democratic on earth that at the same time leads the world in mass imprisonment, and mass imprisonment which so disproportionately targets Black and Latino people that—along with things like torture, indefinite detention (Guantanamo, for example on both counts) and other severely repressive measures which violate international norms—makes its democratic pretensions little more than a sour joke all over the world. And here is a system at home whose defenders have vocally expressed concern that the very peoples targeted by stop-and-frisk will lose their belief in the system’s legitimacy—that is, the RIGHT of the system to rule over them.

In addition, the struggle waged by Stop Mass Incarceration Network—including civil disobedience actions where Cornel West and myself, and many others, were jailed—along with other protests and actions had an important role in raising mass awareness of how intolerable this practice is and how urgent it is to resist it.

There are also forces in the ruling class who demand stop-and-frisk continue as is, including New York City Mayor Bloomberg who denounced the ruling. They are frothing at the mouth at this ruling. If the city of New York appeals this decision, or if a higher level of federal court agrees to hear an appeal, that would be outrageous and unacceptable.

Third, there is a serious contradiction in the judge’s ruling. How can you conclude that something is “unconstitutional” and constitutes racial profiling—and then decide that it should only be modified? No! If it’s unconstitutional, you got to get rid of the damn thing. Unless what you’re really saying is this: that America cannot even extend the most basic constitutional rights to the tens of millions of Black people and Latinos and Native Americans and other oppressed nationalities because it would mean that the rulers of America would not be able to exercise their dictatorship as nakedly as they want to and believe they need to.

And yet this is the inescapable conclusion: that for all the talk about democracy and constitutional rights, whenever it comes to any important issue—and particularly when this issue concerns those groups who have been held down and exploited and oppressed in the most vicious and brutal ways since the founding of this country—this country is at heart a dictatorship exercised by the capitalist-imperialists in the interests of the capitalist-imperialists. You can see this right now at work in the heroic struggle against torture being waged by prisoners in California, as well as in what is coming to light thanks to revelations of Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden—for which they are being viciously persecuted.

* * * * *

To come at it from a different angle, the truth about America can still be seen in the very language first used in the Dred Scott decision upholding the fugitive Slave Act before the Civil War, but also applied as recently in the acquittal of George Zimmerman—Black people have no rights that a white man is bound to respect.

Such a system cries out for revolution—for this and a whole host of other reasons–as soon as possible, and it requires as well the sharpest possible struggle uniting many millions of people against its outrages, including continuing the struggle to get rid of stop-and-frisk and the whole program of the New Jim Crow.

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/313/why-there-cant-be-a-race-neutral-stop-and-frisk-en.html

Revolution #313 August 18, 2013

Why There Can't Be a "Race-Neutral" Stop-and-Frisk

August 18, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Judge Shira Scheindlin's decision on stop-and-frisk (see Carl Dix's statement "Stop-and-Frisk Is Immoral and Illegitimate—Don’t Mend It. End It!") has the virtue of making it very clear and undeniable that the stop-and-frisk policy in New York City has been grossly racist and unconstitutional. But the judge also makes clear that she is not calling for an end to stop-and-frisk. Instead, she wants a "race-neutral" enforcement of the practice. She says that she wants stop-and-frisk to conform to the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution (which requires that the authorities have "probable cause" to suspect someone of a crime before they arrest him or her) and the 14th Amendment (which forbids discrimination on the basis of race).

Is such a thing possible? That is, can there be stop-and-frisk in America today that protects people's fundamental rights and, in particular, does not end up once again targeting Black, Latino and other oppressed peoples?

First of all, let's look at the legal history underlying WHY Judge Scheindlin may have felt constrained to maintain stop-and-frisk. For nearly two centuries in the U.S., there had to be "probable cause" that the individual had committed a crime. This was written into the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. In 1968, however, in the case Terry v. Ohio, the Supreme Court modified this standard for a police stop to one of "reasonable suspicion." This meant that the highest court in the land had essentially changed the Constitution to allow the police to detain and search people based on a much lower standard. Note well that this occurred in 1968—at a time when Black people in particular were rising up against this system in rebellion and where this spirit had spread to many other sections of people and "revolution was in the air." This was a time when the capitalist ruling class, through its courts and legislatures, radically strengthened the hand of the repressive apparatus (that is, the police, prisons, etc.) and further unleashed the sharpest edge of that strengthened apparatus on Black and other minority people in particular. In other words, even if Scheindlin had personally wanted to end stop-and-frisk, she would have been going against established Supreme Court precedent. This certainly could have been done and it would actually have been good to do so, given how unjust this precedent is and how blatantly it curtails and cuts off fundamental rights—but it would have meant that it would be even more likely that her decision would be overturned at a higher level.

