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Revolution #339 May 25, 2014
May 19, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Editors' Note: The following are part of observations that were made by Bob Avakian, and were originally distributed within the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP) at the beginning of 2012. This is being published now as the first part of the serialization of these observations. These observations were originally made at a time when the "Occupy" movement was having a significant—and overall positive—impact, but was also increasingly running up against the repressive force of the state, as well as its own limitations. While this was an important particular aspect of the overall situation at that time, and this is reflected in these observations by BA, these observations are speaking more broadly to the situation and challenges facing the RCP and the communist movement in the world as a whole. For this reason—and because these observations continue to have relevance and importance in that light—the decision has been made to publish these observations. Also included, as an addendum at the end, is a more recent document, "Basic Orientation Regarding the Two Mass Initiatives (and the Overall Ensemble of Revolutionary Work)," written by Bob Avakian and distributed within the RCP earlier this year (2014). Some editing has been done, and footnotes have been added, in preparing this for publication.
We have to resituate the two initiatives—against mass incarceration, and against the degradation of women—in the context of the larger approach and objectives embodied in the Campaign as a whole that we are carrying out, with its three objectives: really putting revolution and communism on the map; making BA a household name and what BA represents a subject of substantive discussion and debate throughout society; and bringing forward waves of new initiators of the communist revolution. At the same time, we need to keep in mind that while these mass initiatives are part of an overall strategic approach or ensemble, they are not gimmicks to achieve the goals of the Campaign. There are two "mirror opposite" errors: the economism of "the movement is everything, the final aim nothing," divorcing these initiatives from larger strategic objectives (and slicing further down within that, reducing mass incarceration to STOP Stop & Frisk, for example); or not really building these initiatives as truly mass movements and struggles.
These mass initiatives are part of a strategic approach, but they also have relative identity themselves. They are real struggles that we are taking up—real outrages and concentrations of key social contradictions. And Marx's point applies to both—if these are not resisted, the masses will be degraded into broken wretches, incapable of rising up for anything greater. Think about that report summarizing a wild discussion with basic masses about the oppression and degradation of women—and all the backward shit that came out from those very oppressed masses, including women, about the degradation of women, rationalizing and even in some ways getting into this. And these are not the most backward masses—in fact, in some ways these masses are advanced. It is not just a matter of the degradation of masses who are directly oppressed by this, but the dragging down of the masses as a whole. And the same applies to mass incarceration. It is not just that it's hard for masses of inner city youth to rise up in these conditions—including the aspect of self-degradation when they are cast into these conditions—but also the effects in society as a whole. These are egregious outrages, acute concentrations of major social contradictions, and masses do need to rise up against them. People of all strata have to be won to take this up. "Fight the Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution" has to be going forward rather than people being dragged down by these things.
And, without any hyperbole, we should recognize and present to people what really is involved in these concentrations of social contradictions. It is a form of slow genocide, what is happening with mass incarceration. That is not hyperbole. The degradation of women that's involved in both of these expressions—pornography and the Christian Fascist-spearheaded offensive on forced child-bearing—that's not hyperbole either. Forced child-bearing—denying the right to abortion, as well as to birth control—is slavery. There needs to be a truly mass struggle that's called forth in society against these things.
We're not going to overturn and eliminate national oppression and the oppression of women within the present system. But we're not Trotskyites with "transitional demands," aimed at tricking people into fighting the system over certain demands, and then, when they realize that they can't win those demands under this system, they supposedly become convinced of the need for some other system (whatever that means in the minds of Trotskyites). But this doesn't mean that there can't be real mass struggle developed and that the political and ideological terms can't be changed around these outrages, that the masses can't be transformed in their understanding; and it doesn't mean you can't put the ruling class back on its heels on these things. If we are correctly working in relation to this—if we are approaching all this with the understanding and orientation that this is all part of building a movement for revolution and these contradictions can only be fully and finally resolved by revolution, even as people should not now just take this and not fight it—then people, rather than being demoralized, can advance.
So, two points: One, what is involved with these mass initiatives are real battles in their own right that have to be built to change the terrain ideologically and politically, in terms of who has the initiative on this and how the masses are being transformed; and two, there is the question of how these link to the whole oppressive system and to making revolution.
These mass initiatives have to be taken up, on our part, in the framework of "Fight the Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution"; we have to constantly raise things back up to that vantage point and framework. At the same time, while we are coming from that framework and approach things from that perspective, these DO have to be taken on as real questions, real concentrations of major social contradictions. These outrages are NOT tolerable, and a mass struggle in many different forms has to be undertaken on the basis that they are not tolerable. Masses of people should not be forced, tricked and misled into putting up with this. If we don't approach this with this orientation, it will just be "let's get a few things going," and nothing will change.
That's why I keep going back to the paragraph in the Badiou polemic1 on the machinery of capitalism-imperialism humming in the background: "And [with reformism] the world stays fundamentally unchanged. Capitalism-imperialism continues humming in the 'background,' crushing lives and destroying spirits in its meat-grinder of exploitation. And the horrors continue unabated." That captures very powerfully the difference between reform and revolution. That basic point of orientation has to infuse how we take up both of these initiatives and how we handle the relation between them and the overall strategic objectives we have to keep clearly in mind and be guided by.
We should look at each of these mass initiatives in its own right, but not lose track of bedrock principles relating to the full picture, the overall strategic situation. And we need to go to people with a compelling argument for why these outrages are intolerable and mass struggle must be built against them. If you don't give people a feeling of what an intolerable outrage they are, you won't call forth the felt compulsion to struggle against them; but if you just do that and don't give them the full picture, they will be demoralized by the difficulties and twists and turns in the struggle, and/or misled and co-opted by other forces which will not lead things in the direction they need to go, even in terms of really building mass struggle against these outrages, let alone in terms of the fundamental solution. If you get something going, then other forces come in; if we don't bring in the larger picture, then it gets led back under the wing of the bourgeoisie, it gets sidetracked and dissipated and/or crushed.
To emphasize it again: These outrages—mass incarceration and the degradation of women—need to be fought, and we can change the terrain around these things. "Occupy" hasn't "won" anything, but it has contributed in a significant way to changing the political terrain. These mass initiatives have, if anything, even more potential to do that. These outrages really are as egregious, and as integral to this system, as we say they are. At the same time, I agree (with the point raised by another leading comrade) that a key goal of the work of our comrades in these initiatives should be driving people to the two mainstays of our ongoing work.2
We are still not thinking big enough in terms of these initiatives. With mass incarceration, we are talking about millions of people affected by this, and whole generations of inner city youth. On the one hand, there has been, since the time of the 1960s, the raising of significant Black middle strata—although their position is still precarious. On the other hand, this—mass incarceration—concentrates what this system has done to the masses of Black people in the inner cities. It is no better than Jim Crow. And don't think that—during the time of Jim Crow segregation and Ku Klux Klan terror—they didn't have all kinds of rationalizations about how this was necessary and even good. This is a big deal, mass incarceration. With the woman question, we're talking about the oppression and degradation of half the human race.
These are outrages around which really mass struggle has to be called forth. We need to constantly return to that. And then, in turn, on a more fundamental level, we are taking this up because these are two very key concentrations of what this system is all about and part of the whole larger picture of what this system is all about—which is why this system needs to be swept away. That's how we are coming at these initiatives, that's why we are working to make revolution, and why we're driving people to the two mainstays. Without revolution, egregious oppression, in many forms, will remain. And the world will get worse—there are the wars and torture, poverty and starvation, the brutal repression of people, the devastation of the environment. All this is rooted in the same system. And that's why you have to get into the question of what our Party is all about. We cannot mishandle this either way—either in effect treating these initiatives like gimmicks, around which we are not really intending to change anything, or treating them as things unto themselves. Many other people can and should be involved in these mass initiatives, for a diversity of reasons, but our orientation has to be: "We're going to change the whole society around these things as part of laying the groundwork and building up the basis for going for the whole thing." If you don't set out to change the society around these things, you're not taking up these initiatives correctly. There's a difference between saying you're going to eliminate all these outrages short of revolution, and saying you're going to change the whole society, that is, the whole political terrain, in relation to them-—the first is not true, the second better be. And then there is the fundamental point of how our work in relation to all this is laying the groundwork and building up the basis for revolution.
Changing society around these things, while it is not the same thing, and should not be confused with, making revolution, is nevertheless a real objective that has to be approached and fought for—but, on our part, fought for as an important part of building up the basis for and building up the movement and accumulating forces for revolution, and bringing something better into being. This is what we have to be constantly regrounding our own people in, and this is what the responsible Party collectivities should be constantly bringing it back to: how are we doing at handling these different aspects and their correct relation?
On the question of transformation of people vs. the notion of unchanging human nature. We have repeatedly—and for very good reason—emphasized the point that the problem is not human nature, the problem is the nature of the system. There is an analogy here to what is said in Part 2 of "Birds/Crocodiles"3: how do people get out of the self-degradation, which IS real? Particularly in regard to inner city youth, there is this notion, which is widespread, including among the basic masses, that "they're all messed up." What is actually wrong with where many of these youth are at right now—the shit they have gotten pulled into—will not be changed by telling them not to wear baggy pants, to pull up their pants and get respectable. No, through sharp struggle against what's holding them down, and especially as they see the prospect of a whole different world, and that becomes real and viable to them, they CAN transform themselves—but that is the ONLY way this can happen on a mass scale. The only way that will change for the better. Once again, we need to be bold with that.
In regard to what these two initiatives are dealing with, there is an element of self-degradation involved on the part of masses. But how you are gonna deal with that? This is the only way it's gonna change—through building mass resistance against these outrages and, on our part in particular, waging struggle to win people to revolution. In other words, "Fight the Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution." As has been emphasized, people don't make choices in a vacuum, they do it in the context of the social relations they're enmeshed in and the options they have within those relations. Which are not of their own choosing. They confront those relations, they don't choose them. Second, if people feel for whatever reasons they want to choose to harm themselves and others, we're going to struggle with them but not blame them—we're going to show them the source of all this, and call on them to struggle against it.4 There is no other way, besides "Fight the Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution" that this will change for the better in any fundamental sense.
A point on how people with the responsibility of representing publicly for our Party and its line present themselves vis-à-vis BA. We do not want "preliminary mantras" (or "mantras" of any kind) "in praise of BA." We are not, and we should not come off as if we were, some kind of religious cult which has to begin everything we say by praising our "god." What we want, what we need, is to bring out in a living way where we are coming from. The point is that we have a Party that stands on the basis of certain fundamental things. We should present this well. We should, in essential terms, put this forward: We have a Party that bases itself on communism as it's been brought forward to a new synthesis by BA, a Party that is led by BA. We should do this in a living way, as opposed to religious-like "mantras."
This should not be difficult at all. This should just be presented naturally—in a matter of fact, and at the same time compelling, way. It should be put forward boldly, and with the essential substance—and if people don't like that... boxing gloves—ideological struggle. But we should not come off as if there is, or there has to be, some kind of religious "mantra" involved. We shouldn't let petit bourgeois ways of thinking, with their prejudice against leaders, or at least communist leaders in particular, set the terms for what we do. But we also shouldn't actually turn into a cult, and tactically we should take into account how things affect people.
Where is all this proceeding from and where does it all have to go? How do you convey that, and not something else—how do you present that in the best way—given the particularity of the audience and the particularity of the circumstance? There needs to be a further leap in terms of how this is presented, with substance, in a living and compelling way—not only by a few people but by our people as whole.
If we are talking about someone like Sunsara Taylor, or Andy Zee, or Carl Dix, or Raymond Lotta, for example, what's the correct synthesis? People should get a living sense that these people are coming from a certain place—with substance, and liveliness—they are not at all a bunch of automatons. If our people clearly come through as basing themselves on a developed line, the new synthesis, and the leadership of BA, and at the same time it comes through that they are lively and creative people, and so on—that's what we need. Here are people basing themselves on this line and leadership and, wow, they can really think on their feet and have a lot to say—that's what should come through, that's what's gonna build up the whole thing.
Both of these things have to come through very prominently: 1, people are coming from the new synthesis of communism and the leadership of BA—that's the foundation; and 2, what they have to say and the way they present it is very provocative and illuminating—they don't fit the stereotype of a dogmatic communist, they're not cultists, etc., but people who are lively, creative and critical thinkers, with a scientific method and approach. And, in an overall way, it should come through that one flows from the other (that 2 flows from 1) in a fundamental sense. That is the right synthesis—there shouldn't be even a hint of defensiveness in all this, but there does need to be the right synthesis—and that will help drive people to the mainstays.
It should come across: The essential reason this person (an ST, AZ, CD, RL, etc.) is cool is because they've come to this understanding and orientation, this communism; it has a specific content in the world today and they're part of or related to a Party that has as its basis the new synthesis of communism and the leadership that's provided by BA. This embodies a synthesis of two things, which should be mutually reinforcing, in a positive way: the particular person with their own experiences, positive qualities, their own way of going after things, as one aspect, which is real; and the foundation and leadership that gives this the character that it has in its most fundamental aspect.
All this goes back to the interconnection (the dialectical relation) between the fact that what we're all about is revolution and communism, and that the new synthesis and the leadership that has brought this forward is crucial in relation to that. In ultimate and fundamental terms, the reason people get exercised about my role and leadership has to do with the reality that we're actually working to make revolution, with the final goal of a communist world. The terrain today is not what it was in the early 1970s, when there was a big struggle over what's real communism. The reason that people are so put off today is that they're not for revolution and not for communism—or they haven't been won to that yet. You can't understand why you should give so much importance to one person, unless you understand what it is that needs to be done—that you need a revolution, and what kind of revolution—and what the role of this person is in relation to that.
This relates to what is concentrated in Chapter 6 of BAsics,5 on revolutionary responsibility and leadership and the role of outstanding individual leaders, in relation to the challenge of making revolution and advancing toward the final goal of communism. Back in the day, from the time of the late 1960s, we'd argue: there is no such thing as being a communist without being a Maoist. Communism has developed—if you're not with Mao, you're not a communist.
Today, communism has advanced again, through the new synthesis. It is, and it should be, very easy, not at all hard, to present that, and argue for it, with substance and in a living and compelling way. Even with people, or at least honest people, who may not agree with you, who may not see or agree that communist revolution is what is needed—even with people like that, to present things in these terms is better. Whether someone agrees or disagrees with you, you get to the real question: whether you should be for communism or not, whether or not there should be revolution aiming for communism. Those are the fundamental terms we want to get to. The boxing gloves should be put on essentially to struggle around that. Problem-solution. It is simple if you're coming from that—if you present things in a living way and get into the role of leadership and individual leaders, and specifically myself, in that context, it makes sense, it puts things on the right terms, provides the right framework for struggling over things.
To go back to the two mass initiatives—and this applies to all that we do—in our approach we can't allow these things to be separated off from communism and what that means. If the mass initiatives become things unto themselves, then they will not actually be built as powerfully, in a mass way, as they can be and need to be, and they definitely will not contribute to building the movement for revolution, in the way they can and should. If we do our work correctly, in relation to these mass initiatives—and overall—growing numbers of people will begin to see the need for revolution and the need for communism. In the final analysis, if people do not get won to the need for revolution and communism, we're not going to get anywhere and the masses are not going to get out from under all the many different ways in which they are oppressed, exploited, and degraded.
People are not going to really understand and appreciate our Party and my role in particular if they're not being won in the direction of seeing that we need a revolution and it's got to be a communist revolution. We have to do all our work in a way that brings that forward. The reason for promoting and popularizing BA and the new synthesis is that this is what is needed to deal with the problems of the world and the solution to them. This relates to the "Because" formulation that our Party has brought forward as a concentrated statement on this question: "Because of BA and the work he has done over several decades, summing up the positive and negative experience of the communist revolution so far, and drawing from a broad range of human experience, there is a new synthesis of communism that has been brought forward—there really is a viable vision and strategy for a radically new, and much better, society and world, and there is the crucial leadership that is needed to carry forward the struggle toward that goal."
Let's get back to the basic question: what is the significance of this for humanity? People don't have to live this way. Here's what communism is about, and here, in the new synthesis, is another leap to it. People are living in ways that are horrible, and here's a way that they don't have to. Not that it's going to be easy, and not that people won't have to make sacrifices, but we don't have to live this way. Why can't people get excited about that? I can understand why certain people attack and don't want it. But why cannot people who are straining for a different way get excited? We ought to be able to convey this in a living way: this is where we're coming from, this is why we're taking up this mass initiative, as well as other important things we're doing, and this is why we're part of an organized vanguard force, or with that vanguard force, that is fighting to make this a reality, and to bring forward others to make it a reality. It's that that people ought to be deeply with and passionate for, and on fire to present to many others; and that should come across as really exciting to people. Not because you're some kind of "mentally deranged cult member," but because people could live in a much better way than this cesspool that they're chaining people in. If you're a Party member or a supporter really partisan to the Party, you ought to radiate this—not in a religious "beatific" way, but with living passion, because this is really the scientifically grounded understanding of what is, and what could be, and how to bridge the gap between the one and the other.
If that is what people are grounded in, we won't have these recurrent problems of going off track on this and even getting defensive when there is no reason to be defensive. This is what should infuse the Party and everybody around it. Yes, what we're setting out to do is very tough—but there is something to be very passionate around here.
As our Party's Manifesto6 puts it, there has been this long night, since the emergence of class divisions among human beings, and everything bound up with that. We don't want to go back to early communal society, which had real problems. But there has been a long night since then of enslavement and exploitation and oppression. And it can end. It could end badly or it could end well and go to a whole different, much better thing. And that's what we're fighting for here—and it is a fight. If you come into contact with people who have a sense that the world can go a whole different, much better way—that should be exciting.
In terms of these mass initiatives, once again, it is a matter of transforming societal terms around this and really mobilizing masses to battle back, politically, against certain concentrated forms of oppression. There is a need for massive struggle to do this—to change the terms, the thinking of people, and to really affect who has the initiative, politically and ideologically. At the same time, in terms of our orientation and approach, we have to do all of this, out of the gate and consistently, as part of building the movement for revolution. We need to be constantly regrounded in that synthesis—of really building struggle around these mass initiatives, against these concentrated outrages, on a truly mass scale, and at the same time doing this as part of building the movement for revolution. This orientation, on the part of our comrades involved in these initiatives, and of our Party as a whole, needs to be consistently applied, modeled, and fought for by people who have responsibility for providing leadership, in regard to these initiatives and overall, and this should be basically and increasingly setting the terms and the orientation for people who are around us and are being more and more drawn to our line. We need to change society on these questions—in terms of the major social contradictions that these initiatives are addressing—as part of building up the basis to make a fundamental change in the whole society and make a qualitative leap in terms of fully uprooting the different forms of oppression, in this society and ultimately throughout the world.
With regard to these mass initiatives, we have to be constantly paying attention to making sure that these things are both staying on track and getting somewhere. There really does have to be mass struggle against these outrages. These things are intolerable. And they are objectively intolerable to millions and millions of people. These are assaults on the masses which are against their interests, and masses can be won to see the intolerability of this and therefore feel compelled by that understanding to act. We have to win them to that and give expression to that. We have to mean what we say—these things are intolerable—and we have to take them on and mobilize broad masses of people who feel that they are intolerable and want to act because of that. And, in terms of our fundamental orientation, we approach all this—and we present all this to other people—as part of our work to build the basis for the revolution that is needed.
More on the role of the website/newspaper and polemics. The website/newspaper needs to be a key tool to take on the lines that have to be taken on, and it needs to model how to do that. That's how my statement on "Occupy"7 should be seen—as a tool for people to use to go out and unite, and struggle, with people. Unite—and struggle.
We do need people to get deeply into things like "Birds/Crocodiles," with all the complexity that involves. Not everything should be "quick and concise." The Badiou polemic, the polemic against Popper in Making Revolution and Emancipating Humanity8—those things are very good, and very important. More and more people should be introduced to things of that kind, and led to "work their way through" them. That is very important, it is essential. But we also need—and the website/newspaper should be a key source and model for—punchy, quick and concise polemics. Let's encourage people to use the website/newspaper in this way: "I ran into this, and I don't know how to answer it." Utilize the website/newspaper to answer it, and move the process along. We need to model and lead in making this happen and come alive. And if we do that, people will want to use the website/newspaper in that way. If we can't answer stuff that people run into, then we should just fold up and go away. But we CAN answer it—and we should—with the website/newspaper a key resource and tool for doing that.
Grappling with questions of theory and line (including policy for particular initiatives, etc.) is of course necessary and important, and has a definite role to play in the overall process of making revolution. BUT IT IS ALSO IMPORTANT TO EMPHASIZE THIS: Let's not overcomplicate matters—causing things to go off course and be stuck in paralysis, when there is a pressing need for things to move forward, and advances and breakthroughs to be made, in actually building these two mass initiatives, as mass movements/mass struggles, and pushing forward the ensemble of our revolutionary work as a whole, with BA Everywhere as its leading edge. The basic orientation that needs to be taken up—and actively applied—with regard to the two mass initiatives (as well as BA Everywhere and the ensemble overall), should be very clear. We need radical simplicity here and now, not overcomplication of what should be very clear.
What follows is the basic orientation for what is to be done with regard to the two mass initiatives and the ensemble overall, and basic guidelines for proceeding now to do it.
There is a profound basis in the objective world—in the contradictions of this system and how they find expression continually—for these mass initiatives (and the ensemble overall). And there is a definite and powerful basis in the subjective factor—that is, in the actual line of our Party—our line overall and specifically in relation to these mass initiatives (and the ensemble as a whole).
Who should be part of these mass initiatives—whom should we be working to involve in them? Everyone who agrees—or can be won to see—that what these mass initiatives are taking up (in essence: mass incarceration and everything bound up with that; and the degradation of women, particularly as focused now around the attacks on the right to abortion, and even birth control, and pornography and the sexual degradation of women) is intolerable, and must be fought against. This should mean that, in the very near future, hundreds are actively involved, in an ongoing way, in building these initiatives, with the aim of involving thousands and ultimately millions in various ways and on various levels. The situation and atmosphere need to be created in which people broadly who meet this criterion (of who should be involved) will recognize and feel that there is an important place and role for them in these mass initiatives, and the practical means must be developed to enable them to be actively involved and make real contributions to the initiatives.
At the same time, WE, as revolutionary communists (and those who are in basic agreement with us on this), should be putting forward, in relation to these mass initiatives, as well as in an overall way, that these and other outrages which in fact constitute concentrations of major social contradictions, are rooted in the basic nature and dynamics of this system, and they can only be finally and fully ended, and a radically different and much better society and world brought into being, through communist revolution, proceeding on the basis of the new synthesis of communism that has been brought forward through the work done by BA over many decades.
Through this ongoing process, and through correctly handling the contradictions (dialectical relations) that will be involved, in an overall way both the mass initiatives—as truly mass initiatives, involving growing numbers of people who are, at any given time, coming from different perspectives but are all in basic unity with the understanding that these outrages are intolerable and must be fought—and the movement for revolution, and the Party as its leading core, should grow and gain strength.
VERY IMPORTANTLY: We should certainly include ourselves among those who are in fact outraged by these outrages and feel deeply that they are intolerable and must be fought. The fact that we—as revolutionary communists, with a grounding in the scientific outlook, method and approach of communism (dialectical materialism), and its development through the new synthesis—understand that these outrages (and the many others we recognize as flowing from the fundamental nature and dynamics of this system) can only be finally and fully ended through communist revolution, and ultimately the achievement of a communist world, should make us even more—and certainly not less—outraged about all this and determined to fight it, now and in an ongoing way! This should come through in everything we do. And, as a matter of fact, a very important part of what we should be doing is (as another leading comrade put it) ORGANIZING AND MOBILIZING THE ANGER OF THE PEOPLE. In relation to that, as well as overall, we need to be consistently working—in the correct ways—to make all this serve the building of the movement for revolution, and the Party as its leading core.
And what about BA Everywhere—whom should we be working to involve in that? Everyone who agrees—or can be won to see—that it is very important that what is represented by BA/the new synthesis become a major point of reference, and subject of discussion and debate, throughout society, can and should be involved in and contribute, in various ways, to BA Everywhere. At the same time, those of us who are revolutionary communists, basing ourselves on the new synthesis, should be consistently setting forth, boldly and compellingly, our understanding of the importance of BA Everywhere, and its role as the leading edge of an overall ensemble of revolutionary work, and should be working consistently to build the movement for revolution, and to win growing numbers of people to agreement with what is actually the line of our Party, and to join the Party on that basis. In dialectical relation with that, the number of people who are, in various ways, involved in and contributing to BA Everywhere should also be continually growing—including many people who are not (or not yet) won to full agreement with what is represented by BA/the new synthesis of communism, but are in agreement that this, and the big questions it raises, should be broadly known, and actively discussed and debated, throughout society.
The important thing now is to have a grounding in this basic understanding, and to implement this, actually building the mass initiatives as truly and increasingly mass initiatives—and building BA Everywhere in the ways and on the level it needs to be built, to truly have major societal impact—all as part of an overall ensemble, whose whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
As has been emphasized, in proceeding to actually carry this forward, various contradictions, including ones which are complicated and difficult, will have to be confronted and correctly handled, and there will be a need, and a role, for continually returning to the basic grounding and guidelines that have been provided—and undoubtedly further guidelines that will need to be developed as things go forward, proceeding from the basic grounding spoken to here. But, to emphasize it again: The basic grounding and guidelines are there, to proceed to actually build these mass initiatives as truly mass movements/mass struggles around these crucial faultlines—involving growing numbers of people, with diverse viewpoints but all in unity that the outrages these mass initiatives are taking up are intolerable and must be fought—and to build BA Everywhere on the correct basis, while WE (and those who agree with us on this at any given time) work, in the correct ways, to have all this contribute to building the overall movement for revolution, and the Party as its leading core—learning and deepening our understanding and our ability to handle the contradictions that have to be confronted and struggled through, AS WE GO FORWARD.
In conclusion, let me return to where I started and give this emphasis yet again: As a basic point of orientation, and especially now: We must not get mired in overcomplication and paralysis. Again, radical simplicity. Grappling with questions of line and theory, and developing conceptions, plans, etc., are necessary and important; however, this must not be allowed to become, or be turned into, yet further, self-imposed, obstacles. Right now we need conception and plans that in fact facilitate—provide means and vehicles for—the carrying out of the line on the two mass initiatives (and the overall ensemble, with BA Everywhere the leading edge) in an active way, from here forward. On the basis of what I have written above here, and what it concentrates, and continually returning to and deepening this, AS WE GO FORWARD... LET'S GET OUT THERE, NOW, AND DO WHAT NEEDS—WHAT CRIES OUT—TO BE DONE!!
1. "Alain Badiou's 'Politics of Emancipation': A Communism Locked Within the Confines of the Bourgeois World," by Raymond Lotta, Nayi Duniya, and K. J. A., Demarcations: A Journal of Communist Theory and Polemic, Issue Number 1, Summer-Fall 2009 [back]
2. These two mainstays are the promotion and popularization of the leadership of Bob Avakian (BA) and the new synthesis of communism he has brought forward; and the website revcom.us/Revolution newspaper. [back]
4. This is spoken to in an article by Bob Avakian: "On Choices...and Radical Changes," Revolution #254, December 25, 2011:
On Choices... And Radical Changes
First, people don't make choices in a vacuum. They do it in the context of the social relations they're enmeshed in and the options they have within those relations—which are not of their own choosing. They confront those relations, they don't choose them.
Two, if people feel for whatever reasons that they want to choose to harm themselves and others, we're going to struggle with them—but we're not going to blame them. We're going to show them the source of all this in the system, and call on them to struggle against that system, and transform themselves in the process. Just because a youth "chooses" to sell drugs, or a woman "chooses" to commodify herself sexually, doesn't mean that they chose to have those choices. And there is no other way besides fighting the power, and transforming the people, for revolution that all this will change for the better. Blaming the masses for bad choices just reinforces the conditions that they are oppressed by.
In sum, people do make choices—but they make them enmeshed and confined within social relations that are not of their choosing. We have to bring into being different social relations and conditions so that masses of people can act differently and relate differently to each other. Fundamentally, that takes a revolution which is aiming for communism. [back]
5. BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian, RCP Publications, 2011. The title of Chapter 6 is "Revolutionary Responsibility and Leadership." [back]
6. Communism: The Beginning of a New Stage, A Manifesto from the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, September 2008 (RCP Publications, 2009) [back]
7. "A Reflection on the 'Occupy' Movement: An Inspiring Beginning...and the Need to Go Further," by Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, Revolution #250, November 13, 2011 [back]
8. Making Revolution and Emancipating Humanity: Part 1: "Beyond the Narrow Horizon of Bourgeois Right"; Part 2: "Everything We're Doing Is About Revolution", Revolution, October 2007-February 2008. Also included in Revolution and Communism: A Foundation and Strategic Orientation, a Revolution pamphlet, 2008. "Marxism as a Science—Refuting Karl Popper" is in Part 1 of Making Revolution and Emancipating Humanity. It begins on page 18 of the pamphlet Revolution and Communism: A Foundation and Strategic Orientation. [back]
Revolution #339 May 25, 2014
May 5, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
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Revolution #339 May 25, 2014
Now available—an e-book version of this 2010 work by Bob Avakian
May 19, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
This book makes the case for why humanity needs a communist revolution and deeply explores the means for actually bringing about such a liberating revolution. In this two-part work ("Part 1—Revolution and the State" and "Part 2—Building the Movement for Revolution"), Bob Avakian examines the contradictory dynamics of historical development in human society—and the possible pathways of change—and discusses the scientific methods and means for realizing the "Impossible Dream" of a viable and radically different world, one where humanity can soar beyond social relations characterized by domination, exploitation, and oppression. In a style that has been described as totally outrageous and eminently reasonable, Avakian punctures conventional thinking on a number of diverse themes (for example, the theory of “social contract,” notions of “human nature,” and today's “revolting culture”). In a penetrating critique, capitalism and the philosophies of the bourgeois epoch are sharply contrasted with the basic vision, principles, and approach of a new liberating society, including how this would be reflected in a constitution radically different than the current U.S. Constitution. Birds Cannot Give Birth to Crocodiles, But Humanity Can Soar Beyond the Horizon embodies the new synthesis of communism which Bob Avakian has been developing over the course of the past several decades, and provides new insights into the dynamics of social change and the strategy for revolution.
Revolution #339 May 25, 2014
Ex-prisoner on 1000 Years–$1000 for BA Everywhere:
Updated May 20, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Editors' note: The following is a slightly edited version of an interview with an ex-prisoner who is taking up 1000 Years–$1000 for BA Everywhere.
Question: Talk a little about your experience in prison.
Answer: When it snows where I was locked up, it snows a lot. So they literally stripped me buck naked and buried me in the snow from head to toe. And left me there to die in shackles. Because the prisoners started setting fires burning things because they saw what was going on, they had to come and get me and they took me to the special housing unit and beat me all the way down there. From that beating and that was just one of many beatings that I took in the prison system cuz we were organizing and they didn't want that.
We became politicized and we did our best to organize the prisoners, the best we could, organize prisoners and to them that was a crime. And then the thing is, after all that, they want me to take personal responsibility for all the things I done. And let me tell you, I done some things out here when I was young, I done some things that I really feel bad for. I feel bad for the people that I hurt and I take responsibility for the shit like that, but I'd never take responsibility for the shit that they've done to the people, the millions of people that they torture and beat around the world. And they will never take personal responsibility for the crimes that they commit against humanity, but they want us to take personal responsibility for the people we've robbed, people we've murdered, the people we've raped, because of the conditions we live in that forced us to go in that route, and most of us do. Once we go through that prison experience and read and become politicized.
It's hard for me to really speak about these things without really breaking down. The anger is still there. It's not an anger toward the people, it's not an anger. It's an anger that I have against the system that have done this to the people like me. And I'm not talking about me as an individual, I'm talking about the millions of people that they do this to around the world.
Q: I want to read BAsics 3:16 and ask you what you think.
A: The call is right but the problem I see with that is the people he's making that call to, the people who've been cast down—there's a Party out there that has a strategy to end this horror. I don't see them coming to that realization on their own, that science has to be brought to them. They won't spontaneously see it doesn't have to be this way. And you see it, I'm talking to people, they'll tell you, 'that's the real' 'it is what it is.' They don't add that it could be transformed. That part has to be added by a Party that's going to lead them. And that's us and there's people like me and other people that have been to prison that have transformed ourselves and can help lead these people who have been cast out. Lead them toward the Party and toward revolution.
Q: So, what does BA Everywhere—a campaign aimed at raising big money to project Bob Avakian's voice and works throughout society—to make BA a household word—have to do with that? And specifically 1000 Years–$1000 for BA Everywhere?
A: I think that's one of the most important components of the strategy because if people, if you get BA out everywhere and people start to see that there is a person that has a strategy, that changes things. Because at one time, you have to remember in the prison system BA wasn't there. Back when I was there in prison. There was the older stuff there. Like George Jackson. But actually that's the old stuff. BA has a strategy that has evolved from all that, from the '60s, he's developed that strategy and that science today and that's why it's important to get BA out everywhere and not just get Malcolm out everywhere. Because Malcolm had a program back in the days but it only led to a certain point. This strategy that BA has is revolution—nothing less. And that's the importance of it.
It means that this horrible system is not going to go away with anything else, it's not going to go away through praying, it's not going to go away through reform, through a new civil rights movement. This system has to be destroyed. That's what that means to me. And that's what should be made known to the people. That revolution—nothing less is going to get you out of this horror. Nothing else. The leader is there, the strategy is there, what's needed is you, like it says.
Q: What are you pledging to do here?
A: Well, I been in prison more than 30 years. I'm going to pledge to raise that amount of money and get people to help me and get people involved to raise this money.
Q: How about challenging people who may not have experienced this to match that? If you were speaking to people who are reading this, challenging them to match that $30 and the hundreds that will be raised by other prisoners and family and friends.
A: I would say the same thing that we just spoke about. If this is not done this system is going to continue. The mass incarceration that's going on now, it's going to continue to go on. People are going to continue to go to prison. People are going to continue to be tortured. And what we're doing here is we're trying to get this money raised so that we can get BA out everywhere including in the prison system which is an important thing. Getting BA into the prison and this is out there, this is why we're doing this, so that we can get this BA into the prison, when it wasn't there when I was there and it was needed.
Q: What would be your challenge to young people?
A: If the youth out here begin to see a movement that's brewing in the prison system, where prisoners are coming out transformed and coming into the community, that could definitely have an impact on the youth out here. Because a lot of the youth out here look up to people who are in prison already. Cuz they, "Oh you know my man Rob who he did two robberies, he doin 25 years, he told me it ain't shit, he be out in a minute." This is what the youth talk about. But if these same guys come out transformed with a message, telling people that reading BA, reading this science is important, if they could come out with that information, then that would have an impact out here. That's why it's important to challenge people to getting involved in this thing.
Q: How do you see the potential?
A: I can imagine a time where this mass incarceration where they got a pipeline, where they're sending all these youth to prison. I can imagine the prisoners coming out and really getting active and putting an end to that, the prisoners got the material BAE and came out here and started to talk to these youth, I could imagine a transformation where they plugging up that pipeline, where the youth are getting involved. In revolution. In building a movement for revolution. And that would be a very important point in this process. When you reach that point there, where you get the youth to become in revolution and not the bullshit they're involved in now because of the system, that could be a leap. A leap. I mean a big leap. Because this system cannot exist without sending all these fucking youth into the prison system. These youth are out here building a movement for revolution, that is a problem for them. That would really attack their legitimacy to rule. Their legitimacy to rule would be seriously challenged by that alone. That's just one thing, cuz we have an ensemble of things going on, this thing that we're doing right now is a really good thing because it speaks to what I'm just talking about.
I just want to say this to all the people who may read this: This system that we living under is not gonna disappear on its own. That's not inevitable. This system is not gonna grow a heart. Like you hear some black petty bourgeoisie ‘oh we need to vote’— this system's not going to suddenly grow a heart and become suddenly more humane to people. That's not going to happen. This system has already been analyzed scientifically, by its very nature it's oppressive and exploitative and it brutalizes humanity. This system needs nothing less than a revolution. The leadership and the science exists today. Revolution is possible. We have the leadership, and we have the science and that leadership is the Revolutionary Communist Party headed by Bob Avakian and this is why it IS important to get BA out everywhere. So it is important to get BA out everywhere and that's my analysis of this whole thing. That's real. That's real there.