To be clear: the U.S. Constitution—which itself was set up as a framework for the expansion of capitalism and, originally, slavery—is hardly the highest vision of either individual or collective freedom to which anyone should aspire. And, in fact, the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal) lays out a qualitatively more expansive and greater vision of rights—both the rights of the masses to rule and transform society and the rights of individuals to be protected in that process—in line with the radically different and radically more emancipating vision of freedom at the foundation of communism. But even the extremely limited version of freedom put forth in the U.S. Constitution cannot be consistently adhered to by the rulers of modern-day U.S. society (as shown in other arenas as well, such as the NSA scandal)—and this is especially so when it comes to the most oppressed in society. (See the series "Two Constitutions, Two Different Systems, Two Different Futures for African-American People".)

The lone dissenting Supreme Court justice to this decision warned at the time that this would be a slippery slope, and indeed it has been. Over time, this definition of "reasonable suspicion" became ever more elastic and became the legal ground for so-called "pro-active policing" (which Scheindlin also takes care to uphold in her decision). Rather than investigating and arresting people for crimes that have actually been committed, now police need only say that they "suspect" that "crimes are afoot"; and rather than have a "probable cause" to arrest someone, now they must only have a "reasonable suspicion" that someone is involved in this crime that is thought to be "afoot."

Can this be "race-neutral"? Let's take a current example to see why it cannot. Right now, there is a major move to require anyone who wants to register to vote to have a state-issued photo ID. These measures do not mention race and so they seem, on the surface, to be "race-neutral." But they are not—these new laws overwhelmingly will mean that the Black and Latino voters will either be dropped from the voter rolls or prevented from registering because their conditions of life tend to make it much more difficult to obtain such identification. Why? Because people of these oppressed nationalities are much less likely to own cars and/or have driver's licenses, they are much more likely to be unable to pay the fees often involved in getting state-issued ID, they are more likely to live further away from the offices doing this, more likely to be disabled and home-bound or caring for dependents and unable to take the time, etc. In other words, there are factors of oppression and inequality structured deep within the fabric of this society which guarantee that even the equal application of the law in the abstract will have very unequal and oppressive consequences in the concrete.

When you get to the system of the police, courts and prisons—the openly repressive arm of the state—this structural racism becomes all the more acute. It is indeed a fact that there is more crime in the ghettos and barrios—in large part because a) for several generations now other opportunities have been even more sharply closed off to the youth in these areas and crime has become, in the words of one capitalist theorist, "a rational choice" for Black and brown youth; and b) for generations before that and going on to the current day, the police channel and largely confine drug dealing, street prostitution, auto theft rings, etc. to such areas and are themselves deeply involved in all this. And this all plays out in the ideas that are pushed and promoted, to the point where an ex-prisoner at a recent forum in California recalled that when he was growing up, all the kids in his barrio wanted to end up at Pelican Bay prison because that was where all the heavy gangsters went—in other words, given that the avenues to "success" were closed off in his neighborhood, this was the most that many young people thought they could aspire to. Today this is linked to what Michelle Alexander called the "New Jim Crow" of mass incarceration—which, as Carl Dix pointed out in his statement, is a systemic response from the powers-that-be to a situation where millions and tens of millions of Black and Latino youth were no longer able to be profitably exploited and now had to be controlled in other ways.

So, no, stop-and-frisk (and the "pro-active" policing it is part of) cannot be race-neutral; nor can it, for that matter, adhere to the strictures of the Fourth Amendment (which Scheindlin's decision also calls for) because those strictures have already been tossed out for a whole section of people by the Supreme Court in Terry v Ohio. Scheindlin's decision in the real world—assuming that it is not overturned—will, even in its best interpretation, only mean that the police will have to take greater care to mask the overtly racist way that they carry out their repression. (The reasons they might feel compelled to do so are also spoken to in Carl Dix's statement—in short, the blatantly oppressive practices may harm their claims to legitimacy—that is, the right to rule—in the eyes of growing numbers of people, here and around the world.)

If the last 50 years show anything, it is that you cannot reform white supremacy out of the fabric of this capitalist-imperialist system; it is too integral to it. The underlying contradiction between the masses of Black and other oppressed nationality people, on the one hand, and the system of capitalism on the other—the ways in which the masses of Black, Latino, Native American and other oppressed peoples are "inserted into" (or hammered into) the economic, legal, cultural and political structures of this society—have become even deeper and more profound. These structures cannot be reformed, they must be uprooted—and such uprooting requires a revolution of the most profound sort—a communist revolution. And, again, to see how and why this is so, and how the world could be transformed into an emancipatory one, get into the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America.