Revolution #339 May 25, 2014
May 14, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
This past Sunday (May 11), a team of revolutionaries went to the local jail to call on and involve people who were visiting their loved ones in the 1000 Years/$1000 project of the BA Everywhere fundraising campaign. (If you're unfamiliar with this, check out "BA Everywhere in May and June: From the Hellholes of a Nation of Cages: A Call to Contribute to Human Emancipation") We set up a large display and a table with Revolution newspapers, BA Everywhere brochures, literature, and half-page 1000 Years/$1000 pledge cards we had printed on card stock. We told people that we are coming back every Sunday until the end of June. So we were both collecting donations on the spot, but also providing a way for people to come back after having saved up and/or raised the money. Next week we plan to play BA's New Year's message to further connect people to BA and to consolidate people in taking up BA Everywhere.
This was a somewhat lively scene (and at the jail there is a real mix of white, Black, and Latino, English and Spanish), with some stopping to listen to our agitation, some checking out the table, some buying newspapers and making donations. One white youth who was listening for a while came up to the agitator and suggested that he talk about how most people driving by don't even have a clue that this nice-looking tall building is actually a prison. After one person loudly argued in favor of religion, a Black man who had been hanging out on the far side of the little plaza walked over to the table and announced, "That's bullshit." He then hung around and listened to more.
A middle-age Black woman who had just visited her son stopped and wanted to know what this is all about. She read a few quotes from BA, lastly, "No more generations...", and replied, "That's some stuff!" She then remarked, "But that's not gonna shut down these jails." So I explained that only a revolution would do that, and that we are building a movement for revolution, and that prisoners have an important role to play in bringing that about. So raising money to get the voice and works of Bob Avakian into these hellholes is a way that prisoners can really transform themselves, and have transformed themselves, into emancipators of humanity. At that point it seemed a light went off in her head. She said that she was gonna go online and seriously check out this whole movement, and would be back next week.
A young Black woman came up to the table, pulled out her money, and wrote the following: "I'm donating a dollar to support my uncle who has been in prison for a year."
A white woman stopped and I explained to her what this is all about. She listened intently and said, "OK, I get it. And I just did five years, so here is five dollars." We talked a little more and she decided that she was gonna donate another $5 every Sunday in May. She was about to write a statement, but then decided that she needed to put more thought into it, and said that she would bring it next week with her money. Another woman said that her husband was doing 10 years, so she would pull together as close to $10 as she could for next week.
In a few hours, we got out 20 Revolution newspapers and raised $18 for the Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund.
While this is just the beginning, we felt that it was an important way to bring people into the process of this campaign. As it develops, we will post more.
Revolution #339 May 25, 2014
From the Stop Mass Incarceration Network...
May 19, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
As we build up to the October Month of Resistance to Mass Incarceration, we will be taking the fight to stop the slow genocide of mass incarceration to key sites of outrages committed by the criminal "injustice" system and of outbreaks of struggle against these outrages. As part of doing this we are fleshing out a proposal to go to places like:
Alabama's Tutwiler Prison for Women. The U.S. Department of Justice found prisoners at Tutwiler Prison endured all manner of humiliation, including male officers forcing women into sexual acts, openly watching women shower and use the bathroom, and more. Yet the DOJ has done nothing more than launch further investigation.
Menard prisoners on hunger strike. Prisoners in the High Security Unit at Menard Correctional Facility in Chester, Illinois, went on hunger strike on January 15, 2014, to protest their placement and conditions of confinement. They have faced ongoing retaliation.
Albuquerque, NM. An epidemic of police murders of unarmed civilians has enraged the entire community into a storm of resistance drawing national attention.
Immigrant detention centers. A massive program of criminally prosecuting undocumented immigrants has been hidden from public view. Thousands languish in federal, and privately run, "detention centers."
Join us for a summer of taking the fight to stop mass incarceration to the sites...
Revolution #339 May 25, 2014
Revolution #339 May 25, 2014
May 12, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
In large swaths of the world, imperialism's relentless grinding up of lives and crushing of spirits has given rise to reactionary Islamic fundamentalism with the most overt oppression and degradation of women at its core.
On the "other side" of the world, a culture of pornification, an ethos of male right, and laws have created a situation where one in five women will be raped or sexually assaulted while in college.
Here's why: EVERY SYSTEM OF EXPLOITATION AND OPPRESSION—including capitalism-imperialism in all its variations, mutations, and byproducts—has the oppression of women woven so deeply into its fabric that to tear it out requires tearing up the whole cloth.
COMMUNIST REVOLUTION can, must, and will END WOMEN'S OPPRESSION because it is about ENDING ALL EXPLOITATION AND OPPRESSION. There is the leadership, strategy and program for that revolution—you'll find it at revcom.us. What is needed is YOU.
Revolution #339 May 25, 2014
From a Reader:
May 19, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
For weeks now the eyes of the world have been trained on the West African country of Nigeria. On April 15, Islamic fundamentalist militias of Boko Haram raided a girls' secondary school, set it on fire, and kidnapped more than 250 girls taking a physics exam. Boko Haram later released a video with their leader saying the girls should not have been in the school and instead should be married, saying, "Allah instructed me to sell them... I will carry out his instructions."
I've got some thoughts on this.
Boko Haram and associated Islamic fundamentalist forces are a nightmare for the people. For anyone with a heart and soul, seeing these kidnapped young girls on the "auction block" to be sold as wives and slaves makes your blood boil.
But as I see Google News filling up with proclamations by the so-called "international community" that the global powers and their African lackeys are going to "intervene" in Nigeria and move on Boko Haram, I have to sound an alarm: The global outrage at this kidnapping is being mis-channeled into lining up people behind even worse crimes.
Look at the world this kidnapping took place within: Over two million women are dragged into sex slavery every year—20 percent of them children! And overwhelmingly this takes place through the workings of modern-day capitalism, not Islamic fundamentalism!
How does Boko Haram fit into this picture? And what can people DO to put an end to the enslavement of women and all oppression, everywhere?
Since the beginning of colonial domination of Africa—in the name of "modernity" and "civilization"—capitalist powers waged brutal wars against the people of Africa. They instigated and orchestrated bloody conflicts between African peoples. They promoted Christianity, even as they worked through oppressive traditional Islamic authorities. They imposed structures, including judicial and educational systems and most of all armed enforcers, that facilitated slavery and exploitation. And they are doing all that today.
In what is now Nigeria, the development of major oil fields and imperialism's rapacious thirst for fossil fuel have turned the Niger River Delta region into an environmental hell-on-earth. Millions live amidst near-continuous poisonous oil spills that dwarf disasters like the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill in the U.S. yet hardly make a ripple in the world's media. Meanwhile, other regions of Nigeria, including areas where Boko Haram has a base and holds power, have been basically abandoned by the central authorities.
Boko Haram fills a void in two ways: It serves as an enforcer for reactionary traditional oppressive social relations, and it poses itself as an "alternative" (a false alternative) to the horrors people see as coming from "the West," including an opposition to educating girls.
Apologists and cheerleaders for capitalism claim that opening education to women is the key to "empowerment," even to their "liberation." They deny the need to tear up the whole network of economic and social relations that enslave half of humanity. But when and where capitalism integrates women into its machinery of global exploitation, oppression, and environmental devastation, it doesn't end their oppression. It evolves and adapts forms through which women are subjugated.
Capitalism doesn't liberate women. Look at India, with its large numbers of university-educated women and its epidemic of sadistic, violent rape. Or look no farther than the USA, where women hold high positions in business, academia, and politics, but society is inundated with pornography, popular culture saturates society with degrading images of women, and rape rages out of control on campuses, in the military, and in prisons.
But Islamic fundamentalist forces like Boko Haram are threatened by changes in the forms through which women are subjugated. Boko Haram basically translates as "Western education is an abomination." For them, young girls should be child brides, not studying science. Part of the appeal of forces like Boko Haram is that many people in countries like Nigeria associate the integration of women into the "modern world" with traditional society being torn up and no good alternative in sight. Where and when this kind of draconian Islamist fundamentalism is a fit (even if not a perfect fit) for the needs of capitalism, defenders of the current world order will find some way to soft pedal their crimes, or portray them as "making progress on women's rights" (think Saudi Arabia, Iraq, or Afghanistan). Where fundamentalist Islam is in sharp conflict with the interests of imperialist powers, it is met with drones, mercenaries, and torturers, and a hellish cycle sets in.
In this clash of reactionary forces, it is capitalism-imperialism whose workings and policies—including its military aggression—is the overall driving factor. Every drone attack, every torture chamber, and every massacre by agents of U.S. imperialism serves as a recruiting poster for Islamic fundamentalism.
The last thing the people of Nigeria or anywhere else need is any more of ANY of that whole dynamic!
The terrible situation in Nigeria, the clash of two reactionary forces, poses with great urgency the need to bring forward the REAL REVOLUTIONARY ALTERNATIVE TO CAPITALISM. That alternative is Bob Avakian's new synthesis of communism, which builds on the overwhelmingly tremendous accomplishments of the first stage of communist revolution while confronting and advancing beyond serious shortcomings within that.
Making this REVOLUTION can set in motion a whole new force in this world, and model and serve communist revolution everywhere. The situation in Nigeria means we have work to do. And it should be, for all of us, an impetus to intensify and accelerate our work to make that happen.
Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated the number of women dragged into sex slavery each year.
Revolution #339 May 25, 2014
May 19, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
In speaking to the situation facing Black and Latino people in the U.S.—the mass incarceration and school-to-prison pipeline, the criminalization and demonization of a whole generation of youth, the overt or just-below-the-surface racism prevalent in society, etc.—Carl Dix of the Revolutionary Communist Party has said what is taking place is a slow genocide that could easily become a fast genocide. This regular feature highlights aspects of this slow genocide.
Question: What do you call a society where a court can sentence someone to death in part because they are Black?
Answer: The USA.
In 1997, a Texas jury sentenced Duane Buck to death in part because a psychologist had testified that he was more likely to be violent in the future because he is Black.
And even when the reasoning is not that blatant, the numbers tell the story. Texas is the death penalty capital of AmeriKKKa. "Since 1976, Texas has carried out more executions than six other states combined—Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Missouri, Oklahoma and Virginia—all of which have some of the busiest death chambers." ("Confronted on Execution, Texas Proudly Says It Kills Efficiently," New York Times, May 12, 2014) Who do you think fills death row in Texas? Black people make up 12.3 percent of the population of Texas, yet 41.6 percent of prisoners on death row in Texas are Black.
And no it's not just Texas. Black people are 26.5 percent of the population of Alabama, but 50.3 percent of the people on Alabama's death row are Black. And no, it's not just the South. Black people are 11.4 percent of the population of Pennsylvania, but 53.9 percent of Pennsylvania's death row population is Black. 30.6 percent of people executed in Oklahoma since 1976 have been Black. The population of Oklahoma is 7.6 percent Black.
To readers: Send in submissions and suggestions for this feature to email@example.com.
Revolution #339 May 25, 2014
Interview with Stephen: From drug dealing to fighting for the people
May 19, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
A national strategy meeting was held in New York City in April to plan for the October Month of Resistance to Mass Incarceration. Revolution/revcom.us talked with participants at the meeting, including families of those in prison, parents of those who have been killed by the police, and others active in the struggle against mass incarceration. The following is one of those interviews. Stephen [not his real name] is a youth who has been involved in the struggle around the murders of Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis and the fight to free Marissa Alexander.
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
I came to the United States when I was eight years old from [another country]. This church sponsored us to come to the United States and from there my daddy worked at the church, my mom worked at the church. I have two brothers and three sisters, a big family. I'm the second oldest. When I first got here in 2000, my daddy worked for the church for five years and then he died of cancer. Him working five years, social security couldn't really take care of us for that long and then funeral arrangements and all the expenses from the death. While he was sick he couldn't get the best treatment, he got the lowest he could get. Every month they told us, your daddy is not going to live this month. But my daddy kept fighting. Finally he left this world and when he left I kind of lost this sense of what life is, guidance, because this was my father, he was my best friend. I was 14 years old, first year in high school. It's critical at that age. You need your father at that point. Every man or woman needs their father at that age, you need guidance, a lot of things are going on. But he just passed away and it was really, really rough for my family.
We had good people in [the city where we lived] and we were able to get connected with and get support. It has just been a fight. My momma lost her job and was not working for about five years. She was working as a housekeeper. But when the economy crashed she lost her job. My father was trained as an architect. But when he came here he lost all that, all his greatness meant nothing coming to America. So he had to start at the bottom. So he was working as a custodian at a church, cleaning and painting. So he worked through that and he did whatever to take care of our family and he raised me and my brothers and my sisters right.
Now, when he passed, we went all different ways and that's when the streets grabbed me by my neck, no guidance. So I got involved with some street stuff and once I got into that street stuff it really opened up my eyes up to what life is like in America and how does it feel to be Black in America. When I first came here, at 12 years old was my first profiling. I had never been profiled a day in my life for being Black. I was riding a bicycle and a police officer stopped me, I was right outside my porch. I stayed outside this area which is lower-income housing, mainly Black. There is a lot of drugs, a lot of violence going on in that community. The officer stopped me and asked me why I ain't got no helmet on and the only thing I could say is my father don't know English, my mother don't know no English—I'm the closest thing they could translate to my parents what's going on. So my daddy comes out here and is like, what the police doing out here? I told my daddy, like, I don't know why they came here. They say I don't have no helmet, they say I have to have a helmet to ride a bicycle. I'm like, I didn't know that, he's saying they're going to write me a ticket and take me to jail and all that intimidation from an officer. So that was my first profiling and ever since then, it's just been flat-out racism. I never, never experienced racism until I got to America. Just being stopped all the time. After that it just went on. At the age of 14 and 15, it was like every time I walked down the block it's a cop saying he's going to arrest me, would stop me. And I was like, why you searching me, going through my pockets searching for drugs. I understand I'm in a drug area, but I'm fresh out of school. But I'm Black.
After my daddy passed, we all kind of went our different paths and my mom working, then losing her job. So I fell a victim to the street. The street grabbed me and I almost lost my life twice. I got shot, been incarcerated for about a year. The first time I was ever charged was when I was 14.... I felt wrong for what I did [but I got charged for something that I didn't do]... I went through that process, got out and got shot—something that was going on in the community that I had nothing to do with...
Then after that, man, it didn't stop, it just kept going. Every time I'm in the street I kept getting pulled over by the cops. I was still in the street life, but it didn't matter. After I got shot, I just lost my mind, full throttle. I didn't care any more, I lost who I am. I just didn't care no more, whatever happened to me happened. Fortunately I had people, good people who tried to help me with unconditional love, and I was able to break out of that slowly but surely to try and help my family.
Now you're no longer in the street life. So what's the relationship between getting out of that and getting involved in different struggles, like what you've been doing in the community and around Trayvon Martin?
All this stuff was going on, all this injustice, we had the police who got the transportation authority to come take away the bus stops so we can't be chilling at the bus stops no more. They got rid of the chairs, the benches, so we can't sit there no more. They got rid of the benches and they got rid of the few bus stops in our little radius and only left two...
Then later I got shot and went back into the streets and caught a drug charge and went to a juvenile detention center for a year. There I was right next to the [adult] jail and prison—literally I was being prepared to go to the adult prison. I could also see what's next for me and ever since that, somehow I sat myself down in my cell and started hearing voices, all these things that were going on with me, that I needed to step up and do something. Like I kept hearing from my friend about how a police sent a dog out on him, how the police shot my other friend four times in the leg—all this. And I started educating myself, I became like a juvenile representative, letting others know about their cases. I'm a listener. Once you're in court you sitting there with people charged with felonies and you better listen, you never know what's next for you. I went down to the juvenile prison and started educating other folks. And I said, you know when I get out of here, I'm not coming back cause guess what I learned? The statistic that 88 percent of all juvenile offenders re-offend in less than a year. I cried when I heard that, it hurt to my heart. And I said that's not going to be me. But reality shows that the statistic is real. Guess what, my friend, my brother, my neighbors, all of them, I kept seeing them re-offend in less than a year. And I just got tired of it.
I always had a voice but I could never really connect with the right people. But then I started seeing what's going on, then years later got back in school, forced myself to graduate from high school. Then I just promised myself, after school, I'm just going to push this thing, this positive vibe and this positive way of living to any other youth that's been in my place, in my shoes, that's walking in my same predicament, like don't have a safe home to go to, that they were forced to live on the street, to live a street life to provide for their family.
If my mom had a good job working, if my dad was still alive, I don't think I would have been forced to go on the street and sell drugs. I had to go sell drugs to provide for my family. I couldn't stay in the house with no lights in my house, no water in my house, you know. And my mom struggling to take care of six kids by herself. It hurt me to my heart at 14, 15, what could I do. What could I really do? The only option I had was to commit crime. And the only crime that I committed was selling drugs. So the older I got I started learning how I was affecting my community. All that time, all that year of being incarcerated. I really sat down with myself and I just started talking to myself and what should I do, what could I do to start making a change with myself. I made a change within me and after that I started talking and letting my friends know. I got with some friends in college. The Trayvon Martin struggle was the first thing I got involved with....
I could have been Trayvon, you know. Trayvon Martin happened and I just got so frustrated and tired of all the things that had been going on with the police brutality, with the racial profiling, with the white folks just mistreating me. I just got so tired of that. Trayvon Martin just gave me a line—that this is enough. I felt that Trayvon Martin—I just said this is enough. I need to take that step. And ever since then I sat down myself and I took that step. I took that step and I continuing and I try to keep it pushing. And even the people that disapprove of that message, I told them, I know you don't believe in why I'm doing this. But my heart is telling me, somebody is telling me to do this. And I had to do it, it's just like, oh man this is the point—if it wasn't for that point I will either end up being locked up in prison for a very long time or be killed up in the street. I would be shot up in the street somehow on the block.
The step that I made with this, that first night—cause I took the initiative to take it and make the step to—cause I kind of took it on myself to pay back on the corrupt that I did to the community where I infected my community, cause I was selling crack cocaine. And selling crack cocaine, man, it speeds your life. I'm 14 years old but I'm living a 30-, 40-year-old man life. I was living too fast. I kind of felt like I owed this to the community and I need to do something to give it back. So I started getting involved with activists, started getting linked up with groups doing positive things. And I've been inspired by everything from gay rights to the rights of workers, to the fight around Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis and Marissa Alexander...
Let me ask you this, I know you've met Carl Dix and other revolutionaries. The Revolution Club has a t-shirt that says, "This system has no future for the youth, but the revolution does." What do you think about this?
Just like, to go back to what I was saying. I always had a voice to say something, but I never went to the right people to say it, especially the people who had the same voice who I could fight along with. I just couldn't see those people. The only thing I was seeing was drug dealers and prostitution and drug users, that was all I was seeing. I wasn't seeing the people who was trying to really change this. Until I started meeting up with [activists in my city] and I got involved with that... Ever since I was young I always had this in my mind, this is not right how we're being treated and something got to happen. Cause I can't keep running. I ran from [my country] to the United States, where I'm gonna go after the United States? I can't keep running no more. I have to stop here. Right here is enough. There's no more running. It's death or freedom. And I made that decision on myself and I told myself either death or freedom. And I met Carl Dix and ever since then—I first heard him talk and he was letting us know about this movement that was going on and the organization and this is what I've been called for. This is the people that I needed to be linked up with because I always had that passion to go out there in the street but I didn't have the proper people for support. The people who were supporting me didn't want to support me in the things that I love. I love people, I love justice, I believe in justice.
I guess I just heard that from my family, my father was that way, my uncle, a lot of my family is that way. And boom, I ended up meeting Carl Dix after the Jordan Davis trial and when we was down there [in Jacksonville] and it was just something about that guy, everything he was talking about. It was kinda like pointing a finger at me, this is what I needed to be listening to, to be really proud of, not no drug dealer down the block that's telling me to be moving these drugs out on the street. I don't need to be listening to him. Now I'm listening to something that's really trying to help me, not just help me but help my little brothers and my kid's kids or whatever and I just take that step. It's been a rough road cause just like I was saying the people who love me don't support that kind of movement. And it hurt me—like if you love me don't you see that I love doing this...
Everything about your story reminds me about this slogan we have in the movement for revolution, "Fight the power, and transform the people, for revolution." Bob Avakian talks about how those who have been oppressed and ground down by this system, including the youth, need to be and can be part of the backbone for this revolution. But also how they need to be and can be transformed through fighting the system as part of building a movement for revolution.
I guess that's who I am. I don't know, there's just something that keeps pushing me. It's just something. Every time I get out in the street protesting, there's this massive energy in me to go against these kinds of things. I don't know where it comes from. I just get this energy just to keep going.
Do you think it's going to take revolution—nothing less? A lot of people think you can reform this system, that this idea of revolution is too radical.
It's the only way. It will take revolution. Because if we're just going to sit here and turn the other cheek around, guess what, it's ok for the police to do what they do. The people that are saying that [you can reform things] are the people who are happy with what's going on. That's the truth. These are the people who are happy with their own people being incarcerated, their own people living in poverty. They are happy with that. They want to turn around the other cheek. I'm not going to do that. I'm not going to turn the other cheek. And this kind of stuff is very, very near. And that's why I pushed myself to come to this event because I feel like I need, it's a voice for me to speak out. Even if I don't reach 500 kids, even if there are two kids that I could give another road. I'm young but I learned a lot and I also want to present anybody else that's coming up the same way I was coming up, [they] can change that. This kind of movement is very much needed for the young...
Revolution #339 May 25, 2014
May 19, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
We received this from The World Can't Wait (worldcantwait.net):
World Can't Wait will join 50 organizations in mass protest of the ongoing torture of 154 men at the U.S. torture camp at Guantánamo Bay. Witness Against Torture organized the response for Friday, May 23, on the anniversary of a speech where President Obama, responding to intense global response to the hunger strike of almost all the prisoners, said his administration still aims to close the prison.
In the last year, says the coalition, "only 12 men have been released. 154 remain, nearly all of whom have never been charged with a crime. 76 were cleared for release by the U.S. government years ago. 56 men are from Yemen, the largest national group at Guantánamo, but they remain subject to an effective moratorium on their release based on their nationality. No one from Yemen has been freed since the May speech.
"Up to 40 prisoners continue to hunger strike, and many are being subjected to forced feeding—a practice condemned by international human rights organizations, medical associations, and members of the U.S. Congress. New lawsuits in U.S. courts lay bare the extreme cruelty of the forced feeding at Guantánamo. To quell the public outcry against the prison, the U.S. military in December 2013 stopped reporting the numbers of hunger strikers. More recently, it has classified their protest, in Orwellian fashion, as 'long term non-religious fasting.'"
Actions are planned in 33 U.S. cities and Poland, England, Mexico, Germany, Australia and Canada.
Revolution #339 May 25, 2014
May 19, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
On May 13, an explosion probably due to a faulty electrical system touched off deadly fires in the tunnels at a large coal mine in Soma in western Turkey, killing hundreds of miners. The official death toll is 301—the worst single industrial disaster in Turkish history. The grief of the families of these miners has reverberated throughout the country and the world.
The head of the government of Turkey, Prime Minister Recep Erdogan, went to Soma on May 14 and openly expressed how the system of capitalism he represents looks at such disasters: He gave a list of coal mine accidents in England in the 1800s and then said, "This is what happens in coal mining. There is no such thing as accident-free work." His cold-blooded message: This is the way it's been since the early days of capitalism, and the way it always will be—so just accept it.
Erdogan was booed, there were scuffles with angry protesters who demanded he resign, and he ended up seeking refuge in a nearby shop. Erdogan's remarks fueled people's anger and on May 16, over 1,500 protesters in Soma clashed with riot police, who used tear gas, plastic bullets, and water cannons. More than 20,000 marched and fought police in Izmir, the largest city near Soma.
Protests have also spread to other cities, and the widespread sentiment was expressed on one banner that said, "It was not an accident, it was murder."
In Istanbul, several thousand took to the streets, shops closed down in solidarity, and metro commuters played dead on platforms. Twenty thousand protested in İzmir. In Ankara, 3,000-4,000 marched, hurling rocks. In all these places, the police responded with tear gas and water cannons.
On Saturday, May 17, the Turkish police put Soma on virtual lockdown, setting up checkpoints and detaining dozens of people to enforce a ban on protests.
The quickened pace of imperialist globalization in recent decades has pushed the intensification of capitalist development in Turkey, including development of energy sources at a breakneck pace, especially of coal, with little regard for workers' safety and conditions.
One protester was quoted in the press, "They don't put any value on a human life. All they care about is profit, and nothing else."
The Soma mine disaster was a crime of the capitalist system that, from its earliest days, has ground up the lives of the exploited and oppressed—and today does so intensely and destructively on a global scale, including driving the ever more fierce competition for and exploitation of resources that is leading the world to the edge of environmental catastrophe from the burning of coal and other fossil fuels. As Communism: The Beginning of a New Stage from the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, says, "Despite what is constantly preached at us, this capitalist system we live under, this way of life that constantly drains away—or in an instant blows away—life for the great majority of humanity, does not represent the best possible world—nor the only possible world."
Revolution #339 May 25, 2014
Mass Incarceration, the Democrats, and Angela Davis
May 19, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
The following is an excerpt from an important talk from the Revolutionary Communist Party, "Where We Are in the Revolution," that is being presented in a number of cities during the month of May.
Around mass incarceration and criminalization, there is beginning to be a different, more combative mood. This has been building for a while, and our Party along with others has been part of building that. And now, suddenly, the Democrats—after at least 25 years of outdoing the Republicans in carrying out the imprisonment of masses of Black and Latino youth and the stripping away of legal rights to appeal, of outdoing the Republicans in lecturing these youth on "no excuses," of indulging in those infamous racist code words "tough on crime,"—have come to pose as "very concerned about mass incarceration." They will promise you everything in order damp down your resistance and lead you on a road to nowhere. Don't be fooled; and don't let others be part of fooling you on this. This is a critical juncture.
As one example of how NOT to understand what these rulers are doing and the real dangers involved in that, I want to talk about Angela Davis, who was recently on Amy Goodman speaking about mass incarceration. She said, speaking of Obama's sudden "interest" in mass incarceration, that:
It's pretty unfortunate that Obama has waited until now to speak out, but it's good that he is speaking out... I think ... after this world-historic election that took place, we went home and decided that this one man in Washington would carry the ball for us, not recognizing that, actually, he was the president of the imperialist, militarist United States of America. And I think that we might have had more victories during the era of Obama's administration had we mobilized, had we continually put pressure on him, and also created the possibility for him to take more progressive stances.
This is exactly the kind of thinking that has eased the way into the horror of the past 40 years. This is a false path—it is dangerous, but it doesn't necessarily appear that way, so let's break it down.
First of all, the only reason Obama is "speaking out" is both because other countries are increasingly using the outrage of mass incarceration to neutralize the U.S. claims to being a great champion of human rights AND because there is an increasing frustration among not only Black people but many other people who had invested hopes in Obama. If he didn't "speak out" he risked losing control of "the Democratic base"—that is, the oppressed masses they are in charge of misleading and controlling.
Second, what is this "speaking out"? Is he calling on people to move heaven and earth to end this outrage, or to at least protest? No. This "speaking out" has taken the form, in his White House speech of February 27, of, when you drill down to the essence, blaming Black people for supposedly not being good parents—and here I have to say it takes some gall to lock millions of men and thousands of women away on drug possession charges for years and years, hundreds of miles away from their impoverished kids, who don't have the money to get to you or even call you... or to put poor Black women in situations where they are forced to work without money for childcare, thanks to Clinton's ending of "welfare as we know it," often battling eviction if not outright homelessness at the same time... and then to turn around and blame them for supposedly not being good parents. So, no, it's not "good" that he's "speaking out."
Third, the main "world-historic meaning" of Obama's election was the way in which all too many progressive people willfully deluded themselves and others into a "feel-good narrative" about what that election was going to mean and why those who choose the nominees (and no, it's not you and me) settled on Obama—precisely as a "trump card" to bring back the millions who had begun to lose their "faith in America" through the Bush years.
And, oh yeah, not everyone "didn't recognize" that Obama was imperialist and militarist—we for our part not only recognized it but insisted on spoiling everyone else's fantasy—everyone else's "narrative"—by refusing to stop telling that "inconvenient" truth. If you're finally going to admit that now, then at least tell it like it really is, which is that he is a war criminal. Words like "imperialist" and "militarist" are not meaningless buzzwords designed to show that you're with it, they have a specific meaning—it means that someone is the head of a system which is characterized by the attempt to dominate as much of the world as possible and to do so by means of military violence or the threat of such violence. Imperialism and militarism are not a set of policies or attitudes which can be switched on or off or somehow mitigated depending on who is at the controls: they describe a SYSTEM. If someone is the head of that system then it means that every calculation he—or she—makes is based on advancing the interests of that system. What Obama decides to do or not do about mass incarceration is based on that, including whether by doing a few half measures or even just talking some stuff he can prevent people from rising up or, if they do begin to stir, derail that into channels that are harmless to the system and which do not, in fact, even begin to touch mass incarceration and because of that end up discouraging and demobilizing people. We didn't "forget" that and neither did some other people, and we didn't "go home"—we joined together to FIGHT these outrages, taking arrests around stop-and-frisk, supporting the heroic hunger strikers in the California and other prisons, we worked with the people's neighborhood patrols to stop illegitimate and illegal abuse under color of authority, and so on.
If we end up aiming our struggle at "creating the possibility for Obama to do better," we are no better than calves clamoring to get into the veal pen because we'll get more food, and hoping that the farmer won't take us to the slaughter house. This October—when the Stop Mass Incarceration Network has called for a month of resistance—and in the time leading up to it, even as it has ways for many, many people to join in from many different points of view, has to also burst the bonds of respectability, it has to find the ways to take people in America out of their comfort zone and confront them with the reality of what they are letting happen and make clear that there are people increasingly determined NOT to put up with it any longer! And you can't really do that if you're thinking about "creating space for Obama." Guess what—he doesn't want that space. And he'll tell you, like he called the immigrants' rights activists to the White House this spring and demanded that they back off their protests. If you really understand that Obama represents a system—a system that admits that it is on track to imprison one-third of the Black male babies born in any given year... a system that really does have NO right to rule, no legitimacy whatsoever just based on that alone... then act on that belief, and bring it out to others. Be part of weakening that wall, don't follow people who try to patch up the cracks in the wall and paint over the rust.
Revolution #339 May 25, 2014
May 16, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
From a reader:
Stop Patriarchy went on an "Abortion Rights Freedom Ride" last summer through Wyoming, North Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Arkansas and Mississippi, through the regions of this nation where abortion rights are under the sharpest attacks. Access is scarce at best. The stigma that abortion is murder, along with the message that having babies is every woman's dream come true, are blasted across billboards for miles of freeway. Doctors receive regular death threats. Armed, murderous cults of Christian fascists preach hellfire and brimstone at abortion clinic doors and parking lots, commanding men to take "their women" out of there, terrorizing the staff and women. Republican senators say things like "The vaginal canal is the new Mason Dixon Line," and teenage girls get into fist fights so they'll miscarry instead of having to face the financial, social, and "moral" hardship that is imposed upon this simple medical procedure, this most basic of rights, this very humanizing choice.
When the ride went to Fargo, where the only abortion clinic in the state was only still open because of a court injunction, Stop Patriarchy joined about fifty others for the first rally of the ride, for abortion on demand and without apology. The need for the politics and the moral certitude that is concentrated in the slogan "Abortion On Demand and Without Apology" was presented from many angles, by many voices, all reflecting the reality around us: the anti-abortion movement hates independent women as much as it hates science, and it is dominating the thinking of many millions. If we are driven by the goal of the real liberation of women, we embrace science, and we understand what is at stake, a now small group can step out in big ways, and by rallying others into uncompromising resistance, can move millions.
At this rally, Sunsara Taylor said:
"A lot of people talk about, when abortion is illegal, women die. That's true... These stories need to come out, it's very important. But that's not the whole of it. When abortion is illegal, women have their lives foreclosed by forced motherhood. That's it for them. They drop out of school, they get trapped in abusive marriages, they get... into marriages that never should have happened, they get driven into poverty, or deeper into poverty. Their whole lives are changed and shaped for them. And then, every other girl growing up... when they see that going on, it's not just that their dreams are extinguished, the dreams don't even flourish to begin with. Because when you see every woman around you treated that way, it's like trying to grow a plant underneath a rock."
This is a tragically accurate metaphor. Right now—through targeted regulation of abortion providers that are forcing clinic closures, through laws that redefine when life begins (giving fetuses more rights than women), through bans on abortions at earlier and earlier points in pregnancy, and through moves against birth control and the ability of insurance to cover abortion and birth control—the U.S. government is making it clear that women dare not even dream of themselves as multi-dimensional (and sexual) humans with aspirations outside of the role of motherhood. And these moves are not slowing or ebbing, they are accelerating and expanding. While occasionally some of the most extreme efforts have been stopped in state senates or in the courts, this is not the overall trend and trajectory. While the government codifying into law a subhuman status for women has enormous stakes and will not be easily undone, the ways in which patriarchy continues to teach women and men that being born with a uterus is a condemnation to a life of exploitation, abuse, objectification, servitude and outright slavery, is not limited to the realm of reproductive freedom. In the realms of education, media, music, and most social experiences one can imagine, women are being taught in some ways forceful and some ways with more subtlety, to never dare to dream.
For example: there is a tendency in third wave feminism, gender studies, and throughout progressive academia and activism, to promote a "sex positive" view. There has been so much shame put on women who engage in sex or female sexual pleasure; "sex positive" tries to defy this by upholding and validating and refusing to judge any of it. This has mixed results—on the one hand, fighting for women to know about their clitorises, not think of their vaginas as "dirty," and feel comfortable and confident telling their partners what they want or don't want in their sex lives is extremely important. Fighting for men to welcome and respect this is also extremely important. However, this outlook also says that nothing can be questioned or challenged in this realm, including sexualized humiliation, acting out of rape fantasies, and acts of outright degradation, using the trappings and mechanisms of slavery to get off.
This is on the surface in opposition to sexually repressive culture and customs. Because it embraces sexual exploration, female sexuality, confidence in one's body, it is a kind of answer to more "traditional" views that women don't orgasm, sex should only be for procreation, and a woman should be ashamed of her body. The problems are that it confuses sex with what pornography has taught us sex is and should be, and it abstracts the individual from society.
Stop Patriarchy was recently asked to remove all anti-pornography messages from a table we had at a Vagina Monologues production, in the name of "sex positivity." Activists with Stop Patriarchy said, you know that there's a war on women when the state can keep sex education out of the schools and abolish abortion, while a curious ten-year-old can type "sex" into Google and watch a woman eat shit. This is what we are exposing, and we should all fight it. Porn has nothing to do with sex, and it's not "positive" in its effects—it does nothing to encourage real intimacy, it makes rape and the absence of consent sexy in the minds of many, and the industry itself continues to intersect with sex trafficking and generally treat women like garbage. The event organizer went on to say that there were women involved in the event who create "feminist pornography." Stop Patriarchy said that we need a movement for women's liberation, fighting for a world without a multi-billion dollar sex trafficking industry, where women's bodies are not objects up for sale: not through sex slavery, not in strip clubs, not in porn, no matter who is getting the profit. A world where slavery is rejected not sexualized, and a woman is more than an orifice and receptacle to stuff things into or pump stuff out of.
This is where the connection between the social origins and the social consequences of individual desires must be grasped. Not all theories that seem on the surface to be in opposition to harmful and oppressive tradition actually reflect the kind of world that is possible: a world without slavery in any form. On the contrary, the defining of sex as "whatever you want it to be" when what people want is being shaped by a patriarchal system, is in itself a stamp of approval on the intolerable conditions women face in the world as it is.