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/313/east-oakland-rally-supports-prisoners-hunger-strike-en.html

Revolution #313 August 18, 2013

East Oakland Rally Supports Prisoners' Hunger Strike

August 14, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

From a reader:

On Tuesday, August 6, the Revolution Club of East Oakland held a spirited rally and march in the 'hood in support of the California prisoners' hunger strike. About 30 people of different races and nationalities showed up, many attracted to the displays and banners, as well as a casket with Billy Sell's name (Sell, 32 years old, died on July 22 while on hunger strike at the Corcoran State Prison) and a '"cage" replica of a SHU (Security Housing Unit) cell—an eight feet by ten feet wire cage with a stool and bedding. Many later commented on the powerful effect of seeing a Black man in a cage on the street corner as symbolic of the torture of being locked up in solitary confinement, deprived of your humanity.

Some in the neighborhood had experience of being out in solitary confinement in San Quentin or Pelican Bay, including one Latino man who'd been in a previous hunger strike in the 1990s. Some spoke bitterness over the bullhorn, like a white man who said, "You don't even see who gives you food! No human contact at all. You can only dream about the people you remember." An older Black man told about his mail being torn up, adding, "They try to destroy your spirit and your soul. So this is why we must support this hunger strike."

As a speaker addressed the question of torture, literally by Amnesty International's definition, another spoke of being "stripped of your manhood... being treated worse than dogs, and being fed worse than dog food..." Another man spoke of how the prison creates a "1920s America", separating the races and then pitting them against each other; and this was contrasted with the "unity statement" which called for an end to racial and nationalist hostilities) from prisoners at Pelican Bay... a truly courageous document in effect for almost a year (see "California Prisoners Call for Peace Between Different Nationalities" at revcom.us). But the experience of solitary confinement gave a very clear picture of torture when a brother said, "Just lock yourself up in a bare room for one day with no human contact, no phone, no windows, you don't know what time it is. Now imagine that for 20 years. We must support this hunger strike."

In support of the hunger strike, 16 people from the hood signed up to do a "one day fast" to have the prisoners' backs!

Lines were drawn in the rally between the Zimmerman verdict and the newest Three Strikes poster; and there were references to the truthful slogan, "Mass Incarceration + Silence = Genocide." The Revolution Club emphasized how we must "Fight the Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution."

Besides people from the 'hood, there were some teachers who came from San Francisco, a student from City College of SF, and a member of a local church. One of the teachers later remarked how well the rally "connected" with some people from a nearby homeless shelter. She said, "these (homeless) people are ISOLATED with no family, or they're cast aside, just like solitary confinement. It must have hit a nerve."

After the rally, we marched through the intersection three times with loud chants: "What are we gonna do? Shut down the SHU".... "Prisoners are human beings, Meet the 5 demands", and "CDC Lies, Prisoners Die." (CDC stands for the California Department of Corrections.)

After the march, some of us drank tea at a restaurant and discussed "what is the solution?" (Hint: not all thought that "revolution—nothing less" was the solution, even though we were all in the streets together). We followed up with joining a late afternoon demonstration staged by the Stop Mass Incarceration Network in downtown Oakland.

 


 

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Revolution #313 August 18, 2013

A Condemnation of the Military's Slaughter in Egypt—A Challenge to Those Who Deluded Themselves into Thinking the Military Coup was Progressive

August 15, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

The Egyptian military has carried out a bloodbath against supporters of Mohammed Morsi. Estimates of those killed range from hundreds to 2,000, and the vicious repression continues. This onslaught is totally unjust. It must be unequivocally condemned.   

Let's be clear about what the Egyptian military represents. It has been financed, trained, and propped up by the U.S. This military is the bulwark of the repressive Egyptian state that has served the interests of U.S. imperialism in the Middle East. This military, with the backing of the U.S., staged the coup in late June against the Morsi government. And the massacre of August 14 was made possible by U.S. support for this coup.

If you were in the streets demanding the downfall of the Morsi regime...or you saw that as a positive thing and cheered it on...deluded yourself and others that this was a "people's uprising"... or are in denial that what took place was a coup by the reactionary Egyptian military, but you are now—correctly—appalled by the massacre of Muslim Brotherhood protesters...then you have to take some responsibility to confront that you were USED, PLAYED, and MANIPULATED by one oppressive agenda and section of the oppressive ruling class to facilitate and justify a reactionary coup and a slaughter to try to crush a rival reactionary oppressive force.

Now is the moment to STOP BEING PLAYED like this. There IS ANOTHER WAY. You'll find it in Communism: The Beginning of a New Stage. A Manifesto from the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA—in Arabic, Farsi, English, and other languages at revcom.us. Get it, read it, spread it over social networks and hand-to-hand, discuss it, organize around it, and write to us at revolution.reports@yahoo.com.