In a world where acid attacks, stonings, arranged marriages, forced sterilization, domestic violence, stalking, rape by machine gun, criminalization of abortion, and super-exploitation are commonplace, it is damaging to imagine that personal desires and individual identity exist somehow abstracted from influence. To refuse to confront the reality of patriarchy and to naively (and somewhat selfishly) claim that personal desires and individual identity are untouched and untouchable private property, is an endorsement of the following stories, right here in the U.S.:
What does mistaken anal sex, cum shots to the face, and the encouragement of rape fantasies have in common? Lost intimacy. Constructed identity. A twisted version of sexuality imposed on people by patriarchy, by the reality that in this world, being born female is a condemnation to serve as a disposable utility. To the point where "being yourself" or discovering your own complex desires and turn-ons is an obstacle course fraught with prevention and misdirection. Riddled with predetermined patriarchal notions and barriers, from the cult of motherhood to the flesh trade. That is the backdrop on which "sex positive" thinking encourages everyone to "do their own thing," in a nation and a world where dehumanization of women is the thing to do.
Patriarchy in all its forms, including the pornography apologetics of "uninhibited individuality" that abstracts desire from its social context, continues to shape our relationships with others and ourselves, to shape our futures, our dreams, what we think we "deserve" and what we believe we're capable of. No individual lives outside of the real world or escapes the formative lessons of the "money shot"—you know your place before you even get to the age where sexuality is interesting. If you can't imagine sex without porn... you're fucked.
And then, every other girl growing up... when they see that going on, it's not just that their dreams are extinguished, the dreams don't even flourish to begin with. Because when you see every woman around you treated that way, it's like trying to grow a plant underneath a rock.
It's time to do some serious imagining of the kind of liberated society we want to see, what a revolutionary state power could accomplish by changing the conditions that women face, and what a revolutionary people might desire sexually and otherwise, in the context of taking responsibility to create a world without oppression. What it would be like without the shaming of women who have sex, without the confounding of sex with degradation, without sex slavery, without motherhood as an archaic and obligatory form of redemption for woman's "original sin," and without patriarchy. This imagining has already begun, but much much more is needed. Find out more by reading A Declaration for Women's Liberation and the Emancipation of All Humanity, and send in your own thoughts, responses, questions, poetry, and imaginings.
We need a revolution. Then we can see what people's dreams and desires become. Then we could have some room to breathe.
Revolution #339 May 25, 2014
Revolution Interview with Dr. Susan Robinson
Updated May 16, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Revolution Interview: A special feature of Revolution to acquaint our readers with the views of significant figures in art, theater, music and literature, science, sports, and politics. The views expressed by those we interview are, of course, their own; and they are not responsible for the views published elsewhere in our paper.
Recently, Revolution/revcom.us had the opportunity to interview Dr. Susan Robinson, one of the four heroic abortion providers in the U.S. who openly provide much-needed third trimester abortions. She worked with Dr. George Tiller in Kansas, who was murdered in cold blood by an anti-abortion fanatic in 2009, and she was featured in the highly acclaimed 2013 documentary, After Tiller. The clinic in Albuquerque where Dr. Robinson does this important work was under siege last summer from the Christian fascist group Operation Rescue, and in November 2013, the city was also targeted with a law banning abortions after 20 weeks, a very important service provided by her clinic. Robinson was presented with an "Abortion Providers are Heroes" Award by the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride last summer. The beginning part of this interview, where Dr. Robinson discusses what people need to know about the importance of and need for third-trimester abortions, was published on April 10. The full interview is now available below.
Revolution #339 May 25, 2014
May 17, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
On May 1, 2014, the Department of Defense released its Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military for 2013. Their findings show that reports of sexual assault increased in all four branches of the military by 50 percent in the last year; a total 5,061 allegations of sexual assault were reported in 2013. The report also acknowledges that the number of sexual assaults reported reflect only somewhere between 11 and 20 percent of estimated sexual assaults that happen in the military.
Military defenders and apologists are claiming that the increase in reporting of sexual assault is a triumph, showing that reforms in the military reporting process are making female soldiers more confident and comfortable reporting sexual assault! Senator Claire McCaskill had the audacity to release a statement that heralded the 86 percent increase in reported sexual assault in the Marines as “concrete progress as our recent sweeping reforms continue to take root”!
According to the same report, half of the women who reported sexual assault in 2013 declined to press charges out of fear of retaliation. Forty-three percent did not think anyone would believe them. Seventy-four percent of women said they “perceived barriers” to reporting sexual assault.
The estimated total of unreported assaults is based on surveys that require the victims to tell the truth at great personal risk. The fact is there is no way for these imperialists to know if more women are coming forward with these stories, because they don’t know how many victims there actually are. For a woman in the military who has been raped to be dismissed, alienated, and retaliated against for reporting sexual assault is commonplace. To the extent that it may be true that the increased number of reports reflect an increase in overall reporting, the deeper problem is that rape and sexual violence against women are rampant and epidemic in the military, and in society at large. But this is the question that is not being asked: WHY are women in the military being sexually assaulted by the untold thousands, and then being thrown headfirst into a hurricane of hostility, misogyny, rape apologetics and victim-blaming if they dare to report?
Colonel Mike Hudson, the top officer in charge of preventing sexual assault in the ranks of the Marines, says that sexual assault “tears at the fabric” of the Marine Corps. Actually, patriarchy is woven into the fabric of the imperialist system that the U.S. military fights to protect and expand, and the way that is revealed in this case is through a problem that this military itself cannot solve. Col. Hudson himself is not ultimately expressing concern for the lives or well-being of the women being assaulted, but about the coherence of the military: its ability to efficiently and effectively carry out the orders and tasks of an imperialist power (the U.S.) in the framework of a global imperialist system. The empire this military defends and expands by force seeks to dominate and exploit the resources and the people of the world, and to eliminate any barriers between itself and that domination and exploitation. Right now, that empire is waging an all-out war on women, and stoking the fires of religious fundamentalism—in the U.S., Christian fundamentalism is given legitimacy as the government continues to accommodate and justify fascist politics that are right now eradicating the right to abortion; in the Middle East, the real brutality and illegitimacy of wars and other attempted conquest by U.S. imperialism has generated the momentum for a strengthened wave of Islamic fundamentalism in opposition to it. At the same time that it is contributing to an increasingly terrifying climate for women through the bolstering of both forms of religious fundamentalism, the U.S. government also accommodates and protects a multi-billion-dollar industry of violent and degrading pornography, and then calls that “progressive” in comparison to the older and more traditional expressions of patriarchy. The ways that women in developing countries are super-exploited by U.S. corporations, the fact that reproductive freedom is so hotly contested and controlled, and the constant sexual objectification or sexual repression of women in reality and in media representation, are all fully consistent with this imperialist system and the U.S. as a major imperialist power.
Any military is a concentration of the world it is fighting for. While some may say that the rampant abuse and violation of the bodies, minds, and reputations of female soldiers is somehow in conflict with the values of the U.S. military, in fact the opposite is true. The role of this military is to enforce and extend to all corners of the earth what that power is actually all about, including patriarchy, the systemic enslavement and domination of women by men.
Sexual assault in the military does pose a problem for the imperialists. Because of women's changing position in society, including the fight to enter into all spheres, they have brought women into the military; this is clashing deeply and violently with the culture of open male supremacy and misogyny which has been part of the military's cohesion: from those who carried out the slaughter of Native Americans slicing off the genitalia of indigenous women and wearing them as trophies, to the massive rape and use of brothels made up of impoverished and desperate women in the Philippines, Vietnam, and Cambodia, up through today’s epidemic of rape and violence against women in the military.
At a time when one of the favorite ways the U.S. likes to claim the moral high ground in the world is by wrapping themselves in the mantel of women's freedoms, the true horrific and woman-hating nature of U.S. capitalism-imperialism is revealing itself in uncontainable and epidemic proportions in the military. Consider the following stories from the military, revealed in the last year alone:
There is a reason why the U.S. military cannot resolve problems of patriarchy like rape and sexual assault within its ranks. In the words of Bob Avakian:
“The interests, objectives, and grand designs of the imperialists are not our interests—they are not the interests of the great majority of people in the U.S. nor of the overwhelming majority of people in the world as a whole. And the difficulties the imperialists have gotten themselves into in pursuit of these interests must be seen, and responded to, not from the point of view of the imperialists and their interests, but from the point of view of the great majority of humanity and the basic and urgent need of humanity for a different and better world, for another way.” (BAsics 3:8)
Rape and misogyny are the trappings of patriarchy and are in the veins of U.S. imperialism and the U.S. military, not an aberration from it. The policies, programs, and all the lip service that claim to attempt prevention do not stand a chance nor do they even make an effort to challenge the essence, the interests, and the culture that has created this epidemic of rape and blatant hatred of women in the U.S. military. Neither the problem nor the solution will be presented by the Department of Defense, the Pentagon, or Congress. The problem is patriarchy and the overall system of capitalism-imperialism, which cannot eliminate and can only give rise to new and ever more perverse forms of patriarchy. The solution is revolution, to get rid of this system and get to a world without patriarchy, or oppression and exploitation in any form.
The U.S. military has no right to rule, here or anywhere.
Revolution #339 May 25, 2014
From a Reader:
May 19, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Since January 2010, the Albuquerque Police Department has shot and killed 25 people.
Protests against this spree of state-sponsored violence began in 2010. These protests exploded onto national and international news on March 30 of this year as 1,000 people took the streets of Albuquerque in a combative protest in the face of hundreds of riot police, after the wanton police murder of a homeless 38-year-old mentally ill man, James Boyd, in the foothills of New Mexico's Sandia Mountains.
James Boyd was seeking some solitude (peace and quiet away from the madness of this system that surrounded him) and had set up a mini-camp for himself in the mountains. He wasn't bothering a soul. But the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) didn't like that Boyd had set up a little campsite for himself. They executed him in cold blood in a military-style raid in the foothills.
The police murder of James Boyd was caught on the helmet video camera of one of the murdering cops. Hundreds of thousands of people have seen the horrific and graphic footage on YouTube of the outrageous murder of this homeless man with mental health issues.
The police murder of James Boyd in Albuquerque came after the recent trial of Fullerton, California, cops who were found not guilty after they murdered in cold blood a homeless man, Kelley Thomas. At the time of the exoneration of these Fullerton cops for their savage and heinous fatal beating of Kelley Thomas, I thought this verdict was a "green light" for police departments around the country to murder any homeless person they wanted to. And that's what happened to James Boyd—murdered in cold blood, for no reason at all... other than the fact that this system deploys cops in Albuquerque and everywhere else to murder many hundreds, and thousands, of people across the country as part of their "serve and protect" mission to enforce this system that rules over the masses.
Since Boyd's murder by police on March 16 and the major protests that followed, the APD has shot to death three more people. In the midst of this roiling situation, I had an opportunity to spend a weekend in Albuquerque. I met with movement activists and family members whose loved ones had been killed by the APD, with academics, intellectuals, and everyday people on the street and at events. I brought into this scene, and to these people, the urgent need for revolution in the U.S. to stop these and countless other crimes this system is responsible for, and to introduce as many people as I could to the strategy for revolution and the new theoretical synthesis of communism that's been developed by Bob Avakian. I also brought to people the October Month of Resistance to Stop Mass Incarceration, Police Terror, Repression, and the Criminalization of a Generation, and discussed the urgency of this month and of resistance now, leading up to October, and hooked people up with this initiative and the growing national movement to make it happen.
These are some thoughts provoked by my trip.
The role of the police is not to serve and protect the people. It is to serve and protect the system that rules over the people. To enforce the relations of exploitation and oppression, the conditions of poverty, misery and degradation into which the system has cast people and is determined to keep people in. The law and order the police are about, with all of their brutality and murder, is the law and the order that enforces all this oppression and madness.
Bob Avakian, BAsics, 1:24
The state of New Mexico, in the Southwest U.S., is among the states with the highest share of poor people and is the state with second worst poverty rate in the country. The poverty rate in Albuquerque—New Mexico's most populated metropolitan area—has increased steadily over the past decade. In other words, such things as childhood hunger, and the reality of many thousands of people of all ages living on the desperate edge with barely enough to eat and survive, are epidemic in the city and the state.
The award-winning American crime-drama television series Breaking Bad—one of the most watched cable television series of all time—is set and filmed in Albuquerque. It's the story of a struggling high school chemistry teacher who is diagnosed at the beginning of the series with inoperable lung cancer and turns to producing and selling methamphetamine in order to secure his family's financial future before he dies. That the main character, a high school chemistry teacher, becomes a drug kingpin is pure fiction. What is not fiction, however, is the widespread selling and use of meth and heroin in this area of the country. In recent years, New Mexico has ranked at or near the top of states in the U.S. for drug dependence (including nonmedical use of prescription drugs) and drug induced deaths.
Another way to put it is like this: Food, shelter, health care, drug abuse prevention—meeting children's, teenagers', and more generally people's basic necessities—is not a high priority for the powers-that-be in New Mexico and its largest city, Albuquerque.
What is a high priority is using state-sponsored violence via the police, with all their brutality and murder, to enforce the "relations of exploitation and oppression, the conditions of poverty, misery and degradation into which the system has cast people and is determined to keep people in."
On January 13, 2010, Kenneth Ellis III, an Iraq war veteran, was shot in the neck and killed by one bullet from an AR-15 rifle fired by an APD detective. Ellis suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) since coming back from Iraq. He was apparently suicidal, as he was holding a gun to his own head when he was shot. He'd just been kicked out of an in-patient PTSD program at the Albuquerque Veterans Administration hospital for missing an appointment. He tried to get back into the program and was told there was no room. The cop who murdered Ellis said Ellis "made a twitch" and that's why he shot him. Jurors in a wrongful-death suit against the APD said the cop acted "willfully, wantonly or recklessly" and awarded the Ellis family $10.3 million, one of the largest judgments ever leveled against the city.
Since the murder of Kenneth Ellis III in 2010, 24 more people have been shot and killed by the APD (and at least 14 others have been shot and survived).
Jacob Mitschelen was shot in the back by Detective Byron "Trey" Economidy on February 9, 2011. Economidy shot Mitschelen with a .45-caliber Kimber handgun, a "personal firearm"—APD policy has been that APD officers can carry and use personal firearms on the job. Economidy had also been involved in the incident that led to the police murder of Kenneth Ellis. Economidy had listed on his Facebook page that his job as an APD policeman was "human waste disposal," revealing the sick, depraved, and exterminationist worldview of the police.
Alan Gomez was 22 and unarmed when he was shot and killed by APD Officer Sean Wallace. The shooting was Wallace's third while on the APD. There was a domestic disturbance and cops were dispatched to a woman's home. After 45 minutes with the police on the scene, Gomez came outside with a so-called "unidentified object"—actually a plastic spoon. Wallace shot Gomez with a rifle when, the police claimed, Gomez turned around and started walking back into the house. But the autopsy report showed that despite police claims that Gomez was walking back into the house at the time he was shot, the bullet had actually struck Gomez in the chest.
During this murder spree over the past four years, not only have 25 people been killed by the APD and at least 14 others shot and wounded, many, many others have been savagely attacked and beaten by the APD, including some beatings that have been videotaped and exposed through social media to the public.
These last four years have not only seen 25 people shot to death by the APD, they have also been punctuated by exposures of awards—bounties—of $500 or more given to police officers by the police union "to get out of town and decompress" after "the stress" of being involved in a shooting.
These payments not only reward the cops for killing people, but conveniently get them out of town to concoct stories to cover up their killings and outright murders before any interviews are done. In defending these bounty awards for killing people and sidestepping any interviews when they kill people, the president of the Albuquerque Police Officers Association said that by giving cops money immediately after killing people, "we simply give them some means of obtaining this critical time to gather their thoughts and emotions after a stressful incident."
It is not coincidental that this spree of police killings in Albuquerque has happened during a time of rising fascist movements in the United States. These modern U.S. fascist movements have their origins several decades ago, but have been especially whipped up since 9/11 and in conjunction with sharpening contention at the top of the U.S. power structure, including the last five-and-a-half years of Obama's presidency.
If anyone has any doubts about whether fascists, with genocidal ideology, permeate the APD (and other police departments in the U.S.), consider these revelations about the Albuquerque police department: In addition to the Facebook post above where a killer cop describes his occupation as "human waste removal," other cops in the APD openly use social media (Facebook, Twitter, MySpace) to attack Muslims and brag about pistol whipping people.
The former police union president, Pete Dwyer, had these postings on his old MySpace page: "Some people are only alive because killing them is illegal," and Dwyer listed his occupation as "oxygen thief removal technician." His Twitter posts include images depicting a Nazi swastika flag merged with an Obama campaign logo. He was defended on the basis of his and other police officers' "right to free speech."
In 2012, it was revealed by the Albuquerque Journal that the "elite" APD Special Investigation Division and Gang Unit used a hangman's noose as its symbol. At first, when this was revealed, the commander of the unit said he was not a "knot expert" and "The simple way I look at it that it's a rope... I don't read into it a hangman's noose. I don't know a lot about knots." This commander also defended the hangman's noose symbol by saying similar police units across the country use similar imagery to identify themselves. Finally some truth from these pigs!
Stop to consider this: a hangman's noose is a well-known knot most often associated for its use in hanging (or lynching) a person. "Lynching" has been, in the U.S., a most popular form for racist KKK types and vigilante groups to use in murdering people. Again, it's not coincidental that today's fascists evoke methods for torturing and murdering innocent people that have deep roots in the "Old West" and the "Deep South."
The APD's hangman's noose, which celebrates (and objectively calls for) the lynching of people (a lynching history that includes thousands upon thousands of Black people)—taking such an image up as its identifying symbol—should tell you all you need to know about the APD and about police departments everywhere in the U.S., and all you need to know about America, both its sick, demented, and murderous history and the genocidal dynamic of the present-day "New Jim Crow."
All this really does provide yet another profound illustration of the true nature of the police and the fact that those who rule this country, and use the police as their front-line enforcers, truly have forfeited any right to determine the direction of society, and the system they enforce must be overturned at the soonest possible time in a real revolution, and nothing less.
The protests to stop APD police brutality and murder started in 2010 with a small but determined group of families and others demanding justice outside police headquarters and at city council meetings. With the murder of James Boyd on March 16, the outrage and protests took a leap. Hundreds of people from all walks of life had had enough and on March 30 hit the streets in a tenacious protest that lasted over 10 hours, in the face of Albuquerque riot cops who used tear gas to try to break up the protest.
The fact that the murder of a mentally ill homeless man was the result of a military-style execution by police further outraged people. It is a known fact that APD Police Chief Gordon Eden has consciously sought the recruitment of U.S. armed forces personnel into the APD. Watch the murder of James Boyd in the Sandia foothills on YouTube and you will see a militarized execution team from the APD. The March 30 protests in Albuquerque confronted a militarized police force with armored personnel carriers and trucks of the APD in "full camo," riot-clad police shooting tear gas, mounted units, snipers etc.
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has been sent in to try to cool things out, to demobilize people, and to delude people into thinking the federal government will put a stop to these murders. The DOJ investigation has confirmed the Albuquerque police "execute" people. This we already knew! Now, the DOJ is working on a consent decree with the mayor and police chief for "new recommendations"—the same mayor and police chief who are overseeing these "executions" of people by police.
And what's happened since the DOJ report in April? More police killings: Alfred Redwine, Mary Hawkes, and Armand Martin, one right after the other.
On Monday, May 5, protesters served a "People's Arrest Warrant" on Albuquerque Police Chief Gordon Eden and turned upside down an Albuquerque City Council session. At this session, families of those killed by the APD exposed the intensifying police murder spree in Albuquerque and drove the city council from the chambers. The city council scurried away as the people's warrant was being read. Protesters then took over the chairs of the city councilors and held a People's Assembly "after years of their requests falling on unresponsive ears," as the families put it.
The families of victims of APD police murders, along with community members, served the arrest warrant on Eden for "accessory to the murder of James Boyd, Alfred Redwine, Mary Hawkes, and Armand Martin" and charged the police chief with "harboring fugitives" and "crimes against humanity." This action has garnered national and international media attention.
Mike Gomez, father of Alan Gomez who was shot and killed by the APD in 2011, said, "The citizens of Albuquerque want justice. We have spoken for years and the city council has always been unresponsive. We, the people, are sick and tired of the mayor not listening to us. Tonight, we took over city council and held the People's Council. We are prepared to continue until APD stops killing people like my son. My son did not deserve to die; he was unarmed and shot in cold blood. No one deserves to die like my son did." Mary Jobe, whose fiancé, Daniel Tillison, was shot and killed by the APD, said: "City Council finally heard our voices and that we are tired of APD killing our loved ones like my fiancé who was unarmed. We are not quitting, we are in the fight... this is just the beginning." Nora Anaya, whose nephew, George Levi Tachias, was killed by the APD, stated, "We took a stand to make sure that they know that we want change today, not tomorrow. We are done waiting...."
New protest actions are planned for this month and next month in Albuquerque. Revolutionaries need to be in the mix in Albuquerque at key junctures and so do many others who want to see these police murders stopped. The October Month of Resistance to Stop Mass Incarceration, Police Terror, Repression, and the Criminalization of a Generation must be vaulted forward through resistance and struggle in this next period, leading into October.
Revolution #339 May 25, 2014
37 years after José Campos Torres murdered by Houston police
May 19, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Two events marking the 37th anniversary of the police murder of José Campos Torres were held in Houston last week. Torres was murdered by six Houston cops on May 5, 1977. They beat him brutally. They handcuffed him and threw him into Buffalo Bayou in downtown Houston. One of the murdering cops said, "Let's see if the wetback can swim." Joe Torres drowned in the bayou.
For one year people in Houston, especially on the Northside where Torres had lived, struggled for "Justice for Joe Torres!" This fight was led by a group called People United to Fight Police Brutality, which had been initiated by the Revolutionary Communist Party. Only two of the killer cops faced any criminal charges—they were convicted of "criminally negligent manslaughter" and given one year of probation and a $1 fine! The case then went to federal court—the cops who murdered Joe Torres were given suspended sentences and one year for assault. People were furious. The courts of Texas declared that the life of a young Chicano brother was worth $1 and the federal courts had also let the cops off!
On May 7, 1978, people on the Northside were celebrating Cinco de Mayo in Moody Park. A full contingent of police came to bust up the celebration. As Travis Morales, who was the leader of People United, said at a program at the Northside library marking the 20th anniversary of what happened that night, "...several thousand Chicanos and Mexicanos rose up in Moody Park. To shouts of 'Viva Joe Torres' and 'Justice for Joe Torres,' police cars were overturned and burned. The police were met with rocks and bottles and driven out of the Northside for several hours. Almost one year to the day after six Houston pigs beat José Campos Torres within an inch of his life and then threw him into Buffalo Bayou to drown ... people got a little sweet taste of justice."
People took over several Northside streets that night, hundreds of them chanting "Joe Torres dead, cops go free, that's what the rich call democracy." Houston crackled with tension and conflict in the days and weeks following the Moody Park rebellion, and its reverberations were felt across the country. Five days after the rebellion, Travis and two others were arrested and charged with "felony riot," and faced over 140 years total in prison.
A lengthy legal and political battle followed, and as Travis said in his talk, during the trial he "testified that the day after the rebellion we supported it in a press conference and called for dropping the charges against all those arrested. The three of us testified that we were revolutionary communists who were about making revolution to overthrow this system of oppression and misery. And after we testified to all that, we walked. They were never able to send us to prison. The people had rebelled, we stood with them, and when the battle was finally over in 1985, we were free."
Joe Torres's nephew, who was one of the main organizers of this year's events, explained that the purpose of the events was to commemorate his uncle's life, and to bring this to light so that the police terror will stop happening. He, other family members, and community activists have formed a Joe Campos Torres action group to raise awareness, including raising funds to place an historic marker in honor of José Campos Torres at Moody Park by the civic center and at the location on the bayou where Joe Torres was murdered.
The first event was a screening of a film, The Case of Joe Campos Torres, followed by a panel discussion. People from the neighborhood came out—older people who had been a part of the struggle at the time and youth who had heard people talk about it, along with people from other strata who wanted to find out what really happened. The film itself and the discussion reflected sharp contention over different summations and lessons to draw from this period, especially the Moody Park rebellion. These debates carried over to a music celebration on Saturday night at a neighborhood taqueria honoring the life of Joe Torres.
One of the most sharply debated points centered on whether what happened at Moody Park was a rebellion or a riot—a conscious act or "mindless violence." A couple of the panelists at the film showing spoke of the Moody Park rebellion as a response by people to the absolute injustice in the murder and verdict. A professor on the panel talked about the systematic oppression of the people, and how the repression and brutality carried out by the police is a "structural problem" in America. He went on to describe how he sees the violence of the state as illegitimate.
Another sharp point of controversy was over the role of the police. There were different programs and solutions put out at both events: some argued there is a need to establish a civilian review board; some said that the problem with the police boils down to a few "bad apples"; some argued that what's needed is more community organizing. All this was sharply contended with BAsics 1:24: "The role of the police is not to serve and protect the people. It is to serve and protect the system that rules over the people. To enforce the relations of exploitation and oppression, the conditions of poverty, misery and degradation into which the system has cast people and is determined to keep people in. The law and order the police are about, with all of their brutality and murder, is the law and the order that enforces all this oppression and madness." And it was contended with the need for revolution—nothing less.
In the midst of all this debate, the revolutionary pole was welcomed by many, and debated by others. Some who attended these events were hearing about revolution and BA for the first time; other people said they'd read Revolution newspaper before. And a couple of people came hoping to see Travis Morales again. One teacher talked about how great it was when Morales spoke in her class, and she said she wants to get back involved. One person said that he has been aware of Bob Avakian and the RCP, then added that he realizes that he doesn't know enough, and took a BA Everywhere packet to read and wants to get together to talk about the campaign to get BA out everywhere.
There was much lively debate and struggle over big questions and as BAsics cards, "No more generations of our youth..." were passed around, people struggled over questions like, is revolution possible, and what is the role of leadership, or do we need it at all? One older guy told a story of witnessing his friends being murdered by the Houston police in the '60s, including Carl Hampton with the People's Party II (an offshoot of the Black Panther Party). His conclusion: revolution just doesn't work. We challenged him and others to look at what kind of world we live in, and how it doesn't have to be this way, and why they need to engage with BA and join in the movement for revolution, as they're learning more about it.
A revolutionary (Travis Morales' wife) spoke on behalf of Travis. She was invited to speak by the Torres family, and at both events she spoke to the lessons of the Moody Park rebellion: that it is right to rebel against injustice, and what it means for today. At one point, she asked the audience, "Do we want our children and grandchildren to be here 20 or 30 years from now, looking at yet another of these outrages, asking 'How Long Will This Go On'?" People yelled out "NO!" She said that in order to end these outrages, like police brutality and murder, destruction of the environment, the degradation of women, and all the other outrages, it will mean getting rid of this system, through revolution, and she challenged people to join the movement for revolution.
Revolution #339 May 25, 2014
May 19, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
From a reader:
Borderland is a powerful four-part documentary/reality show which aired on the Al Jazeera America network, in which a group of six volunteers from the U.S. with a wide array of views on immigration are assembled for a mission to experience the harrowing trek that hundreds of thousands of people from Central America and Mexico take every year in attempting to enter the United States to find some kind of better life for themselves and their families. The show begins when the six volunteers are gathered inside a morgue in Pima County, Arizona, and shown the awful reality of what this journey actually means for hundreds of people—there the remains are stored of some of the 180 people who die every year [in Pima County alone] attempting to come to the U.S. Confronted first with this brutal reality, the six Americans then set out in pairs to follow the journeys of three of these immigrants—a 13-year-old boy from Guatemala, a young woman from El Salvador, and a young woman from Chiapas, Mexico—journeys which led to their deaths.
In this series you meet the grieving grandfather of the 13-year-old, a coffee bean picker—the boy had set out on the journey north to join his mother in the U.S. and perished in the desert. You meet a woman and her young daughter so determined to leave Mexico that she is willing to take her chances along with the hundreds of others on a potentially deadly journey riding atop the freight train that runs from southern Mexico up towards the border. You meet women who stop in at a pharmacy near the border to purchase birth control pills to prevent pregnancy in case of rape, knowing full well that rape is the likely price they'll pay for making the journey across the border—it's estimated that as many as 80 percent of women crossing the border will be sexually assaulted.
The six volunteers are profoundly affected by meeting these people and hearing their stories and many more—all of a sudden these are not foreigners "invading" their country, but human beings desperately seeking a way to live. But the huge question that screams out at the volunteers and the viewers of this documentary series is: Why are these people forced to risk everything to try to make this perilous journey in a desperate effort to find a better life for themselves and their families? What are the forces at work that make life so untenable in these countries that millions are driven to leave? And why are these the only choices available for millions and millions of people in Mexico and Central America?
One of the six volunteers on the show—a retired Marine who started out the journey with virulently anti-immigrant views—opens up a tiny window onto the realities that are the answer to these urgent questions. Summing up the life-changing experience that he and the other five went through, he says that one of the biggest surprises for him from the whole trip was to learn that the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has devastated the Mexican economy, contributing to the impoverished conditions which drive so many to the U.S. This is a reality that very few people in this country know anything about.
I thought I would share with readers a deeper look at some of that reality, which comes through in a book I've been reading, The Right to Stay Home by David Bacon. The book documents how NAFTA, which was advertised as a way to bring jobs and open U.S. markets to Mexico, in fact opened up Mexico to massive amounts of U.S. investment on terms favorable to the growth of U.S. capital and devastating to the Mexican economy and the livelihoods of millions of farmers and small producers throughout Mexico.
One telling example of this is the story of Smithfield Foods, the world's largest pork producer. Shortly after NAFTA went into effect on January 1, 1994, Smithfield opened up a giant hog-raising operation in the Mexican state of Veracruz, and the dynamics that were set into motion have made life there untenable:
Smithfield's operations and this whole cascade of dire consequences are only one small part of the totality of what U.S. domination has meant in the lives of the people of Mexico and Central America. In 2010, one half of Mexico's population—53 million people—were living in poverty, 20 percent of those in extreme poverty concentrated in the rural areas.
These are the dynamics that drive people from their homes, destroy whole communities and tear families apart—and then force people to risk life and limb to try to escape, only to be met by the brutal U.S. clampdown on the Mexican border enforced by drones, Border Patrol, detention centers, and a massive fence all aimed at preventing people from leaving these horrors and finding some means to survive. These are the dynamics of a criminal system that needs to be overthrown.
Revolution #339 May 25, 2014
May 21, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
During recent student government elections at University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), Students for Justice in Palestine and other groups urged candidates to sign a pledge that they will not take trips to Israel paid for by pro-Israel organizations. These trips are billed as "educational" but, according to the LA Times, the representatives of the sponsoring organizations say students are chosen on the basis of their "promise to share the group's viewpoints."
The students promoting the pledge came under heavy official attack from Janet Napolitano, the president of the University of California system, who declared, "The principles of civility, respect, and inclusion... should also govern our campuses... The actions of these students at UCLA violate these principles." It's the height of hypocrisy for Napolitano to preach about "inclusion" when, in her previous position as the U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security from 2009 to 2013 under President Obama, she oversaw the deportation of record numbers of immigrants and the increased militarization of the border.
And let's see how the state of Israel stacks up in terms of "civility, respect, and inclusion":
Israeli forces and armed Zionist vigilantes regularly shoot at Palestinian protesters. Palestinians are also regularly arrested, beaten and jailed for demanding their rights. As of April 2014, 6,354 Palestinians were being held in Israeli jails. In 2013, Israeli security forces killed 27 Palestinians in the West Bank in 21 separate incidents and nine Palestinians in the Gaza Strip in seven incidents.
From 1967 to 2011, Israeli forces demolished about 25,000 Palestinian homes—90 percent of the time under the justification of "administrative" reasons, because the residents either lacked a permit or were in an area designated for expansion by the Israeli military. No permits have been issued by Israeli authorities for Palestinian construction in the West Bank and Gaza Strip since 1967. The remaining 10 percent of the demolitions have been "punitive" demolitions of the homes of Palestinians accused of taking part in resistance against Israeli occupation.
The Nakba—the Arabic word for “catastrophe”—refers to brutal expulsion of almost a million Palestinians from their land, homes, and villages in 1948 at the founding of the state of Israel. People were forced to flee with only the possessions they could carry—many were raped, tortured, and killed. Their villages and even many olive and orange trees were thoroughly destroyed. There were 31 documented massacres during the Nakba—and probably others. As a result of this ethnic cleansing by Israel, backed up by imperialist powers, there are today almost 4.5 million Palestinians dispersed throughout the world; in addition, 1.5 million Palestinians live within Israel as second-class "citizens," and 1.4 million Palestinians live under Israeli occupation in the West Bank and 1.3 million in Gaza. As part of its occupation of the West Bank, Israel has built a cement "Apartheid Wall" eight meters (26 feet) high that zigzags through hundreds of miles of Palestinian territory, expanding the area seized by Israel and making life untenable for the Palestinian people.
Revolution #339 May 25, 2014
From a World to Win News Service:
May 22, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
May 19, 2014. A World to Win News Service. The explosion that killed at least 301 coal miners in the Turkish city of Soma continues to reverberate throughout the country, not only because of the magnitude of the tragedy, but also because of the callousness and brutality of the response from the government of RecepTayyip Erdogan.
The Prime Minister's immediate reaction was to deny that the government or the mine owners could be accused of the slightest responsibility. When 30 men were killed in a mine disaster in Zunguldak in 2010, instead of calling for safety measures, Erdogan simply declared,"Unfortunately, this industry has this in its destiny." Now, in the face of yet another explosion, he said, "This is what happens in coal mining." Citing figures for 19th century coal mine accidents in Britain, he concluded, "So these things happen. We do have something called work accidents."
Echoing this sentiment, officials issued a statement indicating that if anyone was at fault, it was the miners themselves and perhaps their immediate supervisors underground. The local chief prosecutor told reporters that there was no question of bringing charges against anyone because those responsible were already dead.
Yet miners, their relatives and increasing numbers of other people knew this wasn't true. For weeks miners in this town almost 500 kilometers southwest of Istanbul had complained that coal being hauled out was hot, a sign that fires were burning somewhere in the coal seams. When the explosion came on May 13, 787 men were in the mine—the incoming and outgoing shifts overlapped, a safety violation meant to speed up work. A wave of heat and deadly carbon dioxide gas swept through two kilometers of tunnels, setting off fires and knocking out the elevator.
How much gas accumulated before the explosion is not known, because the mine's carbon dioxide detectors were not in operation. According to interviews with miners reported in Today's Zaman, management had turned them off to avoid disturbing production if the gages indicated potentially dangerous conditions. The methane gas detectors were operational, but some miners believe that management simply ignored the instrument readings. The heat and gas build-up over time should have been a signal to get miners out.
The miners were also deprived of measures to deal with the aftermath of an explosion. The roofing was made of wooden planks, not steel, increasing the risk that fires would cause tunnels to cave in. The mine was not equipped with chambers where miners could take refuge in an emergency. Survivors later pointed out that such shelters had kept miners alive after the famous 2010 gold mine collapse in Chile.
Turkey, Pakistan and Afghanistan are the only countries that do not require owners to install such safety features. Although government officials discounted their importance, saying that no one could have survived the gas anyway, this may be just an excuse. At any rate it is a sign that the mine owners' and government's only plan for coping with a potential disaster was to skip safety investments and trust in God.
Worst of all, while some miners had been given gas masks with filters that automatically protect against carbon dioxide, they had been deliberately disabled, again, apparently, to prevent production delays. However, most of the masks issued were just cloth, designed to prevent inhalation of particles, with no anti-gas filters at all. It was not the explosion but gas that is said to have killed most of the miners whose bodies have been recovered. Adequate gas masks are expensive, but in German mines, for instance, it has been unthinkable to do without them.
There are "absolutely no loopholes in the country's mining safety regulations," said a spokesman for Erdogan's AK Party. It was pointed out that the mine had had 11 inspections over the past five years. This simply underlined government complicity with Soma Holding, the company that runs the mine. Miners said that safety inspections were always signalled in advance, to allow management to prepare, and that the government inspectors just looked at the main shafts, not side corridors and never the depths of mines.
When Erdogan went to Soma the day after the explosion, he was met by mourning family members shouting "Murderer!" and "Thief" and chanting, "Government resign!" To escape the crowd he and his entourage retreated to a supermarket entrance, where Erdogan himself slapped a miner's relative for booing him. This was captured on video, although not the sequel, when his bodyguards proceeded to beat the man. In another incident, a close Erdogan aide was filmed kicking a man being held down on the ground by two Special Forces police.
After the videos went viral, Erdogan and his henchman blamed the men they beat. The mourners who heckled the prime minister were "gang members," he said. The aide refused to apologize, because, he said, he was fed up after suffering "provocations, attacks and insults" all day.
President Abdullah Gul managed to avoid creating as much of a scene as Erdogan had, but he, too, was booed when he showed up in Soma.
Several thousand people demonstrated in Soma May 16, some carrying signs that said, "It was no accident, it was murder." They were attacked with water cannons, rubber bullets and tear gas. The next day protesters came in coaches from all over country. Security forces set up roadblocks to stop them. Among the 30 people detained were lawyers who had come to provide legal assistance for families. They were beaten and handcuffed. District authorities said they would no longer allow demonstrations.
In the city of Izmir, about a hundred kilometers to the west of Soma, thousands of demonstrators clashed with police, building barricades and fighting back with stones and fire bombs. Hundreds of people in Ankara marched from the technical university to the mine company headquarters and then the ministry of mining.
In Istanbul, police broke up a candlelight vigil. Residents banged pots and pans from windows in solidarity with the miners and demonstrators, a tactic first seen last June, when middle class neighborhoods protested the repression against the massive demonstrations in Taksim Square. At Istanbul Technical University, students took over the mining faculty to protest links between the university and Soma Holding.
This company is owned by a family linked to Erdogan's AKP. It is one of several big private companies that have flourished by leasing state-owned mines since the coal industry was privatized in 2004. During this time, the company reduced the cost of extracting coal from 130 dollars per metric ton in 2005 to less than 24 dollars per metric ton in 2012. The government buys all the coal produced.
Turkey's coal industry has a fatality rate that is five times the death rate in China, and 361 times more than the U.S. There were 1,308 fatalities due to accidents in coal mines since 2000, and 13,000 mine accidents overall in 2013. Turkey is one of the most dangerous places in the world to work in almost any industry.
Some of the families who lost loved ones in Soma had moved there in search of work from Zonguldak, near the Black Sea, after a 1992 disaster that killed 263 miners, or after the 2010 explosion there, or other closed mines. Many are former peasants driven by poverty into the arms of the many layers of subcontractors who prey on them, known as tasheron or dayibashi, village authorities, and deliver them to the mines. The Islamist AKP's development of modern capitalism is able to draw on this traditional religious, patriarchal and feudalistic system of authority.
Cheap coal—blood coal—plays a basic role in Turkey's economy, not only because of the economic importance of coal mining itself, but also because so much of Turkey's other industries depend directly or indirectly on coal, and the price of Turkish coal is a factor in their competitiveness on the world market. The AKP has made coal its symbol, through the jobs the thriving industry provides, and even by giving out coal and macaroni noodles to win supporters.
This mine disaster carries the potential for exposure not only of the basically anti-people attitude that underlies its populist stance, its repressive "dark side," but also of its "bright side," the nature and cost of the economic growth it brags about. They are two sides of the same coin. The Soma mine was supposed to be a symbol of Turkey's economic growth. During the Gezi Park and Taksim Square protests, the AKP bullied and bribed miners to come don their yellow safety helmets and board buses to attend demonstrations against the youth and in support of the government.
Although Erdogan cynically argues that the death of workers on a massive scale is the price England had to pay to become rich, implying that such deaths will lay the basis for Turkey to "catch up," the truth is that the wealth of the European countries and the U.S. comes not primarily from domestic production but from the ability of monopoly capital to extract profit from countries all over the world. The plight of Turkey's miners, like the country's ills in general, come from Turkey's subordinate place in the world imperialist system, including the super-exploitation in the mines.
One reason, perhaps, why the Erdogan regime reacted so angrily to the protests after the mine disaster, afraid to show anything less than an iron hand even when that might be politically costly in a region whose workers have been a source of support for the AKP, is the way the miners' cry of grief has interacted with other strands of dissent in Turkish society and the complex splits in the Turkish ruling class that have become more evident in the way that Erdogan's rivals are trying to use this incident for their own ends. The U.S. State Department issued a criticism of Erdogan for striking the protester, a sign of trouble between the Turkish regime and the U.S., which once sought every occasion to praise it.
"Now is not the time to look for a scapegoat," said government officials shortly after the explosion. By the next week, the government was so desperate for scapegoats that it detained several dozen mine company officials and arrested several on as yet unspecified charges.
After the rescue operations were called off, the mine entrances have been sealed with concrete, as if to close the whole affair. Some people believe that more corpses are still underground. Soma remains under lock-down, with checkpoints at entering streets and security forces on constant patrols, the kind of state of emergency measures more commonly seen in Kurdistan.
A World to Win News Service is put out by A World to Win magazine, a political and theoretical review inspired by the formation of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement, the embryonic center of the world's Marxist-Leninist-Maoist parties and organizations.
Revolution #339 May 25, 2014
From A World to Win News Service
May 22, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
May 19, 2014. A World to Win News Service. The following statement on the Soma mine disaster was prepared for distribution in English and Turkish by Ishak Baran. The Turkish version follows.
A horrendous crime has taken place and righteous fury is sweeping the country. The sentiment of millions from Diyarbakir to Istanbul is that every single one of the guilty must be brought to justice. The people are resolute in their demand that this crime be brought completely into the light of day.
The boundless arrogance, the disregard for human life and suffering of the people, the threats and the taunts, from Tayyip and his clique, has rubbed salt into the wounds of the people.
They cannot be allowed to get away with this.
Heroes from among the miners went back to rescue others, some of them giving their lives in the process of saving others. And what did this Regime of Vicdan [“conscience”] do? What face did it show the people? They sent the police and gendarmes to “secure” the area for their official visits and contain the boiling resentment of the families and others waiting desperately for news of the rescue effort.
And how did Erdogan show himself as he claimed to be the real agent of "hizmet" [service] to the people? He dared to pronounce that these "accidents" are in the nature [using the Koranic word "fitrat"] of this line of work. When his explanation drew boos from the crowd, including many people who voted for him only weeks earlier, Erdogan, carefully protected by phalanxes of police, slapped them down. His trusted top aide viciously kicked a miner for protesting the attitude of the authorities.
When the people need to dig out the rubble and save lives, the regime sends an army of 500 imams to "soothe their souls" and counsel patience instead of protest. Excruciatingly loud amplified readings of the Koran were used to drown out the painful mourning of the people and make consolation and discussion among the people themselves impossible.
They moved to oppress the people, deaden their consciousness, muffle their anger, and reassert the authority of the state and army.
It is clear to millions that a regime whose top representatives behave in this fashion is revealing its true character. It has no legitimacy, it cannot hide behind the charade of its electoral victory. Its laws, its morality, its way of governing, its reaction to its own wrongdoings, all show its thoroughly rotten anti-people nature. It needs to be overthrown.
Erdogan is the face of this capitalist system and his mission is to protect it and build it up. The capitalist enterprise in the Soma mines concentrates and reveals the true workings of this brutal people-eating system. The rapid capitalist development in Turkey that Erdogan never stops boasting about, and that has been held out as a model to the people of the region, is based upon and cannot live without this kind of exploitation, the destruction of life and nature in the interests of profit. The capitalist logic compelled the authorities to ignore all of the increasingly frequent warning signs that workers, technicians and scientists were all pointing to.
Some officials are being investigated, as a small minor concession to the people, so that the master criminals can continue to assure the functioning and further acceleration of this criminal system. While people are correct to be focusing their anger on the regime, it is important to watch out for other sections of the ruling classes and their political representatives who are trying to use the anger and the struggle of the people for their own schemes to save the capitalist system with themselves in charge.
The brutal nature of the regime, the breakneck capitalist development and the authoritarian features of the government are integrally connected to the ambitions and drive of the ruling class to obtain a bigger share and role in the region within the framework of the world imperialist system. This same process is feeding conflict and wars between and among the different reactionary forces in the region and the world imperialist powers.
Islamic ideology is playing a crucial role in this drive. It is providing coherence and legitimacy to the main section of the capitalist ruling class in Turkey and justifies its claim for a regional role. However, the opposition that is voiced to growing political Islam from the Western imperialist powers and their cohorts in Turkey must never be allowed to fool the people. They have an even greater history of crimes and an even greater blood debt to the people -– from burying people alive in mines, slaughtering people in neo-colonial wars, destroying the livelihood of the peasantry in Turkey and much of the world, poisoning the environment and strangling the hopes of generations of people.
We can and must build a movement that connects the struggle to bring the criminals responsible for the Soma crime to justice with an overall struggle to overthrow the whole system. Its fundamental nature cannot be reformed. We must reject programs that promise a more tolerable or secular version of the same thing. Everything points to the system's completely outmoded, economic, political and ideological character. It is long past time to boldly bring forward the possibility and urgent necessity of a radically new society, socialism and communism. When political crisis starts to show itself, including around unexpected fault lines such as Gezi-Taksim and now around the mining massacre in Soma, we must seize the time, seize the hour. These battles must be fought with eyes raised to the task of building a movement committed to ready itself to finally and decisively overthrow this whole system, prepare minds and forces for revolution.
19 May 2014
(a veteran of the Maoist movement in Turkey and a supporter of Bob Avakian's new synthesis of communism)
Dehşet veren facia boyutlarında bir suç işlendi ve ülkenin bir ucundan öbürüne halk saflarında haklı bir öfke kol gezmektedir. Diyarbakır’dan İstanbul’a milyonlarca insanın micaz ve talebi bu suçun sorumlularının istinasız her birisinin tek, tek adalet önüne getirilmesidir. Bu suçun ve faillerinin tamamen ve eksiksiz olarak gün ışığına çıkartılması talebinde halk kitleleri azimli ve kararlıdır.
Tayyip ve hempalarının sınır bilmez kabadayı küstahlıkları, insan hayatı ve ızdırabına vurdumduymazlıkları ve bir de kalkıp müstehzi tehditlerle yüklü halkı hiçe sayan tavırlarıyla insanların kanayan yarasına tuz basmaktadır.
Bu yaptıklarının yanlarına kar kalmasına izin veremeyiz.
Madenciler arasında kahramanlar hiç tereddütsüz geri döndüler, içerdekileri kurtarmak için, o zor bela çıktıkları cehennem tünellerine ve bazıları hayatını verdi diğerlerini kurtarma çabasında. Ya peki bu ‘vicdan rejimi’ olma iddaasındakiler, ne yapma derdindeydiler? Hangi yüzle, ne amaçla çıktılar halkın karşına, ne sergilediler kitlelere onların bu ızdırablı gününde? Polisi jandarmayı yığdılar olay yerine, makam itibarı kurtarma telaşıyla yapılacak beylik ziyaretlerinde kendi güvenliklerini sağlama peşindeydiler; bir de, kurtarma faaliyetleri ve içerdekiler hakkında son haberlerin endişesiyle ocak girişinde bekleyen kitlelerin depreşip kaynayan öfkesini güvenlik güçleri ile dizginleyip bastırabilme derdindeydiler.
Peki millete 'hizmet'in esas temsilcisinin kendi olduğunu başkalarına karşı iddia eden Erdoğan ne sergiledi? Bu cins kazaların bu işin 'fıtrat'ında oldu [kasten Kuran Arapçası kullanarak]beyan etme cüretini gösterdi. Bu izahatı kitlleler tarafından yuhalanınca --ki bu insanlardan belkide birçoğu sadece birkaç hafta önce kendisine oy vermişlerdi-- Erdoğan etrafındaki korumacı duvarlarına üvenerek onlara yakapaça girişti. Kendisinin en yakın müşavirlerinden birisi de yetkililerin tavrı ve yaklaşımını protesto etmek isteyen bir madenciyi iki jandarma tarafından yere mıhlanmiş halde buılup insafsizca tekmeleyi reva gördü.
Halk felaket altından kazıp insan canı kurtarma derdindeyken rejim kendi hesabına hareketle onların micazı yatıştırmak ve protesto yerine sabır telkin etmeleri amacıyla 500 adet imamı seferber etti. Kulakları sağır edecek şekile hoperlörlerden bağıttırılan Kuran metinleri ve dua okumalrıyla kitlelein ruh hali, aci feryadları ve birbirlerini teselli eden dayanışmasını sindirip bastırmaya koşuştular.
Halk kitlelrini bastırmak, bilinclerini köreltip uyuşturmak, öfkelerini boğup bastırmak, devlet ve ordunun otoritesini tekrar tesis ve teyid etmek derdindeydil
En kıdemli temsilcilerin şahsında böyle davranan bir rejim kendi gerçek niteliğinin ne olduğunu milyonarca ınsana apaçık sergilemiş oluyor. Bu rejimin bir meşrutiyeti yoktur, seçim zaferi denen orta oyunu düzenbazlığı ardına sığınamaz. Tertibi, kanunlarıyla, ahlakıyla, hükümet olma ve yönetim tarzıyla, kend suç ve hatalarına yaklaşımıyla, bunların tümü ve herbir tekiyle bu rejim kendisinin baştan aşağı, iliğine dek kokuşmuş , halk düşmanı niteliğini ortaya dökmüştür.
Devrilmesi, bertaraf edilmesi gereklidir.
Erdoğan bu kapütalist düzenin çehresidir, misyonu bu sistemin muhafazası ve daha da geliştirilmesidir. Soma madenlerindeki kapitalist işletme(ler) bu düzenin insan tüketen vahşi işleyişinin gerçeklerini sergiliyor ve onların yoğun ifadesi durumundadır. Erdoğan’ın her fırsatta kasılarak övündüğü Türkiye’de hasıl olan ve bölge halklarına da model olarak sunulan hızlı kapitalist gelişme işte bu tür sömürü, insan hayatı ve tabii çevrenin kar uğruna böylesi mahvedilmesi temelinde sağlanmaktadır ve ve bunsuz devam ettirilmesi de mümkün değildir. Soma’daki insan kıyımı öncesinde maden işçilerinin ve teknisyenlerin ve dışardan diğer ilgi uzmanların ve gözlemcilerin yaptığı ve giderek sıklaşan uyarılara ve endişelere otorite sahiplerinin kulak ardı edip bilmezlikten gelmeleri, kapitalist üretim mantığının getirdiği güdü ve mecburiyetlerden kaynaklıdır.
Alt düzeyden sorumlular ve yöneticileden bazıları şimdi soruşturma altıda veya tutukludur, ki böylelikle halka yatıştırmak amacıyla küçük bir taviz verme yoluyla suç şebekelerinin ağababaları, ustaları bu suç düzeninin işleyişine devamı ve daha da hızlandırılmasını güvence altına alabilsinler. Halkın öfkesinin bu rejimi odaklayıp hedef almasının doğru olmasına rağmen, şunun da hic gözden kaçırılmaması gerekir ki hakim sınıfların diğer kesimleri ve onların siyasi temsilcileri halkın öfkesi ve mücadelesini kendi tezgahladıkları oyunlara alet ederek bu kapitalist düzeni kendi yönetimleri altında muhafaza etmek istiyorlar.
Bu rejimin merhaametsiz hoyratlıkları, dolu dizgin kapitalist gelişme güdüsü ve de hükümetin artan otoriter hususiyetleri, hakim sınıfın emperyalist dünya düzeninin yapılandırmaları çerçevesinde bu bölgede daha büyük bir pay ve rol elde etme hülyaları ve dürtüsünün entegral öğeleridir. Bu sürecin kendisi bölgedeki farklı gerici güçler içinde ve arasında ve dünya emperyalistleri arasında çatışmaları kızıştırmaya ve savaşaları körüklenmesine malzeme temin etmekteir.
İslam ideolojisi hakim sınıfın bu süreç güdüşünde canalıcı role sahiptir, Türkiye hakim sınıfının bir ana kesimine bütünlestirici, bünye oluşturucu ve meşru’luk temin edici bir rol oynuyor ve bölgedeki emellerini de gerekçelendirmeğe hizmet ediyor. Ne var ki, güçlenmekte olan siyasi Islam’a karşı Batılı emperyalistler ve onların Türkiye’deki işbirlikçileri tarafından seslendirilen karşıtlık ve muhalefetin kitleleri aldatmasına kesinlikle imkan verilmemelidir.Onların halklara karşı işledikleri suçların tarihiçesi ve halklara olan kan borcu çok daha yüklü ve ağırdır –insanları köle emeği için canlı canlı madenlere gömeten, yeni-sömürgecilik savaşlarında kıyımdan geçirmeğe, Turkiye dahil dünyanın dörtbir yanında köylülüğün yaşam ve geçim koşullarını mahvetmekten, çevreyi zehirleyip nesiller boyu insanlığın ufuklarını geleceğe doğru karartmaya dek, onların suç daha da yüklüüdür.
Soma’ da işlenen suçların sorumluları ve faillerinin adalet karşısına çıkarılması için micadelenin bu düzeni devirmek için gerekli olan mücadele ye canlı bağını tesis edece bir hareket inşa edebliriz ve bunun inşası gereklidir. Bu düzenin temel niteiğini reformlarla ihya etmek mümkün değildir. Aynı şeyin daha tahmmüle gelir ve bir seküler devşirmesini vaat eden programlar reddedilmelidir. Herşey bu düzenin miyadını iktisadi, siyas ve ideololik açıdan çoktan doldurmuş olduğuna işaret etmektedir. Kökten farklı nitelikte bir toplumsal düzenin , sosyalizm ve communizmin gerçekleştirilmesinin imkanlar dahilinde ve kendisini şiddetle hissettiren bir ihtiyaç olduğunu ortaya konmasının vakti çoktan gelmiştir. Gezi-Taksim direnişlerinde, şimdi de Soma’daki kıyıma karşı şekillenen fay hattları etrafında olduğu gibi siyasi kriz mayalanmaya başlar başlamaz, zamana ve güne hükmümüzü geçirmek üzere harekete geçmeliyiz . Siyasi muhabereler zihinleri ve güçleri devrime hazırlayacak tarzda, insanların görüş zaviyesini bu sistemi nihayetinde toptan devirmeye muktedir ve buna azmetmişbir hareket inşa etme görevine yükseltecek nitelikte yürütülmelidir,
19 Mayıs 2014
(Türkiye’deki Maoist hareketin aktivistelerinden ve Bob Avakian’ın ortaya koyduğu komünism yeni sentezinin bir savunucusu)
A World to Win News Service is put out by A World to Win magazine, a political and theoretical review inspired by the formation of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement, the embryonic center of the world's Marxist-Leninist-Maoist parties and organizations.
Revolution #339 May 25, 2014
Revolution #339 May 25, 2014
May 22, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Between May 10 and May 17, several hundred people in four cities came out to the speech “Where We Are in the Revolution.” This speech focused on the seizure of power through revolution as central and put forward measuring everything that we’re doing from the perspective of hastening, while awaiting, the opportunity and ability to do that. It took as its foundation the scientific method and approach, as further developed by Bob Avakian (BA), and the strategy flowing from that. At the end, a powerful challenge was posed to each and every person there to step up, in a big way, their level of understanding of, and commitment to, the movement for revolution with the Party at its leading core.
Right now, it is very important to follow up off these speeches. This means getting back to people and involving them in the movement for revolution and the whole process of Fight the Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution. A key part of that process—an essential element of it if it is actually to BE for revolution—are the two mainstays: digging into and popularizing the works and leadership of Bob Avakian (BA), and the website and newspaper, revcom.us/Revolution.
Unless these two mainstays are at the core of what we are doing, then the movement will drift into something less than—and ultimately in opposition to—real revolution.
In that light, we are publishing excerpts from something written by a young revolutionary responding to the speech and focusing in particular on the importance of the film BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! The vision in here—of the showings and discussions of this film as a key element of the solid core of this movement—along with the discussion on the importance of theory are important to dig into.
The question of how we are working to accumulate forces for revolution has been one of the biggest questions on my mind for awhile now, in an ongoing way. This has been all the more true following the release of the two new talks from BA and the recent “Where We Are in the Revolution” presentation. In the two talks from BA, as well as the “Where We Are in the Revolution” speech—and in considering the synergy between these—one thing that stood out to me is a heavy emphasis on the need and tremendous importance of accumulating forces for revolution. This need should be framing and informing all of the revolutionary work that we are doing, and we should constantly be measuring how we are doing at accumulating forces for revolution as one of the most key forms of evaluating how we are doing overall in terms of hastening while awaiting the changes that make revolution possible.
There is a fundamental and crucial distinction between evaluating whether our line is correct, or adapting/watering down that line, based on “getting numbers of people”—i.e. economism, which is unscientific, harmful and deadly and will lead us quickly off the path of revolution—versus consistently working to get numbers of people on the basis of a correct line and constantly evaluating scientifically how we are doing at this, which is essential if we are going to get to the point of actually being able to make a revolution: In order to get to the future conditions where it would actually be possible to go for the seizure of power, there will need to be a core of thousands of people who are prepared to lead millions and millions of people who are conscious of the need for revolution and determined to fight for it. We don’t have this situation now, so we had better be working on it. Furthermore, to speak specifically to the question of the party: as the “Where We Are...” talk put very plainly—and as BA speaks very bluntly to in BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS!—either the party is going to grow, or there is the risk of it being rendered “out of the game” for awhile, owing to a variety of forces that include the forces of age and repression.
In addition to the fact that the two talks from BA and the “Where We Are in the Revolution” talk objectively put a lot of emphasis on accumulating forces for revolution, there is also the fact that the event I attended—and hopefully, this was true in other cities as well—seemed to draw a significant number of newer people, as well as people who perhaps have been more at the margins, rather than the core, of the movement for revolution. The people who came to this talk heard a tremendous presentation of what this revolution is all about: the fact that this revolution is serious and for real; the obstacles this revolution is up against that must be transformed to make that revolution; the fact that a basic framework and strategy has been developed, and the leadership is there, to overcome those obstacles; a very blunt exposition of the urgency for the party at the core of the movement for revolution to grow; and a challenge for people at all different levels to get with, or further with, this movement for revolution and the party. Afterwards, at the reception, the room seemed to be alive and buzzing with energy. It struck me that there was a lot of momentum, a lot of potential for new forces to get with the movement for revolution and for people already with it to get deeper with it.
In short: this presentation seemed to me to pose a specific opportunity and responsibility for us to make a leap in accumulating forces for revolution coming off this event, while the two talks from BA in synergy with the content of the “Where We Are in the Revolution” presentation objectively posed very sharply the need—in this immediate period, and in an overall sense—to be working to accumulate forces for revolution and to measure how we are doing this.
In this letter, I wanted to speak to a few points about how we are looking at the process and method of accumulating forces for revolution, and also raise a couple of concrete ideas that are radically simple yet, in my view, really critical for how we are working to accumulate forces for revolution. And I wanted to contrast that a bit with how I think we have often looked at this process in the past. And I want to highlight the specific—and I think far too often overlooked—role and importance of the bookstore sessions digging into the film BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! in relation to the process of accumulating forces for revolution.
I might be wrong, but my sense is that we have often conceived of accumulating forces for revolution in a narrow way, and mainly in a practical sense: What are we asking people to do? What tasks are we asking them to take up? What events, programs, actions, meetings or discussions are we inviting them to attend or participate in? Very importantly—what struggles, going up against the power of reaction, are we mobilizing them to undertake? I think this has at least sometimes led to a situation where we meet people who are interested in the movement for revolution, and we follow up with them a few times in various forms (phone, email, in person), inviting them to come to or be part of a bunch of things that are coming up...and sometimes, I have gotten the sense that we tell people about several things at once that we are inviting them to do, or to be part of.... And then, if these masses don’t respond, or if they don’t come to what we are inviting them to, I worry that they sometimes fall through the cracks, or that we consciously or subconsciously conclude automatically that they are “not interested” in the revolution.
However, once again, I think this is an incorrect—and narrow—conception of accumulating forces for revolution, and of how we should be working with people. By that, I do not at all mean that it is unimportant to be searching out and providing practical “on-ramps” for masses to get involved in the revolution, or that we should create obstacles to them doing so, or that we should not be unleashing the masses to take up important tasks that are part of building this movement for revolution.
However, if we conceive of accumulating forces for revolution strictly—or even mainly—in terms of “what are we asking the masses to do” in a narrow and mainly practical sense, I think we are failing to grasp the essential fact that Bob Avakian has pointed to, that “theory is the dynamic factor in ideology.”
Here is an excerpt from the really important piece, “THE NEED FOR COMMUNISTS TO BE....COMMUNISTS,” where BA speaks to theory as the dynamic factor in ideology:
Theory is the dynamic factor, because how do you change your ideology, your world outlook? How do you change your understanding of a question, how do you even change your sentiments about things? Think about that, how do you actually change even your sentiments? You do so if and when you come to understand something in a different way, especially if you are a person trying to be scientific, trying to actually achieve the great things that we are setting out to achieve—which require a scientific approach to achieve (even if we don’t always remember that).
Does this not speak to a crucial dimension of our overall revolutionary work, and of our work with the masses—the need to be leading and struggling with the masses to change their ideology, their world outlook, their understanding and their sentiments?
Related to this point, I was thinking about the excerpt from this paragraph from the strategy statement:
All this can enable the revolutionary movement, with the Party at its core, to confront and overcome the very real obstacles in its path... to advance and grow, through ongoing work, and through a series of critical leaps in times of sudden breaks and ruptures with the “normal routine”... to prepare the ground, and accumulate forces, for revolution—and have a real chance at winning. It is how thousands can be brought forward and oriented, organized and trained in a revolutionary way, while beginning to reach and influence millions more, even before there is a revolutionary situation... and then, when there is a revolutionary situation, those thousands can be a backbone and pivotal force in winning millions to revolution and organizing them in the struggle to carry the revolution through.
I think it is important to note that this paragraph does not say: “....how thousands can come forward, be ‘around’ in some general sense, doing things.” No, it says: “...how thousands can be brought forward and oriented, organized and trained, in a revolutionary way, while beginning to reach and influence millions more, even before there is a revolutionary situation.”
So how are we working to bring people forward, orienting, and training them in a revolutionary way, while beginning to reach and influence millions more?
The two most important—not the only, but the two most important—vehicles through which we are doing this are:
1) The body of work, method and approach, and leadership of BA
2) Revolution newspaper/revcom.us.
These are obviously not the only two elements of how we are working to bring forward, orient and train people in a revolutionary way: We are carrying out a full ensemble of revolutionary work, and as laid out in the recent "Where We Are in the Revolution" presentation, the different elements of this ensemble—the BAE campaign; the two mass initiatives; building support for and involvement in Revolution Books around the country; spreading Revolution/revcom.us, to name a few key dimensions—must work in synergy with each other. All of these, and other dimensions of our revolutionary work fighting the power and transforming the people for revolution—everything we do, in short—must be part of working to bring people forward, orient, and train them in a revolutionary way.
But again, the two most important and decisive means through which we are bringing people forward, orienting, and training them in a revolutionary way are: the body of work, method and approach, and leadership of BA and Revolution newspaper/revcom.us
Why is this so? Well, this goes back to theory being the dynamic factor in ideology.
It is worth actually thinking about the following question for a minute:
Where are people going to get the most advanced understanding of: the horrors, suffering and outrages confronting the world, the source of all this and the ways in which these different outrages, horrors, and forms of suffering are linked; the capitalist-imperialist system behind these horrors, and the contradictions, laws, and dynamics of that system; why revolution is necessary and why it is possible; what the material basis for that revolution is, and who are the key forces for that revolution; the strategy and method for that revolution; and what we must be doing today to work towards the conditions where an actual revolution would be possible; the key contradictions and obstacles that must be transformed in making revolution; the goals of the revolution and the type of radically different society and world that is necessary and possible; the leadership we have for the revolution we need?
And where are people going to get the most compelling and inspiring challenge and invitation—to step forward and be part of this revolution, as they are learning more?
It is through the body of work, method and approach, and leadership of BA and Revolution/revcom.us.
Now, in terms of the relationship between theory and practice, I think—broadly speaking—that there are two basic errors that could be fallen into. And what these errors both have in common is incorrectly separating theory from practice. The first error, essentially, is scholasticism: i.e. studying theory in an academic way that is divorced from practice, divorced from working to actually change the world. Here, I think of this guy in the 1960s or 1970s that BA mentions in his memoir. This guy was religiously and dogmatically reading all of Lenin’s works, in a way divorced from actually changing the world. One day BA said to him, “What are you up to?” and the guy replied, “Volume 41 (!).” Today, the form is sometimes less gross—it can take the form of “learned disputations” and treating theory as some sort of “secret temple of knowledge” that sustains what amounts to an alternative lifestyle—but it is just as pernicious.
However, the other error is to elevate practice above theory, and to fall into an orientation of “do, do, do,” thinking fundamentally in terms—and leading others to think fundamentally in terms— of carrying out practical work, taking up practical tasks, but neglecting the role of theory as a guide to practice not only in an immediate sense, but in an overall sense.
And I will say that my impression is that within the movement for revolution, within progressive and radical circles (and so-called progressive and radical circles), and within society more broadly, this second trend—the undervaluing of theory—is the far more common of the two.
And this is a real problem. For one thing, a person’s theoretical understanding will even influence the degree to which they are motivated to take up different forms of revolutionary practice, and their understanding of why this is important and what it fits into.
However, even more fundamentally, taking up revolutionary theory is essential in order for people to have an ever-deepening scientific grounding in the overall need, possibility, basis, strategy, method, pathways, and goals of the revolution.
As a variation of my point a few paragraphs earlier, there are again two very harmful errors that we could fall into in terms of how we are approaching the relationship between theory and practice in the process of accumulating forces for revolution. And, once again, both of these errors amount to severing theory from practice:
1) To act as if until someone is “well-versed” in revolutionary theory, and the new synthesis of communism in particular, they can’t really contribute or play a meaningful role in the movement for revolution. This orientation would be wrong, unscientific, and really harmful, and it will prevent us from breaking through the deadly gap between how small the revolutionary forces are currently and how big they need to and can be. In short, we will never bring forward, orient and train thousands in a revolutionary way while reaching and influencing millions with that kind of thinking or approach.
2) To act as if as long as people are “around” and “doing stuff,” it isn’t really that essential for them to get into revolutionary theory, and the new synthesis of communism in particular, and to take up the two mainstays. We will also never bring forward, orient, and train thousands in a revolutionary way while reaching and influencing millions with that kind of thinking or approach; we might bring some people forward, at least for a time, but we won’t be orienting and training them in a revolutionary way. And, sooner or later, they most likely won’t be “around” or “doing stuff” either.
This brings me to the specific role of the bookstore sessions in which we view and discuss the film BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS!.
To pose a provocative question: Have we been/are we conceiving of and approaching these sessions on the film as a key part of accumulating forces for revolution?
Well, we should be!
This film is exactly what the quote from one of the filmmakers says it is:
“Yes, this is a film, but that is not its essence. This is a daring, substantive, scientific summoning to revolution. 6+ hours that can change how you see the world and what you do with the rest of your life.”
Instead of saying “Oh yeah, I’ve seen that quote before,” let’s actually take a minute to stop and reflect on what this quote is saying, and what the implications are...
There is a lot more I could say on this, but if we really think about what that quote from the filmmakers is speaking to, the reality captured there is sufficient to explain why getting into the film is an essential dimension of accumulating forces for revolution.
Here, I will only add an echoing of the very related point from the “Where We Are in the Revolution” talk about how this film is an incredible introduction to this revolutionary leader and a form through which BA breaks down, in a very accessible way, his pathbreaking advances of the science of revolution.
So, that is in terms of the critical importance of this film itself. And then there is the specific importance of the ongoing sessions at the bookstore digging into the film.
On the one hand, getting into this film and getting it out in society in all kinds of ways is really critical, for the reasons spoken to above. As Revolution/revcom.us has spoken to, there should be all kinds of showings of this film, large and small, in projects, campuses, barbershops, and many, many other locations, as well as people purchasing the film and watching it individually and in small groups.
However, there is a particular importance to these ongoing sessions at Revolution Books providing people with an opportunity to dig into this film collectively and systematically. We should be looking at these sessions as a chance to collectively, as a team of scientists, study and grapple with the work of the most advanced revolutionary scientist on the planet, discussing and struggling over how to understand the content and significance of this work, and deepening our own grasp and application of this science.
Is this not an essential part of the process of bringing people forward, orienting them, and training them in a revolutionary way?
There should be a contagious spirit and culture permeating and radiating from the movement for revolution, which these sessions at Revolution Books viewing and discussing BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! are THE PLACE TO BE. These sessions should be magnetic, with both “veterans of the movement for revolution” and newer people not only coming, but feeling compelled to bring new people to what should be lively, accessible sessions. Yet this has not been anywhere nearly enough the orientation—at least as it has struck me.
I suspect that two factors at play in this negative tendency might be:
These two approaches fail to grasp and apply the understanding that what is concentrated in BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! is a living science—in fact, the most advanced revolutionary science there is—and that this science must be studied, and ever more deeply grasped and applied to radically transforming the world, in an ongoing, never-ending way; not a set of principles or facts to merely take in once and then “check off,” or to memorize in a dogmatic way.
Furthermore, a related point: We are not carrying out our revolutionary work in isolation from the rest of society (if we were, it wouldn’t be revolutionary work!). This means that the revolutionaries are not somehow immunized against other social and class forces and outlooks, and dominant/unscientific ways of thinking. So, this only heightens the importance of digging into, and living in, the revolutionary science, leadership, and method concentrated in BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS!
So, I really think that we, as a movement for revolution, need to make a collective rupture in terms of recognizing, acting on the recognition, and leading others to recognize that the film BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS!—and these sessions on the film at Revolution Books—are a vital means of our work to accumulate forces for revolution. The aforementioned “place to be” spirit should permeate and radiate within and from all elements of the ensemble of our revolutionary work.
Again, none of what is written above is meant to downplay the great importance of providing people with practical on-ramps and means to be part of the movement for revolution as—not instead of, not only after, but as—they learn more about this revolution.
It is essential that we constantly be seeking out, and working/inviting/struggling together with masses to figure out ways and enable them to step forward and be part of this revolution in all kinds of ways, many of which were pointed to at the end of the "Where We Are in the Revolution" talk: Through donating to and in different ways being part of the BAE campaign and committees; through donating to, and in different ways contributing to and supporting Revolution newspaper/revcom.us; through taking up and in different ways being part of the two mass initiatives (including directly going up against reaction); through volunteering for, and in different ways supporting Revolution Books; and much more.
Why did I keep putting “in different ways” in bold type? Because I also think it is very important that we not look at people’s practical involvement in the movement for revolution—i.e. the practical dimension of accumulating forces for revolution—in a narrow way either. This practical dimension doesn’t just mean people standing on a street corner selling the newspaper or passing out palm cards, nor is it just a matter of how many things we invite people to that they attend, even while we obviously need people doing all of those things and all of those things are very important.
However, when people step forward to bake cookies or pies for the BA Everywhere committee; or donate to BAE or to sustain the newspaper or support the bookstore; or to defend a clinic or fight back against a police murder or some other outrage; or contribute ideas, questions, thinking to the movement for revolution, these are also all just a few examples of very important means of practical contributions to the movement for revolution!
We should also have our ears open for—and explore with masses newly coming forward, asking them directly for their ideas about—ways they may be especially interested in and capable of contributing practically to this movement for revolution.
However, as we are doing all of this, and no matter what particular practical ways people are contributing to the movement for revolution, we should be directing them to the two mainstays. We should be urging and struggling with them to get into BA, and we should be connecting them with Revolution/revcom.us
With that in mind—and while this is obviously not, by any means, exhaustive, even in terms of how we should be connecting people with the two mainstays, let alone in terms of our full ensemble of our revolutionary work—for all of the reasons spoken to above, here are 3 basic, yet very important, things that I think should be happening with everyone who steps forward in and around this movement for revolution—both in this immediate period, and in a more overall sense:
I am going to end this letter there.